Science

Scoil Cholmcille
Kilmacrennan

Whole School Plan for Science

Introductory Statement
The existing approach to science was reviewed and changes necessary to implement the science curriculum were identified. These changes were action-planned in classes during the first two terms of the school year 2003-2004. Following feedback at a subsequent staff meeting the following plan was drawn up. All teachers were involved in this process.

Rationale
To benefit teaching and learning in our school.
To provide a coherent approach to the teaching of science across the whole school.
In order to ensure that pupils are given adequate opportunities to develop skills and understanding of concepts as envisaged in the Primary School Curriculum.

Vision
The vision of science in our school is concerned with the development of knowledge and understanding of the biological and physical aspects of the world. We aspire to help pupils reflect critically to make sense of their experiences. We promote learning experiences that foster the pupils’ curiosity and enjoyment so that they will develop a lasting interest in science. Practical activities, focusing on the scientific process, are included as an important part of science lessons.

Aims
The aims of science education are:
To develop knowledge and understanding of scientific and technological concepts through the exploration of human, natural and physical aspects of the environment.
To develop a scientific approach to problem-solving which emphasises understanding and constructive thinking.
To encourage the child to explore, develop and apply scientific ideas and concepts through designing and making activities.
To foster the child’s natural curiosity, so encouraging independent enquiry and creative action.
To help the child to appreciate the contribution of science and technology to the social, economic, cultural and other dimensions of society.
To cultivate an appreciation and respect for the diversity of living and non-living things, their interdependence and interactions.
To encourage the child to behave responsibly to protect, improve and cherish the environment and to become involved in the identification, discussion, resolution and avoidance of environmental problems and so promote sustainable development.
To enable the child to communicate ideas, present work and report findings using a variety of media.

Targets
During the summer term of 2007 the aims of this science policy were reviewed and it was agreed by all teachers to include the following as targets to be achieved by June 2009:
To hold a Science Week within the school to run in conjunction with National Science Week. This may involve a visit to a centre of particular interest, displaying science projects in the school or arranging science activities in classrooms.
To submit an entry for an Award of Excellence from Discover Primary Science.
That a full inventory of science resources be drawn up and any materials required be identified.
That it be clarified which yearly programme pertains to present school year in conjunction with class band teacher.
That a school folder of science activities from all classes be collated.

Content of Plan

Science Curriculum:
The curriculum content is divided in a two-year cycle at each level ensuring that all four strands are covered each year.
Strands: Strand units
Living things Human life
Plants and animals

Energy and forces Light
Sound
Heat
Magnetism and electricity
Forces

Materials Materials and change
Properties and characteristics of materials

Environmental awareness and care Caring for my locality
3rd-6th strand units:
Environmental awareness
Science and the environment
Caring for the environment

Infant classes
Year 1
Strand Living things Energy and forces Materials Environmental
awareness and care
Strand Unit Myself Light Properties
and characteristics of materials Caring for my
locality
Strand Unit Plants and
animals Sound
Strand Unit Heat

Year 2
Strand Living things Energy and forces Environmental
awareness and
care
Strand
Unit Myself Magnetism and
electricity Materials and change Caring for my locality
Strand
Unit Plants and
animals Forces

First and second classes
Year 1
Strand Living things Energy and forces Materials Environmental
awareness and
care
Strand
Unit Myself-
variety and
characteristics
of living things Light Properties and characteristics of materials Caring for my locality
Strand
Unit Plants and
animals-
processes of life Sound
Strand
Unit Heat

Year 2
Strand Living things Energy and forces Materials Environmental
awareness and
care
Strand
Unit Myself-
Human life
processes Magnetism and
electricity Materials and change Caring for my locality
Strand
Unit Plants and animals-
Variety and characteristics of living things Forces

Third and fourth classes
Year 1
Strand Living things Energy and forces Materials Environmental
awareness and
care
Strand
Unit Human life Light Properties and characteristics of materials Environmental awareness
Strand
Unit Plant and animal life – variety and characteristics of living things Sound Science and the environment
Strand
Unit Heat

Year 2
Strand Living things Energy and forces Materials Environmental
awareness and
care
Strand
Unit Human life Magnetism and electricity Materials and change Caring for the environment
Strand
Unit Plant and animal life-processes of life Forces

Fifth and sixth classes
Year 1
Strand Living things Energy and forces Materials Environmental
awareness and
care
Strand
Unit Human life Light Properties and characteristics of materials Environmental awareness
Strand
Unit Plant and animal life – variety and characteristics of living things Sound Science and the environment
Strand
Unit Heat

Year 2
Strand Living things Energy and forces Materials Environmental
awareness and
care
Strand
Unit Human life Magnetism and electricity Materials and change Caring for the environment
Strand
Unit Plant and animal life – processes of life Forces

The concepts and knowledge to be explored by the pupils are outlined in the four content strands and through the study of these areas the scientific and technological skills described in “Working Scientifically” and “Designing and Making” are developed.

Teachers select the topics/lessons from the menu of curriculum objectives for their class ensuring that equal emphasis is given to each strand and that the full range of objectives are covered in a two-year cycle. Thematic approaches are adopted at certain stages of the year. Certain aspects of the science programme are addressed in line with our school’s plan for SPHE.

Children’s Ideas:
All teachers are in agreement that learning in science begins from the pupils’ ideas about how things are, and they change and develop these ideas by testing them in practical investigation. During scientific activities children are encouraged to discuss, question, listen and problem-solve through activities that try out, challenge, change or replace ideas.

Practical investigations:
Teachers adopt an investigative approach or direct the scientific activity to ensure that the pupils are provided with opportunities to use and apply concepts while solving scientific problems. The concept of a fair test is introduced from 3rd class with children encouraged to identify the conditions that make a difference to an experiment. In carrying out practical investigations in science the children will be involved in:
Observing
Asking questions
Predicting
Hypothesising
Investigating and experimenting
Interpreting results
Recording and communicating results

Classroom management
Classroom management methodologies for science education vary from whole-class work, small group-work and individual work on chosen topics or projects.

Key methodologies
Active learning, use of the environment, guided and discovery learning are the methodologies which will be emphasised in science lessons to ensure pupils are involved as much as possible in the lessons. Teachers select appropriate methodologies to accommodate the different learning styles of the children.
Teachers will
Allow children the excitement of finding out for themselves
Enable the children to work on their own problems insofar as possible.
Encourage children to pose their own questions
Both the investigative approach and the teacher-directed approach are employed in science lessons.

Linkage and Integration:
The linkage of the four strands in science is practised, as there are opportunities to develop themes that cover the four strands. The science curriculum can be integrated within SESE, particularly with Geography but also with SPHE, Visual Arts, Mathematics and the Language programme.

Using the Environment:
The school is committed to making full use of its grounds and the habitats of the locality. The immediate environment will be the starting point for environmental education and as the pupils’ knowledge and understanding grow they will learn about other environments in the Irish, European and global context. The grounds at Glenveagh National Park are also a valuable asset to the school in regard to both science and geography lessons. Teachers wishing to bring their classes on scientific trips outside the school grounds must follow the procedures as set out in the school’s policy on school tours.

Balance between Knowledge and Skills:
The teaching of science encourages the development of two types of understanding – the development of scientific knowledge through the four strands and the development of scientific skills. The science skills fall under two headings:
Working scientifically which describes the skills that pupils should develop through their scientific investigations
Designing and making skills which involve the pupils in exploring materials, planning designs and making models that will enable them to apply skills learned to practical situations.

Assessment – Looking at Children’s Work:
Knowledge, skills development and participation levels are assessed by teachers. Teachers select from the following range of assessment approaches:
Teacher observation of knowledge, skills development and participation in activities
Teacher-designed tasks and tests
Work sample, portfolios and projects
Pupils will be encouraged to assess their own work on a continuous basis. Records of progress will be kept by the teacher and discussed with parents during parent-teacher meetings and as part of the end of year report.

Children with Different Needs:
The science programme aims to meet the needs of all children in the school. This will be achieved by teachers varying the pace, content and methodologies to ensure learning for all pupils. Evidence of this differentiated approach will be recorded in teachers’ yearly schemes. The requirements of children with special needs will be taken into consideration when planning class lessons and field trips. The SNA supports particular children or groups as directed by the class teacher. Children of exceptional ability are encouraged to access additional information through the school library, the internet and in conducting independent research projects.

Equality of Participation and Access:
All children are provided with equal access to all aspects of the science curriculum. All boys and girls are provided with equal opportunities to engage in scientific activities. No child is excleded from trips or exhibitions. Opportunities are provided within the science programme to broaden the pupils’ understanding of cultures and environments e.g. fabrics used in warmer countries, colours of clothing, materials used for building homes.

Timetable:
Teachers can decide to allocate time for science on a weekly basis or they can block time over a month or term. This should be indicated in each teacher’s timetable. Teachers should ensure that pupils attending supplementary teaching are included for as much of the science programme as possible.

Safety:
The teacher should be aware of the safety implications of any exploratory or investigative work to be undertaken. Children will be encouraged to follow safety procedures as outlined by the teacher during all tasks. There are many safety issues to consider including:
Plants and animals
Disposable gloves to be worn when investigating hedgerows. Children should never handle unknown or unfamiliar plants, especially fungi. Gloves to be worn also when handling birds or animals. Hand-washing should be encouraged after handling plants and animals.
Electricity
Children should only use low-voltage battery-powered devices. Mains electricity should never be used for electricity and magnetism experiments. If mains-powered equipment is used then it should be connected and operated by the teacher only. Children should be repeatedly warned about the danger of mains electricity.
Equipment
The use of glass apparatus and sharp-edged tool should be avoided except under the direct supervision of the teacher. Use plastic where possible. Thermometers should be handled carefully. If a thermometer breaks and mercury is spilt it should be carefully gathered up by the teacher and buried in a place where the ground will not be disturbed. Spirit thermometers should be used where possible.
Eyes
Children should never use lenses, binoculars or other lenses devices to look directly at the sun or other intense source of light. This includes dark glass and plastic.

Chemicals
Household chemicals should be purchased to meet the requirements of the experiment and any surplus disposed of on completion of experiment. Try to avoid any chemical containing bleach. Use safety goggles where possible. These chemicals will not be stored in the science resource boxes.
Polythene bags
Children should be warned of the dangers of using these bags as they may cause suffocation.
Heat
Under no circumstances should the children themselves handle matches or lighters. If using candles during an experiment, teachers will ensure that they are securely fastened. Lighted candles should never be moved. Care should be taken to avoid situations where children may be tempted to lean across a lighted candle. Long hair should be tied back and loose sleeves secured. Any heating may be done with hot water from a tap or from a kettle held by an adult. Flammable liquids should never be used.
Cleanliness and hygiene
Random sniffing and tasting should be discouraged. The teacher should explain that anything the children are asked to smell or taste has been carefully chosen for that activity. The sharing of spoons or other utensils should not be permitted. Hand-washing should be encouraged before food activities.

Individual Teachers’ Planning and Reporting:
Teachers will base their yearly and short-term plans on the approaches set out in this whole-school plan or science. Work covered will be outlined in the Monthly Report, which will be submitted to the principal.

Staff Development:
Teachers are made aware of any opportunities for further professional development through participation in courses available in Education Centres, Discover Primary Science, or other venues. Skills and expertise within the school are shared and developed through inputs at staff meetings.

Parental Involvement / Community Links:
Parents are encouraged to support the school’s programme for science. Parents with particular expertise may be invited to address classes. Parents are invited to accompany field outings. They are kept informed of developments through school notices. Local and national experts are invited to contribute to the school’s science programme throughout the year.

Success Criteria
The success of this plan will be measured using the following criteria:
Implementation of revisions in the science curriculum will be evident in teachers’ work.
Continuity of content and methodology will be evident in teachers’ preparation and monthly reports.
Ongoing assessment, formal and informal, will show that pupils are acquiring an understanding of concepts and a proficiency in scientific skills appropriate to their age and ability.

Implementation:
Roles and Responsibilities:
Class teachers are responsible for the implementation of the science programme for their individual classes as specified in this document.

Timeframe
This science policy was reviewed at a planning day in May 2010 and will be revisited in May 2014.

  • School Holidays

    • Halloween Break 2017
      Closing on Fri 27th Oct; re-opening on Mon 6th Nov
    • Christmas Holidays
      School closes on Fri 22nd Dec 2017 and will re-open on Mon 8th Jan 2018.
    • Feb Mid-term 2018
      Closed on Thurs 15th & Fri 16th Feb 2018
    • Easter Holidays 2018
      Closing for Easter Holidays on Fri 23 March & re-opening on Mon 9 April 2018.
    • May Bank Holiday 2018.
      The school is closed on Mon 7th May 2018.
    • June Bank Holiday 2018.
      The school is closed on Mon 4th June 2018.
    • Provisional Summer Closure 2018
      Provisional date for Summer Holidays is Fri 22nd June 2018.

      Please note that the above dates are subject to change.

      In the event of unforeseen closures, the Board of Management may use the first three days of the Easter Holidays to catch up on missed school days.