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How to Teach Primary School Science

With the new science syllabus, the emphasis on hands on learning is massive. Personally, I find that due to this very reason, the foundation layer step is being taken quite lightly.

Hands on experimental learning enhances the understanding of the topics but the knowledge of the topics need to be there. It bring forth the empasis on theoretical knowledge which the child has learnt.
One approach would be,

1. Draw out a topical concept map. This would help your child in terms of remembering the key words to the particular concepts.

2. Immediately after the concept map is done, practice with MCQ questions first. This would allow the concept to sink in without the stress of writing out sentences. The more your child performs this, the more the concept will sink in. Remember, just do this topically do not mix topics.

3. Perform some simple science experiments with the child as this would help to anchor the concepts into their mental schema and understanding. At the same time, a visual anchor for the child would be a lot stronger in terms of retention. This is the time to impart the science process skills to them so that it will help them in the next step.

4. Review the concepts again and then practice with the open ended questions. The best would be with questions that has a set up for them to study. Once again, the more the better.

After the steps have been achieved, move on to the next topic. Prior to the termly assessment, review the topics again. You may also ask you child to redo the earlier practices as this allow the concepts to be refreshed in the mind.

And finally, do not forget that the child has to sit for a written exam at the end of the year. A balanced learning approach, theoretical and enhanced by hands on, would do a lot of good for them.






It would be great if our children had the time and the opportunity to investigate into the many aspects of science they are being taught in school.  However, all our focus is toward the end of P6 exam that is key.

More so that schools put so much emphasis on the keywords to be used – it is more rote learning than concept. My daughter grasps the concept but is unable to use the appropriate words – need some way to teach her to remember these.  also, if there is a tabulated layout of the keywords for each topic that would help me to teach her better – pls help?


Thanks in advance




Learning Science is fun and interesting, provided you know of a way out. Children gnerally love this subject and will learn this subject even at a very tender age. There is so much of science around us these days that’s its hard to keep up with the ever-changing pace of science in our lives. The school syllabus is ever upgraded and information learnt today is obsolete tomorrow. How can we keep up with the pace? Well, help is not too far away. There is a way out – all you need is the right person who is able to help. Given the right source, you will be able to have the most updated information for Science that will prepare your child for his/her PSLE exams.  PM me for more details.

Science is a Land Mine in School

Hi Marnier,

I understand the frustration that you are going through with Science in your daughter’s school. From what I have read in your post, the problem may lie in one of these,

1. The questions posed in the paper were not clear and specific, hence the specific answer. For example, in the plane and dragonfly question, the question usually would state, based on what you see. This phrase is important as to differentiate between Observation skill and Inferrential skill. The answer your daughter gave uses the inferrential skill but the teacher’s answer is inline with Observation skills. So, relook at the question to see if there is a specific reference to the skill required as this would determine the answer.

2. On the point regarding generalities, my advise would be to keep within what the syllabus has taught. In almost all cases, there will be special cases or exclusions. As an example of exclusion, the platypus lay eggs even though they are mammals. This is accepted as it is in the syllabus. So, my advise would be, it is wonderful to learn beyond the syllabus but when it comes to exams, try to stay within it as not all exceptions are accepted due to the remoteness of the information.

So, all in all, my take on this issue would be, like what yhou say, keep it simple. The added knowledge from sources beyond the syallabus is fantastic for the child but when it come to the exams, stay within the syllabus.

And finally, it also depends on the teachers. Some are willing to accept the answers if it can be substatiated and answers the question. However, not all teachers are like that.



Science Is A Land Mine In School!

I brought up my daughter to be curious and read widely in Science. When she started her P3 she found herself stepping on all kinds of ‘land mines’. What ‘land mines’? For example, she had class assessments on questions such as:

“What do you need to add to the aquarium if you find the fish near the surface”. She answered “Add water plants to produce oxygen” but her teacher insisted the answer be “Add an air pump”. Obviously she has never seen a pond or ‘natural setting’ aquarium with ponds producing copious amounts of oxygen (which is btw 100% from plants c.f. only 21% from air pumps).

“What are the difference between these 2 leaves”. She answered one has parallel veins and the other network veins. Wrong again! The teacher insisted she confine her answer to the shape of the leaves because they have not yet taught venation.

“What is the difference between the 2 objects (picture shows a dragonfly and a plane)?” She answered one was a living thing and the other wasn’t. Wrong! One has an antenna.

“All poisonous fruits are inedible, true of false.” My daughter answered “false” as she had read about certain fruits being edible to specific species of birds and animals but inedible to others in order to ensure optimal dispersion of their seeds. Wrong! “We are talking about generalities here” said the teacher.


The issue I have is that MOE seems to have churned out teachers who conform to single fixed answers per questions instead allowing for different but correct answers. We can’t we allow for the child the right to answer a different answer as long as he/she can substantiate it properly? Why do we still punish the well-informed and interested and reward the rote-learner – aren’t we moving away from that model in order to cultivate the thinking student and future scientist?

As a result we have, unfortunately, resorted to KISS (keep it simple and stupid) answers.

Do you have any advise for frustrated students and parents?

Science is All Around Us

I totally agree iwth the idea of introducing Science at an early age. It is a good practice to present our children with the amazing wonders of Science early. This way they would have a vast experience and understanding of the world around them before they start to learn the subject in school.

In fact, nowadays, schools are even introducing simple science concepts through their thematic teaching of English at P1 and P2.

So for us parents, we need to support the school and our children prior to P3, where the teaching of Science as a subject starts.



Science is all around us!

We should really start them young! Children are generally curious about their surroundings be it natural or man-made. What we can do is to bring their attention to certain things and have a discussion or a mini-research about them.

For e.g. while having a japanese paper hot pot, you may want to ask why the paper doesn’t get burnt despite having a flame below it. We arouse their interest and thus their desire to find the answers.

Sometimes, we can also conduct simple experiments at home with our children to test their hypothesis. All these take time but by walking through the whole process with our children, we are actually equipping them with the process skills needed to do well in science.

In addition, we can get children to look at the questions in assessment books and ask them if the experiments are well-designed and if the tests are fair. Such exercises encourages analytical thinking. Very often, children can give suggestions on how to improve the questions in the assessment books!

In conclusion, doing tonnes of assessment books may not be the answer to better science results. We must make science relevant to them.




I do agree with your views.

I do agree with your views. However, I believe that before we teach children science on an exam based environment, I think it’s better to start by introducing the world around them. We can take every opportunity to let them see, feel and touch in respect to science without making it a lesson in itself.  For example, when we bring our little children (yes, I mean little children before they grow up and take science in P3) to the park or garden, we can let them smell the flowers and observe the insects etc. Children at this age are curious by nature and as they get interested in their surroundings, they’ll will learn more readily. A child will show more interest in carcassing a cat than read about it. Making a sandcastle on the beach can be a science lesson in itself without the ‘science’ bit. Children who do well in their science are those who are interested in the world around them. When they can relate to it, they will be interested to investigate and learn. Science is a lively subject which requires lots of thinking skills and if children learn by rote, they can never do well.

Thanks for the tips.

Thanks for the tips.

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