The Primary Science syllabus is designed around themes that students can relate to in their everyday experiences and on commonly observed phenomena in nature.
From 2023, Primary 3 students studying Primary School Science will be introduced to a new syllabus where they have a specific set of topics to learn.
This is different to the earlier syllabus where topics are shared among P3 & P4 (lower block), and P5 & P6 (upper block) respectively. Learn more about the science curriculum framework, topics and how students will be assessed here:
Regardless of which Primary School Science syllabus your child is using, science can seem like a challenging topic. To guide your child, our experienced educators share common challenges that students face and tips you can start using today.
Relating to Primary Science
Science can be a daunting subject to tackle if students lack prior knowledge. In addition to learning scientific concepts, some questions require a certain degree of general knowledge. The good news? The topics in Primary Science already have exciting real-world applications that your child could access or relate to.
Use questions that start with “I wonder…” to spark their curiosity. For example, at meal times, invite your child to consider “I wonder where these french fries will go” as they eat.
They don’t need to be introduced to the digestive system for you to offer this prompt. They can even give fun and creative answers! It’s not about getting it ‘right’ but rather showing them that science is already all around.
Applying Primary Science to Real-World Situations
Primary 4 students will be required to answer more application-based questions as compared with Primary 3. As such, they need to become proficient in applying the concepts they’ve learned to real-world examples. This demonstrates that they truly understand the concept and are not simply regurgitating knowledge.
Start helping your child to connect with science early – even before they formally start the subject. As mentioned in the previous tip, seeing science and scientific principles “in action” makes the subject more relatable. If you have time, especially during the holidays, try out fun experiments that invite your child to develop process skills and apply scientific inquiry.
Building a Habit of Identifying Keywords
Even if students understand scientific concepts, tricky exam questions may result in them missing key details and falling into common conceptual traps.
This is a common challenge across various subjects. However, it especially applies to Science as exam questions are often long to provide accurate information for students to address in their answers.
Read through the questions thoroughly. Heed the proverb more haste, less speed. While the time pressure of an exam is something to be mindful of, how students complete the question is just as important.
Build a habit of underlining keywords in any given question. There are some obvious ones like “explain” or “compare”. Other keywords may be topic scientific terms that they were taught. Special attention should be paid to words such as “always”, “never”, “some”, “not” etc. as they may change the meaning of the question.
By looking out for keywords, students are also forced to read more carefully. Instead of jumping to conclusions after spotting familiar terms, they’ll focus on noting keywords to help them answer the question well instead.
Producing Scientific Answers
Students may be able to recite scientific concepts, but marks are only awarded for answers that use correct scientific keywords. For example, students who use their own words to explain that roots “drink” water won’t get the marks they seek. Instead, they should state that roots “absorb” water.
Students should learn the right science vocabulary as they study scientific topics. As they work through concept building, they should also note related nouns, verbs, and adjectives. For example, vocabulary for the concept of ‘reflection’ would include:
Verbs: bounce, strike
Adjectives: shiny, smooth
Connecting Scientific Concepts
In preparation for the PSLE, Primary 5 students will face more challenging questions that require them to be adept at piecing together the answers from different Science concepts.
For example, students learn about electromagnets in Primary 3. In Primary 5, they’d need to apply the principles of electromagnets under the context of electrical systems, a topic introduced in Primary 5. Many students struggle to connect the concepts and may only include one concept in their answers.
Building the right foundations and a keen interest in Science can help your child with connecting the dots. It also helps to have systems that reinforce your child’s understanding and retention of different concepts. As part of AGrader Learning Centre’s science enrichment programme, our students get access to revision materials through our proprietary EverLoop Improvement System where they can revisit critical concepts on their own time.
We’re committed to helping students connect with Science beyond the textbook at AGrader Learning Centre. Through building a strong grasp of core concepts and nurturing a passion and appreciation for the topics, students build foundations to better understand the world – whether it’s the natural world or systems that guide the technologies they use. Find out how our dedicated educators can support your child’s growth here.