Are you an educator working with young children wanting to provide meaningful opportunities for children to engage in Science, Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM)? Are you unsure where to start or lacking in confidence in your own STEM knowledge?
We would love to help. We can help you identify and interpret the STEM all around you. Children explore STEM concepts through their everyday routines and play. They develop the foundations for many STEM thinking skills in early childhood too, including problem-solving, critical thinking, analytical thinking, risk assessment, etc; so, this is an important time to offer them positive experiences.
With a bit of knowledge and practice, you too can learn how to identify the STEM in children’s play and see it happening all around you - in dramatic play, the sand pit and mud kitchen, block building and construction, while setting the table for lunch or hunting for bugs in the garden.
Educators are important role models for children so by using the language of STEM every day, asking open-ended questions and modelling STEM thinking you can play an important role demystifying STEM for children, making it something for everyone.
Our STEM Detectives program offers educators a range of practical professional learning opportunities to build capacity and confidence. We focus on identifying STEM learning in your current activities and programs, without the need to squeeze in anything extra. You don’t need lots of expensive technology, in fact, we advocate for loose parts, play and inquiry, and project-based approaches. You will feel more confident using the language of STEM in your conversations with children and families and provide positive and engaging STEM learning opportunities in your program. From here, you can take it to the next level with STEM Detectives Accreditation, supporting you to implement a whole of service approach to embedding STEM in your daily practice, philosophy, policies and programs.
I am passionate about education, innovation and discovering the possibilities for change through creativity, collaboration and action. I feel great satisfaction in empowering individuals and communities to make a positive impact. My year 10 biology teacher inspired a love of science and nature and I went on to study a Bachelor of Applied Science in Environmental Management. I discovered a further love for educating and involving people in their local environment. I spent the next 20 years working with local government, communities, schools, early childhood services and businesses to think differently; build skills and knowledge; and act towards a positive and sustainable future.
I believe the future provides many opportunities for innovation and creativity, and I am excited to help people of all ages to build the skills they need to make a positive impact for both people and the planet. Learning is a lifelong endeavour, and can take many paths; I enjoy exploring the paths less travelled.
I started my career as a biomedical scientist before making the exciting career change in 1984 fulfilling my life-long desire to work with young children in a natural way. I identify strongly with children’s natural scientific instinct and desire to explore, discover, investigate and experiment as they make sense of the wonderful natural world we all live in. I have lived and worked in South Africa and Scotland and have been calling Australia home since 2011.
I work internationally as a conference keynote speaker, nature pedagogue, mentor and author and have been privileged to be invited to work in the UK, USA, Canada, Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand, South Korea, China, Norway, Denmark and South Africa. I have developed a reputation as a strong advocate for children’s right to a high-quality childhood which includes joyful play and am increasingly concerned about the rise in children’s mental health and trauma. I trust children as being capable and competent individuals, able to lead their own learning through their interests and that they have the ability to assess and take their own risks. I am considered a leading voice in promoting Nature-based practice internationally and am the author of “Children in Wild Nature”, “A Practical Approach to Nature-based Practice” , “Adventurous Play” and co-author of “STEM Detectives”.
I am the proud mother of four adult children and grandmother to a delightful granddaughter and I am an adventurer and keen photographer.
The story of Real World Learning
We first worked together in 2012 on the Seedlings: Early Years Education for Sustainability Project. We established Real World Learning in 2016 focusing on our mutual passion for providing engaging and meaningful early years experiences for children. We both come from a scientific background and decided that STEM was a great place to start. Together we have developed our flagship STEM Detectives program, supporting early years educators to engage young children in science, technology, engineering and maths through play and inquiry-based learning. In 2018 we co-authored STEM Detectives: Identifying and supporting science, technology, engineering and mathematics in children’s play.
We look forward to further developing our programs and services to best serve our growing community of educators.