Why this approach is important

Science is a practical subject. Although practical activities can help students to learn, careful planning is required to make sure that they are effective. Some practical activities may provide opportunities for students to practise standard procedures, but do not require or promote much thinking about scientific concepts or understanding of the nature of science, for example. This unit will help you to make sure that your students use practical activities as an opportunity to think about scientific ideas and processes, as well as learning practical skills.

Investigative practical work poses questions: ‘What factors affect …?’, ‘Is there a relationship between …?’, ‘What are the likely causes of …?’ In order to carry out an investigative task, students have to think about related science concepts and apply them, as well as using science skills and techniques.

The emphasis in this unit is on making sure that the practical work that you do is purposeful and supports learning about science and about how scientists work. It is important to plan practical work carefully so that it does not increase the time taken on a topic without increasing the learning.

What you can learn in this unit

1 What kind of practical work?