27 April, 2022 | Posted by Michelle Hogan

Portobello Presents: The Aistear Framework, underpinning STEAM in Early Education; The Irish and US perspectives

Portobello Presents: The Aistear Framework, underpinning STEAM in Early Education; The Irish and US perspectives

Portobello Institute’s Early Years department continues its series of free, informative CPD webinars with ‘The Aistear Framework, underpinning STEAM in Early Education; The Irish and US perspectives’.  

The webinar will take place online on Monday, May 9th from 7 PM. You can register your place for free here.

This webinar will explore where STEM/STEAM education exists in the Aistear Framework and the comparison between STEM/STEAM in early years education in Ireland and the US.

Keynote Speaker - Vanessa Sharpe

Vanessa Sharpe will present her experience of the comparison between STEM/STEAM in early years education in Ireland and the US. 

Vanessa has spent years dedicated to early education. She owned and ran Bee Smart Montessori for 15 years in Dublin. While working at Portobello Institute as a Senior Lecturer, she delivered courses for the BA (Hons) Degree in Early Childhood Studies.

She is currently working in education in the USA. She obtained her BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Studies from London Metropolitan University and an MA in Early Childhood Education from the University of Sheffield.  

She is currently continuing her passion for early education as she pursues her Doctorate in Early Childhood Education at the University of Sheffield.

Her previous research has spanned from introducing play concepts into a traditional Montessori setting to the benefits of block play to young children. Her current research is focused on Early Childhood Educators' perceptions of the current climate of change in Ireland.  

Vanessa is committed to highlighting the necessity to improve pay and working conditions as well as retaining highly qualified and experienced early childhood educators in Ireland. 

By attending this webinar you will gain insights into the development of STEM/STEAM in early education in both Ireland and the United States.

Register here.

The Context of STEM/STEAM in the United States

STEM, in full science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, field, and curriculum centered on education in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This now, particularly in early education, includes ‘A’ for the Arts creating the acronym STEAM. 

The STEM acronym was introduced in 2001 by scientific administrators at the US National Science Foundation (NSF). The organisation previously used the acronym SMET when referring to the career fields in those disciplines or a curriculum that integrated knowledge and skills from those fields.  

In 2001, however, American biologist Judith Ramaley, then assistant director of education and human resources at NSF, rearranged the words to form the STEM acronym. Since then, STEM-focused curriculum has been extended to many countries beyond the United States, with programs developed in places such as Australia, China, France, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. 

The United States has been at the forefront of STEM/STEAM research and development over the last two decades, acknowledging the importance of these disciplines for success in education and employment. 

Having spent many years on both sides of the Atlantic as well as carrying out extensive research and practice in early education, Vanessa Sharpe is well-equipped to share the latest, innovative information about STEAM in early education in the United States and Ireland. 

Joining Vanessa on the night will be Portobello Institute’s MA in Early Childhood Studies student Kellie Duggan.  

Early Years Webinar Student Speaker

Kellie is a motivated and passionate educator for all. She initially completed a BA in mathematics, followed by a PGCE in primary education, where she studied in the East end of London. She taught in one of the most diverse areas in East London for a few years, quickly progressing to a leadership role in mathematics, which is where her first experience of early years education was.  

Kellie felt an instant affinity with early years and has strived since in promoting standards of excellence within early years. Kellie returned to Ireland in 2007 to launch her own early years company called Kickstart Education, and to date has successfully opened three early learning centers in Wexford.  

Over the years, Kellie has also enjoyed adult education within the sector and has worked as a tutor for Portobello institute in the past delivering their SNA course, and currently is a content developer and early years/SNA trainer with Forustraining, as well as a lecturer and content developer with Open College Dublin on their Early years L5 - L7 courses.  

Kellie is currently studying with Portobello Institute, on the Masters in Early Childhood Studies program. Through this, she has established clear personal philosophies on the importance of play, capability discourse, and professional identity.

She affirms her view of the child as a competent and active agent of their own learning and advocates standards of excellence with the practitioner taking the crucial role of co-learner.  

Kellie is currently returning to her mathematical roots, completing a dissertation on “mathematics in Early years” and hopes to specialise further in this area. 

At the webinar, Kellie is going to shine a light on STEM/STEAM education within the Aistear Framework. This is often an overlooked aspect of Aistear and one that many are either not aware of or don’t know how to approach.  

Portobello Institute is committed to sharing knowledge and STEAM education in early childhood education and empowering practitioners to embrace STEAM in their settings using materials already available to them in new and creative ways.

Early Years Webinar Host

Maeve Nolan, Personal Development Advisor and Senior Early Years Lecturer at Portobello Institute will host the webinar and Q&A session.

Maeve holds a BA in Montessori Education, an MA in International Politics and a BA in European Studies.

"For me education is so much more than an exchange of knowledge, through involvement and participation, it enables a passion for true learning," she said.

Read Maeve's full profile here.

Hundreds of early years professionals tune in to these webinars and share their thoughts and ideas.  

Register now and join us live on the evening of Monday, May 9th for this enjoyable and thought-provoking discussion. Anyone who joins us on the night will receive an eCertificate of attendance from Portobello Institute to keep for CPD purposes.  

For those who cannot attend live on the night, please still register as we will email you the recording after. The recording will also be available on our YouTube channel.


If you have any problems registering for the event, please email michelle.hogan@portobelloinstitute.com for help.  

Read More: #DEARForDyslexia - STEAM Education Bringing Reading to Life with Interactive Storytelling 

Don't forget to register and spread the word  

We look forward to welcoming you to the Portobello webinar experience, please register today and come along to share the knowledge from these experts in early childhood education. Don't forget to share this event with your friends, colleagues, and in social media groups to benefit your fellow early years practitioners and colleagues.  

Check out our Early Years Knowledge Zone here 

Follow @portobelloinstitute on Instagram here.   

Like our Facebook page here. 

Rewatch our past webinars: 

WATCH: Dr Geraldine French on Supporting Language and Literacy Development in Early Childhood Portobello Institute Webinar

WATCH: Dr Mary O’Kane on Collaborative Partnership with Children and Families Portobello Institute Webinar

WATCH: Nóirín Hayes on Embracing a Nurturing Pedagogy Portobello Institute Webinar

WATCH: Trauma-Sensitive and Relationship-Based Approaches in Early Childhood – Dr Judith Butler Portobello Institute Webinar

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