98% of teachers surveyed would recommend Explorify…that makes it worth a look!
Explorify is free to use, multi-award-winning digital resource linked to the four nations statutory science curricula and is intended for teachers to use with their primary school classes. You can visit it here: https://explorify.wellcome.ac.uk/ Teachers register to use Explorify providing their name, school name, role and email address. They select the UK curriculum they use and the age range of pupils they teach. Teachers also choose up to three science topics that they are teaching. Users can reset this information using the settings drop-down menu. In Scotland, since SSERC has been promoting Explorify through their bulletins, social media platforms, and live workshops, the increase of the resource across Scottish schools has increased by 40%.
The selection of science topics and pupil ages at registration ensures that activities presented to the user match the curriculum chosen and are relevant to the pupils' ages, comparing where appropriate the CfE experiences and outcomes. Activities promote high-level thinking, questioning and discussion, reasoning and explanation. All activities are presented in a similar format with simple instructions, background science, and ideas to further linked to further Explorify activities and activities provided by stakeholders. Activities can be saved to access quickly in future and marked as done to record notes.
Users can search for relevant activities using science keywords or select from drop-down menus covering science topics, pupils' year group and activity type. There are eight types of activities. Four of them are short and need no preparation beyond selecting them from the website. These help children explore what they know, notice details, observe patterns and changes, listen to each other's ideas and comments, and explain what they think or know. All answers are valid when children explain or justify their reasons.
The other four activities need more preparation or more time and can help children develop deeper thinking applied to science.
SSERC and Explorify
SSERC has, for many years, worked in partnership with Wellcome. When Wellcome began to develop its primary science campaign in late 2015, it was a fantastic opportunity for SSERC to develop this partnership further and provide input on the education landscape in Scotland. The campaign's focus is to reach and engage teachers across the UK who were ambivalent about science or didn't identify with it to achieve a higher quality of primary science teaching across the UK. Key performance indicators set at the beginning of the campaign were:
• reaching 50% of UK primary schools
• increasing teaching time, ideally to an average of two hours per week.
Through research and focus groups with teachers, it became clear that there a need for a digital product that engaged teachers with activities and supported them with the bits of science learning that got missed or were harder to include, and lead them towards professional development. Explorify was developed in 2016 and launched in 2017.
As Wellcome ends its work in UK science education in 2021, Explorify will be transitioned to a new host so that the science education sector can continue to benefit from this investment. Wellcome will ensure that Explorify is robust and has a long shelf life to enable a smooth transition. It is hoped that the new host will develop Explorify further, building upon the success of this product. SSERC is an Explorify champion and has, since 2017, delivered workshop sessions through the Primary Cluster Programme (PCP) to many schools and teachers.
SSERC, through funding from Wellcome, has recently developed and delivered two new SSERC_Meets (remote learning) directly related to the Explorify resource. These will be openly offered through our professional learning calendar in the academic year 2021 – 22. Please visit our website for more information: https://www.sserc.org.uk/professional-learning/primary-clpl/