The study of science equips children to address the questions that often exercise them most. How did we come to be here on earth? Why does a light come on when I flick this switch? Why does the earth revolve around the sun and not fly off into space? Why is the sky blue? Why do we need to eat food? In science lessons we aim to both instil in our students a thorough knowledge of the world around them and, through the teaching of scientific method, to allow them to go out and discover answers for themselves.
At St Aidan’s children study each topic just once, preventing boredom and repetition. However, while the topics may change, throughout all of our science teaching there is a common thread of interesting and exciting practical experimentation, sound and logical methodology and fun. Each year every class studies a minimum of one topic from each of the following categories:
- Life processes and living things
- Materials and their properties
- Physical processes
Each topic is begun by the teacher making an initial assessment of pupil knowledge on a given subject. This is because all children have explanations for the phenomena they see in the world around them, though sadly these aren’t always accurate, and until any misconceptions are addressed they will not be receptive to new explanations. For this reason talk is also encouraged in science lessons throughout the school, in which children debate conflicting ideas, make sense of things they observe and discuss the importance of data they collect.
Children are encouraged to plan investigations carefully, taking into account the idea of a fair test, and carry out scientific investigations using the available equipment for each topic. Wherever possible we involve the pupils in immersive and engaging scientific activities which might include getting out of the classroom, getting their hands dirty and taking full ownership of projects and their outcomes.
We visit a variety of locations to make science more fun and meaningful, for example, the Science Museum, Railway Fields (a local wildlife sanctrary), Lea Valley or even simply our school pond area. Theatre productions come to the school and teach scientific facts in an entertaining way. We have also, for our topic on Growth, included tadpoles, caterpillars and egg/chicks in our classroom for observations.
We also organise a science week most years in which we encourage parents to get involved by carrying out an investigative task with their children at an evening gathering where we supply soft drinks, wine and savoury titbits; an event enjoyed by all!