Research and Excursion Report
Research and Excursion Report
It is important for children to grasp concepts of science, math, environment and technology during an early age. They can gain such information from locations that allow them to learn through play and memorable experiences. In line with that, the Melbourne Aquarium was chosen as the location for a preschoolers’ excursion. It is located next to the Yarra River, beside King Street. The institution provides a Southern Ocean and Antarctic aquarium, which features wildlife from such regions. It has thousands of aquatic animals ranging from Penguins and sea horses to turtles and lizards. The aquarium has four levels, each providing a unique learning experience for the preschoolers.
The Melbourne Aquarium can be contacted through various means. Its phone number is 9923 59999. The email to its management is email@example.com, while its website can be accessed at www.melbourneaquarium.com.au. Alternatively, the aquarium can be contacted through its Facebook page, which is found at http://facebook.com/melbourneaquarium. It is important to note that the institution is currently owned and operated by Merlin-SAG. The Aquarium has hosted many exhibitions, targeted at children, which offer them unique learning opportunities. For instance, discussions about Penguins are held regularly (City of Melbourne, 2013).
All children have the inherent ability to learn science. Similarly, they should be granted the opportunity to gain literacy in the subject. Science is seen as a way of understanding the environment. It therefore requires a hands-on approach. Children in their early years think differently from adults. Jean Piaget categorized their mental development through his theory. Preschool children fall under the preoperational stage (Zelazo & Argitis, 2003). At this stage, they are conversant with symbols, but are unfamiliar with logic. Consequently, they learn through play and pretending with their friends (Bredekamp, 2011).
By coming into contact with new items, they gain knowledge through asking questions and their play experience. A visit to the Melbourne Aquarium benefits these aspects of their learning (Bexley Jack and Jill Preschool Inc., 2012). By seeing new flora and fauna, they are encouraged to ask questions, a fundamental of science. Similarly, by seeing the penguins play, the children can learn new facts about them, gaining scientific knowledge in the process (Early Childhood News, 2008). This also provides a naturalistic experience for their learning.
Preschool children use some mathematical skills daily. Such skills are necessary for them to adapt to the contemporary world. They are seen through aspects such as spatial sense and patterns, counting, matching objects and recognizing numerals (Moomaw, 2004). A visit to the aquarium improves their understanding of mathematics. Firstly, children will recognize species have different body forms, thereby understanding shapes further. By seeing many animals, they may also be prompted to count them (Saracho & Spodek, 2008). This can be reinforced through teachers assisting them in forwards and backwards. Similarly, they may understand one-to-one correspondence by observing the animals (Hedges, 2004).
According to the WHO, the more stimulating the environment is, the more a child is able to learn (World Health Organisation, 2009). Children spend much of their early time static environments such as school. It is important to note that children have a short attention span. By accessing a new environment, learning can be stimulated in them. For example, they can identify with different situations. Concepts of environmental conservation can also be transferred to them (Farrugia & Victorian Institute of Marine Sciences, 2000). Following a visit to the Melbourne Aquarium, the children are able to appreciate the importance of animals to the ecosystem (Hedges, 2004).
Technology is an important aspect of contemporary life. Children need to understand basic concepts of technology during their early years. This will allow them to adapt to the adult world. Technology is a broad term. It encompasses interactive digital devices, software, toys and other screen-based platforms. Technology can be best integrated into children’s lives through a hands-on approach. By allowing children to play with such devices, they are able to learn them through experience. Similarly, they are prompted to ask more questions, gaining knowledge in the process. By visiting locations such as the Melbourne Aquarium, they may ask how animals from cooler environments are able to survive (Hedges, 2004). Consequently, a technology-based response can be issued to them, enhancing their knowledge on the subject.
The visit to Melbourne Aquarium with the children was informative for the children, as well as my understanding of their development. Firstly, I was able to determine what aspects of the environment stimulate learning in children. For instance, their interactions with new animals provoke an array of questions. Similarly, I was able to understand the cognitive processes that happen in children further. The Aquarium held various programs for the children. The guides were very helpful to the children, and allowed them to interact with the animals safely. Most of the children’s questions were answered. Similarly, the Aquarium provided relevant information through leaflets. They were explained simply, and the children were able to identify the printed content. Similarly, easier spellings of animals were provided for the children. Generally, the location was very child-friendly. Different sections had simple labels that enabled the children to be familiar with the animals (Bexley Jack and Jill Preschool Inc).
Various areas of the Aquarium need further improvement. First, the tours should be simplified further, to meet the education needs of the preschoolers. The keepers and guides should also be trained on how to address concerns raised by the children. For instance, they should encourage the children to participate in feeding activities, while assuring them of their safety. This improves the level of engagement in the children. The Melbourne Aquarium’s resources for early childhood are relatively suitable. For instance, a walk through the Nella Dan simulates the experience found in the Antarctic. Consequently, the children are able to learn about environments through their senses (Bredekamp, 2011).
Similarly, the children are provided with material featuring simplified facts about the animals. For instance, the saltwater crocodile grows over 6.5 meters. Such information sharpens their understanding of mathematical concepts. The Aquarium’s programs are useful for early childhood development. The daily feeds and talks enable the children to access simplified information about the animals. Similarly, the unique viewing experiences enable the children to develop their scientific skills further. For example, they are able to observe the animals at a closer angle (Moomaw, 2011).
Bexley, Jack & Jill Preschool Inc. (2012). Bexley Jack and Jill Preschool – *Excursions Policy. Retrieved from http://www.bexleyjackandjillpreschool.com/5512d583-3646-483e-8323-183f16d427a5.html
Bredekamp, S. (2011). Effective practices in early childhood education: Building a foundation. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson.
City of Melbourne. (2013). Melbourne Aquarium – City of Melbourne. Retrieved from http://www.thatsmelbourne.com.au/Placestogo/Attractions/FamilyFun/Pages/1516.aspx
Early Childhood News. (2008). Earlychildhood NEWS – Article Reading Center. Retrieved from http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleId=409
Farrugia, J., & Victorian Institute of Marine Sciences. (2000). An Octopus’s garden: An early childhood marine education resource guide for teaching young children 3-8 years old. Geelong.
Hedges, H. (2004). ECRP. Vol 6 No 1. A Whale of an Interest in Sea Creatures: The Learning Potential of Excursions. Retrieved from http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v6n1/hedges.html
Moomaw, S. (2011). Teaching mathematics in early childhood. Baltimore, Md: Paul H. Brookes Pub.
Saracho, O. N., & Spodek, B. (2008). Contemporary perspectives on mathematics in early childhood education. Charlotte, NC: IAP/Information Age Pub.
World Health Organisation. (2009). WHO | Early child development. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs332/en/
Zelazo, P. D., & Argitis, G. (2003). The Development of executive function in early childhood. Boston, Mass: Blackwell Pub.