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Current Teaching and Learning Projects

Using Trial Balloons as a Way to Trigger Children’s Curiosity and Big Ideas:
An Action Research Project in Partnership with Mount Saint Vincent University

Trial Balloons, a concept developed by Dr. Beverlie Dietze, Assistant Professor in the Department of Child and Youth Studies at the Mount, “float” ideas to children as a way to trigger their curiosity and expand their play experiences.

With the assistance of Holland College’s Applied Research department and the Mount’s Industry Liaison Office, the Early Childhood Care and Education program and the Early Learning Centre/Lab School have partnered with Dr. Dietze to test her trial balloon concept.

A training workshop took place in June of 2013 at Holland College’s Early Learning Centre. Participants included:

  • Dr. Dietze
  • An Early Childhood Care and Education learning manager
  • The director of the Early Learning Centre
  • Three Early Childhood educators/volunteer researchers
  • A Special Needs assistant/volunteer researcher
  • An Early Childhood Care and Education student
  • Research Assistant from Holland College’s Applied Research department

The focus of the workshop was to:

  • Review Trial Balloons
  • Discuss roles and responsibilities of the research team
  • Explain action research
  • Develop research questions
  • Examine and practise ways to collect data
  • Describe and practice reflexive journal writing

Workshop Outcomes:

  • Developed a detailed two week plan for Trial Balloon #1 in September 2013.
  • Developed a to-do list for team members including items such as completion of online ethics certificate

Next Steps:

  • Launch Trial Balloon #1 at the Early Learning Center on September 23rd, 2013. The Trial Balloon #1 question is: What do we observe if the outdoor space is an option during area time? (Area time is a period of time in the morning where the children can choose an area out of 4 or 5 options to play in.)
  • Have a second workshop with Beverlie Dietze and the research team following the first Trial Balloon.
  • Set up a tentative schedule for each Trial Balloon to “float” between now and March 2014.

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