Children are innately curious and we need them to stay that way if we are to thrive in an ever-changing, technological world. A central aim of primary science education is to nurture children so that they become independent, self-motivated scientists. An essential part of this is giving children opportunities to take the lead in their own learning and ask questions that they are interested in and wonder about.
Letting go and allowing children to make decisions about what and how they investigate can be worrying. We are challenged with time and resources in most scenarios - however, it shouldn’t be scary if we manage it well. Encouraging children to ask their own scientific questions and investigate them can be done to varying degrees, at a pace that is appropriate for your children and you.
After all, ‘working scientifically’ is a core part of the English National Curriculum for primary and secondary schools, and encourages teaching that enables children to take increased ownership of the scientific questions they ask and investigate. By doing so they build up confidence in themselves and in their ability to think as a scientist.
Ponder on these points…
Child-led enquiries – encourage children to develop some questions that they would like to investigate and encourage as many as possible. You will eventually work to improve them, naturally cutting it down to one.
Not all questions lead to a scientific enquiry so now get the children to sort their questions into those that can be answered through scientific enquiry.
Organise questions by asking the children to decide which type of scientific enquiry will help them to answer their question.
Give the children enough time to carry out their investigation, whether that be at school or home or both - allow time for them to make mistakes and try other ideas.
Once their investigating is done – encourage the children to think about what they learnt from their enquiry and how they would like to present their findings?
Encourage the children to communicate their learning in creative ways. What will they say? What will they show? What will their audience learn?
The GSSfS campaign supports teachers to provide regular opportunities for children to scientific questions and to choose the best way to investigate it.
Download the campaign information guide here