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Why Do We Study Science In Primary Schools?

Why do we study science?

Science is a key subject for children to learn about as they grow up. Science encourages types of learning such as critical thinking and problem solving which will be applicable in the rest of their lives in and out of the classroom. It could also be argued that working in science also provides one of the most fulfilling career routes, with Elon Musk recently stating: “too many people go into finance and law…more people should make stuff”.

What actually IS science?

Although we all surely have a familiar concept as to what is taught in a typical science lesson, it is strangely difficult to pin down a single definition of science. One way to describe science is the aim to create an evidence-based understanding of the world around us, including investigating, exploring, and meticulous questioning. Translating this across to the classroom is an exciting prospect, in theory, a science lesson should then be a session where children can consider the world around them and how it works. If children really thought of science like this, surely the numbers would be high? However, only 17% of boys pick science as their favourite subject, and for girls, the number is even lower, at just 8%.

What causes disinterest in science?

If you were a child walking into a classroom and you read on the whiteboard “covalent and ionic bonding” you’d probably feel slightly put off, intimidated and unenthusiastic. We know this because many students naturally have the belief that intelligence is unchangeable. Immediately, if they feel like they don’t understand something, they become de-motivated. As an alternative, if you were to change that lesson title to “learning how atoms bond together” you immediately open the door to the child, showing them immediately that they can learn something new today.

Teachers aren’t to blame, but it’s clear that there is a lack of confidence in teaching science seen across the UK. Teachers need to be reassured that being a good teacher of science doesn’t require incredible knowledge of complicated scientific topics, instead, it’s about creating an environment where pupils want to question, explore, and discuss ideas amongst themselves. Karen Pine writes in her Science & Tech research paper “The role for the primary teacher is to organise the child’s naive ideas into coherent concepts which are both accurate and explicit”.

How can we improve attitudes to science?

The 5E Model of Science is a learning method which consists of 5 main phases: Engagement, Exploration, Explanation, Elaboration and Evaluation. Using these methods, learning science can be broken down into five key stages:

  1. Engagement- Get students engaged by capturing their interests and curiosity
  2. Exploration- Get your class involved in mental pursuits or physical adventures to explore their ideas
  3. Explanation- Introduce the technical-scientific explanations, be imaginative with how you do this!
  4. Elaboration- Take on new challenges, apply the skills and knowledge to new problems so they can test how much they understand
  5. Evaluation- Understand the level of understanding the class has

More elaborated versions of each stage can be found here

Technology in Science Lessons

Successful science lessons, similarly to all other lessons rely on a properly managed school environment. Lindsworth School were able to use BehaviourWatch to improve attendance and behaviour while strengthening the confidence of teachers. From these strong foundations, students were able to thrive and fulfil their potential. Learn more about BehaviourWatch.

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