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Science is important because we live in a world today where parts of the world around us are changing every second e.g. the increasing use of technology. Science is crucial to the long - term survival of our species. There is evidence that all children learn as individuals and that many children do not passively receive knowledge. Thus, it is the educator's role to facilitate the learner's development which involves the active construction of new knowledge. In terms of science this can result in pupils thinking and making choices, finding out different routes of producing a change in scientific ideas and planning investigations independently. Research has shown that the ideas pupils bring to science lessons have a meaningful impact on learning outcomes as well as being able to express themselves in the best way possible as they are the next generation of scientists.
Primary children are enthusiastic about primary school science. The majority of students are excited about learning practically all of the content areas outlined in the Primary Science Curriculum. Primary children are very positive about hands-on science and have many opportunities to engage in it, applying a range of scientific skills as a result. It is important for pupils in primary schools to learn science as well as have an idea of scientific literacy. As children expand their familiarity with scientific literacy, they will have an awareness of 'how science works' and interpret information learnt in a scientific way. Therefore, this will result in advantages of knowledge investigated, detailed opinions and decisions. The introduction of science in primary education offers children a sense of confidence when discussing reality of the world around us.
For science to be distinctive, teachers should make sure that when teaching a specific topic in the subject, the facts must be taught through context. The idea of science having a meaning is supported by creativity when learning because much research has shown that for students to be creative, science has to involve fulfilling and purposeful activities leading to originality thus being able to make connections from previous experiences. From my experience, practical lessons were always fun and exciting as it enabled me to understand science in full independent perspective and explore new ideas.
Science is core subject for a very important reason as it allows pupils to experience different investigations which enable them to grasp a vast range of skills which results in rich understanding for the subject. In primary school, many of the students are driven by practical work and science is the best subject for this to be successfully included in when addressing topics. Practical experiences and discussions in the classroom are creative approaches and encourage children to think scientifically; therefore children can use ideas from across the curriculum to help them express their thought processes and understanding.
Much of primary science includes facts and information that is positively attributed to effective teaching as students are able to think 'out-side-the-box'and identify their ability in the subject, which they will have with them when they go into secondary school and beyond. Further, for effective science to be succeeded in primary schools the class teacher should promote; class or peer discussion, team work, curiosity, speculation, inventing, open questions and real - life challenges. The skill that pupils will gain from primary science enables them to achieve independence and learn how to think scientifically. It is essential that all children in science have an opportunity to question curiosity because the outcome can be extraordinary. An example of this could be pupils investigating objects and materials all around them using all their senses, as well as observing patterns and changes.
The increasing positive factors of creativity in primary science has distorted the curriculum because many schools are now approaching science with imagination and using real/meaningful contexts to capture children. In recent times, pupils who may not necessarily approve of science initially have now shown an exception to science, due to teacher participation and observation. Therefore, these creative ways of contextualising science motivate children and teachers, as they give innovative purposes for carrying out science in the primary school. Pupils are curious and willing to offer suggestions and take risks.
There are a considerable number of benefits that primary science has to offer an individual e.g. science lessons are a huge opportunity for learning by children learning and understanding English as an Additional Language (EAL). Once again the practical, hands-on nature of the subject can be very rewarding and highly motivating. However, the language demands and scientific terms when participating in discussions and explaining work for science learning developers can be problematic for those whose English language is still developing.
Science can also be a challenge for some primary teachers, unless they have sufficient resources for investigative work. EAL learners can be disadvantaged if there is an over-emphasis on the use of work-sheets which rely on literacy skills that pupils are yet to attain. Good practice in science education requires resources that can be used by each and every individual, when carrying out a practical activity. Although, group work may support EAL learning, science will be difficult to grasp if children do not grasp the scientific language.
Vygotsky's concept of social constructivism promotes learning via scaffolding, elicitation and making connections and provides an underpinning for thriving language development. Vygotsky emphasised the role of communication, social interaction and instructions when teaching can be hugely beneficial for a pupil's development. Subsequently, it is thought that primary science provides plenty of opportunity for pupils to adapt, first by observing their peers, and secondly when teachers discuss with pupils ways in which learning can be improved, reflecting upon evidence and the implication of their earlier development. In addition, with the correct support this can be an outstanding language learning opportunity for EAL learners.
Another aspect of primary science which underpins effective teaching is the understanding of misconceptions in Key Stage 2 science. Research from the Alternative Frameworks and Misconceptions in Primary Science suggests:
"There is a great deal of misconception in science because while the origins of children's beliefs are uncertain, they are thought to have been formed as the result of previous experiences" (Russell and Watt, 1990).
Thus, the clarification for the importance of primary science shows that teaching science at a young age can solve all misconceptions that were proceeding; hence it is necessary for pupils transitioning into secondary school. Having the chance to assess the misconception enables children to grow on their scientific ideas. This is supported by Wynne Harlen as she suggests:
"Understanding in science is a gradual process and that at certain ages children seem to have similar misconceptions. In making sense of ideas in science, the learner is involved in an evolutionary process requiring constant refinement, redefinition and interpretation" (Harlen, 2000).
Therefore, science challenges children at an early stage as it allows them to think and always try the best they can. The constructivist approach claims that the existing knowledge of students is of great importance in the learning process and that learning occurs through cognitive and social processes. This approach stresses the individual creation of knowledge and construction of concepts which may be very useful to them.
I believe a useful strategy to overcome misconceptions is to encourage pupils to discuss a variety of ideas about a particular scientific topic. While this makes possible for teachers to recognise pupil's misconceptions, they can also classify skills which will be useful for them in future investigations. When I attended primary school, my science teacher would always deal with misconceptions by allowing myself to question my investigation and examine what previous knowledge lead me to the science I had difficulty with.
The main focus when teaching science in a primary school is based on the guidelines that are represented in National Curriculum and will determine how the content affects a child's knowledge, skill and understanding. The central part of the curriculum, which is most important, is the Sc1 Scientific enquiry section. The national curriculum for science at Key Stage 2 requires pupils to learn about a greater variety of living things as well as materials and their properties for example exploration, investigating and identifying. Children will be encouraged by teachers to develop their approach to exploration, begin to make connections between ideas and to explain things using models and theories. Pupils will experience the transition of Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2 and build on the prior knowledge that included scientific enquires, planning useful investigations and writing up reports. The addition of writing a scientific report is cross curricular as this activity will link to literacy and help enhance scientific understanding. The pupil uses his/her literacy skills on how to structure a report as well as keep on referring back to the skills and information they have learnt from the science. I think science is crucial for Key Stage 2 because without the content and skills an individual learns from the subject, they will find it very hard when learning Key Stage 3 science. Also, learning science at the young age will help children have a broader knowledge of what is going on in the world around them and feel as if they are part of a scientific society.
Overall, effective teaching towards primary science in the primary school can have the most rewarding outcomes for any child. Professor Malcolm Longair states in the National Curriculum of Science:
"Science is an integral part of modern culture. It stretches the imagination and creativity of young people. Its challenges are quite enormous" (Professor Malcolm Longair, 1997-2005).