What Science Is Taught In Year Five?

Written by Dan

Year five science in the UK is a pivotal time in a child’s educational journey where key scientific principles and theories begin to take centre stage.

At this level, children are introduced to more complex concepts that build upon their earlier learning. They explore a wide range of topics, which include a deeper understanding of living organisms, the intricacies of forces and magnets, and the fundamental properties and changes of materials.

Pupils are also encouraged to look beyond our planet as they embark on a journey to comprehend the basics of Earth and space.

Related: For more, check out our article on The 10 Best Science Games Online

What Science Is Taught In Year Five?

In addition to acquiring knowledge in these specific areas, year five pupils are taught to apply the principles of working scientifically.

This includes developing a methodical approach to experiments, learning to ask pertinent questions, and interpreting data. It’s an approach designed to solidify their understanding of science by involving them actively in the learning process.

Key Takeaways

  • Year five science curriculum strengthens a child’s understanding of the natural world and beyond.
  • Pupils engage with more advanced scientific concepts and develop critical thinking skills.
  • Active participation in scientific methods is fundamental to year five learning.

Related: For more, check out our article on What Science Is Taught In Year Four?

Understanding Living Things

Year Five science curriculum in the UK places a strong emphasis on students gaining a solid understanding of living things, encompassing diverse aspects such as the basic life processes, growth, and reproduction.

They explore characteristic features and classifications of animals and plants, including humans, and delve into the fascinating details of life cycles.

Life Processes and Living Things

All living things share certain processes that are fundamental to life. These include the ability to reproduce, grow, respond to their environment, and undergo nutritional, respiratory, excretory, and circulatory activities.

  • Animals and Plants: Students learn the distinctive hallmarks of animals and plants, noting that while both groups undergo similar life processes, they exhibit distinct structures and functions.
  • Humans: The human life process is studied with a focus on how our bodies perform functions necessary for survival, such as breathing, digestion, and circulation.
  • Classification: Pupils examine ways to categorise life forms into groups such as mammals, amphibians, insects, and birds. Classification helps in understanding the diversity of life and the relationships between different organisms.

Reproduction and Growth

Within Year Five, the concepts of reproduction and growth are key elements in understanding living things.

  • Life Cycles: Exploring the life cycles of different organisms, students learn about stages from birth to maturity. They discover that while there is variation across species, all life cycles share certain stages such as birth, growth, reproduction, and death.
    • Mammals: Typically undergo sexual reproduction and give live birth.
    • Amphibians: Involve stages like egg, tadpole, and adult frog, illustrating both aquatic and terrestrial adaptations.
    • Insects: Often exhibit metamorphosis, dramatically changing from a larval stage to an adult form.
  • Reproduction: Types of reproduction are studied, with a distinction made between:
    • Sexual reproduction: Involving two parents and the mixing of genetic material to produce offspring.
    • Asexual reproduction: One parent produces a genetic copy without the need for a mate, as seen in some plants and microorganisms.
  • Growth and Development: The growth phase of an organism is also scrutinised, highlighting the changes in size, complexity, and function as it progresses towards adulthood.

This curriculum component aims to lay a firm foundation of biological knowledge, and the BBC Bitesize resources are particularly useful for further exploration by both pupils and educators.

Related: For more, check out our article on What Science Is Taught In Year Three?

Exploring Forces and Magnets

A magnet attracts a group of iron filings, forming a cluster around it. A force meter measures the strength of the attraction

In Year Five, students delve into the intriguing world of physics through the exploration of forces and magnets. They investigate how these elements interact, affect movement, and contribute to the function of simple machines.

Forces in Action

Students begin by studying various forces that influence everyday life. They learn that gravity is a force attracting objects towards Earth, responsible for giving weight to physical objects.

Friction is introduced as the force that opposes the motion of objects sliding against each other, playing a crucial role in controlling speed and stopping movement.

Through experiments, pupils see firsthand how air resistance and water resistance affect how objects move through these mediums.

Examination of levers, pulleys, and gears reveals how these tools, utilising simple machines, reduce effort or change the direction of forces, allowing heavier loads to be lifted with less force.

Such mechanical devices exemplify how forces can be harnessed in practical applications.

The Power of Magnets

In the exploration of magnetism, pupils learn that magnets have two poles: north and south. They discover that opposite poles attract while like poles repel each other and that a magnet can induce magnetism in some metals, such as iron.

Educational resources, like the STEM collection on magnetism, provide a variety of lesson plans and activities to enrich their understanding.

Experiments with magnets in the classroom reveal how they can influence movement without direct contact, illustrating an invisible force at a distance.

Students are shown how magnetic forces can pass through different materials, how magnetic fields are formed, and how they can be utilised in real-world applications such as compasses for navigation.

Related: For more, check out our article on What Science Is Taught In Year Two?

Investigating Properties and Changes of Materials

In Year Five science curriculum, pupils are exposed to a detailed study of materials and their characteristics, as well as how these materials can change under various conditions.

This exploration provides the foundation for understanding the practical applications and scientific considerations behind the use of different materials in everyday life.

Properties of Materials

When investigating the properties of materials, students learn to identify and compare the physical traits of various substances. They look at hardness, gauging how resistant a material is to indentation or scratching.

The concept of solubility is explored, helping students understand which materials dissolve in solvents like water. Another focus is on transparency, determining how much light can pass through a material, making it transparent, translucent, or opaque.

Additionally, conductivity is a key property, where children learn which materials can conduct heat or electricity, and which are insulators.

Mixtures and Solutions

The topic of mixtures and solutions delves into how substances interact when combined. Pupils carry out practical work to learn about filtering and sieving as methods of separating undissolved solid materials from a liquid.

They also look at how evaporating the solvent from a solution can leave behind dissolved solids.

This hands-on learning provides pupils with an understanding of the processes that are involved in forming mixtures and solutions and the methods by which they can be separated or combined.

Reversible and Irreversible Changes

The distinction between reversible and irreversible changes is critical. Pupils learn that reversible changes, such as melting and freezing, can be undone and the material can return to its original state.

In contrast, irreversible changes involve chemical changes where new materials are formed, and the original material cannot be easily restored to its former state.

The concept extends to understanding that burning and the rusting of materials are examples of irreversible chemical changes.

The teaching often includes safe, controlled experiments to demonstrate these changes, reinforcing the observation of properties such as whether a material is transparent or magnetic, before and after a change has taken place.

Related: For more, check out our article on What Science Is Taught In Year One?

Earth and Space Exploration

Year Five’s curriculum unveils the intriguing subjects of Earth’s position in the vast cosmos and the governing patterns of celestial movement.

Pupils are engaged in an illuminating journey through the workings of our Solar System and how these grand mechanics influence life on Earth.

Our Place in Space

Understanding our planet’s role in the Solar System is instrumental in Year Five science. Earth is introduced as the third planet orbiting the Sun, nestling within a larger family of eight planets.

The concept of the Solar System includes not only planets but also moons, including Earth’s Moon, comets, asteroids, and the Sun itself. Children get to grips with the scale of space and how Earth relates to other planets and celestial bodies.

  • The Sun: Central to the Solar System and Earth’s existence
  • Planets: Ranging from Mercury to Neptune, each with unique characteristics
  • The Moon: Earth’s natural satellite, influencing tides and nightly illumination

Materials such as the BBC Bitesize resource offer engaging content to help solidify these concepts for young learners.

Patterns of Movement

The curriculum explores the dynamic patterns of movement within the Solar System, especially focusing on the rotation of Earth and its orbit around the Sun, which are crucial to the cycle of day and night.

This rotation is presented in parallel with the orbit of the Moon around Earth, providing a clear demonstration of the consistent, predictable patterns that govern our experience of time.

  • Rotation: Earth’s spin on its axis; causes day and night
  • Orbit: The path Earth follows around the Sun; leads to seasons

Educational resources like those provided by STEM Learning assist teachers in illustrating these movements with practical activities.

Through constructing models and participating in demonstrations, students come to understand how these movements impact their daily lives and the natural world.

Principles of Working Scientifically

A group of students conducting experiments with various scientific instruments and recording their observations in a lab notebook

In Year 5, pupils expand their understanding of scientific concepts by developing a methodical approach to enquiry. They learn to approach problems with precision and confidently apply scientific methods to experiments.

Developing Scientific Skills

Year 5 students are encouraged to refine their scientific skills. This involves making accurate measurements using a range of scientific equipment, ensuring precision to bolster trust in results.

They learn to use classification keys to group, identify and name a variety of living things and materials. Pupils also start to represent data using tables, line graphs, and scatter graphs, developing their ability to interpret and analyse information.

Developing scientific language is fundamental: they must be able to articulate their methods and findings clearly.

Conducting Investigations

Central to Year 5 is the engagement in fair tests, where they learn to control variables to create reliable test results and determine causal relationships.

Pupils formulate scientific questions and devise methods to answer them, learning that scientific enquiries can be informed by their own predictions and existing scientific knowledge.

They become accustomed to discussing how scientific evidence collected during the investigations can support or refute their predictions or conclusions.

Pupils are taught to use scientific diagrams and equipment effectively, fostering habits that underpin a deeper understanding of scientific activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

A classroom with science posters, lab equipment, and students engaged in hands-on experiments

The Year 5 science curriculum is diverse, aiming to immerse students in a range of scientific topics and experiments. Below are answers to commonly asked questions about the content and structure of science education for Year 5 pupils.

Which topics are covered in the Year 5 science curriculum?

In Year 5, the curriculum includes a spectrum of topics such as forces and motion, properties of materials, life cycles of living organisms, Earth and space, and basic physical processes.

How is the science curriculum structured for Key Stage 2, particularly for Year 5 pupils?

The curriculum for Key Stage 2 is designed to build on the foundational knowledge acquired in earlier years. For Year 5 pupils, the curriculum is more focused, with clearly outlined programmes of study that deepen their scientific understanding.

What sort of scientific experiments and practical work are included in Year 5 lessons?

Year 5 lessons often involve practical work where students are encouraged to conduct experiments, such as setting up fair tests, making predictions, observing changes, and recording results to understand scientific concepts.

Are there specific learning objectives for Year 5 students in the science subject?

Yes, there are specific learning objectives which include developing a better understanding of scientific processes, learning how to plan and conduct investigations, and interpreting data to draw conclusions.

Can you outline the main areas of focus in physical, life, and earth sciences for Year 5?

In physical science, Year 5 students explore energy, forces, and space. Life science covers human biology and plant life cycles. Earth science focuses on topics like the solar system and the impact of human activity on the environment.

What resources, such as worksheets and textbooks, are typically used in teaching Year 5 science?

Resources for Year 5 science include a variety of worksheets for practical activities, textbooks that align with the national curriculum, and interactive resources found on platforms like BBC Bitesize to enhance learning engagement.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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