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This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre's online course, Teaching Primary Science: Getting Started. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds It is essential that children have access to equipment that not only supports inquiry, but also develops the associated maths skills specific to their age-related outcomes. The management of primary science resources is the responsibility of everyone in the school. However, it is a science subject leader who has overall responsibility for the organization and coordination of the equipment. Each school will organize their equipment differently. And there’s no right or wrong way to do this. Class teachers are responsible for ensuring the quality and the accessibility of resources for each of their lessons. When preparing to teach practical science, you’ll need to think about the equipment your children might need.

Skip to 0 minutes and 56 seconds For example, there are common resources that you might want to consider for nearly all investigations. These will be things like tape measures, stopwatches and measuring jugs. You’ll need to check that your children can read the scales on the equipment before the lesson. This could be done in a maths lesson or as a standalone activity. Other things to consider having in a general resources box would be measuring cylinders and beakers in various shapes and sizes. Where possible, you should use plastic. If children do have to use glass, for example, a glass thermometer, make sure they know how to handle it safely. SCORE have produced a general equipment list that you might find useful when preparing your next lesson.

Skip to 1 minute and 39 seconds When starting a new topic, think about the subject specific equipment needed to develop children’s concepts. This does not need to be an exhaustive list as there are things that you want to add as you work through the unit. For example, if you are starting a topic on sound, you might like to give your children the opportunity to explore different objects that make sound, drums, guitars, rattles. When selecting equipment, remember what concepts you would like the children to develop. In this example, you might like to introduce the concept that sound is created when things vibrate. Providing children with equipment, that is obviously vibrating will help to reinforce this concept.

Skip to 2 minutes and 20 seconds The first piece of equipment you might like to add into your sound resources box is a ruler. The ruler demonstrates how vibrations create sounds. The children can place the ruler on the side of the table and as it vibrates it creates a sound, when the vibrations stop, so does the sound. [NOISE] The next activity requires just a balloon and a hexagonal nut. We have a transparent balloon here, but colored balloons are absolutely fine too. You might want to prepare this before the children start the lesson as you don’t want children to swallowing this hexagonal nut. You place it in the balloon, and just shake that down to the bottom.

Skip to 3 minutes and 5 seconds [SOUND] Blow up the balloon, and make sure you’ve got hold of it tight. And as you spin the balloon round, the hexagonal nut bounces off the skin of the balloon creates vibrations and you’ll hear a sound. [SOUND] What’s nice about this activity is as the nut is vibrating on the balloon you can actually feel it in your hands. So you have that multi-sensory approach, and the children really consolidating the concept that sound is created through vibrations. I’m just gonna let go of this and it will make a funny sound. [SOUND] The final activity that I’m going to show you is just using a simple straw.

Skip to 3 minutes and 55 seconds You take a plastic straw, just flatten the end a little bit, and if you just cut the end and make, there we go a pointy bit there, that’s a part of the reed. You flatten it down and when you blow it between in your lips, you should be able to make a sound. [SOUND] Now this activity, hasn’t got vibrating parts as obvious as any of the other activities, so you might like to ask the children, what is it that’s vibrating? What is it that’s creating sound? Have a think about your next topic. What resources will you need? What are the essentials that you will need to put into your resources box?

Preparing resources for science

In this video, Tanya talks you through some of the common items which can be used for many primary science investigations. She also discusses how to prepare a resource box for a topic you may be about to teach.

Have you created resource boxes in your school? Have they been successful? Do you have tips to share with other participants on the course?

In the next step, you will be asked to prepare your own resource box. For this, you may find the SCORE resource list (Excel) a useful starting point.

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching Primary Science: Getting Started

National STEM Learning Centre