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National Curriculum

ICT in science

 

ICT learning

ICT helps pupils learn in science by giving access to information and ways to measure and analyse variables. Methods of investigation and visualisation are increased and the collation of data is made easier. ICT in science offers pupils new ways to communicate their findings.

Using ICT can help pupils to:

  • access, select and interpret information

  • recognise patterns, relationships and behaviours

  • model, predict and hypothesise

  • test reliability and accuracy

  • review and modify their work to improve the quality

  • communicate with others and present information

  • evaluate their work

  • improve efficiency

  • be creative and take risks

  • gain confidence and independence.

For example, ICT can help pupils:

  • access up-to-date news using secondary sources like the internet and multimedia software. A talking encyclopaedia also allows younger pupils to look up information where previously they could not

  • measure and analyse variables in experiments and investigations. Data logging can assist in the recording of results, the production of results tables and the plotting of graphs. Used well, sensors add depth, challenge and substance to the work. Pupils can use 'higher-order' skills as they interpret, discuss and hypothesise

  • investigate, evaluate and use secondary sources with software that animates, simulates or models a science concept. ICT can help pupils investigate directly, safely and in depth. Pupils can also experience processes which may be too slow, too fast, too dangerous or too expensive to do in school

  • create, analyse, evaluate and graph a range of data. Data-handling tools allow pupils to analyse or look for patterns in data

  • plan, select, present and evaluate their work using text, graphs, pictures, sound or video. Work can be refined; this may help with pupils' self-esteem and perseverance, as well as allowing pupils to produce neater, more accurate work.

ICT statutory requirements

Pupils should be given opportunities to apply and develop their ICT capability through the use of ICT tools to support their learning. Here are the statutory requirements to use ICT in the science programme of study.

Key stage 1

Sc1 Scientific enquiry

Investigative skills

2g: Communicate what happened in a variety of ways, including using ICT (for example, in speech and writing, by drawings, tables, block graphs and pictograms).

Breadth of study

1c: Pupils should be taught the knowledge, skills and understanding through using a range of sources of information and data, including ICT-based sources.

Key stage 2

Sc1 Scientific enquiry

Investigative skills

2f: Make systematic observations and measurements, including the use of ICT for data-logging.

2h: Use a wide range of methods, including diagrams, drawings, tables, bar charts, line graphs and ICT, to communicate data in an appropriate and systematic manner.

Breadth of study

1c: Pupils should be taught the knowledge, skills and understanding through using a range of sources of information and data, including ICT-based sources.

ICT opportunities

Pupils should be given opportunities to apply and develop their ICT capability through the use of ICT tools to support their learning. Here are the statutory requirements to use ICT in the science programme of study.

Key stage 1

Sc2 Life processes and living things

2a: Recognise and compare the main external parts of the bodies of humans and other animals.

  • Pupils could use multimedia sources to make comparisons.

4a: To recognise similarities and differences between themselves and others, and treat others with sensitivity.

4b: To group living things according to observable similarities and differences.

  • Pupils could use data collected to compile a class database.

Sc3 Materials and their processes

1b: Sort objects into groups on the basis of simple material properties (for example, roughness, hardness, shininess, ability to float, transparency and whether they are magnetic or non-magnetic).

  • Pupils could use a software package to combine words and pictures about materials and objects.

Sc4 Physical process

3c: That there are many kinds of sound and sources of sound.

  • Pupils could use sensors to detect and compare sounds.

Key stage 2

Sc2 Life processes and living things

2b: About the need for food for activity and growth, and about the importance of an adequate and varied diet for health.

  • Pupils could use a database or spreadsheet to analyse data about types of food in school lunches.

2c: That the heart acts as a pump to circulate the blood through vessels around the body, including through the lungs.

2e: That humans and some other animals have skeletons and muscles to support and protect their bodies and to help them move.

2f: About the main stages of the human life cycle.

  • Pupils could use video or CD-ROM to see things that cannot be directly observed.

4a: Make and use keys.

  • Pupils could use a branching database to develop and use keys.

5b: About the different plants and animals found in different habitats.

  • Pupils could use video or CD-ROM to compare non-local habitats.

5f: That micro-organisms are living organisms that are often too small to be seen, and that they may be beneficial or harmful (for example, in the breakdown of waste, in making bread) or harmful (for example, in causing disease, in causing food to go mouldy).

  • Pupils could use simulation software to show changes in the populations of micro-organisms in different conditions.

Sc3 Materials and their properties

2b: Describe changes that occur when materials (for example, water, clay, dough) are heated or cooled.

  • Pupils could use sensors to record temperature changes.

2e: The part played by evaporation and condensation in the water cycle.

  • Pupils could use CD-ROM or the internet to research water supplies in a range of localities.

Sc4 Physical processes

1a: To construct circuits, incorporating a battery or power supply and a range of switches, to make electrical devices work (for example, buzzers, motors).

  • Pupils could use simulation software to extend an investigation of components in a series circuit.

3f: How to change the pitch and loudness of sounds produced by some vibrating objects (for example, a drum string, a plucked string).

  • Pupils could use sensors to detect and compare sounds made under different conditions.

4b: How the position of the Sun appears to change during the day, and how shadows change as this happens.

4c: How day and night are related to the spin of the Earth on its own axis.

4d: That the Earth orbits the Sun once each year, and that the Moon takes approximately 28 days to orbit the Earth.

  • Pupils could use video or CD-ROM to study models of the Sun, Earth and Moon system.

Hardware and software

There are two general ways in which pupils may enhance their learning in science using ICT. The first encourages creative ways of thinking by asking 'What if?' questions and predicting. Simulation software allows pupils to do open investigations, choosing various conditions, predicting outcomes and then running the program to check the results. The second benefit of using ICT in science improves pupils' presentation of information, allowing them to demonstrate their understanding of science. This could take any of the following forms: writing an explanation of aspects of science; creating a science poster or display; giving a presentation to a group; or creating a mindmap with hyperlinks to websites, pages of information or other mindmaps.

Teachers may promote pupils' thinking and behaviour by making the outcome clear and asking challenging questions. Websites give starting points for research. Pupils must achieve a good understanding of the topic to produce something original when they give presentations which can be filmed for future reference.

Recommended hardware for key stage 1:

  • elementary data-logging hardware with sensors to measure sound and light (a single set would suffice).

Recommended software and hardware for key stage 2:

  • elementary data-logging hardware with sensors to measure temperature, sound and light levels (a single set would suffice)

  • binary tree database software for classification.

Science-specific examples of how software and hardware enhance learning in science:

  • data logging (presenting the data in real time) provides a better understanding of what the graph of results means

  • simulation software enables pupils to make predictions and test them more easily.

This content relates to the 1999 programmes of study and attainment targets.

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