Chapter 3 - Processes and methods of scientific enquiry (Investigations…
Chapter 3 - Processes and methods of scientific enquiry
Working scientifically suggests a way of thinking that is unique to science.
Science links to other subjects like mathematics and English.
The NC says that children should be given opportunities to explore the world around them and this should lead to questions.
Observation and measurement
Teachers can aid children's observation skills by giving them tools like magnifying glasses and viewing frames.
Observation can also be taught through asking children to observe the change over time and teachers can focus observation by asking questions.
Children need to see the purpose of measurement in investigations.
Children should think what they are going to measure and how they are going to do so.
Children should be aware to look for errors in measurements and the importance of repeated tests
As the children progress, their use of measurement improves and they choose more sophisticated equipment.
They develop children's understanding of scientific procedures, knowledge and their skills.
When they are investigating children should have some say in what they are going to do and how they will do it.
Features of investigations
Identifying and controlling variables
Deciding how far their findings answer their original question
Evaluating their work
Teachers have an active part to play - they are not just providing hands on activities.
There should be a climate where questions are treated seriously and teachers should be role models.
They will need to help children pose questions that are framed around the investigation - it can be scaffolded through discussion.
For children to work scientifically, they should be introduced to a full range of investigative enquiry methods.
Observation activities - good for raising questions and developing children's skills in using equipment.
Pattern seeking activities - seeking relationships.
Research activities - promote independent learning and curiosity.
Fair testing activities - most used by teachers.
These pose the most challenges to teachers.
It is where the key independent and dependent variables are systematically changed and measured while the others are controlled so they do not change.
Variables can be difficult to control and full investigations can take time.
This is difficult for children as they have to think about lots of things (what they will do, how they will record their results etc) and so, teachers need to support them with this.
At first, teachers should plan and then, slowly pass responsibility onto the children.
Linfield (2007) says that the NC and assessments restrict opportunities for children to investigate extensively.
Planning sheets with prompting questions e.g. what are we finding out? What are we changing? etc.
Make sure they aren't restricting children's learning and curiosity.
Analysing and interpreting results
Young children need lots of help with organising their data
The simplest way to record data is through presentation for example, digital cameras - this is useful for children with communication difficulties.
There is progression from KS1 --> KS2
KS1 would be expected to talk about their results.
Lower KS2 are expected to record their findings using simple scientific language, drawings, labelled diagrams, bar charts and tables.
Upper KS2 are expected to start to use bar and line graphs.
Higher achieving children should be encouraged to draw conclusions upon their results.
How teachers can help:
Talk about patterns and regularities in everyday events.
Draw attention to phenomena which may indicate relationships e.g. how snails come out when it is raining.
Display children's work so that patterns can be discussed.
Ask them to refer back to predictions.
Organise activities where measurement reveals relationships.
Provide tables and graphs with results for children to discuss.
Ask children to provide explanations and suggest reasons if their results don't fit the pattern.
Encourage them to give reasons based on their scientific studies.
Encourage children to challenge each others ideas.
This is important to help to improve investigations.
Lots of evaluation comes through discussion about results.