5 ways to engage Primary school pupils with Science

Date Posted: 07/10/2015

Recent studies by The Wellcome Trust have proven that more than 90 per cent of Ofsted’s inspection reports of Primary schools make no reference to Science lessons, despite the topic being a core one. Here are five ways to bring the subject back from the brink.

It would appear that Science is not being given as much teaching time as English and Maths, meaning that younger students aren’t receiving a beneficial early experience of the subject.

So if you’re pondering how to get your students scientifically fired up again, here are some learning outside of the classroom experiences that are guaranteed to get pupils fully engaged with the subject of Science once more.

1. Green's Mill and Science Centre, Nottingham

Green’s Mill is a restored and working nineteenth century tower windmill, which was owned and operated by the mathematical physicist George Green (1793-1841).

A school trip to the windmill will allow younger students to see the mill working (wind permitting), and to learn about how the building is operated.

There is also a small Science centre next to the mill where students of all ages can discover the story of George Green and his achievements, and experiment with the things that fascinated him, such as light, electricity and magnetism.

2. The Living Rainforest, Berkshire

Primary school pupils can begin to get acquainted with the joys of Biology on a visit to The Living Rainforest, which houses a variety of animals including a sloth, an armadillo and a troop of monkeys. 

The green attraction offers school groups a learning environment with 700 species of tropical rainforest plants and animals, including free-ranging birds, butterflies and small reptiles.

School travel organisers can pick from the choice of four guided tours in order to stick as closely to the curriculum as desired: Amazing Adaptations, Edible Forest, Sustainable Future and Rainforest Medicines.

Teachers’ resources are available for each tour, including notes and worksheets for returning back to school.

3. Techniquest, Cardiff Bay

Science centre Techniquest boasts more than 120 hands-on exhibits for child-centred learning and investigation, particularly for Key Stage 2.

Pupils who visit Techniquest can attend an interactive show in the Science theatre, or visit the digital planetarium, where they can be inspired by a view of the night sky.

Key Stage 2 pupils can also take part in a series of workshops in the laboratory, which allows pupils to gain hands-on practical experience. Resources are available for teachers to help extended learning when returning back to the classroom.

4. Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, Manchester

A Primary school visit to Jodrell can be tailored specifically to the Solar System or the Mars Rover if desired. These two workshops, appropriate for Years 5/6 and Years 3 to 6 respectively, allow pupils to engage in the study of space with some hands-on workshops.

The Solar System session is made up of four experiments looking at various science concepts. For example: pupils will work in teams to explore the strength of gravity on different planets, or investigate the brightness of sunlight throughout the solar system.

Alternatively, the Mars Rover Challenge allows pupils to learn about the exploration of Mars by the current Curiosity rover, before they construct their own explorer out of balloons and eggs.

Teachers can also book out the telescopes at the centre for an added extra during a visit. Classroom resources are available for afterwards.

5. National Coal Mining Museum, Wakefield (pictured)

Two Science workshops are available for Primary school students at the National Coal Mining Museum, comprising Rocks and Fossils and STEM Investigation. Both workshops are available on Wednesdays and Fridays for up to 17 pupils at a time.

Rocks and Fossils looks into the formation of coal and what fossils look like, and allows participants to make their own ‘fossil’ to take home.

Alternatively, STEM Investigation focuses on mechanisms and forces: pupils can experience the power of coal at the blacksmith's forge and watch a demonstration of working machinery, before completing a challenge as part of a mining team.

School Travel Organiser's Guide