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Taking science education across the world

Our future depends on exploring all the frontiers of science, on innovative technologies based on these explorations and on the development of scientific literacy in all peoples through science education.

Talking science in Italy

An early morning flight from London.

My aeroplane to Rome

A drive from Rome through southern Italy

A chance to look at the lovely Italian countryside from the back of the new Alfa Romeo.

The destination – Benevento

Sunset over Benevento

The reason for my visit? A national convention on Education. A growing number of schools in Italy are implementing Content and Language Integrated Learning programmes (CLIL) in which they are teaching maths and science to 11 to 14 year olds in English. As my Checkpoint Science series has been proving popular around the world and is published in English, I was invited by Hodder Education to make a presentation of the books and give a talk on how the Checkpoint books can be used for curriculum development to address the objectives of CLIL and help teachers prepare their students for the Cambridge International Examination Checkpoint Science tests.

Promoting the convention

The audience of teachers from all over Italy.

The audience of teachers from all over Italy.

I prepared my talk following the advice given in Chris Anderson’s TED Talks The official guide to public speaking which I found most helpful.

In my talk I asked the teachers to consider the ideas and science facts that the students bring with them from primary school and use them to help the students settle into secondary school, then demonstrated how the books could be integrated to prepare for examinations, develop a thorough understanding of Scientific Enquiry and help the students to become scientifically literate, by which I mean that they build up a knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts,which as adults they can use in rational decision making on science based issues which will affect our future world.

After my talk I joined Gill (International Schools Manager) and Taran (Agent for Hodder Education in Italy) on the stand…

Caption Taran and Gill on the Hodder Education International stand.

… to further explain how the books could be used to meet the requirements of individual schools.

Discussing the presentation of the science content of the books.

Discovering how the books can be integrated.

At the end of the convention Taran whisked me back to Rome in the Alfa and Gill made sure that I got on the correct plane. I would like to thank them both for looking after me so well on my first trip abroad to talk about science and my books.

Teachers in Italy can find out more information about my books from Mr Taran Arrigo while teachers everywhere can find out more information at or in the films on my website or by contacting me by email.

What can this be? Final two Curiosity Box books published

The Curiosity Box series is now complete!

The last two books in this six book series have just been published. They are Animals and the Human Body.

The Curiosity Box - Animals The Curiosity Box - The Human Body

Like all the books in the series they aim to stimulate children’s interest and curiosity in the natural world.

If you are already familiar with the titles published earlier this year you will know about “What can this be?” It is the title of the challenges I set the children as they read through each book. Their purpose is to arouse curiosity and initiate the imagination to produce an answer before turning the page to find out more.

At the end of each book is a curiosity quiz and suggestions for the children to set up their own curiosity box.

One keen reader has already sent in a picture of her curiosity box and I have provided extra notes about curiosity in science on my website. See them at

The autumn is a great time for walking in the countryside and finding curiosities in the natural world. Perhaps you would like to photograph them and send them to me at

so I can put them in our Science Exhibition Gallery at for children around the world to see.

Autumn science topics

The science of the seasons

As summer slips slowly into autumn this month, the topic of seasons naturally arises in many science courses around the world. In the UK, for example, at Key Stage 1 (5 – 7 year olds) there is a section of the curriculum entitled seasonal changes. My Ways into Science book, Seasons, provides library support for this topic.

Ways Into Science : Seasons

Ways Into Science : Seasons

While at you can find a film explaining how the seasons link to the movement of the Earth, stop and chat discussion sheets to help the children secure their knowledge, a quiz based on the Seasons book and an experiment report sheet to record the children’s activities in this topic.

quiz sheet

quiz sheet

The film and stop and chat discussion sheets can also be used now, or at other times of year by children reading Moving up with Science:Habitats where habitats through the season are featured on pages 12 – 19.

Moving Up With Science - Habitats

Moving Up With Science – Habitats

The science of space

The lengthening evenings with their starry skies provides an opportunity to cover curriculum work on space. To provide library support for 9–11 year olds in this area I have written The Earth in Space where pages 16 to 19 can be integrated with the film and the stop and chat discussion sheets.

Straight Forward With Science: The Earth In Space

Straight Forward With Science: The Earth In Space

All twenty five books in my three Franklin Watts series – Ways into Science, Moving up with Science and Straightforward with Science – have activities for the readers to try. They are very welcome to send in reports and photographs of their work to me at and I will put them in The Science Exhibition Gallery for other children around the world to see and share their interest in science.

The film and stop and chat sheets may also be useful in supporting revision of the movement of the Earth in the Cambridge Primary Checkpoint science course. See pages 74 and 75 of the study guide and pages 70 – 71 of the Teachers guide.

Teaching about the Seasons and the Earth and Space

In Teaching Primary science you will find sections on the seasons (pages 21 – 27) and Earth and Space (pages 152 – 158).

Teaching Primary Science

Teaching Primary Science is published today by Bloomsbury

In each section there is background information, glossary, progression notes, technical tips, three detailed lesson plans, further lesson ideas and activities and cross curricular links. You might like to integrate the film and stop and chat discussion sheets with the Seasons and Earth and Space sections in this book.

You may like your children to use ICT to communicate reports and pictures of their science investigations to other children around the world to inform, interest and inspire them also in their science work. If you do, send their work to peter and I will put it in our Science Exhibition Gallery. Here is an example from the gallery.

Science and the seashore

Now is the time that seashells start appearing on windowsills as a reminder of trips to the beach in the summer.

A selection of seashells

A selection of seashells

When the children picked them up they were showing two signs of a scientist – being observant and being curious.

Curiosity has driven science for centuries and continues to do so today. Children are naturally curious so it makes sense to foster this as they return to school and begin their science lessons.

The Sea Shore book in my Curiosity Box series helps you to do this by taking the readers on a trip across the sand dunes, over the strand line, down the sandy beach, clambering over the rocks to look at rock pool life then look up at the cliffs above.

The Seashore

The Seashore

Along the way are many curiosities that the children may have seen in their real trip to the seashore. Each one is supported by information while some form a “What can this be?” challenge that can be answered by turning the page.

At the end of the book is a curious quiz and information about setting up a real curiosity box.

There is more information about curiosity boxes in my film at

If you make a curiosity box for your collection of sea shells you might like to send me some pictures for the Science Exhibition Library on this site, for children around the world to see and stimulate their curiosity.

Please send them to

Two more book in the Curiosity Box series now available

Two more books in the Curiosity box series have just been published. They are Rocks and Fossils, and Minibeasts.

Curiosity Box : Rocks and FossilsCuriosity Box : Minibeasts

If you’d like to find out more about the Curiosity Box series, please take a look at the video below.

Lancashire Science Festival

When I began my blog one of the first items was in a section I called “science is nearer than you think” and I featured Richard Towneley who lived at nearby Towneley Hall in Burnley. He was the first person to make systematic measurements of rainfall – in the seventeenth century.

Richard Towneley

Much more recently I discovered that Burnley College Sixth Form Centre was hosting a Lancashire Science Festival event and went along.

Lancashire Science Festival

I was pleased to see that many people had also come along to enjoy the activities and displays. The 3D printer display showed items that had been made from or for the human body.

The plastic backbone and pelvis had been made from a patient’s scan and was used to help the surgeon see inside the body and decide on a course of action.

Artificial body parts

The printer can also produce the components for making an artificial hand.

Artificial hand

Later there was a very entertaining appearance of Titan the robot.

Titan the robot

I wonder what Richard Towneley would have made of him?

For more information about the Lancashire Science Festival go to

The final video in my Ways Into Science series is now finished

The final video in my Ways Into Science series is now finished and live!

In the video I talk about our senses and what they detect, then I ask you to explore the world around you using your senses too!

There’s now a total of eight videos, covering all the books in the series, along with support materials for teachers available to download from this site for free. There are videos and support materials for all of the Ways Into Science books. You can access all the videos and materials via the Ways Into Science page, or using the links below.

View the video and materials for Ways Into Science: Plants
View the video and materials for Ways Into Science: Everyday Materials
View the video and materials for Ways Into Science: Habitats
View the video and materials for Ways Into Science: Keeping Healthy
View the video and materials for Ways Into Science: Life Cycles
View the video and materials for Ways Into Science: Seasons
View the video and materials for Ways Into Science: What Animal Is It?
View the video and materials for Ways Into Science: Your Body, Your Senses

If you make use of the videos and materials, please email me at to let me know what you think.

My visit to Benjamin Franklin’s house

I recently visited Benjamin Franklin’s House in London.

Benjamin Franklin's House

Benjamin Franklin's House

Inside are the original floors and wood panelling to the rooms and throughout the day there are performances by an actresses who take you back to the days when Franklin lived there. The performance is supported by a superb audio-visual display by the end of it I almost expected Franklin to open a door and join us.

For me, and I suspect others with an interest in science, the highlight is entering the room at the back of the house, which he used as his laboratory. Like all the rooms it is without furniture and dark for the audio visual- display but present in one corner is a kite like the one he used in his experiments.

Benjamin Franklin's House

It was in this very room that he discussed electricity with the Joseph Priestly, another great man of science of the eighteenth century. I leaned against the wooden panelling that was also there at this meeting all those years ago and tried to imagine what it might have been like to listen to the conversation.

If you are in London I recommend a visit.
For more details go to:

My visit to Settle School for science day

I was invited to Settle School to take assembly and then take part in their activities for Science Day.

For the assembly I gave a short presentation on how ideas change over time.

Being helped by my grand daughter

Being helped by my grand daughter

In this picture you can see the tables laid out with my ‘props’ starting with the toy rabbit and bunch of carrots to discuss humans as hunter gatherers then moving through establishing how ideas changed over time.

I am assisted by my eldest granddaughter Megan in discussing how we changed our ideas about the earth being the centre of the universe.

On the right are a section of telephones showing how one aspect of technology has changed in my life time (see blog 23rd March).

Speaking into a glove

Speaking into a glove

Here I am talking into a glove telephone. Megan had rigged up a speaker so I could talk into my hand and my voice filled the hall! I The children thought it was a WOW moment.

Making cartesian divers to float up and down in bottle.

Making monsters

Making monsters

Testing the divers

Making monsters

Go here to find out how to make the divers.

Material monsters

Taking time out from making a monster.
Making a material monster

Three eyes but is it just one leg or a tail?
A material monster

Celebrating a win in one class’s competition.
A material monster

You may like to find out more about materials by looking at the film for the Everyday Materials book in my Ways into Science series.

Why not download the free stop and chat feature that goes with this film to discuss materials with your children. At the end of the film is a material monster I made. Perhaps your children would like to make some monsters too. If they do photograph the monsters and send them in to so their pictures can join those from Settle School.

One class took the monster theme forward and made them explode!

One class took the monster theme forward and made them explode! This is a variation on the model volcano experiment.

explosive monster

explosive monster

explosive monster

You may also like to make a really explosive monster by trying the activity in Violent Stuff on page 20-21 of my Real Scientist book called Stuff.

If you make an exploding monster send a photograph of it exploding to and I will put it in our Science Exhibition Gallery to inspire children around the world in science.

The changing of the seasons

My new video to tie into my Ways Into Science series talks about the seasons. Using a simple model of the solar system I describe what seasons are and what causes them.

Ways Into Science - Seasons

Ways Into Science – Seasons

You can find the video, along with the downloadable resources to go with it, here.

My Books

Follow the links below to find out more about my books and book series, as well as downloadable resources for teachers and parents using my books.

Books for Primary Schools
Books for Secondary Schools

Books and Resources for Teachers

Contact Me

I can be contacted in the following ways. If you have a picture for the Natural World Photo Gallery or the Science Exhibition Gallery, please send it by email.