Te Papa’s ‘It’s a Bug’s Life’ project was undertaken in 2015, and has provided lots of helpful recommendations about doing science with young children. We look forward to sharing this with you soon in our upcoming resource.
But, what has been the impact of this project for it’s participants?
Well, Tash King – one of our teacher-researchers – has applied her learning about the ‘5 science capabilities’ at her new centre, Papakowhai Kindergarten. She shares about this one year on from the project:
Since my involvement with the ‘It’s a Bug’s Life’ project, I have moved from Raumati South Kindergarten to a Papakowhai Kindergarten. It has been really great to apply the capabilities here and see the positive outcomes of science learning for children in different early childhood setting.
I have noticed that children at Papakowhai are engaging in the five science capabilities, as a process, in various ways and on a daily basis. Children have been leading their own learning and maintaining a sense of ownership about what they want to find out. Their learning, awareness and appreciation of the natural world has been extended. It plays a greater role in our lives. We have also successfully used the science capabilities to inform our learning outside of natural world topics.
Science has become a strong platform for dispositional teaching and learning, and knowing more about how to use this framework has strengthened my documentation and teaching/learning conversations with whānau. It is useful in terms of being more intentional about science teaching and learning.
Here are two examples of the capabilities in action here at Papakowhai Kindy:
Investigating Monarch butterflies
- Earlier in the year, a small group of children started making observational drawings of a monarch butterfly (that had been found dead and brought in to kindergarten). They then carefully compared their representations to the actual specimen, and this led to further group teaching and learning about insects (Interpret representations; Using evidence; Gather and interpret data).
- When we were checking out the chrysalis on our Swan plant, one of the children noticed lots and lots of golden yellow teeny tiny bugs on the plant. He pointed these out to me and wanted to find out more. He thought they might be called Golden bugs. We went to a book to see if we could identify these bugs (because we know identification is essential to good observation), but couldn’t find anything. What we did find though was a page about the predators of Monarchs. Lots of fabulous questions were asked of the text. We discovered together that Praying mantis will try to eat butterflies, and so Monarchs try to protect themselves from this fate by tasting horrible. It was agreed that we would have to watch our for praying mantis around our Swan plant in future. We also thought we should keep looking to find out about the golden bugs – maybe we needed to use some other books or the computer to find out. We can’t find out everything from one book (Gather and intepret data; Using evidence; Critique evidence).
Creating a water supply system
- More recently, a group of children who were observing and experimenting with the way water moved/didn’t move according to ways they were placing some pipes. This went on for some time, and through discussions with each other and teachers the children put into practice their observations about the pipes not being connected closely enough to let the water run through and created a way to solve this. In the end, the children created a working temporary water supply system for the playground (Gather and intepret data; Use evidence; Critique evidence).
- The children only had a limited amount of water to use, so it was important to them to conserve it and use gravity to make this happen. Discussions about water as a precious resource followed and ideas were shared (Engage with science).
- Something that could have added to the process, in hindsight, would be to suggest to children they represent their findings and ideas as they went via a tally or drawing. This would have allowed them to note what was working, what didn’t work, and the different variations being experimented themselves. We did take lots of photographs to document the process, though, and so children have been able to reflect upon their work together later (Intepret representations; Engage with Science).
Girls in engineering
The ‘It’s a Bug’s Life’ project has had a big and meaningful impact. We look forward to seeing where our science adventures will take us next!
Ngā mihi nui ki a koe Tash | Big thanks Tash.
Keep an eye out for further blogs about the ‘It’s a Bug’s Life’ project as we draw closer to the launch of the resource.