Science in the primary school curriculum

Science and technology: designing and making

The process of practical problem-solving provides children with a context in which to use their aesthetic and inventive capacities to design and make models and artefacts. Designing and making encourages the creative and imaginative aspects of the scientific process. Many teachers are actively involved in encouraging their classes to make models and systems: for example, having spent some time on the topic of weather many children will have designed and made their own rain gauge and instruments for recording wind direction and strength.

These skills of exploring, planning, designing and making enable children to apply their scientific knowledge and understanding to devising a method or solution, carrying it out practically and evaluating the final product. The skills involved will be developed progressively through the primary school as children tackle open-ended problem-solving tasks.

The subject matter of designing and making relates to all aspects of experience, such as energy, force, transport, homes, materials, industry and food. The focus of a design and make curriculum can come from any response to a human need.

Involvement in designing and making activities should awaken an interest in how processes are applied in everyday situations and how common tools, objects, appliances and machines work. Designing and making is a process which draws on the whole curriculum and should be developed in association with and through visual arts, science and mathematics.