Over fifty teachers assembled for Herts for Learning’s Science event of the year, the Primary Science Conference at the Hertfordshire Development Centre in Stevenage on Wednesday 13th November.
The conference focused on how to ensure every pupil is given the best introduction to science by reviewing the curriculum and its intent, implementation and impact.
It also explored how to give children the skills to enquire and discover the world around them.
Science Adviser at Herts for Learning (HfL) Charlotte Jackson kicked off the day talking about the Ofsted framework and the development of science teaching and learning. Charlotte also referenced a variety of tools including Explorify and ReachOut CPD as well as HfL’s resources.
Author and teacher Alom Sharma then shared his passion for science and education with the audience, providing helpful insights into how primary teachers and parents can give children a good start in science education. He exploded the myth that children are born scientists, explaining that “our scientific understanding of the world is not the same as our intuitive understanding of the world”. We all, he said, hold misconceptions which we need to overcome and this is why children need science teachers. He said “science is a process by which we go about finding answers.”
Next, Jane Turner, Associate Professor and Director of the Primary Science Quality Mark asked, “how does effective leadership and an inspirational curriculum impact on the quality of teaching and learning in science?”.
She commented: “When school children are gathering evidence to answer questions; our job is to say what is the quality of the evidence we are gathering?” Jane said we do need to think about what we actively want pupils to learn and highlighted three essential questions for planning: “What do we want children to learn? How will we teach it? How will be assess the learning?”
Jane then gave an example of giving children a first- hand experience when teaching children to describe and compare the structure of a variety of common animals, (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, including pets). She asked “Do fish have fingers?” Jane handed out herrings to delegates, along with gloves and magnifying glasses so they could take a closer look for themselves!
Jane concluded her presentation by talking about ‘science capital’ and how important it is that we help children see that science is for them and is all around us. She quoted: “Young people with high science capital are more likely to aspire to continue with science post-16 and so see themselves as having a science identity, but that only 5% of young people have high science capital (Archer et al 2016).
In the breaks, delegates had the chance to network and to visit the exhibitors, SETPOINT Hertfordshire and Association of Science Education (ASE) as well as HfL. Delegates also had the opportunity to explore fun science activities to reinforce key learning and get children to say ‘wow’, from ear gongs to videos of butterflies camouflaged as leaves.
In the afternoon, Jules Pottle, Primary Science Specialist Teacher and trainer inspired the audience in her session, entitled: Using stories to enhance teaching and learning. Jules noticed that children were not retaining their early science learning as they went through primary school. However when she used stories, it would aid the children in remembering the key scientific details.
After explaining why we use stories, Jules demonstrated how storytelling can be done quickly by retelling the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in just five minutes. Jules then outlined a child-led enquiry based on the story, letting children watch ice lollies melting then pretend to be oompa loompas and asking, “which ice lolly would be best for a hot day?” The children needed to “think about it, have a plan, have a go, seeing if their results helped them to come to conclusions.”
She then talked about ‘feeling the science’ and demonstrated a series of simple but fun experiments, including walking on cornflour gloop in a washing up bowl and its surprising properties as a non-Newtonian fluid. Delegates also got to try their hand at making sherbet.
Role-play was then demonstrated as a way to cement the children’s learning or be used as an oral rehearsal before a piece of creative writing.
Charlotte Jackson brought the conference to a close, reflecting on the discussion of the day and how to make science learning accessible for all. She then concluded the conference and talked about recording science teaching and learning.
For further information, please visit: Primary science teaching and learning advisory services