We aim to create a firm foundation for a lifetime of learning by teaching all children scientific knowledge: so that they can better understand the world around them; and develop their scientific enquiry skills: so they learn to think like scientists.
Fair and Comparative Testing
Fair test enquiries are an opportunity for children to explore cause and effect relationships in science. Children find the answers to questions in fair test enquiries by planning tests to collect data through changing, measuring and controlling variables. In a fair test, the independent variable (the aspect in the experiment that is changed) is numerical and continuous. Fair tests involve making systematic changes and analysing data to identify how one variable influences others. Due to the increased challenge in this type of enquiry, they are introduced in KS2.
Enquiries that are comparative tests have many similar features to fair tests in that one variable is changed, another variable is measured, and any other variables are controlled. The difference is that in a comparative test the variable that is changed is discrete rather than continuous, so children are comparing different cases/situations. Children regularly ask questions that lead to a comparative test. These types of enquiries provide lots of opportunities to measure and collect data.
Observing Over Time
Observing over time enquiries are a fantastic way for children to be curious about the world around them. The changes they observe can take place in seconds, minutes, hours, days, or over longer periods of time, such as weeks or months. This type of enquiry lends itself to observing the natural world, but can also be used when comparing materials and observing physical processes. There are many opportunities to take children outdoors when carrying out these types of enquiries and children’s observations will often lead on to other, different, types of enquiries.
Identifying and Classifying
Children begin identifying and classifying objects in the world around them from a very young age; this type of enquiry comes very naturally as young learners try to make sense of the world around them. In this type of enquiry, children make observations and measurements to help them look for similarities and differences. This will help them to organise things into groups and make connections. Identifying and classifying enquiries are fantastic for promoting discussion and collaborative learning. In revisiting this type of enquiry regularly, teachers can support children in becoming more highly skilled in making and recording detailed observations.
Pattern-seeking enquiries involve children making measurements or observations to explore situations where there are variables that they can’t easily control. In this type of enquiry, children are trying to answer questions by identifying patterns in measurements and observations they record. Pattern-seeking enquiries are not fair or comparative tests, because certain variables can’t be controlled. Children may still identify a possible causal relationship from their data, such as ‘the more you wind up a clockwork mouse, the further it will run’, but they may find links between variables that can’t be explained by cause and effect, such as ‘children with longer arms can jump higher.’
Researching Using Secondary Sources
Research enquiries are a great opportunity to practise reading and listening skills developed in English; children get to use a range of secondary sources to help them find the answers to their questions. Alternatively, children could plan research tools, such as questionnaires and interviews, to collect their own data. They are also an ideal type of enquiry to encourage collaborative learning, both in the researching and sharing of information, but also in presenting their findings. As children learn to recognise the differences between fact and opinion, and consider the concept of bias, they develop life skills that will support them in being citizens of the 21st century.
Science Curriculum Approach
The key NC strands in Science, the EYFS framework and Development Matters have informed our schemas and our curriculum planning, leading to a direct impact on children's learning as evidenced in their learning journals.
Schemas are repeated and then added to in future learning. Skills/procedural knowledge follows a planned progression.
SEND pupils' access to the full Science curriculum is ensured in part by the nature of the subject and conclusively by the class teachers' and support staff consideration during planning and teaching. Further details on the SEND/Vulnerable page.
Experiences in the Curriculum
Scientist visits and workshops for KS2 during Science Week
Year 1 - Morden Hall Park Trip
Year 2 - Rainforest Workshop
Year 3 - Biomedical Engineer workshop linked to bones and muscles
Year 4 - Science Museum (sound), Wimbledon Common habitats trips
Year 5 - Launch Car Challenge
Year 6 - Evolution workshop, Rocket Week, Imperial University Workshops