Investigating the effect of Scientific Enquiry on pupils’ interest in primary Science Sophie Franklin
Background • Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme • St Peter and Paul RC Primary School, Redland, Bristol • Mixed school with 204 pupils • Year 6 class has 29 pupils
Project Overview • The effect of Scientific Enquiry (experiments and investigations) on pupils’ interest and enthusiasm for science lessons. • Focussing on Key Stage 2 in particular. • Research needed to be done on: • The National Curriculum, and Key Stage 2 Science • Previous work conducted on the topic. • The ‘Theory of Learning’ was also studied to ensure lessons given were effective.
The Education System in England • Late 1980s the standard of education was falling, and this prompted a reform. • Education Reform Act 1988 which created a private market for education in England. • This move of decentralisation was counteracted by the introduction of the National Curriculum.
Introducing the National Curriculum • Prescribes the content of what must be taught and attainments for learning. • 2 main aims: • To provide opportunities for all pupils to learn and to achieve. • To promote pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and prepare all pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life • Divided into 4 Key Stages. • Key Stage 2: school years 3-6, ages 7-11.
Science 2000 • Four versions of the Science curriculum since the introduction of the National Curriculum. • Science 2000 is the first version to focus on the importance of Scientific Enquiry. • At Key Stage 2 this was in the form of the inclusion of a new strand, Sc1: Scientific Enquiry. • Government considers primary Science to be a success, results in SATs are consistently higher than English and Maths.
http://www.parliament.uk/post/pn202.pdf However is this at the cost of the pupils’ enjoyment?
Initial Hypothesis “Undertaking a greater amount of Scientific Enquiry in Key Stage 2 science lessons would increase pupils’ interest in science and their enthusiasm for the subject.”
Research into the effect of Scientific Enquiry on enthusiasm… • The QCA has carried out research into what inspires learners, they found: ‘they actively use their learning and get creative’. • Ofsted report into primary school science in 2005 found that pupils, “show an enthusiasm for science that is driven by their enquiring minds and the confidence they gain in carrying out investigations”
Methodology • The hypothesis was tested by undertaking a series of practical experiments in school, and finding the effect they had on pupils’ interest in science. • 12 experiments were conducted over a period of 3 school terms, approximately 18 weeks. • Questionnaire was administered to pupils to after the experiments.
The Experiments • Majority were related to the National Curriculum. • Four Year 6 units were covered during my time at school: • Unit 6B: Micro-organisms • Unit 6C: More about Dissolving • Unit 6D: Reversible and Irreversible Changes • Unit 6E: Forces in Action • Undertake the experiments in groups.
Unit 6B: Micro-Organisms • Grow your own Mould!! • Set as a homework. • Opportunity to run their own investigation. • Report results however they decided was appropriate. • Investigation to determine the preferred conditions for yeast. • Group work. • Prepare for bread-making the next day. • Baking Bread! • 2 types of bread to highlight importance of yeast in bread-making.
Unit 6C: More about Dissolving • Investigation into the rate of dissolving on the temperature of water. • Use previous knowledge and apply it to new situations. • Work in groups of 4.
Unit 6D: Reversible and Irreversible Changes • Irreversible Changes Demonstration • Conducted by Mrs Brogan and myself. • Making Fairy Cakes • Opportunity to include food technology. • Work in small groups. • Smart Materials • Memory wires and springs. • Thermocolour sheet.
Unit 6E: Forces in Action • Magnetism • Opportunity to play with the school’s bar magnets as well as the ceramic donut magnets I brought it from University. • Forces in Water • Measuring the weights of objects in and out of water. • Introducing the distinction between weight and mass.
Just for fun… • At Christmas we made Borax snowflakes. • Design their own. • Choose a colour. • Decorated the hall for the school Christmas dinner.
Continued.. • I also did the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide demonstration. • Pupils loved watching the explosion! • Finished afternoon (and term) with glow sticks.
Did they enthuse the pupils and stimulate an interest in Science? Questionnaire was administered to the pupils. Designed to be simple, short and concise. What was the result of these experiments?
Results What is your favourite part of a Science lesson? • 85.2% of pupils enjoy Science in Year 6. • For the majority of pupils practical work is the best part of a Science lesson.
Results contd. 85.6% of pupils said the practical work increased their interest in Science! • 52.6% of these said the experiments increased their interest in Science a lot. • Most successful experiments include making bread, fairy cakes and borax snowflakes as well as the two demonstrations. • Experiments such as forces in water, magnetism and dissolving sweeteners are less popular.
Conclusion • Practical work does stimulate enthusiasm in Science. • Experiments that are not directly linked to the National Curriculum provide opportunities for pupils to enjoy their investigative work. • Could be the solution to the decline of interest in Science for upper primary school children. • Necessary to overcome the barriers to practical work to ensure Scientific Enquiry is undertaken regularly in Key Stage 2 Science lessons.
Further Work • Extend the investigation to consider other age groups. • Next step is extend the investigation, and determine the effect of practical work on pupils’ attainment at Key Stage 2.
Thank you to: Tim Harrison Dr David Smith Corinne Brogan Any Questions? Finally