The Little Bang Discovery Club is a pre-school STEM initiative developed by Children’s Discovery Museum in partnership with the Randwick City Library service. Little Bang targets pre-schoolers and early primary school aged children who, with an adult co-learner, develop knowledge and skills that inspire early scientific exploration, discovery and learning. The program consists of four weekly of in-library hands-on activities, based on a sequence of skills; collecting and classifying, measuring and experimenting, communication and sharing, leading to a finale science fair and ‘graduation’ celebration.
Each child receives a Discovery Box for the duration of the program. Filled with age-appropriate tools and equipment, these materials are for use during each session and at home. The children also borrow a copy of the Little Bang Book of Discovery and, along with at home discovery tasks, can continue their exploration with their families between the weekly sessions.
Why do it?
From their earliest years, children are inquisitive and eager to learn. Research supports the idea that children exposed to quality early learning experiences will generally be better prepared for school, and that such programs need not be academically focused to have academic impact (National Academy of Sciences, 2016). Evidence shows that disadvantaged families have higher rates of participation in out-of-school learning programs, such as those offered in public libraries (Dusenbery, P.B. 2014). Little Bang contributes to building the capacity of young children, families and communities to develop critical thinking habits and scientific literacy – core skills for the Information Age.
Why is it unique?
Little Bang Discovery Clubs requires adult co-learners to accompany their children to each session. The children benefit from activities that encourage learning through their natural curiosity and their desire to make sense of the world around them. The adults benefit as co-learners with their child, discussing and sharing in the joy and wonder of discovery and enhancing their own learning. The program encourages curiosity, creativity, communication, collaboration and a can-do attitude.
After a Little Bang Discovery Club experience, many adults gain confidence to engage scientifically with their children, viewing it as simpler than they thought. They report finding more opportunities in their home and environment to be curious and apply critical thinking skills.
Libraries host the program and market participation to their members. The library staff take bookings, and provide assistants at each session. Often librarians will showcase complimentary items from their collection of books and DVDs. In some cases, libraries will actively seek new items to add to their junior STEM collection.
Little Bang Discovery Club has been a springboard for many libraries to offer holiday programs and afterschool science clubs for older children, often utilising local STEM providers. Many also provide training and access to new technologies such as 3-D printers, and loanable science equipment e.g. Spark!Discovery Boxes.
Little Bang in your community
Since 2011, Little Bang Discovery Club has been presented in 25 libraries and other community settings covering 16 (pre-merger) council areas within the greater Sydney area. In 2015, the program expanded and began training librarians in regional centres, starting with those in Narrabri and Wagga Wagga. In 2016, with assistance from Inspiring Australia and State library partners, Children’s Discovery Museum trained over 100 librarians and community partners in regional South Australia, Victoria and NSW. We are now seeking expressions of interest for communities interested in offering Little Bang Discovery Club in a variety of settings. We have created program that can be delivered in day care centres, community centres and primary schools. Training is a full-day event, and will be delivered with minimum of 5-10 participating libraries or community organisations.