Written by Jenny Smitherman who is a qualified teacher and has first class honours in primary education with 12 years of teaching experience in primary schools.
The national curriculum clearly states that all children should be taught full and enriching science at primary schools, complete with practical lessons and inspiring ideas. This sounds fairly straight forward, but when there are 12 different programmes of study for KS2 alone, it can become quite overwhelming for a non-science specialist.
Throughout the national curriculum, reference is made to the use of practical investigations to deepen children’s understanding and to promote experience in the use of basic equipment as well as increasing their knowledge year on year. Emphasis is also made on deepening a child’s understanding of the world in which they live and inspiring them with the wonders of science.
“Science has changed our lives and is vital to the world’s future prosperity, and all pupils should be taught essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science. Through building up a body of key foundational knowledge and concepts, pupils should be encouraged to recognise the power of rational explanation and develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about natural phenomena. They should be encouraged to understand how science can be used to explain what is occurring, predict how things will behave, and analyse causes.” Taken from the Science Programmes of Study, September 2013.
But what does the national curriculum for science actually mean?
The first step is to break it down and understand what the requirements for children are. The second is to make sure it is understood how each of these areas can be fulfilled whilst teaching. Below is a chart to show the areas of the national curriculum at KS2 and how you can fulfill these with Empiribox.
By the end of KS2, it is expected that children have a basic understanding of the scientific methods, how science can be applied to everyday life and have an innate curiosity to the world around them. Using Empiribox, all of this becomes second nature for students as our lessons encourage their natural scientist to bloom.
Teaching the science curriculum can seem overwhelming when first reading through the requirements, but breaking it down into bitesize chunks makes it a lot easier to understand and it becomes achievable.
Empiribox has gone to great lengths to ensure that children meet the national curriculum requirements with our service, whilst also building on the basic principles of science and correcting any misconceptions that they may have. This solid foundation gives them the opportunity to start the next phase of their education already bursting with ideas and enthusiasm for the wonders of science.
Beverley Crowne, her husband Nicholas and best friend Anne Marie Cooklin from Mill Hill in north London will be delivering jaw dropping, practical science lessons to children in the poorest areas of Mumbai for six weeks in the new year, thanks to Empiribox. Their science package comes complete with equipment, training, lesson plans, schemes of work and assessment tools so that teachers with no specialist science knowledge can deliver inspiring lessons with experiments that children will remember for the rest of their lives.
Empiribox has given Beverley, Nicholas and Anne Marie free places on continual professional development sessions for primary teachers in south London schools and is donating all the science equipment that the group will take to India.
The team at Empiribox is keen to help because the challenge fits well with their company’s mission to create strong, sustainable and socially inclusive primary school science education across the UK and internationally.
Beverley, Nicholas and Anne Marie are going to India as part of the Gabriel Project Mumbai (GPM), a Jewish volunteer-based initiative which provides hunger relief, literacy, numeracy and health services to vulnerable children. The group will spend some weeks working in Mumbai’s Kalwa slum before moving on to the Palghar district, a rural area, delivering exciting sessions from the Empiribox science curriculum to children in around 20 local villages.
“We were daunted at first,” said Beverley, “Especially when we realised that we had so little science knowledge and would be working in classrooms with no electricity or water, teaching children who had never had a science lesson in their lives.” But they have all been delighted by the support they have received. Gailarde, an Elstree company providing household textiles for industry, hotels and ships, has offered to make sure that the Empiribox science equipment reaches Mumbai in one piece.
The trio spent an afternoon at Etz Chaim Jewish Primary School on December 7 putting their new-found knowledge and skills to the test with children from years 4, 5 and 6 as they taught them about potential and kinetic energy through a series of exciting activities. The children spent the lesson devising trials for springy toys, rolling ball bearings down a runway and experimenting with different lengths and weights to see how they affected the swing of a pendulum. Teachers at Etz Chaim commented that children were enthusiastic and engaged and the new teachers enjoyed it too.
“Empiribox is fun and exciting for children,” said Anne Marie. “I remember finding science dull at school, but all the interaction and practical sessions spark an enthusiasm for science and scientific thinking. It’s like a magic show that enthrals the pupils.”