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Creativity involves using your imagination, generating new ideas and producing outputs which are both valuable and original. These skills are fundamental to science in the real world; they are used regularly by engineers, architects, health professionals, researchers and so on.
However, they are not always associated with science in school. All too often it seems necessary to focus on facts and correct answers, especially for teachers who might feel less confident in their subject knowledge. So, how can we encourage creativity in the primary science classroom?
One solution is to shake up the roles, so the teacher becomes a facilitator and the pupil becomes an investigator. The CREST enquiry-based learning framework uses this method to develop pupils’ creativity and get them sharing their own ideas in the science classroom.
Each challenge begins with a real-life scenario and a problem to solve. Pupils work in groups with an activity card which helps them to think through the problem, plan an investigation and experiment to find a solution.
The organiser card provides everything the facilitator needs to set up, support and consolidate the activity. The teacher is no longer the expert with all the answers, but instead uses questions to help pupils think out-loud, draw on their own experiences and make sense of their experiments.
You don’t need to be a science specialist either. CREST has been designed to enable any teacher or group leader to deliver enquiry-based learning activities using easily available materials.
If you aren’t a science specialist, it can be tempting to rely on external science presenters to bring the ‘WOW’ factor to science in school and present it in a ‘creative’ way.
A ‘scientist’ on stage, dressed in a lab coat and carrying out all sorts of ‘crazy’, ‘mad’ demonstrations can be entertaining and for many pupils is enjoyable and memorable.
However, it’s often a passive learning experience that doesn’t always encourage children to value science as something ‘for them’, or to notice science in the everyday things all around them.
The CREST Star and Super Star challenges put the focus back on pupils. Student-centred learning encourages creativity and independence, giving them opportunities to behave like scientists without leaning to stereotypes.
Each challenge supports pupils to use problem-solving skills, make decisions, generate ideas and design their own experiments.
These short, 45-minute activities are easy to embed in regular curriculum or enrichment time and give pupils enquiry-based learning experiences which can inspire their own science projects.
The CREST challenges also help address some of the barriers to this style of learning. Open-ended problems can leave some pupils unsure of how to begin and some may initially lack confidence in their own ideas.
In each CREST challenge, the characters Cosmic and Gem present pupils with a variety of possible solutions to the problem. Ideas from other pupil investigators are also given.
The variety of different explanations encourages further idea sharing in group discussions and pupils are prompted to evaluate each idea before designing experiments to test them out.
Pupils can use the Star and Super Star challenges to achieve a CREST Award which is a tangible and well-regarded recognition of success in STEM.
There are Awards at higher levels too, from Discovery to Gold, encouraging progression in science project work through secondary school and beyond.
You can help pupils to track their own progress using a printed Passport to check off each challenge. On completion of 8 Star or Super Star challenges, you can enter them for a CREST Award to receive a high-quality printed certificate and fabric badge.
There are plenty of challenges to choose from in our resources library, but as you get used to the Star and Super Star framework, you may find yourself and your pupils applying the process to other science-based problems too, or even to other subject areas.
Then you know you have curious, independent learners who can use their creative skills across the curriculum!
To sign up for a free CREST account click here. Download the Passport and choose eight challenges to get started using CREST.
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