Essay: Science Centre with Technology Integration

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  • Subject area(s): Science essays
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With the advancement of technology and science in recent decades, it has become vital to incorporate it into a young child’s life, to help strengthen their understandings, build on their natural curiosity as they explore, question, discover and work out how the world works and in particular, about living things. This learning centre places emphasis on biological sciences, learning the structure and functions of a plant and the nutrients needed to grow and survive. The learning centre will allow children to explore and engage with living things, as there are variety of activities, such as; picture books, an interactive iPad area, a discovery shelf and sensory play with parts of a flower. With various activities children can explore and examine, coming to conclusions about new understandings through questioning and social interactions, learning from others through observations, discussions and comparing. The learning centre is inviting, having enough space for children to do tasks comfortably, as well as consisting of natural and recycled materials, engaging children as they have a willingness to explore, as there are common elements which surround them in their everyday life. Children become intrinsically motivated, as they are natural learners and are curious about the world they live in. Tools will be used, helping children to develop their fine motor and gross motor skills, whilst discovering new technology within the learning centre. The tasks performed will be engaging and interactive for children to use.

The main task to be completed within the learning centre is to identify the structure and parts of a flower, where children can explore and understand where the nutrients go and come from, to help a flower grow. At the beginning of the lesson, the educator will allow time for children to gather themselves onto the mat, then she will hold a flower and identify its parts, explaining whilst showing them, where the water is absorbed from and why a flower needs sunlight to grow. This activity helps children understand all living things have basic needs, required in order to survive and the importance of certain nutrients. Once all questions have been answered and children have had enough time to imagine and think, the educator will explain and demonstrate the activities the children will be exploring in the learning centre. After that, the educator will talk about the process of the steps to take when creating a plant. The materials used to create the flower are environmentally friendly and are also recycled ensuring and showing the importance of sustainability to young children, and through this it will allow children to appreciate and take care of their environment as they, “resource their own learning through connecting with …technologies and natural and processed materials” (DEEWR, 2009, p.37).

The tray with the sensory materials will include flower petals, stems and leaves, as well as bottle caps, rocks and bark to represent the sun, soil and glitter for the water. The children can then create their own flower based on their knowledge and understandings through the demonstration by the educator, social interactions and their previous experiences. There will be tongs present so children can pick up each object to create a flower on a piece of paper attached to a clipboard, where they can glue or sticky tape down to show their understanding of the function and structure of a flower, as they, “use information and communication technologies to access information, investigate ideas and represent their thinking” (DEEWR, 2009, p.44). The educator can help the children label their diagram afterwards, whilst assessing their progress and understandings of the requirements that plants need to survive and grow.

The children can further extend their knowledge by using the magnifying glasses and torches to

understand and examine the flowers more closely, either on the sensory table or using it on picture books. This allows the features to be more present and noticeable, looking more closely at the structure of plants for survival. This type of technology is very subtle, but provides lots of play experiences for children, so they can discover and explore science whilst using modern day technology to enhance their learning (Curtis & Carter, 2008). The interactive area with iPads allows children to play and be a part of the experience, being actively engaged. The corner will hold lots of picture books, easy to read and follow about flowers, allowing the children to read and imagine, comparing flowers in real life to the ones in the images which allows, “Children [to] engage with a range of texts and gain meaning from these texts” (DEEWR, 2009, p.41). The children can also use the magnifying glasses to look in the books to expand their knowledge and understandings about flowers, and recognising more of their characteristics, extending their learning. Near the window, there will be a table where children can bring in plants or flowers from their garden, at home or their local park and they can compare and contrast items brought in, learning new vocabulary. The magnifying glasses will be available for children to use for this activity also.

Throughout these activities, the educator can observe and assess children’s learning using a clipboard, making marks or shapes on the sheet near the student’s names, modelling scientific learning and discovery. The educator can further evaluate their learning by asking more questions which are relevant and they can hear the questions children are asking and telling their peers, waiting to hear their response and if they need help developing it. The educator can also help children’s learning by extending their ideas and knowledge of scientific concepts by asking challenging questions, such as “What if a white flower is put into coloured water?” This will help develop children’s higher order thinking skills. Teaching of the correct terminology can further enhance children’s language development.

The educator will also provide immediate feedback during interactions and evaluate a child’s understanding by observations and assessing the completed tasks, for example, creation of the child’s picture from the sensory play activity, demonstrating an accurate construction of the flower. Through this learning centre, the educator will scaffold the children’s learning through, explicit demonstrations, clear instructions about the topic, making sure that the children are actively involved, supporting their learning experience. Language, literacy and social skills will also be developed, as the learning centres offer natural opportunities to ask questions and have conversations to share ideas and problem solve.

According to the SCSA guidelines for pre-primary, children need to have a sense of an understanding, science as a “human endeavour” and “science inquiry skills” which needs to be assessed, throughout their exploration (SCSA, 2014, p.1). With the use of magnifying glasses children can discover and explore the plants looking at the textures of flowers, the shapes and colours of the petals, the parts and structure of the plant and its different functions.

Labelling the parts of the plant helps children to identify and understand the various functions of each part of the plant. Using the natural materials provided gives children a raw and realistic experience relating to living things around them. Through peer talk, children can increase their understandings and judgement whilst developing, “skills and processes such as problem solving, inquiry, experimentation” (DEEWR, 2009, p.35). With enough space, the educator has created in the learning centre children can explore confidently with their peers, observing and reflecting on observations, using clipboards to take down results and comparing pictures of the flower they created.

Technology is essential for the early years, as children can explore, discover, und
erstand, wonder, communicate, share and learn more complex skills while using their fine motor skills. Children’s brains become more stimulated when they use technology as there are endless amounts of educational games on the devices, which helps extend their knowledge. Technology is important to incorporate into science and in a teaching classroom as it is all around us in society, it is a benefit for children as there are many advantages. Technology can include lights, pens, paper or phones. However, as there are various types of technology surrounding us daily, there can be many disadvantages associated with it.

The types of technological tools used in this learning centre include; pens, paper, clipboards, iPads, magnifying glasses, torches, tongs and glue. Technology is anything around us, to make life easier. The clipboards for the sensory play to be placed on provides a base for the children to work from and it is complimented by the pens to label and the glue, to stick objects down to represent the desired picture or the end result. The clipboard can also be used by the educator, making it easier to record observations. The purpose of the tongs used to handle the objects helps with children’s hand and eye coordination and fine motor skills, moving one object to another place and strengthening their fingers. This allows children to understand that the uses of technology around them can have different functions and they can relate to different contexts. For example, a child may think or only believe tongs are used for cooking a meal, but it can be easily adapted into the classroom to make it easier to move objects. The torches and magnifying glasses provide more of an insight to the discovery learning for children as they learn about the processes which are represented by the light and they can zoom in and out of objects. The iPads provide visual and auditory support during tasks, allowing children to explore, extending their learning.

Technology, through the use of writing tools, enables children to manipulate, engage and respond in a variety of ways. With all that said, there are also many disadvantages to technology. On iPads children become distracted, don’t want to share the device and can go onto another app without permission which becomes unfair for the other children as they want a fair go. Inappropriate use of tools may include, off task behaviour, shining torches in eyes, pinching children and snapping tongs, breaking objects and having unnecessary tools leave the learning centre area.

To reduce theses disadvantages and make the working area a safe one, educators need to keep in mind the 5Es and 3Cs, when using or introducing new technology in the classroom. The five E’s include, Exchange, swapping traditional ways of including technology; Enrich, engage learners with a rich mix of technology; Enhance, encouraging deeper learning through the use of technology; Extend, changing the content, process and location of learning so children can take their learning in the future and; Empower, enabling children to take control of their own learning. With the three C’s content, context and the child, educators must take into account how a child engages, explores or imagines, complementing natural play, uninterrupted and having enough of the right tools and experiences for each child’s needs. Technology helps with developing children’s understandings from one context to another adding to their previous knowledge they had, clarifying misunderstandings. These are very important things educators need to understand and keep in mind while following the curriculum so learning is optimal.

By incorporating technology in science children have more questions to get answered and learn about, exploring the world around them. The learning centre helps this happen, through the range of activities and materials used, as it all has a purpose for children to learn. These tools are very important for children to use as they can relate them to one context to another whilst using their senses. Overall, technology is beneficial and should be used and incorporated within each science activity and all learning areas so educators and children can explore and be sufficient in each activity they do or observe, making it enjoyable. Children need to direct their own learning and the educators must support them in doing so by providing open ended materials. This will help guide children as they are confident and involved learners, who learn through cooperation with their peers, imagination, curiosity and enthusiasm as they have many interests they want to explore.

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