Moving from an Explorify activity to purposeful science enquiry
Explorify is great for promoting talk and higher-order thinking in the classroom and it can also help you with a range of science enquiry ideas as well.
“Really useful, simple to use and easy to access the resource.”
“I like the detail given about the activities. It helps you find what you need for your teaching.”
Comments from teachers in the South West of England who looked at one of the maps in advance of publication.
Download our new and updated Explorify science enquiry maps for suggested Explorify activities and follow-up activities matched to different types of enquiry. These are the enquiry types found in the curriculums for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The maps provide lots of ideas about age-appropriate science investigations children can do in the classroom. Use an Explorify activity to spark curiosity and get the children asking questions. This will lead them to consider how they can find out answers or plan an investigation. Depending on the topic, the activity and where the children are in their learning, they might observe over time, classify, look for patterns, research with secondary sources, or run a fair or comparative test. The difference between a fair test and a comparative test is that there's less control over the variables in a comparative test.
Links are provided from the enquiry map to the Explorify activities. The Take it further section for each activity has more information and links to further quality-checked resources.
Different topics may be better suited to particular enquiry types so aim to plan your coverage over the year to develop the children’s disciplinary knowledge. For example, if you are covering electricity you are unlikely to be observing over time but if you’re studying plants: 5 – 7 year-olds could watch Shooting sprouts and then observe how their plants change over the term or school year; 7 – 9 year-olds could watch the first part of Water colours before observing how the stem transports water to all parts of the plant; whereas 9 – 11 year-olds could use the Zoom In Zoom Out New beginnings to spark an investigation into reproduction in spider or strawberry plants.
Finding ideas for pattern seeking is something that many primary teachers struggle with. 5 – 7-year-olds could investigate what food birds prefer after completing the Bird feeders challenge and 9 – 11-year-olds could investigate whether smaller animals lay more eggs after watching Very hungry caterpillars.
There are also suggestions for research. This can be trickier with younger children as they need age-appropriate materials to read. Explorify suggests accessible websites, where they exist, or videos that children can watch. The suggested websites may be more appropriate for some children than others, and teachers may want to simplify the information further to suit the needs of their children. For older children, the range of suitable available websites is wider.
When developing science enquiry in your classroom, consider how much the children know about the key concepts and skills. For example, you could use Have you ever tasted sugar in your cereal? to lead to an investigation into Which type of sugar dissolves the fastest? or Does the heat of the water affect how quickly the sugar dissolves? Before the class investigate, they need to have observed materials dissolving and understand the difference between melting and dissolving. They also need to know how to use a thermometer if they are going to measure the temperature of the liquid. Have you checked they have that skill, or do you need to teach it! And if you expect them to produce a graph, have they been taught this skill?
We have also included Explorify activities that get the children asking questions. For ‘science enquiry is what children do in order to answer scientific questions about the world around them’.1 For more ideas about asking questions have a look at this Great Science Share video and download the question makers.
The maps are organised by age groups and cover the English, Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh curriculums. These are all slightly different and cover different topics at different ages and in different levels of detail. As a result, always check your enquiry choices against your own school and national curriculum.
We would love to know what you think of the new maps. Let us know via social media Twitter, Instagram or our Facebook staffroom.
1 It’s not fair – or is it by Jane Turner, Brenda Keogh, Stuart Naylor and Liz Lawrence published by Millgate House Education.