Inspired by my utter failure to mention science capital during last night's joint #ASEChat with #PrimaryRocks, I thought I should express my thoughts about science capital.
If you haven't heard about science capital, or maybe just need a refresh. Check out the ASPIRES project's explanation on youtube.
So, what place does Primary Science have in developing children's science capital? Let's have a brief look at the four categories; what you know, how you think, what you do and who you know.
What you know: This is possibly the easiest of the four categories to address, as it can crudely relate to the subject content of the National Curriculum. However, it is vitally important not to forget prior knowledge and outside of school learning that all children will posses. Children come to school with a wealth of knowledge. Some, may attend extra-curricular classes and hold a higher level of knowledge than their peers. It is therefore imperative that as teachers, we ensure that all children receive good quality teaching and learning as a solid foundation for their subject knowledge across the science disciplines. This is where scientific literacy comes into science capital.
How you think: This is all about children's attitudes towards science. In the primary classroom, children need positive open-ended experiences to enable them to foster a positive attitude towards science. There are also links between their identity as a science person, and thinking that science is something for them. This can be achieved through ensuring that all children feel valued and represented in the science classroom.
What you do: What you do relates to the activities that children engage with related to science. Of course, during their time at school, children will (hopefully) have access to good quality science teaching and learning. This is at the crux of this category for primary schools. Whilst, as educators, we cannot control the science-related activities that take place outside of school, we do have a duty to ensure what is taught is of a high quality. The Primary Science Quality Mark (PSQM) can go a long way here to improving this. Equally, schools can ensure that there are science/STEM clubs available to children. At my current school, I run a science club for KS2 children which aims to provide them with enriching activities; encouragingly, the vast majority of children who attend are girls, with some from a diverse ethnic background. Finally, take the children to science-related museums or on science-related trips. This will enhance their capital.
Who you know: This may appear at first glance to be the hardest aspect to have an impact in the primary classroom, but the use of science professionals in the local community can go a long way to giving children the extra capital they need to succeed in an increasingly science and technological society. Some children may know of friends or family who work in science-related roles and this places them at an advantage. At the very least, engage with scientists during British Science Week, or use the "I'm a Scientist! Get Me Out Of Here" website (http://imascientist.org.uk/)
Of course, these are only ideas, and the range of ideas for improving children's science capital, and ultimately their integration with society, is open to interpretation in many ways. I hope that I have at least, made you think about the importance. If you do want to find out more, please visit the Science Capital web page from KCL: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/departments/education/research/Research-Centres/cppr/Research/currentpro/Enterprising-Science/01Science-Capital.aspx