Putting Primary Science Centre Stage
Learning | 05 Mar, 2019 | The Learning Team
What is Science Capital? How can you combine science enquiry with other curriculum areas? How can you switch children (and their parents) on to science?

These were all hot topics as the Mary Rose Learning Department hosted a CPD day for primary science teachers. The event, run in collaboration with the Maths and Science Learning Centre at the University of Southampton, also featured speakers from the University of Chichester and Abingdon Science Partnership. The purpose of the day was to share best practice in primary science teaching.

Discussing primary teaching at The Mary Rose

Professor Janice Griffiths, Chair Elect at the Association of Science Education (ASE), was the keynotes speaker. She introduced the idea of science capital and how it can support children’s learning. Janice highlighted the background to the issue: the UK is short of people with a scientific background across the board and particularly in teaching; issues of gender imbalance persist especially in physics; employment prospects are better for those working in STEM. The ASE is keen to address inequality and improve children’s life chances by promoting science skills and knowledge.  

Your Science Capital consists of:

  • What you know
  • How you think
  • What you do

Children are more likely to follow STEM subjects if they have more Science Capital. Teachers can help fan the flame with the help of out of school experiences which provide access to experts and parent participation at home to support teaching and learning in school.  Personalising and localising science can help students be more engaged. Using their own experiences and making things relevant to everyday life can improve involvement and attitudes to science. Examples to involve parents were enquiries addressing issues of school parking and speed limits. 

Mary Kinoulty, Head of Learning at the Mary Rose Museum and Dr Debs Wilkinson, Senior Lecturer in Primary Science Education at the University of Chichester led a session on the benefits of using the same enquiry-based approach in both science and history with links to all curriculum areas.

 

Example: A replica drinking vessel

The science perspective – What is it made of? Is it waterproof?                How hygienic is it?

The history perspective – Who made it? Who drank from it? What did they drink? How expensive would it have been?

Problem setting – What is the best kind of drinking vessel to have on a ship?

The task can elicit ideas about social status, materials and their properties (Are they fit for purpose?) as well as change and continuity (What do we use now? Why?) This work could also be written up in an English lesson. Children can put their discoveries into Photostory 3 and add a voiceover.

Further practical activity ideas were provided by Jeremy Thomas from the Abingdon Science Partnership representing Practical Action and Colin Stevens of the Maths and Science Learning Centre. Course participants enjoyed trying a range of activities which could be offered in the classroom. Great fun was had by all!

 

For more information

www.ase.org.uk/

www.southampton.ac.uk/mslc/index.page

https://www.chi.ac.uk/institute-education

www.abingdon.org.uk/abingdon_science_partnership

www.practicalaction.org