Engaging children and their teachers, A. M. Qattan Foundation concludes the Science Days Palestine 2018 Festival for Early Childhood
1 December 2018
Ramallah – Under the theme Food Revolution 2050, the Early Childhood Professional Development programme of the Educational Research and Development Programme (ERDP) / A. M. Qattan Foundation concluded the Science Days Palestine (SDP) 2018 Festival for Early Childhood on Wednesday, 21 November 2018. Held over an entire month, the SDP 2018 Festival engaged ten kindergartens from different geographies. The festival events were launched at the Abwein Kindergarten and Mixed Primary School and concluded at the Al-Binan al-Sighar [Little Fingers] Kindergarten in Al-Mazra’a al-Qibliya.
The SDP 2018 Festival featured activities, events, and science exhibits. Vivian Tannous, Researcher at the Early Childhood Professional Development Programme, explained that the SDP 2018 Festival, implemented for the third year in a row, was part of the Early Childhood Professional Development programme. Work began with early childhood educators several months before the festival was organised in order to introduce and discuss this year’s theme and its relationship to kindergarteners.
On the main theme of this year’s edition of the SDP Festival
Tannous highlighted the amount of research effort invested to ensure that this year’s main theme could match the awareness of KG children. Research focused on how to present and simplify a global idea to these children. For example, researchers engaged in concepts that spotlight the importance of preventing food waste and paying attention to the quality of food. Other concepts were linked to consumption values among people. Researchers also drew children’s attention to the idea of cultivation, having a direct contact with soil, and finding different agricultural alternatives, such as using empty pots for cultivation with a view to consolidating recycling approaches.
Models and experiences
Mrs. Tahani Ladadweh, Principal of the Al-Binan al-Sighar [Little Fingers] Kindergarten in Al-Mazra’a al-Qibliya – one of the KGs that hosted the SDP 2018 Festival events, indicated that this was the second time the KG hosted the festival. Last year, the experience was successful and encouraged us to go on. “The aim is to convey the idea that children, like adults, must be introduced to these scientific ideas. It is commonly believed that children cannot understand this type of information.” Ladadweh explained. Reflecting on the simplification of science so that they are easily understood by children, Ladadweh said that early childhood educators embraced and tried to deconstruct the idea of “food revolution” in a way that would match children’s awareness.
Commenting on children’s reactions to what they experimented and heard, Ladadweh stated that interactions were more than wonderful. “We have sensed feelings of joy among children.” Ladadweh also said that most significant themes shed light on how children could protect their health by paying attention to their food. In particular, children learned mechanisms for dealing with different food supplies and making use of food waste by food drying. Children also learned about the different uses of olives.
Since kindergarteners were the main target group of the SDP 2018 Festival, Tannous indicated that researchers were always stunned by the reactions of these children, as well as their parents and local communities. This is because the festival themes were introduced to them for the first time. They did not have any prior information about these themes. The creative idea here was that the children themselves go ahead, host their parents in the SDP Festival, and take them on a tour around various scientific stations of the festival.
As they were also targeted by the SDP 2018 Festival, parents expressed their opinions about the event. A mother said she was so happy to see her daughter participate in such a festival. She also commended the skills she learned during this engagement. “Children acquire knowledge which help them both at school and in future life”.
Preparations for this year’s edition of the SDP Festival began in July 2018 in collaboration between KG educators, who engaged with the Early Childhood Professional Development programme. Preparations were supervised by Malik Al-Remawi and Vivian Tannous.