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Science - Creativity all in the mind

What it's all about

For too many teachers, creative science is about asking pupils to write stories or poems or make a poster. But creativity is not about using creative arts in a science setting, writes James Williams.

Creativity will be found in the thinking skills your pupils must develop. Being open-minded, thinking outside the box and even lateral thinking are all aspects of creativity and useful skills in science. It is vital to teach children that many scientific discoveries involved creative thinking.

One celebrated scientific discovery is that of the structure of DNA by Francis Crick and James Watson. Many scientists were working towards understanding DNA, but it was their creativity that solved the riddle. Using information from a range of sources, they realised that the evidence pointed towards a double helix structure. You could argue that there was a degree of "creative arts" here, as they built a model of the structure using laboratory clamps, stands and cut sheet metal. But the creativity was in the thinking, not the building.

To develop pupils' creativity, combine thinking skills with physical model building, turning narrative descriptions or two-dimensional structures drawn on paper into 3D models. Get pupils to work in small teams: few major discoveries in science are now made by lone scientists.

Developing creativity in science through the use of extended project work, using a range of thinking and practical skills, is the best way to increase engagement for all.

What else?

Pupils conduct a real-life forensic investigation in a lesson from skyonx. bit.lyForensicCreativity

Watch Steve Spangler Science's "Slippery Science" video for ideas on turning ordinary experiments into creative opportunities. bit.lySlipperyScience.

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