14 skills to answer Science exam questions skilfully

14 skills to answer Science exam questions skilfully

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Why do primary school students need to learn Science?
Because Science is everywhere and Singapore’s Ministry of Education has made use of these everyday experiences to structure the syllabi around these so as to allow students to easily relate and make connections based on their everyday lives and the environment.

Science education is not just about learning science concepts and scientific words. It is to stimulate their curiosity about things around them and the environment and develop skills of scientific inquiry.

For the Singapore Science syllabus, it is organised into these 5 main themes namely:
– diversity
– cycles
– energy
– interactions
– systems

From these themes, the Science syllabus also requires the students to acquire the following 14 skills in order to tackle Science exams questions skilfully.

Observing

The importance of observational skill is to be able to learn through watching and retaining the information. From there, the student will also require to replicate the behaviours that were observed. This skill also requires to make use of our senses and instruments to gather information about objects or events. 

Comparing

When it comes to comparisons, it also means the ability to contrast as well. Comparative thinking skills correspond to early stages of cognitive development where a student is able to identify differences and similarities.

With this skill, a student is able to make use of the knowledge to organize information and express it in their own writing.

Classifying

The skill of putting similar things together and separating them due to its differences is known as classification. This allows a child to develop the thinking skill that is required for problem-solving at times.

When it comes to primary Science, tables and charts are commonly used to show classification. Students will require to know what goes to the columns, what goes to the rows and the relationships between the data. From there, they will learn how to interpret charts and tables, and later answer the questions based on them.

Using apparatus and equipment

Science experiments always the most fun part of the subject. Students get to learn about the apparatus and equipment, how to use them and what to use them for. With hands-on experience, students are also able to visualise how things work, what effects it causes and make scientific arguments.

Communicating

Communication is not only essential for building a relationship, it is also essential for learning. Especially in the context of the Science subject, as Science doesn’t speak for itself, students need to be able to use the skill of communication to answer or response to questions and interpreting tables or charts.

Inferring

For example, when someone cries, your child infers that the person is upset. Since very young, a child is able to observe and reach a logical conclusion. It is also the skill that a child has a hard time with. Even though they can come up with a conclusion, they may struggle to explain to you how they come up with it.

Therefore, through the Science subject, students are being asked to explain why things happened in a certain way and why not.

For example, why does a bread produces moulds after a few days being left in the cupboard?

Predicting

Predicting allows a student to actively think ahead and ask questions or to find evidence to support what had happened. In Science, one has to make predictions all the time. It is a process skill to determine an outcome based on patterns of evidence.

For example, there are dark clouds in the sky, do you think it will rain?

Analysing

Many students struggle with analysis. Very often, students are NOT able to score well in Science not because they do not understand Science concepts. In fact, they do not understand the concept of analysis. During Science lesson, it is where teachers will guide and support the students to identify the facts and push them to as far as they can to visualise how far and how deep the analysis can go.

Students need to show how the evidence relates because everyone interprets facts differently. At the same time, they learn to break down questions into smaller parts and makes sense of things before answering.

Generating possibilities

There are 2 types of questions:
– questions to limit
– questions to generate possibilities

Questions that limit often respond with a “yes” or “no”, thus limit creativity.

On the other hand, questions that generate possibilities promote creativity where questions are asked more broadly. These questions have unlimited possible answers and students will require to think divergently. They will also require to come up with scientifically sound answers.


Evaluating

Evaluation is the process of making a judgement. In a Science experiment, students will need to critically examine by collecting and analyzing the information collected to determine if the experiment is fair or not and what impact it will create.

Formulating hypothesis

Hypothesis is not predictions. This misunderstanding is not new and many times you will notice authentic examples such as below:

Predictions: If I add nitrogen to the plants, they will grow taller.

Hypothesis: Nitrogen helps the plants to grow better

It is important to separate hypothesis from predictions and students are required to gather valid data and information to agree or disagree with the hypothesis.

Creative problem solving

What exactly is creative problem-solving? It actually means to come up with new and creative ideas to solve problems. Creative ideas don’t just pop into our heads. It requires a student to focus on not just trying to solve a problem but to find a better solution to an existing problem. 

It is also better to further clarify the problems by asking more questions. By the time the questions are answered, the students will have a clearer idea of what the problem is and find a different/better solutions for it. 

Decision-making

When it comes to decision-making, a student will need to make a choice among all the suggested solutions to a problem. The student will also need to explain why he/she made the choice. With logical thinking and problem-solving skill, a student is able to make a better decision. 

In the world of Science, students have countless opportunities for making choices with considerations. This particular skill will further allow them to clearly understand the reasons for their decision, combined with experience and maturity.

Investigation

With investigation, students are able to understand better how things work and why it happened. They are able to make use of their senses to investigate everything around them. As an educator, I love this process because it gives me the chance to take advantage of the student’s natural inquisitiveness to learn in contrast to filling in worksheets.
 

Now that you know the 14 skills required to help your child to tackle Science exams question skilfully. How are you applying it? Although is good to learn all the techniques to have great results in the academics, do not neglect your child’s well-being as well.

Need more help on how to better understand your child’s strengths/weaknesses in Science? Take the FREE assessment to find out.

P.S.: If you have more tips to share, do comment and let me know. 

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