Forces and Magnets Year 3: Mapping Prior Knowledge

Teaching Forces and Magnets Year 3? In this blog post, we explore how pupils’ pre-existing knowledge can help them better understand the unit. In part 2, we’ll organise new knowledge and look at ways to embed learning. Finally, we’ll discuss strategies to teach the necessary scientific vocabulary. For more information about the resources mentioned in the article, click here.

According to David Ausubel, The most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows.

The more you already know about a topic, the easier it is to learn something new about it. Prior knowledge from within and outside of science can help pupils understand Forces and Magnets Year 3 better. In particular, we will look at four types of pre-existing knowledge that can be used to develop understanding.

  1. Subject-specific
  2. Cross-curricular
  3. Cultural and social experiences
  4. Misconceptions

Subject-specific Prior Knowledge

Pupils in key stage 1 are familiar with everyday materials and can group them based on simple physical properties. They used this knowledge to suggest suitable uses of everyday materials. earlier in Key stage 2, they moved from everyday materials to an exploration of the physical properties, classification and uses of rocks. They build on foundational knowledge in Rocks, Year 3 and then Forces and magnets Year 3, by looking at how interactions with forces can change the physical properties of materials and their uses.

Infographic overview of subject specific knowledge for Forces and Magnets Year 3

2. Cross-Curricular Prior Knowledge

As well as subject-specific knowledge, we can find relevant prior knowledge in other subjects, too. For instance, in the design and make aspects of Design Technology. Pupils at Key Stages 1 and 2 are expected to make purposeful and functional products, using materials selected for their properties. They also look at how they can change the properties of materials, for example, to make them stronger or more durable. In geography, simple compasses are part of geographical skills and fieldwork.

3. Using personal And Cultural experiences

Utilising children’s broader personal and cultural experiences is useful vehicle for contextualising subject matter. This is what we refer to as Hinterland knowledge. Here are a few examples in this unit:

The booklet begins with a reference to the Berlin wall and includes a range of natural disasters. These major events are intended to help pupils understand that we cannot see forces but we can see their effects. Another example used is Maglev trains, which help pupils understand that non-contact forces can also bring have an effect on objects, including through repulsion.

4. Addressing Misconceptions In Forces and Magnets  Year 3

Misunderstandings, cultural beliefs, or even previous teaching can create misconceptions. It’s important to prepare for this by being aware of this inaccurate or incomplete pre-existing knowledge. So that we can identify and address them as early as possible. If we don’t, pupils build incorrect schema and can’t correctly apply what they’ve learned to new experiences. For example, pupils might think that all metals are magnetic or that we can see forces, such as friction, rather than the effects of forces.

As educators, it’s important to identify and address these misconceptions as early as possible. If we don’t, pupils build incorrect schema and can’t correctly apply what they’ve learned to new experiences.

Key Takeaways

Teaching science to children can be made easier by using pre-existing knowledge to deepen their understanding of the topic. By making connections with other subjects, using personal and cultural experiences, and addressing misconceptions in pre-existing knowledge, we can help children build a strong foundation of knowledge that they can apply to Forces and Magnets Year 3.

Action Points for Improving Understanding in Forces and Magnets Year 3

Use these tips to enhance your teaching and make learning a more enriching experience for your students.