Understanding the Teaching of Science

I love teaching science. . .  children getting totally absorbed in the knowledge and enquiry that science delivers if taught with a little imagination.

There should also be LOTS of talk, always be a practical element and most of the lesson should be experiential. Children should be ‘doing’ something; up out of their seats, moving around, fetching things, collecting information with a clipboard, wearing a lab coat or carrying a tape measure or camera! Yes, part of it is recording…. but the ‘nitty gritty’ of science is the discovery process! We ask a question or pose a problem or variable and then we go about solving or researching it with copious amount of conversation along the way. How exciting!

STEM

In recent years, the term STEM has been commonly used within the science curriculum. It means: Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics. These skills are important and link so well to future careers and children’s holistic development. They become problem solvers, critical thinkers, analysers and they are able to solve real world problems that may prepare them for the future job landscape!

So, science lessons need to be thought provoking; they need to be rich in content and not just a tick box exercise for half an hour a week. Science needs to be resourced well and recorded appropriately in each year group. It may sometimes be recorded in a writing / English lesson although this may be down to school policy. Lessons or activities can be blocked or taught weekly! Floor books may be used. . . as long as the learning and progress and success is recorded in some form.

Science Lesson Ideas

I recall a wonderful lesson based on space where we all went into the hall for a ‘space mission’ morning. I’d closed all the blinds and put on some sound effects and used lasers to create stars / shapes around the room and there were images of the galaxy and Tim Peake on the interactive whiteboard. The children worked in teams of four and had to complete the many varied space missions around the room. e.g. Can you taste and identify the space food flavours? Can you build the tallest tower when wearing the space gloves? (marigolds), Roll the marble the furthest distance using the equipment and a few others. . . (The flipchart is available)

Another great investigation topic launch day was an introduction to materials. Very open ended and I didn’t really do anything except explain the outline of the tasks and even then… there were many elements of choice available to them giving them autonomy to select their own groups / learning journeys for the day….. it was very much a free for all – in a relatively organised way! The children moved around the space working with each other on open ended tasks. e.g. sort the materials, which material is the strongest, which ones are magnetic etc. .  We had amazing conversations about objects and why they are made of certain materials! We recorded lots of statements and knowledge that would kick start our lesson the week after.

I also love science focus days each term where you devote substantial time to STEM activities. They are also so good at encouraging teamwork, delegation and leadership. Science activities need to be exciting for children, they need to nurture their curiosity and they need to be relevant to their lives. The children’s own questioning should come into play as often as possible and there should be a happy balance of theory and fun along the way.

Quizzes are SO good at encouraging the children to recall science facts / general knowledge! And they are fun and can be done at the end of the morning or a random moment of the day.

I do love a good Science question to start a theme or even a statement that we can then go on to prove or disprove.

SCIENCE THEMES

  • Do animals have ears?
  • What type of boat will stay afloat the longest?
  • Where will the plants grow tallest?
  • What happens to the sun over the course of a day?
  • Which flowers do bees like the best?
  • Do we all have different teeth?
  • Do all living things have legs?
  • What is the most common spider?
  • Are the seasons the same around the world?
  • Is exercise more important than a good diet?
  • What’s the best material for a snowman’s coat?

Read more tips and advice on teaching science

Let me know what you loved in science when you were younger in the comments! If you would like the flipchart mentioned above please contact me!

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