“Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.”
Everything is our lives has a basis in science; from the natural world, to man-made technology. Young children are naturally curious: they explore, investigate, experiment with, and question the world around them. They are already scientists! At Charlton, we embrace children’s love of ‘why?’ through our science curriculum. Science is a practical subject which enables children to investigate their own hypotheses, to answer their own questions and to enjoy their learning. Enjoyment is a key aspect of our science lessons – developing a love of science in young children can lead to careers in STEM industries.
By adapting the National Curriculum, we know that we deliver a varied and age appropriate science curriculum that is clear and progressive. Some of the subject knowledge builds on previous years’ work (for example plants) whilst others are stand-alone topics (for example evolution). Throughout each topic, we ask ‘big questions’, which ideally originate from the children. We then work scientifically to try to discover answers. Children are encouraged to devise their own investigations and to learn to adapt and problem solve as they execute them. In the lower years this might involve showing the class some apparatus and the children discussing which apparatus to use and why. They work as a class to design an experiment. In the upper years, children may work in groups to explore different aspects of a ‘big question’ and then present their findings to the rest of the class to build a more detailed picture of the problem.
We follow the guidance of Dr Helen Wilson from Oxford Brookes University and teach using the principles of ‘Talking, Thinking, Doing’. Using research based teaching techniques, we encourage children to discuss their ideas in an environment where nothing is ‘wrong’, but can be questioned. We use starter activities that enable all learners to consider a premise and to share their ideas. Children are given time to talk about and build upon their ideas. As many lessons as possible are practical with written work being focused to one aspect (for example recording results or the conclusion to the work).
We are very fortunate at Charlton to have a wealth of parents who come and talk to the children about their jobs. We have welcomed a wide-range of parents such as a scientist from Diamond, a volcanologist and a biologist, whose inventions are currently being used on the International Space Centre. We are also visited by Bright Sparks and the Explorer Dome who bring a real ‘wow’ to our learning. Children enjoy trips to places such as Crocodiles of the World, Roves Farm and the Thames Water sewage works. We also have a well-managed nature area on site which is regularly used for Forest School and habitats work.
The problem-solving skills that children learn and refine in science teaching, support them in so many areas of life. These skills of questioning, examining and adapting a key to our teaching of science at Charlton.
‘Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge’