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Year 4

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


Animals including humans

The learning journey - Animals including humans

  • Describe the simple functions of the basic parts of the digestive system in humans;
  • Identify the different types of teeth in humans and their simple functions;
  • Construct and interpret a variety of food chains, identifying producers, predators and prey.

Working Scientifically

Pupils will work scientifically by: comparing the teeth of carnivores and herbivores, and suggesting reasons for differences; finding out what damages teeth and how to look after them. They will draw and discuss their ideas about the digestive system and compare them with models or images.



The learning journey – Electricity

  • Identify common appliances that run on electricity;
  • Construct a simple series electrical circuit, identifying and naming its basic parts, including cells, wires, bulbs, switches and buzzers;
  • Identify whether or not a lamp will light in a simple series circuit, based on whether or not the lamp is part of a complete loop with a battery;
  • Recognise that a switch opens and closes a circuit and associate this with whether or not a lamp lights in a simple series circuit;
  • Recognise some common conductors and insulators, and associate metals with being good conductors.

Working Scientifically

Pupils will work scientifically by: observing patterns, for example, that bulbs get brighter if more cells are added, that metals tend to be conductors of electricity, and that some materials can and some cannot be used to connect across a gap in a circuit.


Living things and their habitats

The learning journey - Living Things and Their Habitats

  • Recognise that living things can be grouped in a variety of ways;
  • Explore and use classification keys to help group, identify and name a variety of living things in their local and wider environment;
  • Recognise that environments can change and that this can sometimes pose dangers to living things.

Working Scientifically

Pupils will work scientifically by: using and making simple guides or keys to explore and identify local plants and animals; making a guide to local living things; raising and answering questions based on their observations of animals and what they have found out about other animals that they have researched



The learning journey - Sound

Pupils should be taught to:

  • Identify how sounds are made, associating some of them with something vibrating;
  • Recognise that vibrations from a sound travel through a medium to the ear;
  • Find patterns between the pitch of a sound and features of the object that produced it;
  • Find patterns between the volume of a sound and the strength of the vibrations that produced it;
  • Recognise that sounds get fainter as the distance from the sound source increases.

Working Scientifically

Pupils will work scientifically by: finding patterns in the sounds that are made by different objects such as saucepan lids of different sizes or elastic bands of different thicknesses. They will make earmuffs from a variety of different materials to investigate which provides the best insulation against sound. They will also make and play their own instruments by using what they have found out about pitch and volume.


States of matter

The learning journey – Materials

  • Compare and group materials together, according to whether they are solids, liquids or gases;
  • Observe that some materials change state when they are heated or cooled, and measure or research the temperature at which this happens in degrees Celsius (°C);
  • Identify the part played by evaporation and condensation in the water cycle and associate the rate of evaporation with temperature.

Working Scientifically

Pupils will work scientifically by: grouping and classifying a variety of different materials; exploring the effect of temperature on substances such as chocolate, butter, cream (for example, to make food such as chocolate crispy cakes and ice-cream for a party). They will research the temperature at which materials change state, for example, when iron melts or when oxygen condenses into a liquid. They will observe and record evaporation over a period of time, for example, a puddle in the playground or washing on a line, and investigate the effect of temperature on washing drying or snowmen melting.