With funding from The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, Yew Chung College of Early Childhood Education (YCCECE) and the Vocational Training Council (VTC) are co-organising the three-year Jockey Club ‘CoolPlay’ Project hand in hand. The Project will be delivered to 20 schools in 3 phrases 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 resource 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 give impetus to the development of local early childhood education.
The launching ceremony was held at the YCCECE campus and officiated by our honoured guests, including 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 and Mr Leong CHEUNG, Executive Director, Charities and Community of The Hong Kong Jockey Club.
After the launch ceremony, there is an exhibition by the six pilot schools showing guests their learning of the “big ideas” and creative activities, as well as sharing their progress – from doubt to conceptualisation, implementation and problem-solving throughout the journey. All of these have demonstrated how young children have benefited from and grown through the Project. The K3 students of Hong Kong Christian Services Kwun Tong Nursery School showed their work at the ceremony. Students found that umbrellas would wet the campus on rainy days, and school workers were often busy mopping the floor. They tested the absorption capacity of different materials repeatedly and finally made this rainwater-absorbing umbrella stand. Students can easily dry their umbrellas before entering the school easily. It helps to reduce the workload of school workers. Also, the K3 students of Caritas Nursery School-Yau Tong found that it was difficult to find a proper space to store all their face fields during the sports lesson. With the help of teachers, they designed and created a paper wall with many small hooks as mask holders. So that their face fields can be well-placed during their PE lessons.
Pioneering a three-in-one Jumpstarter resource kit and Home-School-Community Network
A local blueprint is required to get them started in the first step. Jockey Club ‘CoolPlay’ Project has introduced the city’s first-ever children-led resource kit, Jumpstarter, showing teachers and parents good practices in guiding children through STEM exploration. The resource 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 lives “big ideas”. Jumpstarter also stands out by connecting children’s 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 exploration activities while reading the Picture Book with children. After school, parents can continue the exploration with their children using the Parent’s Guide and Picture Book. Taking exploration of young children into the community, teachers and parents are also encouraged by their respective guides to take children to parks, museums and other community exploration hotspots.
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 skill set, and acquire the know-how, 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 exploration in every aspect of life while establishing a fun STEM learning environment for young children.
Teacher training is the key to promoting STEM exploration in schools. Jockey Club ‘CoolPlay’ Project enables teachers to develop 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 “hands-on” exploration, developing new learning patterns and attitudes while enjoying the fun of learning. This learning experience reflects the philosophy of “curiosity leads to exploration, interest leads to perseverance”. The Project will unleash teachers’ full potential and help them become inspired, confident and energetic ambassadors of STEM exploration in early childhood education.