Teaching science in Primary School can be challenging, especially when faced with the skills required under the new National Curriculum. We want to make your job easier and share with you some of our Top Tips in teaching science, the scientific method and advice on how to engage your pupils in WOW science!
Evaluation: Spotting & Explaining Anomalies
Evaluation is the final stage of investigations and an important skill for pupils to develop. In this activity pupils must develop the ability to be completely honest about the findings of their investigation. A key part of the evaluation process is spotting anomalies and explaining where these occur and why they may have happened.
It is essential when teaching a lesson where developing evaluation as the science skill focus, all the planning is done, and data recorded quickly in order for a thorough evaluation to be undertaken.
Remember, it is only through continual practise in evaluating experiments using data obtained through actual investigations that will pupils develop this skill!
An investigation for Developing the Skill of Spotting Anomalies
Discuss with the class what they understand about the word ‘dissolving’. After defining what a Solute (substance that dissolves) , Solvent (substance that is able to dissolve something) and Solution (a mixture of the two) is, introduce the different substances below and ask them to make a prediction first about which they think is most soluble.
Provide pupils with access to the different solutes (see table below) and measuring cylinders and ask them to record how many spoonfuls of each solute it took to reach a saturated solution – i.e one where no more would dissolve.
|PREDICTED AMOUNT||ACTUAL AMOUNT||ORDER OF SOLUBILITY|
When analysing your data, consider some of the below questions and see if your pupils can answer them.
- Can you and your pupils decide if the data is reliable?
- Where there any anomalies?
- Where did the anomalies occur?
- Why do you think the anomalies occurred?
- Can you and your pupils explain why the data might not be valid?
- How could you repeat the experiment to ensure that the data was both reliable and valid?
Skills: Find ways of improving their investigations by evaluating what they have already done.
Knowledge: Properties and changes of materials. Dissolving and showing that not all changes are reversible.
From the National Curriculum
The national curriculum for science aims to ensure that all pupils:
- Develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics
- Develop understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science through different types of science enquiries that help them to answer scientific questions about the world around them
- Are equipped with the scientific knowledge required to understand the uses and implications of science, today and for the future.
The 23rd May is World Turtle Day!
Did you know, turtles are as old as dinosaurs! They can be dated back over to 100 million years ago; about the same time as the tyrannosaurus rex walked our land. They’re very unique in their anatomy by having exoskeletons, meaning that their shell is actually part of their skeleton and helps to protect their organs. A turtle cannot be separated from its shell, but it can retract its head inside as a form of protection. They also live for hundreds of years; the oldest is a turtle names Tu’i Malila who lived to be 188 years old on Tonga Island in the Pacific.
They live all over the planet by the sea, so long as it is warm and there is marine life for them to eat. Females lay their eggs in a nest buried in the sand and will return to the same beach they were born on. When hatched, baby turtles will make their way to the sea and begin their lives in the ocean. Males will never leave the water, but females will come back on land to lay eggs.
Currently, there are 7 species of marine turtle, nearly all of which are either vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered. This is down to illegal poaching for their skin, shells, eggs and meat as well as human’s encroaching on their habitats, meaning they can lay eggs, and being captured in fishing nets. Rising temperatures, due to Global Warming, also affects them as sand temperatures are higher and this affects the sex of hatchlings (meaning there is an imbalance in gender and they cannot reproduce).
Another thing threatening the lifespan of marine turtles is the amount of plastic in the oceans. Single use plastic, such as straws, can have a hugely detrimental effect on survival rates. Straws get lodged in turtles noses, restricting their breathing and limiting their ability to feed. Plastic from packaging can suffocate turtles as it can look like a jelly fish, which they love to eat. They will mistake it for food and try to eat it, but not be able to digest the plastic and eventually die as a result.
Plastic is not biodegradable; it can take up to 1,000 years for it to break down and less than 5% of all plastic used is recycled.
How can you help save turtles and other marine life?
There are two things you could do to drastically improve the quality of life for turtles and other marine life both now and for the future;
- Try not to use single use plastic (straws, plastic bags, food packaging) and recycle where possible. Many companies are stopping the manufacturing and use of single use plastics.
- Not encroaching on their natural habitats or purchasing things that have turtle in them, such as sunglasses or instruments. Always check the materials things are made from if you are not sure.
By doing these two things, you will be preventing the creatures from harming themselves, or dying as a result of ingesting plastics. If you become more aware of the materials used in your everyday objects, you are not sustaining the trade in which the turtles are poached for and therefore stopping the need for them to be poached.
If everybody does one thing to help, then that equals about 7 billion changes and no one can argue that that isn’t a lot!
With summer just around the corner, we know energy levels will be rising in the classroom along with the temperature outside! Children are desperate to be outside and taking a class out into the playground might be more beneficial to their education than you may first think.
Benefits to taking a class outside this summer!
Boosts creativity and imagination, meaning children can solve problems easier and are able to overcome challenges that they may have been struggling with.
Creates a deeper learning experience through play and experimentation. Children will be more engaged and involved with what they are learning and therefore, their retention will be better.
Reduces behaviour issues due to more stimulating environment and the fact that the lesson is a novelty.
Nurtures interest and understanding of the environment and how it works. Children can interact with their surroundings and see real life examples of how nature works.
Places children in a healthier environment by being outside in the fresh air. It tops up vitamin D levels (remember to stay protected from the sun!) and natural light is proven to boost people’s mood.
Provides tangible context to learning. If children are learning about plants, there is no better way to teach them than to go and find some real-life plants in their playground! It also enables a hands-on approach to be taken, letting children physically interact with their surroundings.
Builds relationships between peers as children work together and subsequently, builds confidence with their own abilities. It can improve social skills and help children to work collaboratively.
Decreases the stress levels of children by being in a less restrictive space and a healthier environment.
It’s fun! Learning can be done anywhere and sometimes giving children a more stimulating environment can make all the difference to their retention and understanding.
So why not take your class out this summer and see what benefits you see with your pupils!
Today is World Migratory Bird Day!
5 facts we should probably know
- Did you know that 40% of all species of birds are migratory? In the United Kingdom about half of our bird species migrate especially those insect eaters, who can’t find enough food in the winter. Not surprisingly, in Scandinavia and Canada, almost all birds migrate south for warmer winters and conversely in the rain-forest very few birds migrate, choosing to stay where there is far more reliable weather and food supply
Examples of migratory birds in the UK are
- Some of the migrant birds in the UK may come for the summer and some for the winter but other species are what’s known as partial migrants. That means that in some countries a species of bird might stay in the same place, whilst in other countries the same species might migrate to somewhere else for the winter. Starlings are partial migrants – the ones that breed in the UK, stay in the UK but those that breed in Eastern Europe migrate to the UK in winter. The same is true for chaffinches, robins, lapwings, coots and many other common birds#
- Some species are what’s known as altitudinal migrants. That means that these live in high terrain in summer but lowland in winter. Although the journey may not be long, it often involves quite a change in lifestyle. Altitudinal migrants in the UK include skylarks, meadow pipits and snow buntings. Find out more about the Snow Bunting here:
- One strange type of migrant bird is a group known as moult migrants. These migrate to a ‘safe’ territory to specifically allow them to shed their feathers. After their breeding season is over they fly to their designated place, shed their feathers including their flying feathers, then fly home when their feathers are grown back. Example of moult migrants are Shelducks who fly to the island of Heligoland to moult.
- There is one other type of migratory bird and these are known as passage migrants. These birds stop off in the UK during their long journey north or south and examples of such birds are green sandpipers and black terns. They use the UK like a service station for a few weeks.
If you think your pupils might be interested in celebrating our birds and specifically our migratory birds why not join in the activities on Migratory Bird Day 2018. You might want to start a School Garden log for children to note down t he birds they see.
Here are some websites with lots of ideas and resources to help you:
Did you know it is Sun Awareness Week from the 14th – 20th May in the UK?
It’s a chance for an important reminder on the dangers of too much exposure to the sun and how you can protect yourself from its harmful rays.
Facts about skin and sun-damage
- Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, but it is also the most preventable. Most skin cancer is caused by sunburn before the age of 18 or continued exposure to the sun without protection – more than 80% of adults don’t apply sun-cream in the UK!
- A suntan is really sun damage. By the time your skin changes colour, it is already damaged, and the colour change is the bodies response to the melanin being destroyed.
- Humans need the sun for vitamin D and to help us absorb calcium. Vitamin D helps us to build and maintain healthy teeth and bones and is a vital nutrient for our bodies. 30 minutes of early morning sun, before it’s rays are at full strength, can be very healthy. But be careful not to burn!
- When the skin bubbles, peels or blisters after a sunburn, it is actually a 2nd degree burn.
- There are 2 types of harmful rays from the sun – UVA and UVB. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and cause premature aging, whereas UVB will cause damage to the surface layers to the skin.
How to protect yourself from the Sun
- Cover up in clothes that are tightly woven. The more transparent the item, the less protection it offers.
- Wear sun-cream with SPF30+ and check for UVA and UVB protection. In the UK, this is a star rating, so look for the 5* rating on your bottle.
- Avoid the sun between 10am and 4pm as this is when it is at is most harmful.
- Wear a hat and use sunglasses that protect from UVA and UVB rays.
The sun can be very dangerous for our delicate skin, even though it many benefits are vital to sustain life on Earth. While the ozone layer around Earth helps to protect us from a lot of the dangers, it is important to stay protected when you’re out and about in the sunlight.
The benefits of the sun help to keep all life on Earth alive. Coupled with water and oxygen, sunlight is imperative. Heat generated from the suns rays help to stop our planet from freezing and makes it hospitable from us, the sunlight helps plants to turn carbon-dioxide into oxygen and, due to the Earth changing its tilt throughout the year, the amount of sunlight changes the seasons.
Some things you may not know about the Sun
- The sun is actually a star we have named “The Sun” – the philosopher Anaxagoras was the first to suggest that the sun is a star, around 450 BC. It is thought to be about 4.6 billion years old and estimated to be half way through its lifetime.
- It takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds for light from the sun to reach Earth due to how far away the sun is; just under 93million miles away – and it’s our closest star!
- The suns gravity is 28x stronger than gravity on Earth and it is the reason why everything in our galaxy revolves around the sun, including all the planets.
- The sun has no solid surface and is just gas, mostly hydrogen, but helium, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen are part of the mix.
- Photosynthesis is one of the most important things to happen on our planet. It is when plants use sunlight to change carbon dioxide to oxygen and synthesise nutrients from water. Without this process, there would not be life on Earth as we know it.
Written by Jenny Smitherman who is a qualified teacher and has first class honours in primary education with 12 years of teaching experience in primary schools.
The national curriculum clearly states that all children should be taught full and enriching science at primary schools, complete with practical lessons and inspiring ideas. This sounds fairly straight forward, but when there are 12 different programmes of study for KS2 alone, it can become quite overwhelming for a non-science specialist.
Throughout the national curriculum, reference is made to the use of practical investigations to deepen children’s understanding and to promote experience in the use of basic equipment as well as increasing their knowledge year on year. Emphasis is also made on deepening a child’s understanding of the world in which they live and inspiring them with the wonders of science.
“Science has changed our lives and is vital to the world’s future prosperity, and all pupils should be taught essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science. Through building up a body of key foundational knowledge and concepts, pupils should be encouraged to recognise the power of rational explanation and develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about natural phenomena. They should be encouraged to understand how science can be used to explain what is occurring, predict how things will behave, and analyse causes.” Taken from the Science Programmes of Study, September 2013.
But what does the national curriculum for science actually mean?
The first step is to break it down and understand what the requirements for children are. The second is to make sure it is understood how each of these areas can be fulfilled whilst teaching. Below is a chart to show the areas of the national curriculum at KS2 and how you can fulfill these with Empiribox.
By the end of KS2, it is expected that children have a basic understanding of the scientific methods, how science can be applied to everyday life and have an innate curiosity to the world around them. Using Empiribox, all of this becomes second nature for students as our lessons encourage their natural scientist to bloom.
Teaching the science curriculum can seem overwhelming when first reading through the requirements, but breaking it down into bitesize chunks makes it a lot easier to understand and it becomes achievable.
Empiribox has gone to great lengths to ensure that children meet the national curriculum requirements with our service, whilst also building on the basic principles of science and correcting any misconceptions that they may have. This solid foundation gives them the opportunity to start the next phase of their education already bursting with ideas and enthusiasm for the wonders of science.
Beverley Crowne, her husband Nicholas and best friend Anne Marie Cooklin from Mill Hill in north London will be delivering jaw dropping, practical science lessons to children in the poorest areas of Mumbai for six weeks in the new year, thanks to Empiribox. Their science package comes complete with equipment, training, lesson plans, schemes of work and assessment tools so that teachers with no specialist science knowledge can deliver inspiring lessons with experiments that children will remember for the rest of their lives.
Empiribox is the brainchild of Dan Sullivan, a former secondary head of science with over 17 years’ experience in teaching and he has been advising Beverley, Nicholas and Anne Marie. He has coached them, given them free places on continual professional development sessions for primary teachers in south London schools and is donating all the science equipment that the group will take to India.
As Empiribox’s founder, Dan, together with managing director David Saul, and commercial director Ivor Tucker, was keen to help because the challenge fits well with their company’s mission to create strong, sustainable and socially inclusive primary school science education across the UK and internationally.
Beverley, Nicholas and Anne Marie are going to India as part of the Gabriel Project Mumbai (GPM), a Jewish volunteer-based initiative which provides hunger relief, literacy, numeracy and health services to vulnerable children. The group will spend some weeks working in Mumbai’s Kalwa slum before moving on to the Palghar district, a rural area, delivering exciting sessions from the Empiribox science curriculum to children in around 20 local villages.
“We were daunted at first,” said Beverley, “Especially when we realised that we had so little science knowledge and would be working in classrooms with no electricity or water, teaching children who had never had a science lesson in their lives.” But they have all been delighted by the support they have received. Gailarde, an Elstree company providing household textiles for industry, hotels and ships, has offered to make sure that the Empiribox science equipment reaches Mumbai in one piece.
The trio spent an afternoon at Etz Chaim Jewish Primary School on December 7 putting their new-found knowledge and skills to the test with children from years 4, 5 and 6 as they taught them about potential and kinetic energy through a series of exciting activities. The children spent the lesson devising trials for springy toys, rolling ball bearings down a runway and experimenting with different lengths and weights to see how they affected the swing of a pendulum. Teachers at Etz Chaim commented that children were enthusiastic and engaged and the new teachers enjoyed it too.
“Empiribox is fun and exciting for children,” said Anne Marie. “I remember finding science dull at school, but all the interaction and practical sessions spark an enthusiasm for science and scientific thinking. It’s like a magic show that enthrals the pupils.”