CIEC were well represented at the recent Primary Science Conference held at NSLC, York at the end of June.
Joy Parvin, CIEC Director, was present with two of the CIEC Advisory teachers, Jane Winter and Nicky Waller.
Jane Winter’s session – Science in the Outdoor Classroom – was very popular with the delegates. More than 20 teachers explored ways to use the outside environment to enthuse children about science. Activities included investigating natural materials and man-made fabrics to find which were suitable to make fairy houses, parachutes and rafts and building a science den out of bamboo canes.
Nicky Waller gave a workshop entitled 'Exciting Science Activities for EYFS and KS1'. Once again the audience were very receptive to all Nicky’s ideas for activities as they were very simple, covered basic science concepts and easy for the non-specialist primary school teacher to carry out with the very youngest scientists in school and help develop children's questioning and observation skills.
The teachers particularly liked ideas for making fossilized dinosaur eggs to hide around the school grounds and then go hunting like palaeontologists in order to carefully uncover what is hiding inside! Another favourite was the variation on the Crafty Crow Aesop's fable whereby children have to help Sylvia the bird reach the water inside the jam jar so that she can have a drink after a long and thirsty flight!
Nicky also gave the plenary keynote address - she outlines her theme below.
“The initial title was 'Putting the wow into working scientifically' until I redrafted the title during the actual session to ensure that my message was clear. The new title then read 'Keeping the wow in Working Scientifically' to ensure that teachers are not just using wow science activities shared at conferences, websites, YouTube etc. whereby you have that 'wow' moment with the children but then nothing much more than that. It is crucial that, with every and any science activity we share with the children, the most important aspect of the planning phase is to think carefully about what will the children be able to know, understand or do as a result of this activity and then plan forwards from this point. The way in which we keep this going week after week in all our science lessons is to start with the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum and build from there, ensuring that the skills of working scientifically are deeply embedded in everything we teach. I believe, it is only by doing this that we are allowing the children we teach to become the most super scientists they possibly can be.
In the session, I shared my interpretation of the classic 'kid friendly elephant's toothpaste' activity using an imaginative story about a wise, well-loved King and clever little scientist named Pip who astounded the entire kingdom. We also heard about Clever Colin who made a simple magnifying glass to help the wizard read his magic spells (we even cracked some tiny codes too!) as well as taking part in measuring exercises, the Curly Wurly stretching world record and discovering a way to make giant gummy bears whilst learning about absorption.
Finally, every participant was given a copy of CIEC's new Progression in Working Scientifically from EYFS to Key Stage 3 booklet. Copies of this can be downloaded free from our website.”
An animated Nicky at her plenary session
Joy felt the day had been extremely successful, ‘The annual Primary Science conference is a great place for primary teachers to meet up, exchange good practice and go home full of new ideas. And I’m sure Nicky and Jane gave them plenty of material for next year!’