A Discussion of the Nature of Scientific Enquiry Skills and Their Role in Children’s Learning in Science

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Scientific and Technological Design and Understanding

“A discussion of the nature of scientific enquiry skills and their role in children’s learning in science”

Scientific enquiry skills are those skills which are used to gather evidence to test whether certain ideas can explain phenomena and events in the world around us. They can be grouped into three sections: planning, dong and interpreting. (Harlen, 2003)

Children learn most through “doing” in primary science as it enables them to make sense of the knowledge they are being taught through the testing of theories and discovery of the world around them and how it works together.

The National curriculum makes the learning of scientific enquiry skills compulsory and the requirements include that children should be taught to ask questions and use first-hand experience to answer questions as well as make predictions. These are the sort of skills which making learning in science self led in the sense that it is aimed at finding out what children perceive of the world around them and getting them to question why they have those ideas and what they can do to find out if their ideas are right. This leads them in to testing or experimenting, where they should be taught how to carry out a fair test and obtain and present evidence and then finally to evaluating and interpreting their findings where they should identify patterns and compare what happened to what they thought would happen (NC).

To make sense of their world children begin using enquiry skills from a very young age (Hollins and Whitby, 2009). Curiosity is innate in children and therefore from the minute they open their eyes they begin to question and explore the world around them. Babies often find everything in their sight interesting especially if it is new, they then feel the urge to touch, taste and even smell it. This is the beginning of the enquiry skills which come to be developed in the early years of school life. By the time children...
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