Year 4 Science
Pupils in Year 4 should be given a range of scientific experiences to enable them
to raise their own questions about the world around them.
They should start to make their own decisions about the most appropriate type of scientific enquiry they might use to answer questions; recognise when a simple fair test is necessary and help to decide how to set it up; talk about criteria for grouping, sorting and classifying; and use simple keys.
They should begin to look for naturally occurring patterns and relationships and
decide what data to collect to identify them.
They should help to make decisions about what observations to make, how long to make them for and the type of simple equipment that might be used.
They should learn how to use new equipment, such as data loggers, appropriately.
They should collect data from their own observations and measurements, using notes, simple tables and standard units, and help to make decisions about how to record and analyse this data.
With help, pupils should look for changes, patterns, similarities and differences
in their data in order to draw simple conclusions and answer questions.
With support, they should identify new questions arising from the data, making predictions for new values within or beyond the data they have collected and finding ways of improving what they have already done.
They should also recognise when and how secondary sources might help them to answer questions that cannot be answered through practical investigations.
Pupils should use relevant scientific language to discuss their ideas and communicate their findings in ways that are appropriate for different audiences.
These opportunities for working scientifically should be provided across years 3 and 4 so
that the expectations in the programme of study can be met by the end of year 4.
Pupils are not expected to cover each aspect for every area of study
Living things and their habitats
Pupils should use the local environment throughout the year to raise and answer
questions that help them to identify and study plants and animals in their habitat.
They should identify how the habitat changes throughout the year.
Pupils should explore possible ways of grouping a wide selection of living things that include animals and flowering plants and non-flowering plants.
Pupils could begin to put vertebrate animals into groups such as fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals; and invertebrates into snails and slugs, worms, spiders, and insects.
Note: Plants can be grouped into categories such as flowering plants (including
grasses) and non-flowering plants, such as ferns and mosses.
Pupils should explore examples of human impact (both positive and negative) on
environments, for example, the positive effects of nature reserves, ecologically planned
parks, or garden ponds, and the negative effects of population and development, litter or
Pupils might work scientifically by: using and making simple guides or keys to explore
and identify local plants and animals; making a guide to local living things; raising and
answering questions based on their observations of animals and what they have found
out about other animals that they have researched.
Animals, including humans
Pupils should be introduced to the main body parts associated with the digestive system,
for example, mouth, tongue, teeth, oesophagus, stomach and small and large intestine
and explore questions that help them to understand their special functions.
Pupils might work scientifically by: comparing the teeth of carnivores and herbivores,
and suggesting reasons for differences; finding out what damages teeth and how to look
after them. They might draw and discuss their ideas about the digestive system and
compare them with models or images.
States of matter
Pupils should explore a variety of everyday materials and develop simple descriptions of
the states of matter (solids hold their shape; liquids form a pool not a pile; gases escape
from an unsealed container).
Pupils should observe water as a solid, a liquid and a gas
and should note the changes to water when it is heated or cooled.
Note: Teachers should avoid using materials where heating is associated with chemical
change, for example, through baking or burning.
Pupils might work scientifically by: grouping and classifying a variety of different
materials; exploring the effect of temperature on substances such as chocolate, butter,
cream (for example, to make food such as chocolate crispy cakes and ice-cream for a
They could research the temperature at which materials change state, for
example, when iron melts or when oxygen condenses into a liquid.
They might observe and record evaporation over a period of time, for example, a puddle in the playground or washing on a line, and investigate the effect of temperature on washing drying or snowmen melting.
Pupils should explore and identify the way sound is made through vibration in a range of
different musical instruments from around the world; and find out how the pitch and
volume of sounds can be changed in a variety of ways.
Pupils might work scientifically by: finding patterns in the sounds that are made by
different objects such as saucepan lids of different sizes or elastic bands of different
thicknesses. They might make earmuffs from a variety of different materials to
investigate which provides the best insulation against sound.
They could make and play their own instruments by using what they have found out about pitch and volume
Pupils should construct simple series circuits, trying different components, for example,
bulbs, buzzers and motors, and including switches, and use their circuits to create
Pupils should draw the circuit as a pictorial representation, not
necessarily using conventional circuit symbols at this stage; these will be introduced in
Note: Pupils might use the terms current and voltage, but these should not be
introduced or defined formally at this stage.
Pupils should be taught about precautions for working safely with electricity.
Pupils might work scientifically by: observing patterns, for example, that bulbs get
brighter if more cells are added, that metals tend to be conductors of electricity, and that some materials can and some cannot be used to connect across a gap in a circuit.