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Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Project Based Learning (STEM PBL)
596500951308000242799238182400-32065023975800Gardening and Planting tomato
STEM PBL approach
STEM PBL is a professional project-based learning that teachers/educators use their high-quality professional development experience to design the learning activities and experiences to engage children in authentic and in-depth study of the topic of real world investigations, explored through the four disciplines of STEM. Through this STEM Project based learning, teacher/educator plays an important role in guiding children to think and frame their thoughts, ideas and possible solutions (Department of education, 2017). Children will learn and gain deep understanding about gardening and planting tomato. Moreover, they will also scaffold their learning and develops the knowledge and concepts of STEM in gardening as well as planting through a range of learning experiences and activities which will be implemented across four disciplines of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). In addition, this STEM PBL also gives opportunities for children to engage in critical and creative thinking, exploration, collaboration, investigation, active problem-solving, communication and self-directed learning (Capraro, Capraro & Morgan, 2013).
Science Experience (Biology science)
Topic: Plant the tomato plants (planting)
Duration: 15-20 minutes initial planting the tomato plants, 10-12 weeks for the seeds to grow until become a plant
Learning goals:
To gain understanding about the life cycle of tomato plants
To gain understanding of how to plant the tomato plants
To understand how to keep the plant alive Learning outcomes (Link to EYLF): Children will…
Learn and understand the life cycle of tomato plant and the importance of gardening.

Learn how to plant the tomato plants.

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Demonstrates fine motor skills to manipulate and manage the tools (using scoop)
Demonstrates to use language to express their thoughts and experiences, express verbally to what they see, hear and feel (LO 5.1)
LO 2- Connected to their surrounding world as they displayed their social responsibility and respect the environment by planting and watering of the tomato plants.
LO 4.1- Develop their curious, concentration and enthusiastic participants in planting, express wonder and interest in the environments
(DEEWR, 2009)
Activity Description:
This science activity will give opportunities for children to plant their own plants. Children will experience to take care of their plants and watering every day. It will take a couple of weeks, once their sprouts grow until become a plant.

Resources:
Soil
Water can
Water
Pots
Tomato seeds
The life cycle pictures of tomato
Children scoops Key questions to be investigated:
How can we know the tomato seeds are growing?
What are the conditions of tomatoes plants?
What can you do with the tomatoes that you grow?
How do you know the tomato is ripe or unripe?
How long does it take when the sprout grows out?
What did you learn from planting?
Teaching strategies:
Teachers can use the time during gardening (outdoor) or group time, to talk about the topic of planting the tomato (gardening).

Using Bloom’s taxonomy theory method of higher order thinking questions to ask children about planting, give opportunities for them to share and discuss about this topic.

Collect and document the information about planting with children together, allow them to share their ideas and thoughts they have already known from their life experience. Educator may use the investigation web method to document their information.
Show children the life cycle picture of tomato plants and explain to children about the parts and each stage of the growing process of the tomato plants. Encourage children to ask questions and discuss together about it.
Get ready for the resources (scoops, soil, tomato seeds, pots, water).

Demonstrate and model to plant the tomato seeds into the soil of the pot, then encourage children to engage in planting on their own.

Give each child the pots and ask them to fill their pots with soil by using their scoops. After fill the pot with soil, ask them to make a hole in the middle of soil with their fingers, and put the tomato seeds into the soil then cover the seeds with the soil.

During the process, educators observe children when they are planting the seeds, and make sure that children are follow the directions. Educators will give children support when they need help.

After that, allow children to use the water can to water their seeds until it is moist, and place them in the safe place under the sunlight.

Educator make sure all the children water their plants every day. Continue to water and care for their own plants, it will take few days to see the sprouts and further growing to become a tomato plant after a couple of weeks.

Explain to children the importance of growth and environment for plants (water, air, soil, sunlight).

Technology experience
Topic: Explore creative ideas to design an outdoor garden for children’s tomato plants
Duration: 30 minutes
Learning goals:
To gain an understanding of what is garden
To discuss and to talk about the designing of outdoor garden
To use their imagination and ideas to create and design their own garden
To use the tools (resources) to create and design their own garden Learning outcomes (Link to EYLF): Children will….

Share their ideas and thoughts about their design for garden
Use the crafts to create and design the garden
Select and use any techniques they like to design ideas for garden (Eg: drawings, use crafts to create, etc.)
LO 4.4-Explore their ideas, imagination and creativity to create and draw out their design.

LO 5.1- contribute their ideas in a group discussion about their design of garden for tomato plants
LO 1.1- express their ideas in their interactions with others.

(DEEWR, 2009)
Activity description:
Children will have the opportunities to use their imagination, develop their creative ideas and thoughts to express and create their own design of garden for tomato plants.
Resources:
Paper
Coloured pencils/ maker pen/ crayons/ paints
Crafts
Different real pictures of garden
Story book- “How does my garden grow?” by Gerda Muller Key questions to be investigated:
Why do you think garden is important?
What tools/ items do you want to have in the garden?
How can the garden be like?
What do you want to have in the garden? (Eg: rocks, stones, etc)
What do you want to plant in the garden?
Teaching strategies:
Educators will engage children in group time, discuss with them about want to make a garden in outdoor area.

Explain to children the importance of garden.

Ask children questions about the garden, “what do you wish a garden looks like?”, “What can you plant in the garden?” and explain to children that garden can plant a range of different types plants, vegetables or fruits.
Show some sample of the real garden pictures and read the storybook “How does my garden grow?” by Gerda Muller to children in the group time, which gives them some ideas and gain more understanding about the garden.

After then, tell and encourage children to use their imagination to create a garden by drawing out using the crafts or other materials.
Provide resources (paper, crafts, coloured pencils, etc), and ask them to draw, create and design a picture of the garden.

After children has done their picture of their own garden, educators can share to everyone, and encourage each child to talk about their designed garden artwork in the group time.

Put their artworks on the wall or keep in the folder and share with their families.
Engineering experience
Topic: Build the garden and transplant their plants to the new place (garden in outdoor).
Duration: 1 hour of set up, ongoing experience through summer
Learning goals:
To gain a sense of responsibility while gardening on their own
To work collaboratively to build the garden
To gain an understanding and importance of gardening through experimentation
To transplant their plants in the garden area
To gain an understanding about plants and how to keep them growing and healthy. Learning outcomes (Link to EYLF): Children will…
Actively participate in the gardening experience, recognize the plants are growing and understand about how to care for plants in outdoor garden.
Experience to transplant their tomato plants in the garden
Work collaboratively with educators to build the garden
LO Outcome 2.4- Demonstrate their responsibility and respect for the garden environment by planting, gardening and watering their plants.

LO 3.2.7- Demonstrate to manipulate and manage the tools to dig the hole and put the soil in the garden, which develops their fine motor skills
LO 4.1- Develop curiosity, cooperation, enthusiasm, imagination and persistence to engage in gardening and planting experience.

(DEEWR, 2009)
Activity description:
From this activity, children will experience to make a garden in outdoor area. They will experience to work collaboratively to garden and create with the tools for gardening by using their imagination and curiosity. Children will experience to take the plants from the pots and plant them into an outdoor garden.
Resources:
Rocks, stones, bricks
Soil
Shovels / scoops/ trowels for children and educator
Watering can
Water
Tomato plants
Support long wooden stick and support tie
A garden area Questions to be investigated:
What do you think a garden looks like?
What else can you plant in the garden?
What did you learn from gardening?
What other plants/ vegetables/ fruits do you want to plant in the garden?
Have you ever planted a garden in your house?
What do you think people plant in garden?
Why do you think the tomato plants need a bigger space to growth?
Why we need to transplant the plant in the garden?
Teaching strategies:
Educator will gather all the children in the group at first, explain to children that they will build a garden in outdoor.

Talk to children about what a garden is and the importance of building a garden.

Ask questions such as “Have you ever planted a garden at home?”, “what do you plant in your garden?”, etc.
Explain to children about their plants that they have planted are getting big enough and too large to be in the pots. Therefore, they need to transplant their plants to bigger space.
Make sure all the resources and tools are ready, educators will observe the children are safe all the time when they engage in the garden activity.
Give opportunities for children to work collaboratively to engage in gardening experience, allocate every child in different sections of gardening to make sure they have different works to do (For instance, surround the area with stones or bricks, put soil around, transplant their plants to the garden, etc.)
Demonstrates and models to dig a hole enough to cover the roots of their plant, encourage children to dig their holes.

After that, place their plants, root side into the ground and cover it with the soil. Make sure the stem, leaves and buds are exposed.
Give opportunities for children experience to put the soil around the ground by using the scoop/ shovels and transplant their plants from the pots to the garden. Educator will physical help children if they need any support.
Explain to children the importance of transplanting their plants to a new area.
Then, put each of the plant with one support long stick and tie to ‘hold up’ the plant as it is growing, explain to children the reason and importance of placing the support tie and long stick with the plants.
Next, surround the area with bricks or stones by placing them appropriately around the plants and encourage children to experience place the bricks around the plants.

After all the plants have been planted, ask children to water their plants until it is moist.

Talk to children how to continue to care for their plants and explain to them the outdoor elements that may impair the growth of the plants.

Mathematics experience
Topic: Measurement of the height of the tomato plant
Duration: 20 minutes for each time when measure the plants in a day. (ongoing experience for every week)
Learning goals:
To measure the height and length of the tomato plants
To gain the understanding that all the plants have different height and length
To develop children’s mathematical understanding of measurement Learning outcomes (Link to EYLF): Children will…
Use the measuring tape or ruler to measure the height and length of the plant
Measure the plants which allows children to see how tall their plants have grown in every week.
Understand that their plants are growing in different rates, as some of plants grow quickly and others are slower.
LO 4.2- use representation to communicate mathematical concepts
LO 5.1- demonstrate an understanding of measurement and number using vocabulary
(DEEWR, 2009)
Activity description:
Children will experience to use the measuring tape or ruler to measure their tomato plants from the garden and discover the differences number of height and length. Children will know how tall or long their plants they have grown in the garden.
Resources:
Measuring tape
Ruler
Tomato plants
Plant growth worksheet
pencil Questions to be investigated:
How long/ tall is your tomato plant?
Why your tomato plant is taller than others?
How tall will it be if you never pick up the plants?
Why do you think your plant is growing slower/ quicker?
How fast does a plant grow?
Teaching Strategies:
Educators will tell children that they will do a measurement experiment for their plants in the garden.

Invite children to outdoor garden and give the tools, (tape measurement or ruler) and have them to measure their own plants.

Educator will demonstrate and model to use the measuring tape/ ruler to measure the length or height of the plants.

Encourage children to measure the height and length of their plants on their own.

Give children the pencils and plant growth worksheet to record the height and length of their tomato plants.

Encourage children to say out the numbers of the height and length of their plants that they have grown and write the numbers of height in the worksheet.

Ask questions such as, “Why these tomato plants have different height?”, “Why do you think your plant is taller and longer?”, etc.

Explain to children that different plants are growing at different rates, there are some plants will grow quickly while others grow slower, as it depends on the requirement of water, type of soil and weather conditions.

Ask children to measure and record the length/ height of their plants every week.
How do you document the results and this STEM project based learning experiences, and shared to audiences?
How would you involve families or community in this STEM PBL?
STEM Concepts that children will be learned
Science Technology Engineering Mathematics
The life cycle of tomato
The requirement of plants
The tomato plant growth and environment-water, sunlight, air, soil
The parts of plant- roots, stem, leaves, fruits
Habitat of plants Garden habitat
The designed garden artwork that created by children
How children create and design the garden artwork (drawing, painting, use crafts, etc) The structure of garden
The space and size of the garden area
The garden building design
Different height/ length of tomato plants
Measurement
Different numbers of height/ length of each plant
Curriculum areas (The skills that children will develop and demonstrate)
Exploration Tomato plants in the garden, make a record of its growing process and observe different growing conditions of the plants every week.
Mathematics Count the tomatoes that have grown, measuring the height and length of the growing plants for each week.

Physical Use scoops/ shovels to dig the hole and put the soil in the garden, which demonstrates both fine and gross motor skills
Music and movement Sing the song “farmer plants the seeds” and movement song “making a garden” with doing actions.
Art and craft Draw the picture of the plants and garden or using crafts to create the picture of garden
Language and literacy Read the books such as “Jack’s garden” by Henry Cole, or “How does my garden grow?” by Gerda Muller
Excursion Vegetables/ fruits/ other plants garden trip to observe the different among the plants
Social and emotional Making ecosystem to take care of their plants, which demonstrates the sense of responsibility and respect

References
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations for the Council of Australian Governments DEEWR. (2009). Belonging, being and becoming: The early years learning framework for Australia. Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia.

Capraro, R. M., Capraro, M. M. ; Morgan, J. R. (2013). STEM Project based learning: An integrated science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/yijiu/Downloads/STEM%20Project%20-Based%20Learning%20(1).pdf
9 plant and garden stem activities. (n.d.). Edventures with kids. Retrieved from https://www.kcedventures.com/blog/gardening-with-kids-measure-plant-growth
Stem. (n.d.). The YMCA. Retrieved from https://www.mass.edu/stem/documents/preschoolcurricular/document.pdf

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