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.
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!
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.”