Never write a blog late at night – that’s my advice. I blame drooping eyelids for a significant omission.
It comes in the notes and guidance related to the parts about measuring temperature for boiling and freezing of water. As you will know, I had some serious misgivings about this bit anyway but I missed out a comment on the following massive clanger – ‘Pupils can set up and perform comparative and fair tests on the temperature at which water boils and freezes …’
Now, we are just talking here about one thing (water). We cannot compare it to anything else because we are not finding the freezing/boiling points of any other substances. In a fair test, we change something to see the effect on something else whilst keeping other factors or variables the same. In this one, we have just one thing sitting in front of us and we observe and measure how it changes over time. It is absolutely not a fair test. I have been working, with many others, for the past 15 years to remove the stranglehold of the fair test from the primary curriculum and to help teachers realise that although the fair test can be very useful, it doesn’t work in many science investigations. We have been trying to help teachers see that they must look sensibly at what they are doing and not assume that everything is a fair test. For the draft National Curriculum to get it so badly wrong is agonising.
See ‘It’s Not Fair – Or Is It?’ A book offering examples of different types of enquiry from foundation to end of KS 2 www.millgatehouse.co.uk and the original AKSIS (ASE King’s College Science Investigation in Schools) Project – Investigations: Developing Understanding www.ase.org.uk