Session 78: #ukedchat / #asechat special

This #ukedchat / #asechat special was hosted by @ViciaScience on Thursday 29th December 2011, focusing on “What science ideas and skills should children develop from early years?”

[pullquote]Think too often we confuse science as content. It’s exploration and investigation which is what young chln are experts at![/pullquote]

Discussion threads
1. When children start school
Use concrete experiences to tap into children’s natural curiosity. Focus on the use of observation to help them develop a language associated with comparing, analysing and describing. As they get a little older they should be introduced to measurement, and become aware of a range of different units, making sure there is a match with their mathematics teaching:
KS1 – observe and compare
KS2 – measure, record, observe, present data, form conclusions.

They should also be taught to analyse, evaluate and criticize although these are more
difficult to teach and learn. Appropriate units include mm, ml, l, cm, g, kg

2. Things to encourage when teaching science
Overall primary science teaching should encourage a questioning approach that reinforces open mindedness. A key role for primary science teaching is to help children refine their questions into a form that can lead to scientific enquiry:
I think it’s more that their questions aren’t always valued; we need to help them …..turn q’s into
ones that can be answered using enquiry @cardiffscience: @NeedhamL56
Several comments were made about expanding the curriculum by encouraging outdoor exploration, taking part in external visits and recognizing the range of career opportunities linked to science.

3. Things to avoid when teaching science
The danger of squashing children’s imagination by imposing convention was forcibly made. There was some discussion about the most appropriate time to introduce abstract ideas – some of which were considered too difficult for primary age children:
Exploring, observing etc yes . . . but science also uses hard ideas to explain – young children
not able to cope with. @DrDav:
Some of those ideas suggested included forces, energy and bonding, particularly where a mathematical treatment was required.

4. Common approaches to teaching and learning
A plea was made for closer ties between primary and secondary teachers:
thanks…its important that pri and sec TALK to ech othr…we all want chn to love the sbjct 🙂
@anhalf: @Lethandrel
Discussion between teachers could lead to common approaches to scientific language and measurement:
education for teachers re language of measurement, common vocab would help everyone
@Biolady99: RT @NeedhamL56: @ViciaScience @lethandrel
It could also lead to better understanding and cooperation:
sadly, often low expectations (I am sec, but worked with pri). Same true at all transitions, eg
sec to FE @cardiffscience: @NeedhamL56

5. How science teaching is organised.
Whether to teach science in primary school as a discrete subject or as a cross-curricular, themed approach? There were strong advocates of both approaches. When science is taught as part of a cross-curricular theme it can lose its identity, and children may not realise they are learning science.
Science is recognised as making a strong contribution to the learning of other subjects. One school uses a mixture of cross-curricular themes for teaching enquiry (mantle approach) and specific science lessons:
In our primary the children experience either science through mantle of the expert (enquiry) or
2 hours dedicated teaching per week @SheliBB:

Perhaps the right approach to use is the one that works for you in your school? sci not lost at our school! #ukedchat” yay #asechat < ours too 😀 @anhalf: RT @NeedhamL56 “@SheliBB: @norfolkteacher1 @cardiffscience @nickotkdIV

The difficulty of teaching a primary national curriculum, management of child led practical work and the impact of health and safety guidance were seen as challenges for some. A more significant discussion took place around the lack of teacher confidence apparent in some KS2 teachers, and the importance of good initial teacher training in providing solid foundations for teaching science. A possible solution that has recently been suggested is the introduction of science specialist teachers in primary schools. Most felt that although this could be helpful, management and funding issues experienced with mathematics and English specialist teachers suggest this initiative is unlikely to succeed:

I mean, I know a lot of primary teachers who avoid upper KS2 because of their lack of
knowledge and confidence @ICTwitz
🙁 need a strong coordinator in pri to keep high profile and standards. @anhalf: @nickotkdIV

Top tweets
A selection of this evening’s posts, that give a flavour of the mood and discussion:
Think too often we confuse science as content. It’s exploration and investigation which is what young chln are experts at @cardiffscience:
But isn’t childhood all about exploring your environment and making rules to fit your experiences? Is that not science? @DrRacheal:
Science is definitely not lost at our school! @SheliBB:
Investigation, wow factor…real life science, inventions and inventors…LIVING!! @anhalf:
Teaching science at TT level should be practical, fun and engaging, which will create teachers who
show an enthusiasm @ICTwitz:
Most of all value the excellent work going on in many primary classrooms @Carbis: RT
@ViciaScience: Absolutely – need a pedestal RT @cardiffscience: Most of all value the excellent work going on in many primary classrooms

Top links
Unlike many previous #ASEChat sessions there were few links provided in tonight’s discussion. Those that did appear include:
Careers in science for primary:
check out ‘primarily science’ @t4ny476 they have a good activity related to science careers
Example of fiction to promote positive attitudes to STEM:
How about using fiction to inspire an interest in science and engineering? – see
A book for teachers on girls and maths:
I’m waiting for this book to arrive. Sounds good, but not primary
Link to CREST awards:
CREST award from BA @Teachric @anhalf We got the kids to do H&S
assessment. No injuries!
Example of ‘Mantle’ approach to scientific enquiry:
not one of my mantles, but this might help

The archive is available via Scribd.

Ukedchat Archive 29 December 2011

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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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