Early Learning STEM Australia (ELSA) is a play-based digital learning program for children in preschool to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). ELSA allows children to play, experiment and make sense of the world around them – which is part of science, and also part of being a child. ELSA’s STEM Practices encourage children to ask questions, make predictions, experiment, and reflect on what happened and why.
The ELSA Pilot is a key early childhood initiative of the Australian Government. ELSA has been developed by the University of Canberra through funding provided by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training under the National Innovation and Science Agenda. It supports the ‘Inspiring all Australians in digital literacy and STEM’ measure, which seeks to increase the participation of Australian children in STEM and improve their digital literacy.
ELSA is led by Professor Tom Lowrie and built on community involvement. The pilot collaborates with early learning educators, preschool program providers and families.
Professor Tom Lowrie’s paper, STEM Practices: A translational framework for large-scale STEM education design, was recently published in Educational Design Research (EDeR) – an international journal for design-based research in education. This paper unpacks two key pedagogical underpinnings of the ELSA Pilot: STEM Practices and the ERA (Experience, Represent, Apply) model.