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Year 3

How the children should learn science at Lower Key Stage 2

The principal focus of science teaching in Lower Key Stage 2 is to enable pupils to broaden their scientific view of the world around them. They should do this through exploring, talking about, testing and developing ideas about everyday phenomena and the relationships between living things and familiar environments, and by beginning to develop their ideas about functions, relationships and interactions. They should ask their own questions about what they observe and make some decisions about which types of scientific enquiry are likely to be the best ways of answering them, including observing changes over time, noticing patterns, grouping and classifying things, carrying out simple comparative and fair tests and finding things out using secondary sources of information. They should draw simple conclusions and use some scientific language, first, to talk about and, later, to write about what they have found out.


Further Guidance

The following opportunities for working scientifically should be provided across Years 3 and 4 so that the expectations in the programme of study can be met by the end of Year 4. Pupils are not expected to cover each aspect for every area of study.

  • Raising Questions. They should be given a range of scientific experiences to enable them to raise their own questions about the world around them.
  • Choosing a suitable scientific enquiry. They should start to make their own decisions about the most appropriate type of scientific enquiry they might use to answer questions
  • Observations. They should help to make decisions about what observations to make, how long to make them for. They should make systematic and careful observations.
  • Fair testing. Recognise when a simple fair test is necessary.
  • Sorting and classifying. Talk about the criteria for grouping, sorting and classifying and use simple keys.
  • Secondary sources. They should recognise when and how secondary sources might help them to answer questions that cannot be answered through practical investigations.
  • Choosing equipment. They should help to make decisions about the type of simple equipment that might be used. They should learn how to use new equipment, such as a data loggers and thermometers, appropriately.
  • Collecting data. They should collect data from their own observations and measurements.
  • Measuring. They should use standard units.
  • Recording. They should make decisions as to how to record. They should record in notes, drawings, labelled diagrams, bar charts and simple tables. Pupils should use relevant scientific language to discuss their ideas and communicate their findings in ways that are appropriate for different audiences.
  • Analysing data. They should make decisions as to how to analyse the data. They should begin to look for patterns and decide what data to collect to identify them. With help, pupils should look for changes, patterns, similarities and differences in their data in order to draw simple conclusions and answer questions. With support, they should identify new questions arising from the data, making predictions for new values within or beyond the data they have collected.
  • Making improvements. They should find ways of improving what they have already done.


Programmes of study


Forces and Magnets

The learning journey – Forces

  • Compare how things move on different surfaces;
  • Notice that some forces need contact between two objects, but magnetic forces can act at a distance;
  • Observe how magnets attract or repel each other and attract some materials and not others;
  • Compare and group together a variety of everyday materials on the basis of whether they are attracted to a magnet, and identify some magnetic materials;
  • Describe magnets as having two poles;
  • Predict whether two magnets will attract or repel each other, depending on which poles are facing.

Working Scientifically

Pupils will work scientifically by: comparing how different things move and grouping them; raising questions and carrying out tests to find out how far things move on different surfaces and gathering and recording data to find answers their questions; exploring the strengths of different magnets and finding a fair way to compare them; sorting materials into those that are magnetic and those that are not; looking for patterns in the way that magnets behave in relation to each other and what might affect this, for example, the strength of the magnet or which pole faces another; identifying how these properties make magnets useful in everyday items and suggesting creative uses for different magnets.



The learning journey – Materials

  • Compare and group together different kinds of rocks on the basis of their appearance and simple physical properties;
  • Describe in simple terms how fossils are formed when things that have lived are trapped within rock;
  • Recognise that soils are made from rocks and organic matter.

Working Scientifically

Pupils will work scientifically by: observing rocks, including those used in buildings and gravestones, and exploring how and why they might have changed over time; using a hand lens or microscope to help them to identify and classify rocks according to whether they have grains or crystals, and whether they have fossils in them. Pupils will research and discuss the different kinds of living things whose fossils are found in sedimentary rock and explore how fossils are formed. Pupils will explore different soils and identify similarities and differences between them and investigate what happens when rocks are rubbed together or what changes occur when they are in water. They will raise and answer questions about the way soils are formed.


Animals including humans

The learning journey - Animals including humans

  • Identify that animals, including humans, need the right types and amount of nutrition, and that they cannot make their own food; they get nutrition from what they eat;
  • Identify that humans and some animals have skeletons and muscles for support, protection and movement.

Working Scientifically

Pupils will work scientifically by: identifying and grouping animals with and without skeletons and observing and comparing their movement; exploring ideas about what would happen if humans did not have skeletons. They will compare and contrast the diets of different animals (including their pets) and decide ways of grouping them according to what they eat. They might research different food groups and how they keep us healthy and design meals based on what they find out.



The learning journey - Plants

  • Identify and describe the functions of different parts of plants; roots, stem, leaves and flowers;
  • Explore the requirements of plants for life and growth (air, light, water, nutrients from soil and room to grow) and how they vary from plant to plant;
  • Investigate the ways in which water is transported within plants;
  • Explore the role of flowers in the life cycle of flowering plants, including pollination, seed formation and seed dispersal.

Working Scientifically

Pupils will work scientifically by: comparing the effect of different factors on plant growth, for example, the amount of light, the amount of fertiliser; discovering how seeds are formed by observing the different stages of plant life cycles over a period of time; looking for patterns in the structure of fruits that relate to how the seeds are dispersed. They will observe how water is transported in plants, for example, by putting cut, white carnations into coloured water and observing how water travels up the stem to the flowers.



The learning journey – Light

  • Recognise that they need light in order to see things and that dark is the absence of light;
  • Notice that light is reflected from surfaces;
  • Recognise that light from the sun can be dangerous and that there are ways to protect their eyes;
  • Recognise that shadows are formed when the light from a light source is blocked by a solid object;
  • Find patterns in the way that the sizes of shadows change.

Working Scientifically

Pupils will work scientifically by: looking for patterns in what happens to shadows when the light source moves or the distance between the light source and the object changes.