ELSA team win UC research award!

Pictured (L to R): Ross Hope, Matt Bacon Centenary Professor Tom Lowrie, Garrett Lommatsch, Amanda Levido and Tracy Logan.

Last night, the Early Learning STEM Australia (ELSA) team won the University of Canberra’s (UC) research award for Distinction in Engagement and Impact.

This year’s UC Research and Teaching Excellence awards were held at the Ann Harding conference centre from 5–7pm on Monday 18 November. The night featured 20 award recipients from UC, including teams and individuals.

The ELSA team were humbled and honoured to be recognised in this forum.

Members of the ELSA team who received the award include:

  • Centenary Professor Tom Lowrie – Project Lead
  • Matt Bacon – Project Manager
  • Assistant Professor Tracy Logan
  • Assistant Professor Kym Simoncini
  • Ross Hope – Digital Coordinator
  • Amanda Levido – Communication Coordinator
  • Garrett Lommatsch – Data Scientist

Assistant Professor Tracy Logan also won an individual award for her contribution to the Faculty of Education as an early career researcher.

What a night for the ELSA team! Thank you to the University of Canberra for your support and recognition of our hard-working team members.

ELSA’s key achievements

Below are a list of ELSA’s key achievements. These led to the ELSA team winning the award for Distinction in Engagement and Impact:

  • Since 2017, the Early Learning STEM Australia (ELSA) team has attracted a total of $8.1 million in funding from the federal Government’s Department of Education (the Department) to develop and implement a national pilot program (featuring 6 digital apps) to 100+ preschool services.
  • ELSA’s research productivity in early childhood education has attracted the interest of the Australian Children’s Education & Care Authority (ACECQA), the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), Apple, Samsung and Questacon.
  • The ELSA team has demonstrated initiative and savvy in the pursuit of engagement with the aforementioned industry and government bodies. A cornerstone of this engagement was the ELSA Symposium held at the University of Canberra’s Inspire centre in October 2018. More than 80 delegates attended, including industry and government stakeholders, as well as ELSA educators from across the country.
  • In order to distinguish ELSA from other ‘educational apps’ for children in the marketplace, the team has taken novel approaches to engagement. For example, we have held numerous professional development workshops for participating educators. We have also developed more than 100 off-app activities for the program and physical resources that extend children’s learning in the classroom. These resources include 4 picture books, board games, card games, and ELSA character plush toys.
  • Recently, the ELSA team engaged the services of Play School presenter, Luke Carroll, to star in 6 short videos. These videos will engage industry, government, organisations, educators and families in the ELSA program—communicating the potential benefits to early learning. The videos will be released later this year, accompanied by a full press and promotions campaign.
  • The ELSA team have also developed an online Community of Practice for the 100+ ELSA educators. This platform allows educators to connect and share examples of how they are implementing the ELSA program in their context. They also have the opportunity to ask for assistance.
  • The success of the 2018 ELSA Pilot resulted in the ELSA team securing a further $2.2 million from the Department to extend the pilot into 2019.
  • The impact of the 2018 and 2019 ELSA Pilot programs has firmly established the ELSA team as change-agents in the early learning industry. We have impacted the long-term teaching practices of early learning educators by broadening their STEM knowledge and increasing their teaching capacity.
  • ELSA educator, Sharon De Rooy from Bonython ACT, won the early learning educator of the year award—demonstrating the impact of ELSA for educators, children and the community.
  • Many ELSA educators have become leaders and spokespeople for STEM in early learning, sharing their knowledge with educators well beyond their school and local community.