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Primary science

ASE primary membership provides teaching resources and professional development opportunities (CPD) to support primary science subject leaders, teachers and schools. Find out more about joining ASE.

Resources below have been made available by ASE's expert primary science committee covering everything from health and safety, science enquiry, assessment, outdoor learning and specific guidance for each country.

There are also hundreds of articles supporting primary science lessons in our Primary Science Magazine.


Subject Leadership

ASE Primary Science Leaders’ Survival Guide PDF (Members-only)

The purpose of this guide is to help you develop your subject leadership role and science in your school by tackling one bit at a time. It contains practical advice from fellow professionals on all aspects of delivering science in primary schools. An essential 'how to' for new and experienced science leaders alike! The Guide comprises of the following eight sections:

Section 1 Developing your school’s vision for science
Section 2 Leading science in your school
Section 3 Developing as a subject leader
Section 4 Managing and developing science Resources
Section 5 Working with others
Section 6 Teaching and learning
Section 7 Making effective use of assessment
Section 8 Enhancing science

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ASE Guide to Primary Science Education

This guide covers a wide range of topics about learning and teaching science in the primary school. Buy guide.

ASE Futures:  Leading Professional Development in Science

This group provides support and a voice for Initial Teacher Education and Continuing Professional Development, fostering high quality professional learning for future generations of science teachers at all levels of education. This is achieved through research, networking and professional development within and beyond the group, and through responses to government consultations. 

CPDPrimary Area 2014 - 2 - Professional Development

ASE Annual Conference Europe's largest science education conference, with a primary science programme spanning two days to keep you up to date. 

Local ASE conferences events and TeachMeets Also find out about what a teachmeet involves.

#ASEchat is a weekly online science education discussion group conducted via twitter that takes place on Monday evenings from 8-9pm.

Chartered Science Teacher (CSciTeach) is a chartered mark recognising excellence in science teaching and learning.

Useful weblinks

Enthuse bursaries are available for primary schools from STEM Learning for various CPD activities.

its not fair

Scientific Enquiry

What is scientific enquiry? - This document produced jointly by the Primary and Secondary committees explains the importance of science enquiry and how this progresses across the UK curricula from primary to secondary. 

We also recommend reading the report Working Scientifically in the new curriculum (England, 2015), published by the Centre for Industry Education Collaboration. This contains progression grids, guidance and child friendly self and peer assessment posters to support all aspects of science enquiry.

Articles from the ASE Primary Science Magazine:

Working Scientifically with Enquiry (2014) - This open access article gives a good overview of different types of enquiry.

Books available to support science enquiry

It’s not fair  - This book published by the ASE and written by its members is a must have guide to understanding the types of enquiry that children should be experiencing during primary school.

Science Enquiry Games 4-7 - A pack and CD of games to help your pupils develop their understanding of science enquiry, available from the ASE bookshop.

Science Enquiry Games Book and CD-ROM - An inspiring and motivating resource designed to help primary children develop and review their understanding of science enquiry, available from the ASE bookshop.

A few activity ideas:

Paper Towel Magic / Bone mystery / Making sandcastles / Peace at last  / Can colours compete with the Sun / Design a seed Curtains also see Curtains worksheets / A light for Plop / Bishops can fly / In control

Activities from Practical Work in Primary Science

Outdoor LearningGreat bug hunt photographic entry winner 2013

Out of Classroom Learning - Practical Information and guidance for schools and teachers.

Transforming Outdoor Learning in Schools-Lessons - Teacher Guidance (2016) Natural Connections Demonstration Project.

Learning Outside the Classroom in Natural Environments - Natural England  (2012)

Busting the myths on outdoor learning in schools – extract blog from Natural England’s Principal Adviser for Outdoor Learning, Jim Burt in which he explores the most common myths about outdoor learning.

The Great Bug Hunt Competition  - use your outdoor classroom and join in the Great Bug Hunt Competition. An annual competition for primary schools to explore the bug world run in partnership with the Royal Entomological Society.

Articles from the ASE Primary Science Magazine: 

Teaching science down on the farm (2016) Debbie Hicks explores the key role of the farm in teaching science as well as wider educational beneļ¬ts and suggests activities to engage and excite. (open-access)

Mary, Mary quite contrary how does your garden grow? Creating the creative school garden (2017) Padraig Egan believes that learning outside the classroom is key in supporting development of scientific concepts, as exemplified in his creative school garden. (open-access)

Books available to support outdoor learning:

Gatekeeper guides to living things in a range of habitats are available from the ASE bookshop.

Science Beyond The Classroom Boundaries. For 3-7 Year Olds and 7- 11 Year Olds - This innovative book aims to support schools in shifting teaching and learning in primary science by changing teacher perceptions of where science should be taught.

Go Wild! Series of books by Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks, available from the ASE Bookshop.

Useful weblinks

Woodland Trust Nature Detectives

Open Air Laboratories - Explore Nature

Health and SafetyBe safe 4th edition

Be Safe! is a guide recommended to all primary schools in the UK and offers advice on practical science in primary schools.

CLEAPPS are an advisory organisation that supports practical work in primary science.

Assessment 

For assessment to be effective and informative teachers should plan with assessment in mind. Starting with the curriculum expectations for the age group teachers need to think about what it means for children to have secure knowledge and understanding for a chosen aspect of the science curriculum and to plan activities that will support their learning and achieve the desired outcome. Teachers should consider what evidence to look for, which demonstrates pupils can use their science skills, and shows secure knowledge and understanding appropriate to their stage of learning. Read full ASE Statement: Assessment in Science

PLAN Science is a set of resources produced to enable teachers to have a clearer understanding of National Curriculum (England) expectations for meeting the standard in science. 

The Teacher Assessment in Primary Science (TAPS) project has developed the TAPS pyramid tool to provide schools with a supportive structure to evaluate and develop their assessment processes. This website also contains a growing database of updated Focused Assessment plans and work samples.

What is the purpose of assessment in science? by kind permission of Jane Turner, PSQM.

Articles from the ASE Primary Science Magazine:

Primary Science - Assessment Collection Eight of the most informative articles on Assessment ever published in Primary Science. (Members only)

Books available to support assessment:

Active Assessment - Using a highly creative approach the authors explain in detail how to integrate assessment, thinking and learning in science lessons.

An activity idea:

Collins SnapShot Science Example - What do we need to see? includes activity instructions, questions to check understanding and how to know if the curriculum statement is achieved.

Literacy 

Curriculum Vocabulary – an overview of scientific vocabulary (members only)

50 books to inspire primary science (members only)

Articles from the ASE Primary Science Magazine:

Stories and science: stirring children’s imagination (2014) How stories can stimulate science and bring it to life. (members only)

Links in the chain: bringing together literacy and science (2017) Taylor et al reveal how using story and texts in other countries reflects emerging practices in the UK and discuss the benefits to learners of linking science and literacy. (open-access)

Books available to support literacy in science:

STAR Science – Science Technology and Reading – a resource for teachers. This book, available from the ASE bookshop, takes the poems of Michael Rosen and gives ideas for science and literacy discussion points and key activities.

Jumpstart! Science - Games and Activities for Ages 5-11 – this book, also available for the ASE bookshop, provides a range of lively, short, fun activities and games to support teaching and learning in the science curriculum.

Concept Cartoons – use talk to promote more effective teaching, learning and assessment in science

Links to mathematics

Articles from the ASE Primary Science Magazine:

Science + Maths = a better understanding of science! (2016) Andy Markwick and Kris Clark highlight practical examples to offer a rationale for the application of mathematics in science and explore their intrinsic relationship. (members-only)

Cornflour gloop and fizzy potions … making counting count! (2016) Emma Vanstone offers engaging activities and links with key stage 1 and early years maths and science – enjoy supporting learning in both subjects with these inspiring activities. (members-only)

Books available to support maths in science:

Let’s talk about data - this publication supports the teaching and learning of data handling skills in science

STEM/STEAM

Articles from the ASE Primary Science Magazine:

Feel the force of cogs, pulleys and water power (2016) Julie Pugh describes a STEM workshop at Quarry Bank Mill, a work-ing cotton mill owned by the National Trust, which offers interactive experiments and the experience of working machinery. (members only)

What do adults do all day? (2016) Claire Seeley looks at STEM in the context of the Big ideas and ASPIRES projects. (open-access)

Activity ideas:

Practical Action - science, design and technology and STEM teaching activities which focus on a whole range of global issues including energy, climate change and disaster risk reduction

Creative Science

Articles from the ASE Primary Science Magazine:

Primary Science - Creativity Collection - these articles we have collected to not only help to show how to put creativity into practice, but also some ideas of how to approach the same things differently, and provide a purposeful context to learning.

Activity ideas:

Why you’ll never catch small pox - through this innovative set of resources, pupils aged 9 to 11 learn about Dr Edward Jenner's pioneering work with smallpox vaccination and the impact of vaccinations today. Immediately engage children with the short drama film JAMES then pick from four core resources and five enrichment resources designed to develop their skills in 'working scientifically', mathematics, English, history, drama and ethics

Early Years Science

Articles from the Journal of Emergent Science (ASE journal with PSTT):

Using Prediction-Observation-Explanation-Revision (POER) to structure young children’s learning about floating and sinking (2016, pp 12) by Wee Teo et al. (open-access)

Helping children to express their ideas and move towards justifying them with evidence: A developmental perspective (2016, pp34) by Linda McGuigan. (open-access)

Books available to support early years science:

Exploring Science with Young Children This book was shortlisted for the ASE Book Award 2016 and focuses on developing understanding of key scientific concepts. It is about encouraging imagination, creativity and curiosity and nurturing key scientific skills to form a firm base for learning.

Made You Look, Made You Think, Made You Talk - A collection of activities to develop pupils' observational skills and get them talking about their science ideas.

The Early Years Handbook - Cross-curricular guide for all early years practitioners, full of practical ideas, activities and reflective thinking.Problem Pup – an interactive CD-ROM and optional accompanying puppet from Millgate House Education offers a whole new way to use stories to introduce science concepts.

Problem Pup – an interactive CD-ROM and optional accompanying puppet from Millgate House Education offers a whole new way to use stories to introduce science concepts.

Resourcing Primary Science

Is primary science resourced appropriately in your school? Benchmarks have been created which provide a comprehensive list of essential items needed to enable inspirational and effective science teaching. 
Primary benchmark for resourcing science 
Primary school resources for working scientifically

General Reading

Big Ideas in Science - The purpose of this publication is to update the discussion and conclusions about the essential understanding in science that all students should acquire during the compulsory years of school. 

Primary Science Initiatives and Support

The National STEM centre has grouped resources by year group and topic for every aspect of the science curriculum. If you want to find resources linked to particularly hard to teach topics, start with this link. Even though these are specified as ‘for England’ they are relevant to other countries too.

Primary Science Quality Mark (PSQM) is an award scheme to enable primary schools across the UK to evaluate, strengthen and celebrate their science provision. Schools can achieve bronze, silver and gold awards. www.psqm.org.uk

Primary upd8 can help teachers deliver working scientifically and support literacy and numeracy work with lots of engaging science activities for 5 to 11 year olds. Each activity comes as an editable PowerPoint presentation using a current event or an everyday life context to help make your science lessons more enjoyable and engage young people. www.primaryupd8.org.uk (discounts available for members, free to e-members).

SchoolScience - find out about freely downloadable activities and resources for primary science www.schoolscience.co.uk

Primary Science Teaching Trust (PSTT) - funded projects have produced high quality teaching resources. Curriculum materials and CPD Units are available on the website. Contact the Trust for further information. www.pstt.org.uk

BBC Terrific Scientific – mass participation science investigations for 9-11 year olds www.bbc.co.uk/terrificscientific

Royal Society of Chemistry - this collection of resources supports your subject knowledge and teaching of primary chemistry, including the linking of science with cross-curricula topics, with resources that detail investigations to run with your class. www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry

Royal Society of Biology – resources to support the teaching of science www.rsb.org.uk

Explorify - Explorify is an exciting programme of activities for primary school teachers that will spark pupils’ curiosity and develop their thinking skills. explorify.wellcome.ac.uk

Science Museum – classroom resources www.sciencemuseum.org.uk