A high-quality science education provides the foundations for understanding the world through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics. Science has changed our lives and is vital to the world’s future prosperity, and all children should be taught essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science. Through building up a body of key foundational knowledge and concepts, children are encouraged to recognise the power of rational explanation and develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about natural phenomena. They are encouraged to understand how science can be used to explain what is occurring, predict how things will behave, and analyse causes.
Children in Years One and Two explore the world around them and raise their own questions. They experience different types of scientific enquiries, including practical activities, and begin to recognise ways in which they might answer scientific questions. They use simple features to compare objects, materials and living things and, with help, decide how to sort and group them, observe changes over time, and, with guidance, they begin to notice patterns and relationships. They ask people questions and use simple secondary sources to find answers. They also use simple measurements and equipment (for example, hand lenses and egg timers) to gather data, carry out simple tests, record simple data, and talk about what they have found out and how they found it out. With help, they record and communicate their findings in a range of ways and begin to use simple scientific language.
As well as working scientifically, four areas of science are taught in Year One including:
- Animals, including humans
- Everyday materials
- Seasonal changes
Children use the local environment throughout the year to explore and answer questions about plants growing in their habitat. Where possible, they observe the growth of flowers and vegetables that they have planted.
They become familiar with common names of flowers, examples of deciduous and evergreen trees, and plant structures (including leaves, flowers (blossom), petals, fruit, roots, bulb, seed, trunk, branches, stem).
Children work scientifically by observing closely, using magnifying glasses, and comparing and contrasting familiar plants; describing how they were able to identify and group them, and drawing diagrams showing the parts of different plants including trees. Pupils keep records of how plants have changed over time, for example the leaves falling off trees and buds opening; and compare and contrast what they have found out about different plants.
Children use the local environment throughout the year to explore and answer questions about animals in their habitat. They understand how to take care of animals taken from their local environment and the need to return them safely after study. Children become familiar with the common names of some fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, including those that are kept as pets.
Children have plenty of opportunities to learn the names of the main body parts (including head, neck, arms, elbows, legs, knees, face, ears, eyes, hair, mouth, teeth) through games, actions, songs and rhymes.
Children also work scientifically by using their observations to compare and contrast animals at first hand or through videos and photographs, describing how they identify and group them; grouping animals according to what they eat; and using their senses to compare different textures, sounds and smells.
Children explore, name, discuss and raise and answer questions about everyday materials so that they become familiar with the names of materials and properties such as hard/ soft; stretchy/ stiff; shiny/ dull; rough/ smooth; bendy/ not bendy; waterproof/ not waterproof; absorbent/ not absorbent; opaque/ transparent. Children explore and experiment with a wide variety of materials including for example brick, paper, fabrics, elastic, foil.
Children work scientifically by performing simple tests to explore questions, for example ‘What is the best material for an umbrella?'
Children observe and talk about changes in the weather and the seasons and work scientifically by making tables and charts about the weather; and making displays of what happens in the world around them, including day length, as the seasons change.
Read an overview of what your child will learn in science in Year One
As well as working scientifically, other areas of science are taught in Year Two, including:
- Living things and their habitats
- Animals, including humans
- Uses of everyday materials
Children are introduced to the idea that all living things have certain characteristics that are essential for keeping them alive and healthy. They raise and answer questions that help them to become familiar with the life processes that are common to all living things. Children are introduced to the terms ‘habitat’ (a natural environment or home of a variety of plants and animals) and ‘micro-habitat’ (a very small habitat, for example for woodlice under stones, logs or leaf litter). They raise and answer questions about the local environment that help them to identify and study a variety of plants and animals within their habitat and observe how living things depend on each other, for example, plants serving as a source of food and shelter for animals. Children compare animals in familiar habitats with animals found in less familiar habitats, for example, on the seashore, in woodland, in the ocean, in the rainforest.
Children work scientifically by sorting and classifying things according to whether they are living, dead or were never alive, and recording their findings using charts. They describe how they decided where to place things, exploring questions, for example ‘Is a flame alive? Is a deciduous tree dead in winter?’, and talk about ways of answering their questions. They construct a simple food chain that includes humans (for example: grass, cow, human). They describe the conditions in different habitats and micro-habitats (under logs, on stony paths, under bushes) and find out how the conditions affect the number and type(s) of plants and animals that live there.
Children use the local environment throughout the year to observe how different plants grow. Children are introduced to the requirements of plants for germination, growth and survival, as well as to the processes of reproduction and growth in plants. Children are taught that seeds and bulbs need water to grow but most do not need light because seeds and bulbs have a store of food inside them.
Children work scientifically by observing and recording, with some accuracy, the growth of a variety of plants as they change over time from a seed or bulb, or observing similar plants at different stages of growth; setting up a comparative test to show that plants need light and water to stay healthy.
Children are introduced to the basic needs of animals for survival, as well as the importance of exercise and nutrition for humans. They are also introduced to the processes of reproduction and growth in animals. The focus at this stage is on questions that help children to recognise growth and they are not be expected to understand how reproduction occurs.
Children work scientifically by observing, through video or first-hand observation and measurement, how different animals, including humans, grow; asking questions about what things animals need for survival and what humans need to stay healthy; and suggesting ways to find answers to their questions.
Children identify and discuss the uses of different everyday materials so that they become familiar with how some materials are used for more than one thing (metal can be used for coins, cans, cars and table legs; wood can be used for matches, floors, and telegraph poles) or different materials are used for the same thing (spoons can be made from plastic, wood, metal, but not normally from glass). They think about the properties of materials that make them suitable or unsuitable for particular purposes and are encouraged to think about unusual and creative uses for everyday materials. Pupils find out about people who have developed useful new materials, for example John Dunlop and John McAdam.
Children work scientifically by comparing the uses of everyday materials in and around the school with materials found in other places (at home, the journey to school, on visits, and in stories, rhymes and songs); observing closely, identifying and classifying the uses of different materials, and recording their observations.
Click here to read about what your child will learn in science in year two