Primary years

Is your child interested in science? How can you encourage this? What can you do to make the most of your child’s growing curiosity about how things work and their wonder at the world around them?

Encouraging primary school students in science

  • Take them to a Science Centre, to a Science Museum, or to the science collection in a local museum. Encourage them to take part in some of the organised activities or have a period of less intense looking around alongside a concentrated look at a particular area. Encourage your child to ask questions – don’t worry if you can’t answer on the spot – note the area of interest and follow it up on a visit to the library or with an internet search when you get home. For information about your nearest science centre go to Ecsite-uk – the UK national network of science centres.
  • Try some experiments at home. These could be fun chemical reactions – making fizzy rockets, shining pennies in coke, making simple electrical circuits or experimenting with magnets. If your child is interested in the biological sciences then observation is fun – this could incorporate study of a pet’s behaviour or growing some seeds and working out how they flourish. Some simple equipment could form a birthday present, such as a basic microscope or a telescope. See Planet Science for sources of experiments and ideas for science activities. The New York Hall of Science also provides ideas for activities and experiments. The National Science and Engineering Week Challenge packs can be ordered from the British Science Association – these have a huge variety of activities to do at home.
  • If there is a science club at your child’s school, encourage them to join and make it easy for them to go along. If there is no club, ask teachers, the PTA, school governors if there is a possibility of starting one and offer to help if you can. There are many club resources available – visit the British Science Association for resources and a handbook detailing how to run a science club.
  • It’s never too early to introduce your child to the scientists they come across in everyday life. In particular, they may be interested in the pharmacist, the doctor, the vet or the dentist that they see often, but also point out that the health scientists – audiologists, opticians etc. are using science, as well as people involved in many aspects of creating buildings.
  • Some Award Schemes, in particular the CREST Star Investigators scheme run by the British Science Association , have comprehensive back-up materials enabling them to be run at home. Completing a series of activities will qualify your child for a Star, Superstar or Megastar Award.
  • Look out for competitions that your child could enter. The Shape the Future document from the Royal Academy of Engineering lists competitions that you could enter and you can also try School Science which is a comprehensive directory of resources from the Association for Science Education, and includes lists of competitions to enter.