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Being nosy for science!

Written by Louise Stubberfield on Tue 13th Jun 2017

Your lowdown on Explorify's programme, from Louise Stubberfield, our programme manager for primary science

Are you new to Explorify? Want to find out what it’s all about? I’m programme manager for primary science at the Wellcome Trust, and as a former research scientist, teacher and headteacher I’m passionate about science – but I also understand how tough teaching can be!

Observing similarities and differences are fundamental skills for science – in my former science career I was constantly observing things, in fact, I think I’m naturally nosy! The Explorify programme of activities is designed after extensive research on how to help teachers deliver the best science teaching to their classes and to help children build on their own natural nosiness.

The Odd Ones Out are a great place to start to build on children’s inquisitiveness. Looking at Weird Walkers, children will quickly realise that they’re all animals that move differently. At first, as with Baby Animals,  perhaps they’ll concentrate on the observable differences but with encouragement they’ll work out other ideas too: How do they move? Where would you find them? What might they eat? How they change as they grow? One of our teachers even reported that children had a five-minute play session afterwards to move like their favourite animal! 

Explorify’s Odd Ones Out, like most of our activities, are open-ended with no right answer, which encourages everyone to have a go. Sarah Wilson, a teacher from Manchester said “Loved how much the quiet ones become totally involved.”

We’ve designed our ten-activity programme to step up the challenge as you progress through the Explorify journey, not only will you be getting to know your class better, but you’ll see them develop better thinking and reasoning skills. Look out for activities as you progress along the programme that encourage your children to go the extra mile and build their scientific thinking skills. Dive deeper into how things change over time, using the Seasons video, and think how this affects everything else living there too. Or explore a step in a life cycle with Unexpected Eggs and wonder about various different egg-laying animals.

Each idea shared in class contributes to grouping and classifying and tells us a lot about what children know and why. In this way, Explorify activities are also useful for assessment, to find out what the children know and what they don’t and to pick up any misconceptions. Talking about the Lightmakers activity, Sarah Eames, who teaches in Leicester said “My year 4s amazed me with their knowledge of bioluminescence, they then explained differences and similarities that I had never thought about. The amount of questions their curiosity generated would have taken a whole day of investigation or research.”

We’ve tried to keep our activities no stress and flexible to fit into your day whenever you can – teachers have used our activities to introduce a science topic, as a link between lessons and to keep the learning live. They can also be used to refocus children after a break or at the end of hot, busy day! Another Leicester teacher, Julie Guiver, told us “I am using the activities instead of a story – first thing after lunch. No resources are needed other than what's on-screen.”

So whatever your confidence in teaching science, we would love you and your pupils to try out our activities – so go on, be nosy, you know you want to!