A suite of GCSE science courses developed in partnership with the University of York

Teaching ideas about science

Suggestions for student activities

Learning science involves more than just gaining some knowledge and understanding of the behaviour of the natural world. Learners also need to gain some understanding of the processes of scientific enquiry. They need to be able to reflect on scientific knowledge itself, including:

  • the practices that have produced it;
  • the kinds of reasoning that are used in developing a scientific argument; and
  • on the issues that arise when scientific knowledge is put to practical use.

All of this is called ‘How Science Works’ in the National Curriculum and ‘Ideas about Science’ in the GCSE Science course of Twenty First Century Science.

The learning outcomes are shown in Appendix F of the OCR GCSE Science specification.

Glossary of terms for teachers

>> Download Ideas about Science Glossary (41 KB)

This is a teachers’ glossary of ‘Ideas about Science’ terms compiled by the Twenty First Century Science team. It clarifies the way these terms are used in the OCR GCSE Science specification and OUP resources. This list is not intended for students. OCR have produced a separate document of Ideas about Science in ‘student-speak’ (83 KB).

Suggestions for student activities

Students should be given opportunities to learn about Ideas about Science by experiencing examples in different contexts.

These booklets contain suggestions for student activities in Ideas about Science for GCSE Science. Each Ideas about Science (How Science Works) activity is presented as explanatory notes for teachers, which may be accompanied by student sheets if required. Teachers can use these activities as starting points for their own lesson ideas.

>>Download Teaching Ideas about Science: Stepping stones 2007 (509 KB)
>>Download Teaching Ideas about Science: Stepping stones 2007 (492 KB)

>>Download Teaching Ideas about Science: Stepping stones 2008 (145 KB)

The activities are designed to:

  • stimulate students' thinking about particular Ideas about Science;
  • generate discussion about the importance of understanding Ideas about Science;
  • build students’ confidence in their grasp of Ideas about Science, so they may apply this understanding to new areas of science as they meet them.

The materials in these booklets were produced by groups of teachers participating in 90-minute workshops. New activity ideas would be very much welcomed by the Twenty First Century Science team on behalf of teachers.

Please email your suggestions for activities to UYSEG, who are working on this on behalf of the project team based in Nuffield Science and Mathematics Education and the University of York.