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Science Tables

Science Tables

Last updated by Joy Kitt


I believe the science table can be the key to renewing teacher's interest in science and engaging children in exploring science every day.  The science table should not be a dumping ground for odds and ends or used as a spare desk!  It is a space that can be planned for to introduce interesting and engaging learning opportunties every day.

This reading  "Bring back the Nature Table" by the British Naturalists Association ( http://www.bna-naturalists.org/ntable.htm ) makes a case for nature tables.  They suggest that this would enable children to become more acutely aware of things like seasonality, plant physiology, learning to observe and discuss.  I love the idea.  I also suggest, however, that a science table is more than a nature table. I certainly agree that children should be encouraged to add their own treasures to the table, I agree that it should, in many ways, reflect the needs and interests of the students but I also submit that it can be planned for by the teacher to be a learning environment in its own right. 

A science table can be devised that offers hands-on activites that can be manipulated by the children independently in their own time investigating across the science curriculum - not just Living World.  Instruction cards provided are a reading opportunity.  Children working in pairs have the chance to discuss their ideas and build new ones. Having time to revisit an activity encourages better observation skills and the concept that science is done over time to ensure change is observed. 

A science table should have rules of behaviour - preferably devised with the children.  These are a good start:

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If the science table is part of your planning then one way to make space for it in your programme is to review what is available there each Monday and return to see what new ideas the students have discovered during the week on Friday.  If you plan to set up an investigation of some sort each week or so then the instructions could be recorded in a big writing book, any predictions about the learning recorded and then added to as time goes by. This way you have a record of what has been covered, who contributes to class discussion and any questions the children come up with may inspire further activities in the future.

If science is the host curriculum for your teaching and learning then the science table becomes the hub of science learning outside of 'theme time'.  I try to plan in as integrated a way as possible.  Having a science table means that I have a chance to offer small bites of science learning across the day - reading activities, writing inspiration, discussion prompts, independent and peer learning.  The science table will have a range of things on it - both 'display' - things to look at on the theme, and hands-on activities the children can do.  I might have a different hands-on thing to do each week which I will demonstrate on Monday for them to try during the week so we can review the learning together on Friday.  There would be books on the topic, gradually there would be examples of the children's ideas and learning.  We would add photos, the children might bring examples of their own.  It might be a place for the children to have the chance to answer one of thir inquiry questions rather then having it be part of the class learning.The science table within the theme gets built as the term goes by.