Investigating the effect of Scientific Enquiry on Key Stage 2 Science

Report
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


Making Fairy Cakes



Conducted by Mrs Brogan and
myself.
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.
What was the result of these
experiments?
Did they enthuse the pupils and stimulate an interest in
Science?

Questionnaire was administered to the
pupils.

Designed to be simple, short and
concise.
The Experiment
Dissolving Sweeteners
Burning demonstration by
Mrs Brogan
Making Fairy Cakes
Borax Snowflakes
Glow-sticks
Oxygen demonstration by
Miss Franklin
Smart Wires
Thermocolour Paper
Grow your own Mould
Yeast Experiments
Making Bread
Magnetism
Micro-organisms
experiment by
School Nurse
Experiments in Mrs Wild’s
room
Forces in Water
It increased my
interest in
Science a lot
It increased my interest
in Science a little
bit
It did not increase my
interest in Science
I did not do the
experiment.
Results
What
favourite
part
a Science
lesson?lesson?
Science
of a of
part
your favourite
Whatisisyour
7.4%
85.2% of pupils
enjoy Science in
Year 6.

For the majority of
pupils practical work
is the best part of a
Science lesson.
3.7%
Class Lessons
Demonstrations by a teacher
Practicals
88.9%

Results contd.

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.
A graph to show the success of the experiments on increasing pupils' interest in Science
100%
90%
80%
Percentage of Pupils
70%
60%
Did not increase interest in Science
50%
Increased interest in Science a little
40%
Increased interest in Science a lot
30%
20%
10%
iss
D
Experiment
er
s
Sw
ee
te
n
ne
tis
m
ol
vi
ng
M
ag
en
ts
im
Ex
pe
r
W
at
er
ea
st
Y
Fo
r
ce
si
n
ti c
ks
lo
ws
G
M
ou
ld
G
ro
w
yo
ur
o
wn
Pa
pe
r
at
io
n
m
Th
er
s&
tW
ire
ar
oc
ol
ou
r
s
ni
ng
D
em
on
str
fla
ke
at
io
n
ra
x
Bo
em
on
str
Sn
ow
Bu
r
Sm
O
xy
ge
n
D
Fa
iry
M
ak
in
g
Br
e
Ca
k
es
ad
0%
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.
Finally

Thank you to:



Tim Harrison
Dr David Smith
Corinne Brogan
Any Questions?

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