What’s Explorify? How can it help with my science teaching?
When did you last hear that something really good for teaching is free? Welcome to Explorify, a free digital tool to help with science teaching. Developed by Wellcome, a global charitable foundation, Explorify is used by teachers in nearly 10,000 UK primary schools.
Welcome to Explorify, a free digital tool to help with science teaching. Those who have already discovered it love that it’s inclusive, simple to use, and helps develop essential transferable skills. But it’s not just the teachers who love it – so do the pupils!
Impact on pupils
Explorify has been live since late 2017 and we’ve been able to evaluate the impact that it has had on learners. After 1–3 activities, you’ll notice that the open-ended activities encourage creative thinking and discussion. After 4–7 activities, improved observation, vocabulary and listening enables children to explain ideas more clearly. As you complete up to 10 activities with your pupils, increasing confidence, improved questioning and thinking helps children apply their ideas in new contexts.
Learning doesn’t stop there though! Many teachers have told us how improved vocabulary and discussion is enabling better descriptive writing and observing detail and making connections is supporting children to understand inference in reading.
What are the activities?
Explorify engages teachers and pupils in thinking and wondering about the science in the world around them, through eight types of activities. All activities match to the UK curricula and most require no preparation beyond a quick view to familiarise yourself with the context. Some teachers use the shorter activities regularly as part of their morning routine, straight after lunch or at the end of the school day. They can be used as a starter or as a plenary to a lesson.
Most Explorify activities are not lessons in themselves – they have been designed to enhance your planned teaching. We have four short activities that have no preparation beyond selecting them from the Explorify website, that help children to explore what they know, notice details, observe patterns and changes, listen to each other’s ideas and comments, and explain what they think. All answers are valid when children explain or justify their reasons.
- Odd One Out - three images connected by a theme. Children identify the similarities and differences they can see and decide which is the odd one out and say why.
- Zoom In, Zoom Out – a series of linked images that start close up and step back until the whole image is revealed. Children think about what the image might be and say why.
- What’s Going On? – short videos, distraction-free, some specially commissioned and some licensed from providers including the BBC. Children discuss what they see happening and explain their thinking.
- What If? – these are questions to make pupils think. They can’t be investigated but help children place their ideas and thoughts in new contexts in a fun way.
Some preparation, or more time, is needed for the other four activities, that give children a chance to explore their learning more deeply, applying their ideas in unfamiliar contexts or solving problems:
- Mystery Bags – you’ll need some bags that children can’t see through and some mystery objects that are usually things that can be found around school or home very easily. Children try to work out what is in the bags by feeling them. Once the objects are revealed children think about the different ways that they may be linked.
- Big Question – children think and plan how they would investigate a big question. Why not let them carry out their ideas afterwards?
- Problem Solvers – using junk materials or anything to hand, can children design something to solve a problem and explain their ideas?
- Mission Survive – activities that get children thinking about the living world around them and understanding the impact of change.
You can get a taste of three of the short activities from our homepage, but to access all of them you will need to register – that’s so that the activity view you see is the right curriculum for you, and we can support you to get the most out of this free resource.
Sign up, and then choose your first activity. You’ll be able to select an activity by your pupils’ age group, the science topic you are looking for (matched to your curriculum), type of activity or just enter a keyword. We recommend starting with a Zoom In, Zoom Out activity, as this is the easiest one for children to engage with, and you only need to start them off with a simple question: What could this be? As you zoom out to reveal more detail, enjoy your pupils’ excitement, ideas and enthusiasm, and celebrate that every child can participate and have something to share.
Copyright: Explorify via STEM Learning Ltd.; photographer: Sarah Hall