Summer primary science reading: It's Not Fair – Or Is It?

9th August 2015 at 16:00
Primary science teaching and lessons
On my summer holiday last year, I read: It’s Not Fair – Or Is It? by Jane Turner, Brenda Keogh, Stuart Naylor and Liz Lawrence

This book is about science and, most importantly, the different types of scientific enquiry that can be undertaken in primary classes.

I’ve worked in and supported many different schools to deliver science lessons and there is often a misconception that scientific enquiry is all about creating a fair test. It’s Not Fair – Or Is It? targets that notion and helps to broaden the variety of investigations offered to pupils from the early years through to age 11.

The book is for “all primary teachers and student teachers who want to know more about science enquiry and how to teach it, and for subject leaders who want to lead science effectively in their schools”. It does its job well. I read it over the summer and was eager to get back to school and try out the activities. It improved my planning and was useful for ensuring that the children experienced enquiries in a variety of styles.

Five different types of enquiry are covered, with chapters dedicated to observing over time, identifying and classifying, seeking patterns, research and fair testing. Each section provides background on the type of enquiry and gives examples of activities that can be used at different stages across the primary sector. These activities can be placed into an everyday context to help children understand the practical applications of the science they are studying.

The book is incredibly easy to read; the writing is engaging and the activities suggested feel fresh and new. It gave me a greater understanding of the different types of enquiry and reminded me that the most important parts of exploring a question can be overlooked in the rush to get some practical science completed and some evidence down in pupils’ books.

When I reported back to staff about how we could use this book, I quoted this statement as I feel it sums up an effective approach to teaching (and not just when it comes to science): “Your task as a teacher is to find a ‘hook’ that will make an interesting starting point, inspiring children to find out more about the science you want them to learn.”

It’s Not Fair – Or Is It? was well received by my colleagues. It has brought a greater focus on science and raised the profile of the subject. The suggested activities have helped to promote curiosity, creativity and challenge across the school.

This book should be in every primary in the country. It’s an absolute must-read for science coordinators, new teachers and veterans alike.

This summer I plan to read: Whizzy Science: make it change! by Anna Claybourne

Sarah Williams is a primary teacher in Durham


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