More resources for Young Scientists

These resources link in with our Young Scientists course, particularly activities and concepts we covered in the second half of the course.

original-260479-1Planning your own experiments or investigations

There’s a free project planner from ‘Upper Grades are Awesome’ on TpT which helps groups of children to plan their science fair project. It’s free to join TpT and although I don’t use it all the time there are often some good downloadables to be found.



testtubesThe Social Side of Science

The Understanding Science website from the University of Berkeley has a good few pages debunking the myth of the solitary scientist. It is critical that all scientists do not just carry out their experiments but they also communicate with each other at every step of the way.

Being skeptical.

I really hope that the children who come to my classes go home with an excitement about how wonderful science can be. I also hope that they learn to be skeptical. Have you noticed how each decade has its own health fads that seem ‘too good to be true?’ They probably are. What about medications that are trumpeted to ‘hit pain where it hurts’ and so on. How much of that is marketing and how much is really backed up by science?

The Understanding Science website (again) has a good checklist for children to use to see if a study is really scientific. There are several pages where they apply this checklist to actual investigations like solving DNA’s double helix, investigating CFCs in the atmosphere and  and claims of nuclear fusion at room temperature (cold fusion).



The Real Process of Science   UC Davis Bodega Marine LaboratoryBeing prepared for science to take a long time

In the UCDavis CAMEOS project, children use the science flowchart I’ve mentioned before (and provided for children in my classes) to map the activities that take part during a scientific investigation. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and see how different scientists mapped their own journeys.

Being prepared to be wrong

This article by the astronomist Bruce Weaver is probably more for parents to read than to use as a resource, but it provides a little insight about how science is not about being ‘right’ and how, in fact, scientists can never prove that their hypothesis is right.

I haven’t found a whole lot of material on the internet about how to think and work scientifically. I am grateful for the University of Berkeley ‘Understanding Science’ website and keep going back to it, and I also use the Science Buddies website frequently to look for activities, but there is not much else around.

What resources have you found to help your child understand and be part of the scientific process? I’d love to hear from you.

Resources about Electricity

Looking for resources about electricity? I’ve gone down many rabbit trails to find the ones I think are the best. See below for videos, hands-on activities, computer games, card games, websites, books and occasionally a worksheet or two. Most of these resources are suitable for middle primary to lower secondary children. The articles at the end are mainly aimed at adults but would be suitable for children who are interested and who don’t mind reading at a high level.

Please comment below if you tried and appreciated these resources, or if you have other resources which you recommend because you have used them before.

Static electricity

To understand static electricity, try this video from How Stuff Works. Or watch the video below where Hank Green from SciShow explains electrostatics as part of his series on the Four Fundamental Forces of Physics.


The Exploratorium in San Francisco has a great hands-on activity where you make an electrophorus – a device for storing charge.

Or try some computer games. There seem to be a few computer games based on the idea of changing the charge on  a particle to move it around a maze with charged obstacles. This one from Molecular Workbench has only one level. Make sure you press Run to get your game started! There’s another one from MIT here but I didn’t manage to get it to run on my computer.

For more information about electricity, including static electricity, try Funology. This site is text based, but the images are also helpful.

Also look at BBC GCSE bitesize – text with some animations. Very good explanations. Note that this site has been archived and it is possible that the BBC will not continue to maintain it at some point in the future.

Current electricity

Here is a largely text based explanation on Explain That Stuff, with helpful images.

Simple circuits and electronics

The Electronics Club website is simply and clearly laid out and very helpful, particularly for  understanding circuit symbols.

In my class I used this handout on TES Australia (also on TES Connect), plus a key with relevant circuit symbols, to see if children could spot errors in simple circuits. Note: You have to register to get access to any TES resources, including the free ones.

Electricity and magnetism

Hank from SciShow explains magnetism with lots of fast talking, not so many visuals.

Try this ‘Circles of Magnetism’ activity from the Exploratorium. If you have enough magnetic compasses it is a great way to see the connection between electricity and magnetism.

A World without Magnets is an infographic about the uses of magnetism.

Electric motor

Once you realise that electricity and magnetism are two aspects of the same thing, you can use electricity to generate motion due to magnetic attraction and repulsion.

Here’s Hank again demonstrating an extremely simple electric motor.

Or if you want a slightly more complex one you could buy this one from Mad About Science. I know they say it is the World’s Simplest Motor but they clearly haven’t been watching YouTube as much as I have.

Electric generator

Electric generators also make use of the interrelation between electricity and magnetism, using a moving magnetic field to generate electricity.

Veritasium video of a very simple electric generator.


Electricity (power) generation

National Geographic has a lesson plan for students to think about electricity generation.

I didn’t use the lesson plan above in my Nurture Learning classes. As I said in my last post, we played Energy Trumps cards in the class and I also suggested my students tried the Electrocity game online. The Energy Trumps game came from the Centre for Alternative Technology in the UK, so some of the categories are specific to the UK. I haven’t seen a similar resource for Australia, which is a shame. The link takes you to the CAT resources page. Scroll down to the Energy Trumps subtitle for pdfs of the cards and instructions.

Electricity and safety

Electric Kids lesson plans and  worksheets from Endeavour Energy, written to cover the NSW Science and Technology and PDHPE syllabus for Years 5 and 6 (Stage 3).

Children’s books about electricity

Oscar and the Bird for preschoolers and early primary51j1zrjqxvl-_sy344_bo1204203200_


Electrical Wizard (How Nikolai Tesla lit up the world). Aimed at 7-10 year olds.


The Manga Guide to Electricity. For age 9 and up.


The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind Before William Kamkwamba’s determination to build a windmill for his village in Malawi, only 2% of Malawians had electricity or running water. This Young Readers Edition has been edited for children from about Grade 5 level upwards; there is another book with the same title aimed at children at high school.


More activities

For more activities, including loads of printables, look on


CSIRO news article about the dangers of fossil fuels

KQED article about storing power from solar electricity generation

KQED article about the Tesla battery factory