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Planning for practical enquiry: possible solutions

Concept cartoons, roles, planning grids
© National STEM Learning Centre
From the previous step, the mentor (Karen) suggested some possible ideas to try in the teacher’s next practical lesson. Downloadable versions are linked at the bottom of this step.

Concept cartoons

A concept cartoon is one way of presenting questions for your children to investigate. It often states the question and then other characters in the picture provide possible solutions which can then be investigated. The children can choose to agree with one of the characters or suggest their own solutions to investigate.
Concept cartoon with four robots suggesting different ways to improve the brightness of bulbs. 1. I'm trying to get the bulbs in my eyes to be as bright as possible but I'm not sure what to do. Can you help? 2. Can you make the wires leading to your eyes thicker? I think this will make your bulbs brighter. 3. If you place the cells close to your eyes and make the wires really short that will make the bulbs brighter. 4. I think having more wires leading to your eye bulbs will make the bulbs brighter! Try that!


As discussed in Step 1.13 classroom roles are really useful tools for organising group work during practical activities. There are many roles you could choose to use but the suggested ones cover most jobs. These types of roles are used extensively in the CIEC (Centre for Industry Education Collaboration) resources which are free to download here.
Roles badges: personnel officer, health and safety, resources officer, administration, communications

Planning grids

In week 3 we will further explore the use of planning grids to help your children plan their investigations in class.
Practical planning template - further details in week 3. The grid shows: ideas (things we could change, things we could measure or observe), we will choose one item (we will change, we will measure/observe), our question is, to make this a fair test (we will keep these things the same), our prediction.
This picture is an example of a completed plan where the children thought about the possible variables they could change. They then chose one variable to change and one variable to measure. There is space to record their group question and space for a prediction, if you are asking them to predict.
These are just one example of planning posters that can be used in school. In step 3.5 you will see how an alternative set of planning posters are used in the classroom.
© National STEM Learning Centre
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Teaching Primary Science: Getting Started

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