Your mission possible
Ages 8 to 11
To help pupils enjoy science investigations, tell them that they will be working for a secret agency on a mission that is possible.
To kickstart a lesson on thermal insulators, hide envelopes under the chairs of a few pupils and explain what they will be doing.
One envelope explains that canisters containing liquid have become detached from their holding cells. Another says that the liquid needs to stay warm.
On each of the group tables, set up a tray with different materials, measuring equipment, thermometers and other science equipment that will help the children carry out their investigation.
Each time an agent opens an envelope, time is given to discuss how they can keep the liquid warm, at which point play the Mission Impossible film music. Once pupils come up with a plan, open a briefcase complete with canisters and allow them to carry out their experiments.
I filled canisters with water and green food colouring, and my pupils came up with a range of ideas to keep the liquid warm; the common method was insulating beakers with the given materials. One group wrapped foil around the beaker because they had seen foil used at home when their parents were cooking
Martin Van Hecke is a Year 6 teacher at Higher Lane Primary School in Bury, Manchester.