Science Plan - Scoil Naomh Áine, Rathgarogue

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Science Plan

Subject Plans
 Science Plan

Introductory Statement and Rationale
(a) Introductory Statement
This policy was originally formulated following the in-service for Science. The policy outlines the teaching and organisation of Science at Scoil Naomh Áine, Rathgarogue. It has been drawn up as a result of staff discussion and meetings over a number of years. During a whole school summer course in July 2014, the policy was revised and updated by the teaching staff in line with current practices and adaptations made as appropriate. This policy was further updated in October 2017 by staff during Croke Park hours. The implementation of this policy is the responsibility of all the teaching staff.
(b) Rationale
This policy was devised for a number of key purposes:
●       To benefit teaching and learning in our school
●       To provide a coherent approach to the teaching of science across the whole school
●       In order to ensure that pupils are given adequate opportunities to develop skills and understanding of concepts as envisaged in the Primary School Curriculum
Vision and Aims
(a) Vision
Science in our school should enable children to develop an interest in and a curiosity about the world around them (living and non-living).
It should give them an appreciation of their environment and their effect on it thus developing individuals who will treat their world and its resources in a responsible way.
Science in our school should also develop individuals who observe, ask questions, plan, experiment, analyse and evaluate results. In this way they will have a scientific approach to problem solving.
(b) Aims:
We endorse the aims of the Primary School Curriculum for Science.
●       To develop knowledge and understanding of scientific and technological concepts through the exploration of human, natural and physical aspects of the environment.
●       To develop a scientific approach to problem solving which emphasises understanding and constructive thinking
●       To encourage the children to explore, develop and apply scientific ideas and concepts through designing and making activities.
●       To foster the child’s natural curiosity, so encourage independent enquiry and creative action.
●        To help the child appreciate the contribution of science and technology to the social, economic, cultural and dimensions of society.
●       To encourage the child to behave responsibly to protect, improve and cherish the environment and to become involved in the identification, discussion, resolution and avoidance of environmental problems and so support sustainable development.
●       To enable the child to communicate ideas, present work and report findings using a variety of media.
In addition some classes may choose to participate in the following:
⮚      Take part in certain activities during National Tree Week and Science Week.
⮚      Work towards achieving additional green flags for our school.
⮚      Participate in the Discover Primary Science Awards.
⮚      Participate in the Greenwave programme.
⮚      Establish and maintain a school garden.
1. Science programme - Strands and strand units
All staff are familiar with the strands, strand units and content objectives for their own and other class levels. We feel this is important in order to ensure a coherent programme for SESE and Science throughout the school. As children move from one classroom to the next we liaise with each other so that there is continuity and progression.

Science Programmes:

Strand Units
Infants to 2nd Class
Strand Units
3rd – 6th Classes
Living Things
●       Myself
●       Plants and Animals
●       Human Life
●       Plants and animals
Energy and Forces


●       Light
●       Sound
●       Heat
●       Magnetism and Electricity
●       Forces
●       Light
●       Sound
●       Heat
●       Magnetism and electricity
●       Forces


●       Properties & characteristics of materials
●       Materials and change
●       Properties & characteristics of materials
●       Materials and change
Environmental Awareness and care
●       Caring for my locality
●       Environmental awareness
●       Science and the environment
●       Caring for the environment
Strands and Strand Units:
We have prepared a two year plan for the senior class levels. See below
Two Year plan for 3rd - 6th classes

Strand Unit
3rd/5th classes
4th/6th class
Living Things

Human Life
Human life:
Skeletal system
Muscular system
Eyes and ears
Respiratory system - Lungs and Nose
Physical changes/Reproduction
Human life:
Circulatory system - heart
Physical changes/Reproduction

*Plant & animal life

Variety and characteristics of living things
Process of life
(Focus on plants)
Variety and characteristics of living things
Process of life
(Focus on animals)
(non-flowering plants, photosynthesis 6th)
Properties & Characteristics of  materials
Properties & Characteristics of materials

Materials and Change

Materials and Change
Energy & Forces




Magnetism & Electricity

Magnetism & Electricity


Environmental Awareness & care
Environmental Awareness
Environmental Awareness
Environmental Awareness
Science & the Environment
Science & the Environment
Science & the Environment
Science & the Environment

●       This is a two-yearly plan for science in our school. Elements of each strand are dealt with each year.
●       It does not at this stage specify which term each strand unit will be worked on. This is left to the discretion of the individual class teacher.
●       Some activities will be governed by seasonal factors. Most work on living things will take place in the autumn and spring-summer terms.
●       Because of linkage within the science curriculum elements of some strand units will be worked on each year.
(a) Children’s Ideas
Children often have a very different concept of the world around them than adults do. It is therefore very important to find out what children’s ideas are before beginning any investigation or topic and using this as a basis to proceed further. Children’s ideas tend to be limited to concrete, observable features and to change these alternative ideas or misconceptions it is necessary for pupils to become aware of their ideas and then to have these ideas challenged and debated.
Children also have their own questions about the world around them. When engaging in any investigation they should be encouraged to ask these questions and to try to find the answers for themselves. It may not always be possible to investigate every child’s idea given the time available and the age of the child in question but every effort will be made to use some of the ideas in a class.

(b) Practical investigations
A key characteristic of learning within science is the involvement of the child in active exploration and investigation. With this in mind we have audited the school grounds and listed suggestions and examples of the types of investigations that can take place using our immediate environment.
Recognising the fact that not all habitats can be studied using the school grounds it is envisaged that at least one trip will be taken each year to investigate habitats such as hedgerows, grassland, soil etc. On occasion trips to woodlands, ponds or seashores may occur.
When investigations take place in the classroom or wider environment a scientific approach will be adopted. This will foster the development of important skills, concepts and knowledge through which children can observe, question, investigate, understand and think logically about living things and their environments, materials, forces, everyday events and problems.
Practical investigations and free play with their environment are not to be confused. Investigations are directed by the teacher through the use of task sheets and discussion prior to, during and after an investigation.
The idea of developing a fair test is an important concept to be conveyed to the children.

(c) Classroom Management
The type of work involved in science means that on a practical level there is a lot of preparation on the part of the class teacher. Key considerations for management include
●       How best to group children
●       Prior collection of materials
●       Allowing time for discussion and recording of results
●       Visiting planned habitats before study
●       Preparation of task sheets
●       Safety considerations
●       Broad and balanced programme of work
●       Seasonal factors
●       The availability of resources
●       Providing for individual differences
●       Adequate adult supervision
●       Assessment

(d) Key Methodologies
The method of teaching any one topic is for the individual class teacher to decide. The key methodologies used in science are:
●       Talk and discussion
●       Active learning
●       Guided and discovery learning
●       Collaborative learning
●       Skills through content
●       Using the environment
●       Free exploration of materials
●       Investigative approach
●       Teacher directed approach

(e) Linkage and Integration
There are many opportunities for integration at all levels in the science curriculum. Within the content sections for each class grouping, in the curriculum document, notes below strand units suggest some of the instances where integration might be established. These suggestions along with others of the teachers choosing can be used to develop an integrated unit of work and thus prevent unnecessary repetition.

Significant integration opportunities take place between Science and Geography in the strand unit: Environmental awareness and care. Some additional areas where integration most often occurs are:
●       Materials designing and making /Art and Mathematics
●       Myself/SPHE and Religion stories and morals
●       Living things/History
It should also be remembered that the strands and units of the science curriculum are not discrete and that work on a science topic may incorporate objectives from a number of units. Again the curriculum document provides useful notes on linkage in the content sections for each class grouping. These will be used by the teachers to help plan their work.

(f) Using the environment
One of the most important aspects of the science curriculum is the emphasis placed on the exploration of the local environment of the child and the school. We have done an environmental audit to help us plan for this aspect of the science curriculum. We recognise the areas also where further development is necessary and have laid out suggestions to enhance the range of experiences available on school grounds.
(g)  Balance between knowledge and skills
The teaching of science involves two types of understanding: conceptual understanding and procedural understanding. Conceptual understanding involves knowledge and by providing a broad and balanced curriculum the children will gain the necessary knowledge.
By working scientifically the children will acquire the procedural knowledge necessary.
The skills acquired are
▪         Questioning
▪         Observing
▪         Predicting
▪         Investigating and experimenting
▪         Estimating and measuring
▪         Analysing
▪         Recording and communicating.
 Refer Infants Curriculum Statement pp 20-21
Refer1st/2nd Curriculum Statement pp36-38
3rd/4th Curriculum Statement pp56-58
Refer 5th/6th Curriculum Statement pp 78-80
We will also explore opportunities for developing the skills of designing and making.
●       Exploring
●       Planning
●       Making
●       Evaluating.

(h) Broad and Balanced Curriculum.
To ensure that our science curriculum is broad and balanced we have developed a two-year plan to be followed by all teachers in the school.
We have included work from each strand each year. We have also included work from each strand unit over a two-year period.

2. Assessment – Looking at children’s work
Information from assessment will be communicated to parents in the school report at the end of year and at the parent/teacher meetings. We will assess science through:
o   Teacher observation (including pupils knowledge, attitudes and ability, as well as an ability to work collaboratively)
o   Concept mapping
o   Annotated drawing
o   Teacher-designed tasks and tests
o   Questioning
o   Portfolios of work
o   Parental and pupil feedback
There will be opportunities for the pupils to engage in self-assessment as they analyse the success of design and make activities and get an opportunity to view their own work portfolios.

3. Children with different needs:
In the same way as we endeavour to meet individual needs in all aspects of the curriculum, we will do our best to make science accessible to all children as we recognise the potential science has to help children make sense of the physical and biological worlds in which they live.  We are aware of the possibilities for fun and developing a sense of curiosity and wonder that science holds for children.

-         Teachers will use a mixture of whole-class teaching and group-work with different groups set tasks of various complexities.
-         Teachers will develop their questioning techniques spanning from simple recall to more complex and analytical skills so that all pupils will have opportunities for success.
-         Different ways of recording and communicating findings will be encouraged:  drawing, ICT, written records, oral reports and models.
-         All children benefit from active involvement in the environment so all will be encouraged to participate in fieldwork.
-         The exceptional ability child will be encouraged to undertake additional research and recording their scientific finding in a variety of ways or to part take in peer tutoring
-         SNA support for particular children or groups as directed by class teacher.

4. Equality of Participation and Access:
Science will be for all children regardless of gender, ability or age.
We are committed to providing a teaching environment conducive to learning.  Each child is valued, respected and challenged regardless of ability, race, gender, religion, social background, culture or disability.

5. Timetabling
Science is part of three hours of SESE, which means one hour per week for science in the senior classes. Two and a quarter hours is to be allocated to SESE in the junior classes, this means fifty minutes of science per week. On occasion teachers may block periods of time. Teachers may use discretionary time as and when needed.
6. Safety
The following recommendations are not exhaustive and are subject to revisions of medical procedures and to recommendations of manufacturers for use of equipment.
●       Children should be taught the correct use of all equipment available to them and to return tools correctly after use.
●       Scissors: Infant classes should be taught safe use and handling
●       Cutting tools: Other types of cutting tools e.g. knives should only be used by adults or under direct adult supervision.
●       Glue: Low odour glues or wallpaper paste without fungicides are the most suitable for classroom use. Occasionally there may be a need to use stronger glues or a glue gun these again should only be used by an adult or under direct adult supervision. If a glue gun is used then it should be a low melt type and cotton gloves should be used to protect hands.
●       Teacher should demonstrate the safe use of tools before allowing children to handle them.
●       Containers, if used outdoors, should be made of plastic, such as clean yoghurt pots or margarine containers.
●       Glass containers may from time to time be used indoors. Children should be taught to handle them carefully.
●       If a glass container should break then an adult should gather up the broken pieces and dispose of carefully.
●        Children should be taught to report a breakage or spillage immediately and not to attempt cleaning up themselves.
●       A simple source of heat is small candles or night-lights, which will be placed in sand in a metal baking tray.
●       Children should be taught never to touch a naked flame or to move about with a lighted candle.
●       Boiling water should not be needed. If it is used occasionally then only an adult is allowed to handle it.
●       Hot water from a tap poured into a heatproof glass, metal or ceramic container is suitable for most investigations in primary school.
●       The safe use of equipment, pouring hot liquids and the medical procedure for burns and scalds should be clarified with children before beginning work.
●       Children should not generally handle, plug in or plug out mains-powered equipment.
●       Children should be made aware of the dangers associated with mains electricity.
●       Mains electricity is never used in investigations.
●       Low voltage batteries up to six volts are to be used in electrical circuits.
●       Batteries should be stored so that terminals cannot touch and old batteries discarded safely preferably in the recycling depot.
●       Batteries will not be cut open.
●       Rechargeable batteries should not be used for investigations.
●       Only an adult should strip lengths of insulated wire for making circuits.
When working on the strand unit light the children should be made aware of and adhere to the following safety procedures:
●       Children should never look directly at the sun or very bright beams of light such as projectors.
●       Plastic mirrors should be used for investigations, and children should avoid the use of glass mirrors.
●       Pupils should never look at the sun through lenses.
●       Children should be made aware of the dangers of sunburn.
●       When using the microscopes children are not to use the UV light.

7. Homework
(Refer to school’s Homework Policy)
●       Occasionally science homework is given to reinforce the topic being taught in class. In senior classes research for projects, active learning tasks, gathering of materials or recording experiments may be assigned.
●       Safety will always be considered when selecting homework assignments.
●       If science homework is given, tasks may be adapted for individual pupils if necessary.  
8. Individual teachers’ planning and reporting
●       Teachers will report on work completed in the Cúntas Miosúil. These are kept in individual teacher’s planning folders and in the filing cabinet in the office.
●       Teachers will use the Whole School Plan and Yearly plans to inform their classroom planning.
●       Teachers will use the Science Curriculum strands and strand units when planning.
●       Teachers also keep long-term and fortnightly plans using the common school format.

9. Staff development
●       If teachers need to be supported in developing the required knowledge and skills to facilitate pupil learning in some aspects of the science curriculum, they will plan collaboratively, pool resources and support one another. If teachers require additional support from outside sources, experts in the science field, parents or speakers from Discover primary Science or W.I.T will be sourced.
●       Teachers are made aware of any courses held locally in relation to the teaching of Science and encouraged to attend.
●       All teachers take responsibility for monitoring developments and co-ordinating staff resources in Science.
●       If necessary, time will be allocated at staff meetings to discuss issues related to science.
10. Parental involvement
●       On occasion parents are invited to attend Science exhibitions in the school.
●       Parents with expertise in the Science field may be invited to the school to support the teaching and learning of Science.
●       Home school links may take place on occasion if children in the senior classes are completing projects as part of homework assignments.
●       Parents are kept informed of Science related events and achievements through the School newsletter and the school website.

11. Community links
●       The school currently has been awarded two green flags - Recycling and Energy conservation. A committee comprising of teachers, Staff members and pupils is organised and the pupil representatives from each class report back to each individual class on the actions to be implemented. A new committee is formed each year with different class representatives chosen from year to year.
Success Criteria
We will use the following criteria to assess the success of this plan
●       Our yearly and classroom planning is based on the Whole School Plan
●       There is a balance between skills and content
●       Development of scientific skills throughout the classes
●       Integrated themes are being developed, on occasion, across the school, using a whole school approach.
●       That the curriculum is spiral and developmental in its structure
●       Classes are engaged in outdoor observation and trails of the local environment
●       Procedures outlined in this plan are consistently followed throughout the school
●       Children’s feedback
●       Teacher and Parent feedback
●       Inspectors’ suggestions and/or feedback
Roles and Responsibilities
All the teachers are responsible for the implementation of the Science curriculum in their own classrooms and to ensure adherence to the school plan. Teachers will be encouraged to present feedback during planning meetings on a review of Science.

This policy was reviewed during Croke Park hours by staff on 10thoctober 2017
This policy will be reviewed again during the 2020/2021 school year.
As we now have an outline plan for the specific strand/strand units for each class level, this will be reviewed on an on-going basis to ensure implementation is successful.
All staff will be involved in the review of this policy.   Parents’ representatives on the Parents’ Association and the Board of Management will be consulted and involved in its continued development and review.

Ratification and Communication
This policy was ratified by the Board of Management

Appendix 1  - environmental audit
Using the Local Environment
a)      Local Habitats
b)     Habitats in School environment
(c) Plants in the environment
(d) Animal observation in immediate environment
(e) Food Chains
(f) Seasonal changes
(g) Building materials
(h) Impact of Humans on environment
(i) Caring for the environment
(a) Local Habitats
Habitats in our Local Environment.-
Woodland: Lacken Wood .
                    Kelly’s Wood.
Pond:          Kennedy Park.
Stream:      Kelly’s Wood.
Seashore:    Duncannon.
                     Dollar Bay.
                     Booley Bay
None of the above are within walking distance.
Hedgerow:  Roadside hedges offer some opportunity for study.
Grassland:  The school has a large area of grass, which though not wild offers opportunity for     study. Wildlife Friendly areas exist offering an opportunity to observe undisturbed plant and animal life.
Soil:              School grounds. Also opportunities arise when visiting woodlands           
Wall:          School perimeter wall (bare concrete) does not offer many  
                   possibilities. There is no access to a stone wall.
Leaf litter:  School grounds or woodland visit.

   (b) Habitat in School Grounds
Trees in the school grounds:
✔      Beech
✔      Ash
✔      Sycamore
✔      Rowan
✔      Alder
✔      Oak

(c) Plants in the environment
Plants which allow pupils to study a variety of the following:
Tree trunks, which are thick vertical stems. Various trunks will display different colours, thickness, length, texture and branch formation.
Dandelion: white sap
Daisy: tough short stem-daisy chains.
Daffodils: long straight green. Sap flowing out easily. Soft and pliable.
Cat’s Ear: long green tough.
Chick weed: long green horizontal stem.
Pinnate: ash, rowan.
Lobed: sycamore, field maple, clover.
Serrated: dandelion, oak cat’s ear.
Parallel: veined: plantains
Variegated: various ornamental shrubs.
Tap root: dandelion
Spreading root: nettle
Various tree roots
Smooth grey: ash, beech
Smooth brown: sycamore, maple
Thorny: hawthorn , blackthorn
Rough: oak
Tree flowers: sycamore, blackthorn, whitethorn, cherry blossom, ash, rowan.
Catkins: alder, willow.
Shrubs: potentilla, fuchsia, broom.
Weeds: daisy, buttercup, dandelion, speedwell, clover.
Sycamore wings
Ash Keys
Rowan berries
Alder cones

(d)               Observing animals
Animals easily observed in the school grounds/ environment.
Worm, slug, snail, centipede, millipede, ground beetle, woodlouse.
Spiders and webs in shrubbery esp. in autumn.
Greenfly and ladybirds.
Butterfly, bumblebee.
Starlings: flocks land on pitches, also some nest in eves of school
Mistle thrush: flocks feed on pitches.
Flocks of seagulls and plover during the winter and ploughing time.
As our bird tables and its surrounding shrubs mature we hope to attract more bird life.
Lambs in spring

Animals’ pupils can observe to explore differences in:
Ways of moving?
●       Spider (web, spinneret)
●       Ladybird, butterflies, bees (flying)
●       Snails, worms, slugs (all no legs)
●       Centipede, millipede, woodlouse (crawl)
Number of legs?
●       2- birds
●       4- sheep, lambs
●       6- beetle, ladybird, bee
●       8- spider
Numerous legs: millipede, woodlouse, centipede.
None: snail, worm, slug.
Nests: rooks in old hall. Starling/blackbirds in eaves.
Worm: underground
Snail: shell
Spider: webs in bushes
Ways of feeding?
snail slug: feeding on leaf material
Butterfly, bee: nectar from flowers
Millipede, woodlouse: dead plant material.
Sheep: grazing.
Birds: feeding on bugs in the ground.
Ladybirds: greenfly
Spiders: trap of web.
Number of wings?
2- birds
4- insects
Use of colour/ camouflage?
Ladybird and butterflies: bright warning colour
Most insects dull colour to camouflage them in dark area where they live.
Greenfly: same as plant stem
Butterflies: pattern on wings similar to eyes.
(e) Food chains
Simple food chains
Soil                             worm                                       robin
Plant                                greenfly                                 ladybird
Plant                                slug                            bird
Dead material                             Fly                           swallow
(f) Seasonal changes
Seasonal changes are most evident in the following:
●       Trees
●       Insect activity
●       Weather
●       Grass growth (how often the lawn is cut)
●       Flowers (daffodils in spring, variety in summer, none in winter)
●       Farming Activities
(g) Building materials
Building in which the following materials are used
Corrugated iron
Farm buildings
Steel girders
Roof tiles
Concrete blocks
School, homes
School, home
Mass concrete
School, home
Pebble dash
School, homes
(h) Impact of human activity on the environment
Some of the negative impacts of human activities are easily observed by the pupils in the school.
●       Large fields where hedgerows have been cleared away. This has led to a lack of shelter for human, animals and birds.
●       Spraying of crops in the field beside the school.
●       Harsh cutting of roadside hedges at the wrong time of the year.
The following are some examples of how the pupils can improve and care for the school environment:
●       Continued use of the bird feeder to feed the birds
●       Use of composting bin
●       Litter control
●       Recycle materials
●       Be aware of the consumption of electricity and water in the school. This will entail simple things like turning off any unnecessary lights, computers, taps etc.
●       Do not put glass and aluminium products in the bin. Collection to be put in recycling bins.
●       Rainwater collection for use in watering flowers
Conservation Code
The following are some points that should be stressed to children before any outdoor investigation, or habitat visit is undertaken:
●       Search carefully and cause as little disturbance as possible to the surroundings.
●       Handle plants and animals with care.
●       Replace stones and logs that are turned over.
●       Observe draw and record if possible rather than handling.
●       Return animals to habitats as soon as possible.
●       Animals and living plants should only be removed from their environment when an investigation cannot be carried out there.
●       Children may devise a conservation code for themselves before a field trip.
●       If samples are necessary then only a limited number will be collected.
●       Litter will be brought home or back to school for proper disposal.
●       Motto is when visiting a habitat is we should leave it exactly as we found it.

Appendix 2
Caring for the environment in the home
Many of the measures to care for the environment in our school can be relayed by pupils to their parents and acted upon by the children in their own homes.
The following are other ideas that can be conveyed to parents by the children:
1.      Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  Recycling centre in local area - use to recycle glass, cardboard, batteries, ink cartridges etc.
2.      Discussion on energy ratings on appliances.
3.      Encourage composting at home
4.      Saving electricity and water.
Proud Owners of
Health Promoting School  Flag, Active School's Flag
Digital Schools of Distinction Award
Green flag for Waste, Green flag for Water, Green flag for Energy, Green flag for Marine Conservation
5 Star GAA Flag
Discovery Primary Science and Maths award of Excellence
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