Teaching Primary Science: Getting Started

Learn how to deliver primary science in an engaging and practical way in this course for teachers of 5-11 year old pupils.

Teaching Primary Science: Getting Started
  • Duration3 weeks
  • Weekly study3 hours
  • LearnFree
  • Extra BenefitsFrom $54Find out more

Help your pupils love and understand science

Primary science is the first opportunity to develop your pupils’ curiosity about the world. Studies suggest that by engaging pupils in practical science work frequently, they will have a greater understanding and enjoyment of science.

On this course you will develop your confidence in doing practical science in the primary classroom. You will explore a range of practical science techniques, activities and enquries and think about the impact they have upon the learning of your pupils.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 secondsPrimary school science is the first formal opportunity to develop children's curiosity about the world in which they live.

Skip to 0 minutes and 19 secondsIt's the starting point for building their science capital and a lifelong appreciation of the importance of science. Through hands-on exploration, children are able to ask questions, test their ideas, and in turn, develop a greater understanding of the world in which they live. Creating learning opportunities that will develop a sense of excitement and curiosity is fundamental in supporting children's learning in science. [Teacher] It's really important for the children to be hands on, actively engaged... [Teacher] A lot of the lesson was being able to explore how it works and how the sound does come out of it. Through practical enquiry, children can develop the scientific knowledge required to understand the uses and implications of science for today and for the future.

Skip to 1 minute and 6 seconds[Teacher] Some of the children on the table go: 'no, no that needs to happen' before any teacher prompting because they started to connect the dots themselves, and that's what we want.

Skip to 1 minute and 12 secondsTeaching Primary Science: Getting Started is for those new to teaching primary science or for teachers who would like to develop their skills further. We will explore a range of techniques to deliver primary science in an engaging and practical way. You'll be able to identify the different types of enquiry and learn how to embed them in science teaching. You will also be able to trial activities and think about how they impact on learning and engagement in science. As a participant on this course, you will be able to develop your confidence in carrying out practical science for 5 to 11 year olds. You'll share ideas on how to plan for effective practical work in primary science.

Skip to 1 minute and 53 secondsAnd you'll collaborate with peers, educators, and mentors to share and critique ideas from teaching practical science. Join us online to get started with primary science through engaging, hands-on, practical activities that will inspire our scientists of the future.


  • Week 1

    From 20 Apr 2020

    Getting started with practical resources

    • Getting started

      Welcome to the course

    • Practical resources

      Photos, models and real objects. How do practical resources support pupil learning?

    • Barriers to practical science

      Practical science requires preparation. What barriers exist to you getting started with practical science?

    • Overcoming barriers

      There are many approaches to make practical work happen. How do roles support practical work?

    • Why is practical science important?

      Review your learning this week. Why do you think practical science is important?

  • Week 2

    From 27 Apr 2020

    Working scientifically and scientific enquiry

    • Working scientifically

      We start Week 2 looking at working scientifically and types of enquiry.

    • Enquiry types

      Working scientifically involves enquiry. Using the National Curriculum for Science in England, we'll look at five different enquiry types.

    • Planning for enquiry

      Using examples from four classes you'll see how enquiry types are put into practice. Then, together, you'll contribute to an enquiry map.

    • Developing your understanding of enquiry types

      Review your learning this week. How would you plan a unit of work for your pupils?

  • Week 3

    From 4 May 2020

    Progressing scientific skills

    • Scientific enquiry skills

      For our final week, you will look at skills development. What skills are required by your curriculum and how will your pupils develop them?

    • Teaching with scientific skills

      In the next two steps you'll watch a whole class investigation. How are scientific skills developed in your class?

    • Thinking and reasoning

      Why do we need to develop thinking and reasoning skills?

    • Thinking and reasoning classroom activities

      In the next steps we look at the Wellcome Trust's Explorify online resources. How might you use them in your lessons?

    • Putting it into practice

      The final activity involves you trying out a thinking and reasoning activity with your class. We finish with a reflective task: what did you learn on the course?

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Develop confidence in carrying out practical science for 5-11 year olds
  • Explore ideas for effective practical work in primary science
  • Identify the types of enquiry and when to use them
  • Investigate activities which engage children in learning about science
  • Design opportunities for developing thinking and reasoning through science

Who is the course for?

This course is for primary school teachers who are new to teaching or would like to develop their skills in science teaching. There will be references to the English National Curriculum but learners will be encouraged to review their local curricula to contextualise the course content. This course adopts a reflective practice approach that will also support the development of teaching skills for non-UK teachers.

Who will you learn with?

Karen Brunyee

Karen Brunyee

I am currently a Professional Development Leader at the National STEM Learning Centre in Primary STEM. I have been a teacher for 14 years, teaching classes from FS2 to Year 6.

Tanya Shields

Tanya Shields

I am the Primary STEM Lead at the National STEM Learning Centre. I was previously a primary teacher with SLT responsibilities including science, G&T provision and KS1/2 transition.

Sarah Dagnell

Sarah Dagnell

I have been a primary school teacher for 13 years and work at Clifton With Rawcliffe Primary, York. Currently, I also work 3 days a week at the National STEM Learning Centre in the Primary PDL Team.

Who developed the course?

National STEM Learning Centre

The National STEM Learning Centre provides world-class professional development activities and resources to support the teaching of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.

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