“Scientist”… a word weighed down by connotations of lab coats, goggles, Albert Einstein and Doc from ‘Back to the Future’. But let’s have a look at what it actually means. Over to you, Google…
We always focus on that middle part, the expert knowledge. That’s just one part of being a scientist. Let’s skip that bit, and see how the definition reads now:
A person who is studying of one or more of the natural or physical sciences.
Think of it that way, and all school children are, if given the opportunity, scientists. By extension, any adult who shares in their learning and questioning of the primary curriculum with them is a scientist as well. Chances are, if you’re reading this, that’s you.
Investigating magnets, looking at different kinds of animal, pond dipping, comparing rocks; if you’re looking at it and questioning it – ‘working scientifically’, in the words of the new curriculum – you are a scientist.
“Whoa there!” we hear you say. “So maybe I don’t have to be an expert to be a scientist, but as a primary teacher, I’m expected to be an expert on EVERYTHING!”
Well, yes, quite. The new draft curriculum is incredibly heavy on subject knowledge. Year 1 children identifying Willow and Horse Chestnut trees. Year 3 children picking out sedimentary from igneous rocks. Year 4s giving examples of speciation. There’s a heck of a lot of knowledge for kids (and teachers) to get their heads around. Recently, I attended a course run by a former headteacher and lead Ofsted inspector. She said that “subject knowledge is one of the biggest obstacles to outstanding science lessons”.
Despite all this, we really do feel that if you have the inspiration and the curiosity, there are plenty of opportunities to pick up the subject knowledge. And that’s where the Primary Scientists blog comes in. Already, on the internet, this subject knowledge is floating around, waiting to be snapped up; there are so many great resources out there from specialist organisations. Often though, you need to do a bit of digging for them, and frequently these resources aren’t accompanied by any really creative ideas to aid their use. At Primary Scientists, we aim to make it all a bit more digestible and inspiring. We want to highlight what is useful and engaging. We will compile some of the best resources, and share our own ideas and experiences of actually using them in the classroom. We’ll add our own humble voices to the reams of subject knowledge, along with our own stories, thoughts, resources and photos. Anything on this site will be free to use. All we ask is that you share us with your friends and colleagues, and maybe give us the odd re-tweet.
Speaking personally, we are scientists with degrees and conservation experience. As primary teachers, we are scientists too. Our aim is to blend both of these aspects to bring subject knowledge and curiosity to your classroom via useful ideas, resources, lesson plans and tidbits of information. Most of all, we want to pass on our excitement for the sciences and sharing them with children.
Us. You. The children we all teach. Together, we are Primary Scientists.