Explaining the Idea of Working Scientifically

The national school curriculum for England was revised five years ago.  This set out the programme of study and expectations for attainment in all subject areas for local-authority-maintained schools.  There remained an emphasis on teaching science subjects, but the revised curriculum placed a much greater focus on the concept of “working scientifically”, but what does this all-embracing term actually mean?

Working Scientifically – Practical Tests are Key in Helping Young Learners to Explore Science Subjects

Scientific working.

Exploring concepts in a practical way is a key component of working scientifically.

With Key Stage 1 and 2, the new curriculum places a greater emphasis on working scientifically.  Essentially, this involves the children using scientific methods to answer questions about the world around them.  The emphasis is on a range of enquiries from using observation over time, identifying patterns and classifying and grouping using common traits and characteristics.

There is still a focus on making comparative and fair tests but the concept of scientific working underpins all the science subject elements.  There is a need to learn about a variety of animals and plants which links to a stronger focus on biology and the natural world.  Learning about dinosaurs and life in the past helps to link these areas and dove-tails nicely into a Year 3 topic area which is fossils, rocks and soils.  Children in Year 6 are expected to grasp the fundamentals of evolution and inheritance, which links strongly into the genetics focus which is prominent in the Year 7 syllabus.

Eureka!  Learning About Displacement Using Dinosaurs

Dinosaur models help to explain displacement.

Primary school children learn about displacement using dinosaur models.

Pupils should be encouraged to seek answers to questions through the collection and analysis of data.  How to present findings is also an important topic area.  Working scientifically will be further developed as the young learners progress through Key Stages 3 and 4.  One of the key requirements of the scheme of work in primary schools is to help pupils to build up an understanding of science so that they can engage meaningfully in more sophisticated and complex areas such as experiment design and control as they progress through their school career.