Ideas for Teaching Science: Years 5-10


The Science Concepts: Years 5-10 materials (print, CD-ROM and website) provide explanations to key concepts that are taught as part of the Years 5 to 10 curriculum. The explanations are supported by activities that have been developed over many years’ experience with Deakin University science methods units, and have been used by students to plan activity sequences that explore and engage students’ conceptions in a range of topic areas.

The significant amount of research into students’ understanding of science has found a number of findings that include:

  • Students come into our classes with a range of prior ideas or conceptions of the physical world – they are not ’empty vessels’.
  • Many of these conceptions differ in important ways from the view of the world scientists have constructed.
  • Many of these ‘alternative (or ‘naïve’) conceptions’ are similar to views scientists held in previous eras.
  • Students from different countries and cultures have been found to have very similar prior ideas, so that there seems to be a common set of alternative conceptions that untutored life experience encourages.
  • Everyday language often supports these views of the world.
  • These conceptions in many cases form useful prior knowledge that a teacher can build on. In many cases, however, students’ alternative conceptions have proved surprisingly difficult to shift, and can offer a serious barrier to effective teaching.

These findings suggest teaching and learning strategies that need to focus on conceptual learning whereby the students’ conceptions are taken into consideration. The materials presented here provide lists of key concepts and related activities as well as lists of common alternative conceptions held by students. Teachers will therefore find this material a valuable resource when planning topic work.


The topics covered in these materials are: