We all want to see students actively and enthusiastically learning about science.
We also want to see the same from teachers too. But how do you make science creative, relevant and exciting for all learners?
The answer is simple: make it active.
Learning science is more interesting and easier to understand when it is practical, hands-on and minds-on.
Even better, learning science can be greatly enhanced by whole body learning as movement anchors thought.
We learn best when we think, feel and do and so actively engaging in science learning makes perfect sense.
The most memorable INSET sessions I have taken part in as a participant have been the active ones and the inactive ones.
The sessions where I played, explored and discovered have positively impacted on my classroom teaching. The sedentary sessions where the ‘facilitator’ talked at us all day made for painful feedback on the evaluation forms. It’s the same for children; involvement is the key to engaging with science.
One innovative resource that provides creative opportunities for working scientifically and making science active is Science Enquiry Games for pupils 11-14 years; this tried and tested book and CD promotes meaningful science talk and helps children collect evidence and understand evidence through a number of clever and challenging games.
The book gets straight down to business after a brief but useful introduction and covers 9 strategies that can be used in numerous ways to support learners review and develop their enquiry skills.
The well developed and carefully honed games represent a good spread and include planning, fair testing, identifying equipment, repeat readings, using tables, drawing conclusions, vocabulary, evaluating and an enquiry overview.
These games will help students appreciate there are more evidence gathering investigations than carrying out a fair test or controlling variables.
Embedded within the games are active assessment strategies for promoting talk such as concept cartoons and all games are richly illustrated with student friendly pictures.
There are at least two different approaches presented for each strategy such as a moving around the room version or play on a table top version.
The photocopiable games can also be shared using the PDF on a whiteboard too. They naturally boost thinking skills and kick-start science talk by bringing out the human aspects of science.
In the book you will find succinct and helpful notes for each game explaining what the game is about, why it is important, the resources needed, how you can use the game in more than one way and how to apply ideas via further activities.
These are all very clearly presented and will help support your subject knowledge too. PDF versions of all the resource needed to play the games are found on the CD.
Beyond the games there are no notes regarding assessment which I think is a bit of a gap and would be a welcome inclusion.
However, this is a wonderfully inventive resource that addresses all aspects of science investigations with pupil friendly worksheets full of challenge and critical thinking.
You could use the games as warm-ups, main activities or for science clubs. They are certainly very handy for staff training purposes. CPD is available to support this resource and having attended one of the sessions myself I can whole-heartedly recommend signing up should your budget allow.
I hadn’t realised how competitive I was until I had tried fair test scramble with my colleagues! You could of course organise your own sessions by selecting a couple of the games and showcase their potential. In essence the games can provide insights into learners’ initial thinking, help identify misconceptions, plan for future learning and help learners see where their thinking has changed.
Using the games will surely open classrooms up to more debate, discussion and exploration and will be really useful for teaching the tricky bits of science.
Does it fit in with the curriculum changes? Yes, it does and fits any science curriculum. Whatever changes the curriculum goes through and no matter how many times science is tinkered with, enquiry remains at the heart of teaching and learning at all key stages and so this resource will always be fit for purpose.
The learning of enquiry skills don’t have to be routine but they are can be enjoyable. This resource can encourage productive interactions amongst learners and between learners and teachers, in the form of collective problem-solving, planning, decision-making, and fruitful learning conversations.
Learning is not all in your head.
Engaging physically, mentally and emotionally in science is always going to beat bums on seats learning where the teacher dominates and students are merely passive observers.
Science Enquiry Games are collaborative activities full of variety, creativity and choice and harness the potential of science enquiry in novel ways and so is ideal for anyone who wants to teach enquiry skills professionally and practically while keeping their class dynamically engaged.
Science Enquiry Games is a real class act and must-have resource that will really get everyone thinking, talking and learning and at just £10 it is inexpensive for the quality you are getting. If you are determined to put scientific enquiry at the heart of science teaching then this resource is for you; for me it’s a non-negotiable.