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Pattern seeking

Pattern seeking investigations require children to observe, measure and collect and interpret data from a range of sources. These types of enquiry are used when variables cannot easily be controlled, for example investigating whether people with longer legs jump further than those with shorter legs.

The In the Zone resource explains in more detail how this investigation could be carried out in the classroom. There isn’t always a need for numerical data. Children can carry out pattern seeking investigations through structured observations.

Slide from In The Zone: Legs for leaping activity

For example, in Year 2 (age 6-7) children are asked where do plants grow well. Children could explore the school grounds looking for places where plants grow and where plants do not grow well. What do they notice about the areas where plants grow well? Is there lots of sunlight? Water? Sheltered so not too cold?

The Great Plant Hunt resources has a range of activities that could support the development of pattern seeking investigations.

Screenshot of the Great Plant Hunt website

Within a space topic, in key stage 2 (age 7-11), children could investigate the question: Does the size of a planet affect the length of its orbit? Before children can answer this question they may need to carry out some research to gather data about the different planets. Analysing this data will develop the children’s pattern seeking skills. This is a good example of how two different types of enquiry are needed in order to answer one question.


Can you think of other pattern seeking investigations that you have used or would like to use?

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching Primary Science: Getting Started

National STEM Learning Centre