Summer science projects for Y6 to Y7 transition
Historically, the school break often results in a decline in learning, known as the ‘summer slide’. Whilst this is never a welcome event, it is even more worrying at a time where education has been significantly disrupted already. It is especially difficult for young people facing a major transition, for example for Year 6 pupils about to start secondary school.
Caitlin Brown, Education Manager at the British Science Association, explains how by utilising long-term projects you can not only bolster your child’s STEM education this summer but to also help them build other vital skills they will need for their transition to secondary school.
Engaging with projects throughout the summer can help young people learn vital STEM concepts and key skills, in a creative and enjoyable way.
Suggest a summer science project that's tailored to your child's interests
Although practical projects are ideally placed to help young people develop key independent learning skills, they can also be an effective way for parents to actively engage in their child’s education. Sitting down with your child and talking through possible ideas for their project is a good place to start.
Linking their project to real-world issues and scenarios can be valuable in helping children connect the dots and understand the purpose of their learning.
For example, it may be that they want to choose something topical such as investigating how sanitation can help solve global health challenges, investigating air pollution by sampling rain or researching the local causes of pollution.
Equally, it could be as light-hearted as exploring how to make the perfect fizzy drink or investigating different bread recipes to figure out what makes bread rise. It just needs to be something that genuinely interests your child, as this will be key to keeping them engaged!
Start by getting your child to talk about what they are really interested in and then help them turn these ideas into their summer project.
Encourage them to take ownership of their research
Whatever project your child chooses, they will need to clearly articulate what the aim is, explain its real-world application and break down the various steps within the process.
This is the first step in your child being able to take ownership over their own learning, which will be an important skill once they enter secondary school.
Suggest they create a plan and timeline for their project, as this will not only help them monitor thei progress, but will also help them develop their organisational and time-keeping skills.
Inspire them to dig deep and get creative with science
The process of conducting the project is as important as the finished product.
Learning to conduct independent research around a subject is an important part of learning and will be a vital skill as your child progresses further on their educational journey.
Equally, they should have the confidence to get creative with their project, even if this means getting it wrong sometimes.
Science is very much about learning through trial and error and being able to work through a problem is an important skill to have. Any experiment is likely to not go right at first, but by encouraging your child to persevere, you help them develop resilience and determination in finding a solution that they might not have found if they hadn’t had the confidence to work through mistakes.
Ask them to present their findings to you
Once finished, ask your child to present their project to you – this is a nice way for them to show off their achievements, discuss the process (reinforcing what they have learnt throughout the project) and for you to see how they have progressed.
Most importantly, this will help your child strengthen their communication skills: it is vital they are confident enough to present their ideas.
Going to secondary school for the first time can be challenging for children – and parents – at the best of times. However, the summer holidays offer the opportunity for young people to re-engage with their learning and prepare themselves for the next step in their educational journey in a fun and engaging way.
At-home science activities and projects for KS2 and KS3
CREST is a scheme that inspires young people to think and behave like scientists and engineersby completing science-based activities at home with very few resources.
CREST Bronze Awards are typically completed by students aged 11+ and consist of a ten-hour STEM project in which children design their own investigation, record their findings, and reflect on their learnings. There is a free library of free CREST project resources and challenge packs incorporating a range of science activities and experiments to help start you off.