Jockey Club ‘CoolPlay’ Project inaugurated a HKJC Charities Trust-sponsored joint initiative of YCCECE and VTC JumpStarter education kit and Home-School-Community network developed providing fertile ground for STEM in early childhood education
2 December 2021
With funding from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, Yew Chung College of Early Childhood Education (YCCECE) and the Vocational Training Council are co-organising the three-year Jockey Club ‘CoolPlay’ Project hand in hand. The Project aims to provide substantial opportunities for young children to explore STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and empower teachers and parents in guiding young children in the exploration. The Project will develop children’s curiosity and talent about STEM by ‘learning through play’ , and making innovation and technology a part of their development journey. By stimulating their STEM mindset, children will be equipped with the strength to face adversity and innovativeness in future pursuits.
Jockey Club ‘CoolPlay’ Project has been delivered to 20 schools since 2020. The Project will benefit 120 teachers, 345 pre-service teachers, 1,200-plus young children and families. The inter-school Project emphasises learning STEM through inter-disciplinary and play-based learning. A STEM learning kit, the “JumpStarter”, has been developed under the Project to provide adequate training, resources and support for kindergarten teachers and parents. A Home-School-Community supportive network has been established to build up the capacity of various stakeholders. Through sharing best practices in learning and teaching STEM, the Project seeks to further promote the development of STEM in local early childhood education.
The launching ceremony was held at YCCECE campus today and officiated by Professor XU Kai , Deputy Director-General of Department of Educational, Scientific and Technological Affairs, the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region ; Mr Leong CHEUNG, the Executive Director, Charities and Community of the Hong Kong Jockey Club; Dr. Betty CHAN, the Chairperson of Yew Chung College of Early Childhood Education (YCCECE) Board of Governors; Professor Allan YUEN, the President of Yew Chung College of Early Childhood Education; and Dr Lorraine TANG, the Head of Department, Department of Childcare, Elderly and Community Services, Vocational Training Council (VTC).
Six pilot schools of Jockey Club ‘CoolPlay’ Project shared their learnings at the launch. The schools implemented the Project in November 2020 with guidance from YCCECE and VTC to present various STEM experiential activities. Through child-centred and play-based approaches, young children are encouraged to observe and explore in their daily life from the STEM perspective, developing an interest in STEM. In the launch exhibition, school representatives showed guests their schools’ STEM “big ideas”, school-based curriculum and creative activities, as well as shared the progress – from doubt to conceptualisation, implementation and problem solving throughout the journey – demonstrating how young children have benefited from and grown through the Project.
Pioneering three-in-one Jumpstarter education kit and Home-School-Community Network
As many teachers and parents are in need of the knowhow , confidence and direction on how to facilitate young children’s learning in STEM, which is still in a budding stage, a local blueprint is required to get them started. The Jockey Club ‘CoolPlay’ Project has introduced the city’s first-ever ECE STEM education kit, Jumpstarter, showing teachers and parents good practices in guiding children through STEM exploration. The education kit with 25 issues has consolidated a large number of local and overseas best practices to design developmentally appropriate STEM exploration activities, covering eight everyday life “big ideas” . Jumpstarter also stands out by connecting children’s STEM learning at school and at home. Each three-in-one kit contains a children’s Picture Book, a Teacher’s Guide and a Parent’s Guide to facilitate children’s STEM learning seamlessly. The Jumpstarter features local elements with age-appropriate literary and visual elements to open up the opportunities for children to explore STEM “big ideas” in a relatable and fun way. Teachers can be inspired by the Teacher’s Guide to design their own STEM exploration activities while reading the Picture Book with children. After school, parents can continue the STEM exploration with their children using the Paretn’s Guide and Picture Book. Taking STEM exploration into the community, teachers and parents are also encouraged by the respective guides to take children to parks, museums and other community STEM hotspots to enrich STEM exploration.
Jockey Club ‘CoolPlay’ Project also offers training for teachers and parents to use the Jumpstarter kit effectively. STEM workshops for teachers and pre-service teachers and onsite support at schools are offered to help teachers upgrade their skillset, and acquire the knowhow , technique and confidence for facilitating children’s STEM exploration. The Project’s professional team provides recommendations to schools, based on the school’s environment, curriculum and community resources. Children and parents are invited to visit YCCECE’s Pamela Peck Discovery Space four times a year to participate in parent-child STEM activities in which parents learn how to facilitate their child’s STEM exploration. Jockey Club ‘CoolPlay’ Project also organises community activities to encourage public participation in a bid to connect young children, parents, schools and the community and integrate STEM in every aspect of life while establishing a fun STEM learning environment for young children.
The President of YCCECE, Professor Allan YUEN, believes there is a consensus in the society that STEM should be implemented as early as possible, but there are common misconceptions to overcome. For instance, some thought STEM in early childhood is simply a simplified version of STEM in primary and secondary schools, leading to the surge of robotics and programming materials available in the academic and commercial sectors, which are not age-appropriate for young children. Some thought STEM in early childhood education is confined to classrooms, but in fact everyday life should be the key learning setting because it is full of STEM inspiration. Teachers and parents could conveniently access materials to start the STEM exploration.
The Head of Department, Department of Childcare, Elderly and Community Services, Vocational Training Council (VTC), Dr Lorraine TANG said young children are born adventurers who are curious about the things around them. Jockey Club ‘CoolPlay’ Project focuses on experiential learning for young children, through well-designed STEM learning environment and play to promote young children’s interest and motivation of exploration, nurturing the attitude and ability to explore.
Teacher training is the key for promoting STEM exploration in schools. Jockey Club ‘CoolPlay’ Project enables teachers to establish ideas and methods for implementing STEM exploration for young children through a range of workshops and school support services. Teachers learn to use the “engineering design process” combined with science, technology, engineering and early mathematics to stimulate children to be curious, and promote observing, exploring, solving, learning and collaborating. Teachers and young children co-construct together for the “hands on” exploration, developing the new learning patterns and attitudes while enjoying the fun of learning. Hope this learning experience will reflect the philosophy of “curiosity leads to explore, interest leads to perseverance”. The Project unleash teacher’s full potential, helping them to become an inspired, confident, and energetic ambassador of STEM in early childhood education.