Early Childhood STEM Education for Sustainable Development

Campbell, C., & Speldewinde, C. (2022). “Early Childhood STEM Education for Sustainable Development.” Sustainability 14(6), 3524. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14063524

Abstract: Early childhood education is crucial for the development of young children’s understanding of the natural world. Children have a role in sustaining a viable environmental and social future. This research interrogated key ideas concerning STEM education for sustainable development, drawing on seminal research and a range of government policy documents to formulate a futures-oriented approach to supporting children to build understandings in early childhood sustainability. Through the use of ethnography, a research methodology that uses both participation and observation of research participants, it became apparent that young children’s play-based learning enabled agentic responses in aligning with early understanding of STEM and sustainability. Using accepted descriptors of international Sustainable Development Goals within an early childhood research study, the research highlights how the development of interactive, learner-centred STEM teaching not only enables investigative, action-adapted learning, but also fosters independent learners who are responsive to their natural environment. The implication of this research is that further development of children’s environmental agency is suggested by the authors. The introduction of a whole-of-kindergarten approach that focuses on the systemic development of quality STEM education is posited as an avenue for educators to build young children’s understandings of sustainable development.

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