Here is an situation given to pupils which involves micro-organisms, decay
They are asked to explain what is happening.
- What kind of explanations, language and words do you think pupils at various
levels would give which reflect their understanding or misconceptions?
- When you have done this, compare your thoughts with the actual pupil responses
- How would you explain what is happening to a colleague?
Alexander's mum finds some left over chicken in the fridge.
So, she makes chicken sandwiches for his packed lunch.
||It is a lovely warm summer's day, and when Alexander gets
to school he puts his lunch box on the window sill.
||At lunch time he picks up a sandwich, smells it, and says
"yuk! this chicken's gone off."
What do you think is going on inside the chicken to make it smelly and
no good to eat?
Actual Year 6 pupil responses (look at these after
completing Task 1)
- Most pupils seem to appreciate that food goes off as a result of microbial
- the majority of pupils (70%) said the chicken had bugs or germs in it, but
showed a lack of differentiation between types of micro-organisms
- just over half mentioned something or a substance in the chicken that goes
bad when warmed
- 40% indicated that the chicken had been contaminated by the (warm) temperature
- very few mentioned bacteria; a couple mentioned salmonella
- a quarter of them said the chicken had gone bad or was rotten
- 10% thought the chicken was ill or poisonous when alive
- a few attributed the contamination to the "ink" in the lunch box.
This was actually contrived to see if any pupils gave this response - and
they did. It demonstrates that pictures can introduce unnecessary confusion.
- two pupils said that the chicken had been deliberately poisoned in the shop
by animal rights activists. There had been recent media coverage of this issue
- one pupil suggested that the chicken had BSE
- "Germs lay in eggs in holes". (one pupil). Showing confusion
between microbes and animals.
- "The chicken went mouldy and gave off smelly methane gas."
- a diversity of organisms exists, and includes bacteria, fungi, plants
- a diversity of organisms is found in most habitats;
- the organisms, including humans, in an ecosystem interact with each
other and with the physical aspects of the environment;
- micro-organisms are widely distributed.
to support the teaching of KS1 and KS2 Programmes of Study, for example:
- locally occurring animals and plants can be identified and assigned
to groups using keys;
- animals and plants show adaptations to their environments;
- food chains describe feeding relationships and generally start
with green plants
- some micro-organisms are beneficial to humans while others are
Diversity of organisms
Ecosystems and habitats
Self assessment (1)