Science in the primary school curriculum

Primary school science

Primary school science involves helping children develop basic scientific ideas and understanding, which will enable them to explore and investigate their world. In well-planned, practical investigations children’s natural curiosity is channeled and they are equipped with the strategies and processes to develop scientific ideas and concepts.

The teaching of science in the primary curriculum involves the development of two types of understanding: conceptual understanding and procedural understanding. Children’s conceptual understanding is concerned with the development of scientific knowledge and with their deepening understanding of fundamental scientific ideas.

The four strands of the primary science programme are:

  • Living things
  • Materials
  • Energy and forces
  • Environmental awareness and care

These outline the knowledge and understanding that children acquire and describe the scientific ideas that they will encounter.

Knowledge of the scientific process is sometimes referred to as procedural understanding.

The section of the science curriculum entitled ‘Working scientifically’ outlines how children may engage in scientific enquiry. It is a procedural model of how scientists work and includes statements of the various component skills that contribute to this methodology.