Nurturing A Love Of SciencePosted on: 13/11/2020
It seems very fitting that Wednesday 10th November was ‘World Science Day for Peace and Development’. This day is celebrated to highlight the important role that science has in society and to promote the need to engage the wider public in debates on emerging scientific issues.
Since the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic, more than 170 teams of researchers have been racing to develop a safe and effective vaccine. Reports this week have been encouraging with Pfizer and the German company BioNTech announcing that they had encouraging results from a phase 3 clinical trial for their vaccine.
While we all await further results from the world’s top class researchers working on the Covid vaccine, I have been inspired closer to home by what is actually happening with your children at St. Helen’s College and the passion that they have as our future scientists, who will in time take responsibility for the world’s emerging scientific issues.
There are key skills that young scientists need to develop:
Observing - by far one of the most important skills and one which children need to learn and develop.
Inferring/predicting/taking an educated guess
Measuring - maths is the language of science and is a key skill, underpinning scientific inquiry and investigation
Communication - demonstrating their understanding and using scientific vocabulary.
These skills are being developed in your children each and every day, from the Early Years through to Year 6, as our staff encourage your children to ‘notice’ what is around them. Staff utilise their questioning skills to encourage children’s awe and wonder from an early age, and to help move children towards using more advanced critical thinking skills to help predict the outcomes of investigations as they grow older.
This week alone I have been so impressed at the learning I have observed. In Reception, children have been investigating their bodies using the stimulus of the wonderful book ‘Funny Bones’. They have also enjoyed outdoor maths where shape, space and number come to life and experienced intrigue as they grow their own cress.
Year 1 pupils have enjoyed a Noticing Nature walk with Mrs. Hunt as they explored our school grounds, discovering evergreen and deciduous trees and discussing the differences in our natural environment in the autumn term. Questions, questions galore!
In Year 5 I was proud to observe the children working together throughout the week to investigate thermal insulators and independently set up their experiments, then later in the week they utilised a range of skills in IT, maths and English to explain the results of their findings using high level scientific vocabulary.
Year 6 have been researching other known viruses, building models and information leaflets using well-established skills they have gained throughout their time at St. Helen’s College.
Our great outdoors is such a wonderful vehicle for you as parents to engage your children with the building blocks for scientific enquiry. Not only is being in the outdoors good for mental wellbeing but it opens up so many opportunities for learning.
It is no surprise that the recent results from the Children and Nature Survey to understand how the Covid-19 Pandemic impacted on children’s experience with nature has highlighted the following:
“The positive role of nature in supporting well-being has also been revealed, with eight in ten children agreeing that being in nature made them very happy, while 70% said that they want to spend more time outdoors with friends post-pandemic. These findings build on Natural England’s latest People and Nature Survey, which reveals that the nation’s gardens, parks, woodlands and rivers have played a huge part in helping with mental health during the coronavirus pandemic, with almost nine in ten adults in England reporting that being in nature makes them very happy.”
A happy child is a child who will learn. So please embrace those outdoor activities and those ‘Why?’ questions, get your children to make predictions, test things out and allow them to try out simple investigations (see this wonderful website here for 40+ backyard experiments). Enrich their vocabulary with appropriate but challenging scientific vocabulary - (you may find some of the lists here which are recommended for 5- 7, 7-9 and 9- 11 year olds useful).
Science is so exciting. It surrounds us and it is fundamental for our next generation to be well equipped and skilled for what lies ahead. As I engage with the children every day at St. Helen’s College, I see future scientists and researchers who will influence the way forward. I am sure you are excited as I am to be a part of their journey!