Science skills for kids: 11 – 12 years

This stage of development focuses on the nature of scientific inquiry as well as further developing the child’s ability to carry out a scientific investigation.

Children learn at an individual pace, in their own time. At this developmental age new skills are not being learned at the rate of younger ages, rather skills are being refined and conceptual understandings deepened.

11-12 year olds evaluate designs based on criteria

Children of this age are now learning to evaluate the process of design as well as the impact of design. Having learnt that we as people have a powerful impact on our surrounding environment, children are now considering the impact of design and production in regards to the environment, culture and safety considerations.

11-12 year olds have knowledge of production processes

Children are aware of how processes have changed over time and the pros and cons of these changes. Production processes have resulted in new technologies and children learn how this has allowed for the sustainable use of materials. Children know there are renewable and non-renewable resources and that there are social issues linked to their use. Children are developing an understanding of how natural forces and human involvement cause changes to the Earth over time. Many children of this age will look at natural disasters as well as mining.

11-12 year olds learn which kinds of questions provide desired results

Having learnt to ask detailed question with scientific language children are now ready to learn when to use investigative questions. Children become aware that different kinds of questions suggest different kinds of scientific investigations. Some investigations involve observing and describing objects, organisms, or events; some involve collecting specimens; some involve experiments; some involve seeking more information; some involve discovery of new objects and phenomena; and some involve making models. The challenge as budding scientists is for students to apply their knowledge correctly.

11-12 year old increasingly use technology in scientific investigations

Children learn that utilising technology allows for greater accuracy when studying results. They also become aware that technology can be created to carry out several processes simultaneously. Children also begin to use software programs to report their findings for example creating graphs and tables.

11-12 year olds learn how scientific knowledge changes

Children of this age become intrigued with how scientific discoveries are made and how the understandings of the scientific community have changed over time. For example children find it difficult to believe that at one time the Earth was believed to be flat. Children learn that Scientists formulate and test their explanations of nature using observation, experiments, and theoretical and mathematical models. . This requires a great deal of observation and experiments to confirm results. Scientists do and have changed their ideas about nature when they encounter new experimental evidence that does not match their existing explanations and at this age children see how the same skills they have learnt are applied by professional scientists.

11-12 year olds can explain the interdependence of animals and plants within an ecosystem

Children understand the concept of an ecosystem and can identify different global ecosystems. They are able to link this knowledge to previous smaller scale ecosystems they may have studied such as terrariums, a field or park or a school garden. Physical factors such as light, moisture and temperature can be considered by children and used to explain different conditions. Children us their previous knowledge of cycles to represent how energy flows through an ecosystem. Children may be introduced to the concept of organism.

11-12 year olds describe interactions and change with scientific language

Children may have previously expressed understanding using flow charts however by 11-12 years of age children are able to use correct scientific vocabulary for processes in place of longer explanations. They are able to distinguish between changes that can be reversed such as frozen water melting and being frozen again and those which are irreversible such as cooking an egg. Children are able to modify processes to alter their speed for example “I can make this material dissolve faster by using hot water”.

11-12 year olds can differentiate between explanation and description

This is perhaps the most significant skills learnt at this age. Explanations are now based on observations made and children are able to critically analyse data collected, reflecting accurate cause and effect relationships. Explanations are now given incorporating several elements. They are able to communicate their experimental method. Children understand that scientists have professional discussions around ideas which are essential for new learning to occur. As a result children are able to listen and respect the explanations of others.

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