At Toftwood Junior School, we believe science is a vital part of children’s learning, enabling them to gain an understanding of how the world around them works.
In our school each class has a weekly science lesson linked to topics where possible covering the science objectives in the National Curriculum (Sept. 2013, updated May 2015). Scientific enquiry skills are emphasised and addressed in each lesson.
Lessons have clear learning intentions, which are shared and reviewed with the pupils. A variety of strategies, including questioning, discussion, concept mapping and marking, are used to assess progress. Activities inspire the pupils to experiment and investigate scientific subject matter and to help them raise their own questions such as “Why…?”, “How…?” and “What happens if…?” Activities develop the skills of enquiry, observation, locating sources of information, selecting appropriate equipment and using it safely, measuring and checking results, making comparisons and communicating results and findings. Pupils have regular opportunities to develop their skills and show progress in their approach to enquiry throughout their time with us.
A range of enrichment activities and visits take place to enhance the children’s science learning e.g. Sculthorpe Moor as part of “Living things and their habitats” and Year 5 were able to study borrowed “moon rocks” for “Earth and space”. These activities provide the children with further opportunities to develop their skills of observation and encourages the generation of independent questions.
Science Core Knowledge for Key Stage 2
The National Curriculum Objectives are grouped into the following areas:
- Year 3 – plants, animals including humans, rocks, light and, forces and magnets.
- Year 4 – living things and their habitats, animals including humans, states of matter, sound and electricity.
- Year 5 – living things and their habitats, animals including humans, properties and changes of materials, forces and, Earth and space.
- Year 6 – living things and their habitats, animals including humans, evolution and inheritance, light and electricity.
The main focus in all of our science work is to encourage children to work scientifically in all the areas of study. This approach means that children are constantly asking questions about the new ideas they meet and then deciding how they can find answers which are sensible and convincing. As they move through Key Stage 2, they develop their questions from the simple to more complex. Along with this, the ways in which they choose to investigate their ideas also progresses from using straightforward scientific evidence to identifying evidence which both supports and refutes their ideas.
Since asking questions is a vital part of scientific enquiry, you can support your child at home by asking them questions about what they have been learning in science. You might just find your kitchen turning into a laboratory!!
For example, you could ask:
- “How do you know that is true?”
- “Can you show me something which proves that?”
- “Can you give me another example?”
- “I’m not sure that’s true, can you give me another example?”
During the topic “Stone Age”, Year 3 studied rocks. The children compared different types of rocks and worked scientifically to sort them into groups depending on their properties. They also thought about what you could use different rocks for and explained their ideas. Year 3 were even able to look at some ancient bones!
In Year 4, the children have been thinking about electricity including where we get it, what we use it for and how it moves. They have used scientific thinking to make simple, complete circuits and crazy ones too!
The children also thought about different ways to generate electricity and took part in a competition to design and build wind turbines. They had to use their scientific knowledge to help them create the most effective machine.
In the Spring term, Year 5 investigated forces. This has meant they have been thinking about their previous learning on space including gravity and air resistance. The children also really enjoyed the visit from a Northgate High School teacher when they had to think about all the forces a spacesuit has to cope with. The children carried out tests so that they could design their own suit.
In Year 6, the children have been learning about Evolution and Inheritance. They have thought about why different plants and animals look the way they do and why some organisms are better at surviving in different habitats. They even had a go at showing how evolution happens to change the way a bird’s beak looks if they need to eat different foods and how their wings might change. Some of the “evolved birds” were not as successful at picking up food and might even have become extinct!!
Year 3 have been thinking about light, why we need it, how it moves and how to keep safe around light. They have investigated how light behaves with different materials.
Year 3 also enjoyed thinking about how scientific ideas have been used by people for thousands of years. As part of their learning in history, they followed the methods of the Ancient Egyptians to see if the materials they used for mummification really worked – they did! Don’t worry, they only mummified tomatoes, not people!
Year 4 have been thinking about the properties of different materials. They have learned about the three states of matter and used their understanding to explain how they know if an item is solid, liquid or gas. They practiced using the correct scientific vocabulary to explain their ideas.
They also learned about the water cycle and how the water we drink today was also drunk by dinosaurs! The children made a working water cycle in a bag – wow!
Year 5 have been thinking BIG! The children have been studying the Earth and space and have discovered just how big our solar system is by making our own version in school. They needed to work as a team and check their measurements really carefully to be sure they got the correct size.
The children have also thought about ways to show that the Earth is moving around the sun. We used changes in shadows as a way to demonstrate what is happening. To do this, we needed to work accurately to set up a reliable investigation and to draw and measure carefully to show what we had found out.
In Year 6, the children have been extending their understanding of light and how it works. They have been learning more about how light travels to our eyes and posing questions they would like to discover the answers to. The children challenged themselves to come up with different ways to investigate the properties of light and then carried out their own experiments. They worked together in teams, used different ways to measure including using dataloggers and recorded their findings in order to explain to someone else what had been discovered.