Science

Bridging the GAP- Upper and Lower Primary Science

Themes in Science

Themes in Science that are taught at the different levels.

 

Science is a subject which is introduced in Primary 3.  In the Singapore syllabus it is broken up into the Upper Block( Primary 5 and 6)  and  the Lower Block ( Primary 3 and 4) Many kids are fascinated and eager to learn about science as it gives them a change to conduct many hands on experiments.

The way that Science is taught differs from English and Chinese. There is a lot of focus on facts and being able to describe each item accurately and in detail. Basic facts in Biology, Chemistry and Physics are introduced to the students at this age to ease them into studying these subjects when they enter their secondary school years.

Difference between P3 and P4 Science assessments

Difference between P3 and P4 Science assessments is that the paper gets significantly longer come SA2 with an additional  10 Multiple Choice Questions  and 3 Open Ended Questions. There is also an additional 45 mins allocated for the exam.  The number of questions tested is further increased in P4 where the student is given 5 more  Multiple Choice Questions and  2 more Open Ended Questions  to complete within the extra 15 mins given.

( Note that for the  P3 SA2 they are given 1hr 30 mins while in P4 it has been extended to 1hr 45 min. )

As you can see from the chart above the quantity of questions been asked in an assessment increases quite significantly from SA1 to SA2 in Pr 3. The student must be able to time manage efficiently to be able to complete the extra questions given as he progresses from one assessment to another.

The mode of assessment doesn’t different much from P4 to P5 and even P6  as each Science assessment is 100 marks.

There has been some changes to the Primary School Science syllabus lately and the 2014 P3 cohort will be the first one to sit for their PSLE under the new format.   This changes will affect Doggie boy as he is currently in Primary 4. Monkey boy is unaffected as he will be tested based on the old format this year for PSLE.

What are the changes?

The topics tests remain the same however the expectation of how the questions are to be answered is different. There is a greater emphasis on how a students words his answer to the question given.

The focus has shifted to the teaching of more in depth  knowledge of each topic that is taught.

For example in the topic on Diversity it is now required for the child to understand the essential takeaways besides the key inquiry  questions.

Essential Takeaways 

  • There is a great variety of living and non-living things around us.
  •  Man can classify living and nonliving things based on their similarities and differences to better understand them.
  •  Maintaining the diversity of living things around us ensures their continual survival.

Key Questions

  •  What can we find around us?
  •  How can we classify the great variety of living and non-living things?
  •  Why is it important to maintain diversity?

Previously there was only focus on  just the key inquiry questions in the old syllabus. Now the kids have to show how  much they understand from each topic and apply their knowledge adequately to the questions asked.

This can be rather difficult for kids who are poor in the language skill and/or have difficulty expressing themselves using the correct terminology.

How to tackle the new format exam then?

There isn’t any short cut to this. The student would need regular and constant revision to fully understand what has been taught during the science lessons.

He has to engage the following skills while doing taking an assessment.

For the Multiple Choice Section

  • Identify the topic
  • Eliminate all the possible wrong answers
  • Show his thought process leading to choosing the “right” answer.

For the Open- Ended Questions

  • Identify the topic
  • Highlight the Key information/ words
  • Show the thought process

During the 4 years of learning science a student is expected to cultivate the  following process skills

  • Comparing
  • Interpreting
  • Inferring
  • Applying
  • Analysing
  • Creating
  • Synthesizing
  • Generalizing
  • Evaluating

My thoughts

The current MY Pals science textbooks and workbooks do not give adequate practice nor information regarding the various themes.   In fact I find the text book very skimpy and one would have to supplement with other external information to give the student a  detailed/complete understanding of the theme taught.

The 3 periods dedicated to teaching of Science is also grossly inadequate as sufficient time to carry out all the experiments that they require to do within the syllabus  and go through all the factual information associated with it. A lot of reading up  and practice is required outside the classroom to ensure that concepts taught register with the child.

What are you doing currently to bridge the gap in  Science with  your child?

In the next installment in the series I will be reviewing what I had done last year when Doggie boy moved from  primary 2 to primary 3.

Bridging the GAP

Bridging the GAP

1) Bridging the Gap- An Introduction

2) Bridging the Gap-  Identifying the Gap in Chinese Language ( P4 to P5 )

3) Bridging the Gap- Reinforcing the Learning of Chinese

4)Bridging the Gap- Identifying the Gap between P4 and P5 English.

5)Bridging the Gap- Learning of English in Upper Primary

6) Bridging the Gap- Identifying the Gap between P4 and P5 Maths

7) Bridging the Gap –  Modelling and Methods  in Maths (Part 1) 

8) Bridging the Gap- Modelling and Methods in Maths ( Part 2)

9) Bridging the Gap- Upper and Lower Primary Science

10) Bridging the Gap- Moving from Lower to Upper Primary ( Part 1)

11) Bridging the Gap- Moving from Lower to Upper Primary ( Part 2)

 

Explore the World with Junior Explorer

Monkey boy and Doggie boy posing for the camera

Monkey boy and Doggie boy posing for the camera

The boys have always been interested in Science since they were little. They are fascinated by the different animals and insects that they have seen and love to read up on different science facts in the books that we borrow from the library.

This month they were privileged to be able to trial run Junior Explorer’s Subscription program- a Science based activity program which has both online and offline components to complete based on the given theme of the month.

There are several options for subscriptions.
1 month – $24.99,
3 months – $66.99
6 months – $127.49
12 months – $239.99
It is recommended for you to take a 12 month subscription as it will certainly be most effective with  regular exposure to the program.

 

Once you have secured your subscription you will get   Explorer Kits sent to your house and enjoy exploring various topics in Science from the comfort of your home.

The Mission kit with the starter packet and Mission pack

The Mission kit with the starter packet and Mission pack

Targeted at ages 6-11 years old this package composes of the following items. The Welcome package and Arctic Mission Kit which we received consists of the following item.

  • A Welcome Letter
  • A Junior Explorer water bottle
  • Stickers to decorate the  cardboard Kit box with.
  • Peel of tattoos
  • Postcards to send out
  • Mission cards
  • Activity Guide
  • Wrist bands and Pins
  • Access codes to the online missions
  • World Map
  • Mini creatures that were featured from the Arctic Mission

The boys couldn’t wait to get started so we settled down to have a look through and read up on the facts before we started the online part of the mission.

Fact sheet and cards

Fact sheet and cards

There was quite a bit of information  which the boys  had to digest before they started on their Arctic Mission.   We read through the mission card together and looked  the fact sheet we were given.

Trading cards that came with the kit

Trading cards that came with the kit

There were 6 trading cards that came with the Arctic Mission package.

Each animal, like the  Beluga Whale in the picture above, had key facts listed on the card and additional cool facts below.  The boys had the chance to have a close up with the Beluga Whale and Polar Bear as there were two tiny figurines in the set.  ( They were really tiny and we had to use a magnifying glass to look at the figurines to be able to study it better. That’s the ACTUAL size above in comparison to a trading card.)

The welcome screen for Junior Explorers website

The welcome screen for Junior Explorers website

When  the boys had completed reading through the fact sheets it was time to start  the online part of the mission.

We logged into the system and embarked on the ARCTIC Mission together.

Choosing an Avatar for the mission

Choosing an Avatar for the mission

First up they had to choose the avatar which they wanted  to represented them. Doggie boy  chose the avatar you  are seeing on the right of the picture above.

An introduction to the mission by the Chief Biologist

An introduction to the mission by the Chief Biologist

An introduction by Chief Biologist and they were off on their mission.

Facts about the Arctic Region

Facts about the Arctic Region

After going through the the factual slideshow the boys were all ready to try out the interactive part of the mission.

The Games!!

I didn’t get around to taking any screenshots of the games they tried as they were too engrossed in them to pause for me to capture a screenshot.

The printable certificate which you can print out when the mission is completed

The printable certificate which you can print out when the mission is completed

Before I knew it they had completed the mission and were completed and they were able to key in their name for a Certificate of Achievement.

Besides the Arctic Mission the boys took the opportunity to take a look at the Biome Introductory package

In the Biome introductory package the boys were introduced to the various eco systems in the world.

The World Map

The World Map

First off in the Biome  mission they were introduced to the world map and were able to look at the different fact sheets that were associated with the animals in the different regions. There was a variety of animals living in the ocean, forests, mountains grasslands, desserts and polar regions.

When you click on a picture of the animal a trading card fact sheet will pop out on the screen.

The Trading cards being featured on the screen when their respective animals are clicked on

The Trading cards being featured on the screen when their respective animals are clicked on

The boys got to view the six trading fact cards and much more when they were going through the factual part of the online segment of the unit.

It got a bit overwhelming for them as they felt they were suffering from information overload after clicking on more then 20 different animals in the last 10 minutes.

If you are not for screens popping up in front of you all the information in this section can be  found in the Field Guide which was in the kit.

The online game section in the Biome

The online game section in the Biome

This time I managed to capture a screenshot 🙂

The boys cleared these games quite easily as they were much simpler as compared to the ones in the Arctic mission.

In all it took us slightly more then an hour to complete both missions.

My thoughts on the product

Having tried several different monthly home kit I was curious to see how this particular one fared in comparison to the others we have tested.

I marvel at the informative part of the package which has chock full of facts on the different creatures in each package.  Each section is repeatable and one can go back anytime to redo parts of the mission of try the various games again.

What the boys thought about the product

They were amaze by the tons of information available at their fingertips in regards to the various ecosystems and their inhabitants. It was great to learn new facts which they will be able to share with each other or their friends on a later date.

They would love to have more games to try out within each mission and am looking forward to more varied games in the upcoming  mission packages.

Suggestions

 

I personally felt that the mission could be tailored to suit kids of different ability levels so they would be able to benefit more from the package.

It would be great to have possibility of setting the topics based on different difficulty levels so that more advance and older kids will be able to learn Science at their optimal speed.

If you have young kids and are keen for them to learn more about science do check out the Junior Explorer website to know more about what they offer.

 

Disclaimer: This is and Advertorial in collaboration with  Junior Explorers. All opinions are 100% my own.