Resources: Primary Science

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Relevant resources


Acids Forensic Science Investigation
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A who-dunnit circus of activities
This lesson introduces inquiry(ta)-based learning through the topic of forensic science. It engages pupils in higher order(ta) reasoning(ta) solving a variety of forensic problems.
Astronomy Stars in the sky: what's up?
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Use a software planetarium and encourage students to think about astronomy
This activity offers an opportunity for whole class(ta) discussion(ta) and questioning(ta) centred around the use of the Stellarium. It also affords good opportunities for self-directed study or homework(ta) extensions, including perhaps the use of free mobile apps(tool) (see below). There are also opportunities for some cross curricula(i) discussion of geography (navigation by stars) and history or literacy in relation to the ancient world.
Blogs Digital Reporters at Camp Cardboard
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Children using iPads to blog about Cardboard Sculptures
This activity is a cross curricula(subject) activity, involving a collaborative(tool) approach, giving children the opportunity to work together on a blog. Children were encouraged to engage in group talk(ta) and discussion(ta) in the classroom to reflect on the activity they were to report on. The activity furthers e-skills(topic) and e-safety(topic) through the use of whole class(ta) participation. The specific art activity provided a great stimulus for the blogging. Equally, however, this approach could be applied to any event in or out of school. The use of blogging and social media gave the opportunity for children to share their ideas with a wider audience, and also gave opportunities for real-time feedback to their work. The use of hand-held technology also enabled active learning(ta) as the portability of the iPads and iPods allowed them to be used outside the classroom.
Force Floors and Pillars
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So many uses for toilet roll tubes - use them as a support for a floor.
Pupils work in small groups(ta) with basic supplies (exercise books and cardboard folders can be used as floors and objects from around the room as weights) to design, build and test a floor supported by toilet roll tubes. If conducted independently the activity could be used as an assessment piece. The activity could be presented as a problem to be solved - enquiry(ta) = can you build a floor to support Nelly the Elephant? Some children may not realise that upright toilet roll tubes are less likely to be squashed than horizontal tubes so it may be useful to pause the session after a short while to share ideas. There is a useful lesson here for pupils: some materials work well in buildings when used in a certain way but less well when used in another way, therefore it is important to understand the properties of materials before using them in buildings.
Force Building bridges from a piece of A4 paper
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A bridge too far...
This activity supports a number of learning types:
  • small group work(ta) - investigation conducted by small groups reporting back to the class.
  • whole class(ta) dialogue(ta) - discussion of each situation 
open-ended questions(ta) – why did this happen? what do you think causes this movement?
  • peer assessment(ta) – do peers agree?
  • project work – linked in with the rest of the activities in this OER, topic work in design and technology, literacy, numeracy
  • inquiry(ta)-based learning – initial presentation to the class can be framed as a problem for them to solve; co-enquiry – children working collaboratively
  • arguing and reasoning(ta) – persuading each other about their explanations.
  • exploring ideas – developing understanding of key scientific principles.
Force The Elephant on the Bridge
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She's standing still but there are still forces on her - find out what they are.
An interactive way of exploring this activity might be to have the children in small groups(ta) building a rope/string bridge and using a model elephant to stand on it. The children could either observe what happens and then discuss it or could film it and watch in time lapse to see exactly where the movement occurs in the bridge/elephant system. The latter would assist them in considering the direction of the forces acting as they would be able to see the direction of movements very clearly.
Force What floats and what sinks
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Is getting in the bath a way to lose weight?
This activity supports a number of learning types:
  • small group work(ta) - investigation conducted by small groups reporting back to the class.
  • whole class(ta) dialogue(ta) - discussion of each situation 
open-ended questions(ta) – why did this happen? what do you think causes this movement?
  • peer assessment(ta) – do peers agree?
  • project work – linked in with the rest of the activities in this OER, topic work in design and technology, literacy, numeracy.
  • inquiry(ta)-based learning – initial presentation to the class can be framed as a problem for them to solve; co-enquiry – children working collaboratively
  • arguing and reasoning(ta) – persuading each other of their explanations.
  • exploring ideas – developing understanding of key scientific principles.
Force What makes a good paper airplane?
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This activity supports these learning types:
  • small group work(ta) - groups conduct an investigation and report back to the class.
  • whole class(ta) dialogue(ta) - they discuss 
open-ended questions(ta): why did this happen? what do you think causes this movement?
  • peer assessment(ta) – do peers agree?
  • project work – the activity connects with others in this OER on forces, with literacy and numeracy and with topic work in design and technology.
  • inquiry(ta)-based learning – an initial presentation to the class can be framed as a problem to solve; children work collaboratively (co-enquiry)
  • arguing and reasoning(ta) – children persuade each other about their explanations.
  • exploring ideas – the activity develops understanding of key scientific principles.
Force Forces in Static Situations
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What are forces, how do you describe them and just where do they act?
This resource is part of a set of 7 ORBIT resources and can be used in different ways:
  • As a ‘dip in’ resource for teachers needing ideas about exploring forces.
  • As the foundation for a larger topic involving all of the activities as the inspiration for a large body of work on the exploits of Nelly the Elephant. There are clear links to literacy (Nelly’s story), numeracy (weighing and measuring), music (the song – how can it represent her journey in sound), art representations of elephants, designs based on India elephants in traditional tack), geography (the origins of elephants), history (Hannibal and historical uses of elephants).
  • At Foundation Stage children would be exploring forces in terms of pushes and pulls on various objects and are unlikely to be recording their results. At KS1 and KS2 children may be exploring forces by considering the idea of size and direction of force as well as the concept of balanced/equal or unbalanced/unequal forces. After a brief discussion(ta) about what the children know already about forces an interesting activity is to ask them to see what in the classroom they can move by pushing. Discuss their findings and ask about the size of force they were using on the objects and in which direction the force was acting. Use some pupils to demonstrate their actions. Then discuss the concept that there are forces acting in the other direction as well. If the object moves then the pushing force of the child is larger than the force acting in the other direction. Ask the children to try moving the wall by pushing. Then discuss the idea that the force of the wall holding together and staying still is equal to the force they are using to try to move it - otherwise there would be movement either of the wall or of the children backwards. A good way to demonstrate this difficult concept is to push a bulldog clip against a wall, using the wall to push one of the levers on the clip. Following this practical activity the children might pick one or two situations and use arrows to record the size and direction of forces in the drawn situation.
Force Which material makes a good parachute?
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A simple investigation into parachutes and air resistance
This activity supports a number of learning types:
  • small group work(ta) - investigation conducted by small groups reporting back to the class.
  • whole class(ta) dialogue(ta) - discussion of each situation 
open-ended questions(ta) – why did this happen? what do you think causes this movement?
  • peer assessment(ta) – do peers agree?
  • project work – linked in with the rest of the activities in this OER, topic work in design and technology, literacy, numeracy
  • inquiry(ta)-based learning – initial presentation to the class can be framed as a problem for them to solve; co-enquiry – children working collaboratively
  • arguing and reasoning(ta) – persuading each other about their explanations.
  • exploring ideas – developing understanding of key scientific principles.
Forces Force in the early years
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Thinking about the language of force
This lesson idea highlights the scientific language(ta) around the topic of force, and through group work(ta) and whole class(ta) dialogue(ta) engages pupils in inquiry(ta) and the scientific method(ta) surrounding force.
Graph Variation of human characteristics - Visualising Class data
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A big survey of ourselves, measuring hands, feet and more
The lesson offers the opportunity to explore measurement, relationships between measurement, and ways to visualise and summarise this data. The use of ICT(i) allows the teacher to enter data and for pupils to immediately see the impact this has on the pie chart and frequency tables (which are automatically updated). This also allows the teacher to change the 'range' for the frequency counts, and discuss with pupils the impact of this on the pie chart, and whether this is a good representation - encouraging the use of mathematical language(ta) and scientific method(ta) throughout. In collecting the data pupils have opportunity for some self-directed group work(ta) - to measure various lengths as described below - and the teacher could use whole class(ta) questions(ta) to explore the strategies taken to conduct this investigation(ta).
ICT Infant and Primary Science Activities with Sensors
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A compendium of investigations with sensors in primary science.
This is a compendium of activities to engage pupils in inquiry(ta) based learning in the scientific method(ta), often making effective use of ICT(i) and sensors(tool). The activities involve whole class(ta) questioning(ta) and collaborative(ta) group work(ta).
ICT Primary Science Curriculum Activities with Sensors
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A compendium of investigations with sensors in primary science
This resource provides a set of activities to engage pupils in inquiry(ta) based learning in the scientific method(ta), often making effective use of ICT(i) and sensors(tool). The activities involve whole class(ta) questioning(ta) and collaborative(ta) group work(ta).
ICT IT in Primary Science
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A whole book of ideas for using generic ICT tools in science
This book is a compendium of lesson ideas with ICT(i) as a key focus for use in inquiry(ta) based learning and the scientific method(ta). It offers opportunities for use of group work(ta) and collaboration(ta) as well as whole class(ta) questioning(ta).
Investigation Persuasive argument and evidence-based conclusions about the best car
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Got a new motor? Talk about your investigation like a scientist
This activity involving inquiry(ta)aims to develop children’s ability to support their conclusions with evidence. The teacher will model(ta) and encourage the use of the language(ta) that children require to discuss or present their data. The teacher can explain their rationale using the lesson below.
Learning objectives Writing Learning Objectives in Primary Science
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How are learning objectives supposed to work? How can one achieve mastery in writing learning objectives?
This resource encourages teachers to think about ways to link learning objectives(ta) to the curriculum which also helps to conceptualise their teaching schemes. It also helps children to understand what they are learning and what they are aiming for. The resource brings together key ideas, looking at specific outcomes from activities, vocabulary(ta), differentiation(ta), resources and curriculum development(topic) and short term planning(ta). It could be used as a 'refresher' on ideas when planning lessons.
Literacy Developing Language in Primary Science
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The resource would be particularly useful for PGCE students thinking about incorporating cross-curricular(subject) strands, or teachers looking to do the same, either in their own practice or in new curriculum development(topic) work.

Language development and the use of appropriate vocabulary(ta) is highlighted as important across the curriculum. Incorporating this consideration into science planning(ta) is important for meeting the target of developing language. The importance of language and talk in science – including through group work(ta), and Whole class(ta) dialogue – is highlighted elsewhere (and in the resource) but includes the ability to explain concepts, understand synthesising ideas (including those from other people and texts), and the need to read and write for different purposes, (including conceptual understanding, data presentation, etc). These are key ideas in communicating the scientific method(ta)

Living things Classifying and organising living things using images
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Find different ways to classify living things
This lesson offers opportunities to explore ways to classify living things as well as characteristics which might be relevant, and how to address difficulties that may arise when trying to classify things in this way. The activity may be enhanced by the use of ICT(i) software (e.g. Picasa) but could be carried out with paper-based resources.

This lesson presents a good opportunity for small group work(ta) and some inquiry(ta) into how we classify; and why some classification methods might be more useful, or more scientifically interesting than others. There is also a good opportunity to use different sorts of questioning(ta); to encourage pupils to question each other; to engage in peer assessment(ta) and to focus discussion(ta) on the scientific method(ta) using key vocabulary(ta).

Materials Heating and Cooling Materials
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What happens when you heat and cool materials.
In this inquiry(ta)-based lesson plan, students devise a ‘fair way’ to compare (mostly) physical changes in materials such as cheese and chocolate. They ask and answer questions about how to heat the materials and about using materials of the same size and shape. They also predict how substances may change and observe what actually happens.

The purpose of the lesson is to both support Year 2 students work on changing materials and to develop their ideas about ‘fair tests’. The activity thus offers an opportunity to assess(ta) how well students plan a test and observe change.

Materials Insulating food for meals on wheels
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How to choose an insulator for cooked food.
Materials Materials for Insulation
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How to insulate a cup of coffee.
Matter People Particles
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Running around pretending to be particles is one way of letting off steam.
This is a practical session to be used with a whole class with scope within the activity for a number of different methods of learning:
  • Whole class dialogue - Discussion of each part of the activity.
  • Open-ended questions – Why do materials change state? What happens to the particles?
  • Project work – As part of a wider science topic on materials.
  • Enquiry-based learning – Children are discovering the answer to questions that they are encouraged to pose themselves.
  • Arguing and reasoning – Persuading each other about their ideas.
  • Exploring ideas – Developing practical, physical understanding of key scientific principles.
Measuring Measuring Light - Light and Dark
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Light can be light, dark or somewhere in between
This lesson involves the use of higher order questioning(ta) on scientific method(ta) topics to engage pupils in an inquiry(ta) relating to the nature of light, its measurement, and the use of sensors.
Measuring Measuring Light - Does light shine through everything?
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Using a sensor to see what's transparent and translucent
This lesson involves the use of higher order questioning(ta) on scientific method(ta) topics to engage pupils in an inquiry(ta) relating to the nature of light, its measurement, and the use of sensors.
Measuring Monitoring Temperature - Day and Night
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What happens to the room's temperature when I'm not here?
This lesson involves the use of higher order questioning(ta) on scientific method(ta) topics to engage pupils in an inquiry(ta) relating to recording temperature and the use of sensors.
Measuring Measuring Temperature - Cold and Hot
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Put a number on the meaning of hot and cold
This lesson involves the use of higher order questioning(ta) to engage pupils in an inquiry(ta) relating on how to record temperature and the use of sensors.
Patterns Exploring Pattern
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Exploring patterns in mathematics
Each chapter of this tutorial highlights the study skills(topic) required to work through the real world examples and activities given. There are problems to be solved, some of which involve higher order(ta) thinking skills (for example, being asked to correct a set of instructions), and all of which encourage the use of mathematical language(ta) and mathematical thinking(ta). The resource could also be used in class, or as a useful homework(ta) pack.
Progression Developing Progression in Primary Science
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Progression and the wonders of 'one-ness' and 'two-ness'
A first part on ‘developing progression in science investigations’ could be used to prompt discussion on how far we expect pupils to develop, and the sorts of inquiry(ta) which encourage this.

The second part, 'indicators of Level 1 and 2ness', provides a useful set of criteria for assessing national curriculum levels. These criteria prompt thinking about assessment(ta) levels in curriculum development(topic). A concrete outcome of the activity may be to keep such criteria in a mark book for day-to-day use.

Questioning Questioning Techniques in Primary Science
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Asking questions about what students saw, measured, understood. About what could happen, happened, should have happened... and more.
This resource offers the opportunity to think about the appropriate questions to ask at various stages of investigation and how to ensure high quality questioning(ta) at these points. This is obviously an important classroom skill, one which has a strong impact on children's progression, yet which can often be lacking in classrooms which tend to focus on fact-based recall questions. This resource offers an opportunity to think about such an activity and some prompts for applying questioning techniques. Although they are written for science, these suggestions could be used as prompts for application in other subjects.
Science Primary Science Investigation
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What is involved in 'doing a science investigation'? And what is there to assess?
This resource describes the process of doing an investigation for inquiry(ta)-based learning. Teachers could share practice(i) and lesson planning(ta) ideas using the list of pupil skills (e.g. observing). It also lists learning goals for investigation skills (e.g. observing, predicting, problem solving) and ideas for exploring different types of practical work(ta) in science.

It could be used for discussion(ta) or brainstorming on how to apply these skills to different content areas. The resource emphasises engaging pupils in the scientific method(ta) - using higher order(ta) thinking skills, group work(ta) and dialogue(ta) to facilitate knowledge building(ta)/reasoning(ta).

Using images Organising images for a narrative
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Write an essay without words
The lesson encourages students to think about how to portray their knowledge through narrative(ta) - which may engage some students who would usually be less interested. The lesson encourages students to think about how to capture valuable information and ensure that key elements are highlighted while not 'overloading' the viewer with data. The lesson can be tailored to any age group - for younger pupils the task could be to take before and after photos and label them. More advanced pupils might explore time-lapse photography. Pupils should be encouraged to think about how this relates to the scientific method(ta) The task is interactive and could be conducted as a group work(ta) activity or as an element of an inquiry-based learning project. It could also lend itself to whole class(ta) dialogue(ta) and the use of ICT(i) including 'clicker' response systems for assessment(ta) and questioning(ta).

Category:Science Category:Primary