Science skills for kids: 7-8
Children who fit into this age group are developing their ability to conduct science investigations as well as deepen their understanding of the world around them.
Children learn at an individual pace in their own time. These are the skills and scientific concepts children of this age are working towards.
7-8 year olds build on their knowledge of how things live, grow and change
Now that students can identify living things they become intrigued with exactly ‘how’ they became that way. Children at this age benefit from experiments during which they watch seeds grow. Children will learn to describe ways that living things depend on the Earth and their environment. They will be able to understand concepts such as building a nest/burrow near food and what camouflage is.
7-8 year olds conduct guided investigations of several steps
At this age simple tests of ideas are replaced with scientific procedures. Children learn to follow a sequence of instructions to find a solution to their problem. They are using a range of equipment at this age – measuring cups, rulers, thermometers and string to carry out their procedures. Children are also learning about a “fair test”. A fair test is when two objects are collected and a change in conditions is made to only one object so that students can see the impact of the change. An example of this is two seeds and one seed is watered more than the other, or two plants with one plant placed in the shade and one in the sunshine.
7-8 year olds are using a range of skills as they develop
Children are learning the specific skills of questioning, making and testing, predicting, collecting, recording data and examining patterns. Opportunities should be presented to children that allow them to use all these skills with information that is highly interesting to children so that they are motivated to investigate and use new skills.
7-8 have replaced simple drawings with model designs
Children are learning that there is a scientific method of creating models. They will learn about design criteria. For example simple drawings of houses will be replaced with models which have doors with real hinges made from sticky tape. They will learn to create a model by following a simple plan.
7-8 year olds will ask more challenging questions
The more children of this age investigate the more questions they will have as they look for solutions to their problems. Try to avoid giving answers which will shut down a child’s curiosity and thinking. At this age it is not important to ‘know’ the answer but rather to be able to think about ‘how to find’ the answer.
7-8 year olds use a selection of tools to collect data
Children at this age are aware scientists use special equipment to assist their investigations. As a result they will be interested in using thermometers, rulers, balances, clocks and magnifying glasses to make observations and collect data. At this age children will be able to create a simple graph or diagram and talk about what they have drawn.
7-8 year olds think deeply about the moon and the sun
One of the first indicators that children are developing scientific thinking is the turning away from themselves as being central to a problem and situation and further extending their interest in the environment. Most children are fascinated with the moon, how it rises in the sky, why we only see it at night, how the sun works and what are stars. This curiosity is normally encouraged in school with the introduction of units with more abstract concepts such as Space and the Solar System.
7-8 year olds develop an awareness of simple forces
Children learn how movement can be changed by pushing or pulling. They also begin to experiment with balancing objects. This sounds complicated but simple observations such as “when I throw the ball harder it moves faster” is developing this skill. Scientific learning occurs in all subjects at school.
7-8 year olds recognise that water changes form
Children who have had experiences with water play can make confident predictions about what will occur when water is influenced by heat or time. Children will be able to name the different forms of water – liquid and solid (not normally gas) however they do not yet have an understanding of the processes involved.
Children are looking to make connections between what they are learning to information they already knew. They are beginning to support their ideas with reasonable explanations and this can be encouraged with “and how do you know this” statements.
Discover fun science experiments:
Read more about science:
- Science skills for pre-school children
- Science skills for 5-6 year olds
- Science skills for 7-8 year olds
- Science skills for 9-10 year olds
- Science skills for 11-12 year olds
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This article was written by Michelle Barrington for Kidspot, New Zealand's leading education resource for parents. Michelle is a teacher and mother of a toddler who blogs at Gee, You're Brave.