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This curriculum policy replaces The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1–8: Science and Technology, 2007. Beginning in September 2022, all science and technology programs for Grades 1 to 8 will be based on the expectations outlined in this curriculum policy.

elementary

Science and Technology (2022)

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Scientific and Engineering Design Processes

In addition to developing knowledge related to specific concepts, the study of science and technology offers students varied opportunities to learn skills that are relevant to their everyday world. Strand A is focused on such skills, and refers to the following three processes:

  • scientific research process
  • scientific experimentation process
  • engineering design process

The skills associated with these processes include:

  • initiating and planning (e.g., asking questions, clarifying problems, planning procedures)
  • performing and recording (e.g., following procedures, accessing information, recording observations and findings)
  • analysing and interpreting (e.g., organizing data, reflecting on the effectiveness of actions performed, drawing conclusions)
  • communicating (e.g., using appropriate vocabulary, communicating findings in a variety of ways)

There are a variety of processes that are followed when investigating questions in a scientific manner. In scientific investigations, students engage in activities that allow them to develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas in much the same way that scientists do. Like scientists, students must develop skills in the two major processes of scientific investigations: research and experimentation. These two processes play an important role in the Grade 1 to 8 science and technology curriculum. Teachers should ensure that students engage often in these processes and consider ethical protocols when doing so, as they develop skills and knowledge in the other four strands of the curriculum.

When planning scientific investigations, teachers should also consider the impact that emerging technologies are having on scientific processes, and how scientific processes have led to innovations and new technologies. For example, ongoing advances in technology are changing how data is obtained, processed, stored, and visualized, as well as how scientific knowledge is shared; while scientific discoveries related to materials and their use are being applied to the development of new technologies. In this context, teachers can make important connections between technology and science, showing how they are interrelated. They can encourage students to use technologies to support their scientific investigations, and students can consider how their research and experimentation findings relate to potential new technologies.

Scientific Research Process

Scientific research includes both primary research, which is done through first-hand, direct observation of objects, living things, phenomena, and systems; and secondary research, which is done by reviewing the work and the findings of others. Research is a starting point for investigations, and it can also play a role during or after an experiment to support or build upon findings and observations.

Research does not always follow a linear path. New information or findings may lead students to refine their research question(s) or change the course of the intended research. This should not be a source of concern, as there are times when research proceeds in this manner, with new findings impacting the researcher and the research process itself.

The most appropriate entry points into a scientific research process, and the most appropriate components of the process to be focused on, may depend on student readiness. Prior experience and knowledge, as well as access to resources, the context of the learning, and the amount of time available, may also be factors. For these reasons, educators may need to provide multiple entry points to engage all students in the learning.

Considering the vast and ever-increasing number of sources of information available today, students need to be aware of how to find and identify appropriate information during research. Critical-thinking skills are essential to assess the information gathered, in part by considering the biases, interests, and motivation of the authors, as well as the trustworthiness of the source or publisher. Students should also carefully consider how scientific knowledge is shared, whether in formal, peer-reviewed contexts or through less formal channels such as social media.

The following diagram summarizes the scientific research process and shows how its components relate to the skills of initiating and planning; performing and recording; analysing and interpreting; and communicating.

This circular diagram represents the scientific research process and its associated skills and components. It contains an outer circle and an inner circle. 
Going clockwise, the outer circle lists the associated skills of Initiating and Planning, Performing and Recording, Analysing and Interpreting, and Communicating. These four skill areas are connected to each other with arrows, suggesting that students might progress from one area to the next in a linear way, but as part of the research process, students may have to revisit prior stages. 
The inner circle includes components of the associated skills in the context of scientific research. For Initiating and Planning, the two components are 1) Define the research question, and 2) Identify and select resources. For Performing and Recording, the component is Identify and record information. For Analysing and Interpreting, the component is Analyse information and summarize findings. For Communicating, the component is Communicate results.

The components of a research process are described in more detail below. Students may not engage in all of these components in all grades, and the process will not always be linear. These components are meant as a general guide to the process.


Initiating and Planning

Define the research question

  • develop several specific and concise research questions
  • select an appropriate research question for investigation
  • identify prior knowledge and experiences related to the research question
  • identify key words
  • develop a work plan
  • consider resources available


Identify and select resources

  • identify various resources to consult
  • consult the selected resources, using various research tools and/or by visiting a library, museum, or other facility
  • consider bias in the resources
  • select relevant and appropriate resources


Performing and Recording

Identify and record information

  • classify resources by subtopics
  • identify important data from the selected resources
  • identify important information, and record it in the form of notes, graphics, or illustrations or using audio and video formats
  • keep track of references for all resources


Analysing and Interpreting

Analyse information and summarize findings

  • look for missing or conflicting ideas
  • rank the information according to its relevance
  • eliminate unnecessary data
  • consider bias in the data or on the part of the researcher
  • check whether the data answers the research question
  • answer the research question and write a summary


Communicating

Communicate results

  • choose a form or medium for communication that is appropriate for the intended audience
  • choose the information to share, and develop a draft presentation or publication, using appropriate vocabulary
  • consider cultural, ethical, and other implications related to the communication of the work
  • review the draft, considering the audience’s perspective, and edit as required
  • present or publish the work


Scientific Experimentation Process

Experimentation involves performing various steps to test and validate or reject a hypothesis, as well as manipulating different variables in order to observe the results. It involves experiential, hands-on learning that engages and empowers students as they develop their investigation skills.

A process of experimentation is often iterative and may involve conducting fair tests to determine the effects of changing one factor in an experimental set-up. In a fair test, the student identifies variables that may affect the results of the experiment; selects one variable to be altered (tested) while keeping other variables constant; measures all trials in the same way; and repeats tests to determine the validity of the results. As part of their experimentation, students are encouraged to consider the concept of fair tests, and whether or not complete objectivity and the absence of bias is possible in science investigations.

As with the scientific research process described above, the most appropriate entry points into a scientific experimentation process, and the most appropriate components of the process to be focused on, may depend on student readiness. Prior experience and knowledge, as well as access to tools and equipment, the context of the learning, and the amount of time available, may also be factors. Educators may therefore need to provide multiple entry points to engage all students in the learning. In any given classroom, students may demonstrate a wide range of strengths and needs. It is important that experiments are attuned to this diversity and include an integrated process that responds to the unique strengths and needs of each student.

It is important to have students conduct experiments in all strands, so that students can gain experience doing different types of experiments in different contexts. This also ensures that students are provided with hands-on, experiential, and exciting ways to uncover a broad range of science concepts. The experiments can be small or large, guided by the teacher or student-led. They can be designed to consolidate existing skills and knowledge or to introduce new skills and develop new knowledge. 

Students should be encouraged to follow established experimental and health and safety procedures. They should also be guided to eventually develop their own experimental procedures, keeping health and safety in mind.

The following diagram summarizes the scientific experimentation process and shows how its components relate to the skills of initiating and planning; performing and recording; analysing and interpreting; and communicating.

This diagram represents the scientific experimentation process and its associated skills and components. It contains an outer circle and an inner circle. 
Going clockwise, the outer circle includes the associated skills of Initiating and Planning, Performing and Recording, Analysing and Interpreting, and Communicating. These four skill areas are connected to each other with arrows, suggesting that students might progress from one are to the next in a linear way, but as part of the scientific experimentation process, students may have to revisit prior stages. 
The inner circle includes components of the associated skills in the context of scientific experimentation. For Initiating and Planning, the two components are 1) Define a problem and its context, and 2) Design the experiment. For Performing and Recording, the two components are 1) Conduct the experiment, and 2) Record data. For Analysing and Interpreting, the component is Analyse and summarize the data. For Communicating, the component is Communicate results.

Components of this experimentation process are described in more detail below. Students may not engage in all of these components in all grades, and the process will not always be linear. These components are meant as a general guide to the process.


Initiating and Planning

Define a problem and its context

  • identify and review resources related to an area of investigation
  • consider questions related to the area of investigation
  • define a specific problem, and identify what is to be investigated
  • formulate a hypothesis or consider expected results


Design the experiment

  • clearly define the steps of the experiment
  • identify the materials, equipment, and health and safety precautions needed
  • consider the variables that will remain constant and those that will be changed
  • identify the data to be collected


Performing and Recording

Conduct the experiment

  • carry out the experiment, paying close attention to the designed steps
  • follow all procedures and processes related to health and safety and environmental sustainability


Record data

  • consider the potential type of data to be obtained
  • consider how to best record, organize, and represent the data
  • record clear and precise data


Analysing and Interpreting

Analyse and summarize the data

  • perform any required calculations
  • represent the data, using appropriate forms
  • explain the result obtained based on the data
  • review the identified resources, considering the results from the experiment
  • develop a clear and concise conclusion based on a summary of the data
  • consider sources of error and how to minimize these sources of error in future experiments


Communicating

Communicate results

  • choose a form or medium for communication that is appropriate for the intended audience
  • choose the information to share, and develop a draft presentation or publication, using appropriate vocabulary
  • review the draft, considering the audience’s perspective, and edit as required
  • present or publish the work

An engineering design process (EDP) provides a framework for students and teachers as they plan and build solutions to problems or develop ways to address needs that connect to the curriculum and the world around them. An EDP recognizes that twenty-first-century science and technology problems can be complex and sometimes ambiguous, and provides appropriate, purposeful stages to navigate these challenges.

Like the two scientific processes described above, an EDP is an iterative process that may involve students revisiting a prior stage as they acquire new information about the problem being investigated, or as they acquire a better understanding of the person or people for whom they are designing a solution. Students may even restart, or repeat, the entire process when one approach proves unsuccessful. This should be seen as an important and necessary part of learning and design in science and technology.

Since students will be seeking solutions to problems that will impact others, ethical considerations as well as the perspectives and needs of a variety of individuals and communities should be considered throughout the process. Students can conduct interviews with end-users, or they can research individuals or communities that may be affected by potential solutions. Their approach should be empathetic, and students should consider various perspectives, as well as factors such as usability and environmental sustainability, throughout the process.

The EDP described below involves students initiating and planning solutions, performing tests and recording data, analysing and interpreting results, and communicating those results using appropriate vocabulary and forms for a variety of purposes. The end product of the EDP might not be a tangible object; it might instead be a computer simulation or a model, or even a new scientific or technological process or system.

As with scientific processes, there is no single EDP, but rather a range of engineering practices that are followed when designing solutions or developing projects. Students and teachers may find the need to emphasize specific aspects of the EDP provided, or to make substitutions with components of processes that they may find elsewhere. Students and teachers may even find other EDPs that they may want to work with, and a comparison of various processes may prove beneficial for students and teachers.

Appropriate entry points into the EDP and the specific components of the process that are focused on may depend on student readiness. Prior experience and knowledge, as well as access to resources, the context of the learning, and the amount of time available, may also be factors; therefore, educators may need to provide multiple entry points to engage all students in the learning.

The EDP provided here allows students to engage with important scientific and technological concepts and skills within curriculum expectations as they develop the transferable skills and cross-curricular concepts that embody STEM education. 

The following diagram summarizes the EDP and shows how its components relate to the skills of initiating and planning; performing and recording; analysing and interpreting; and communicating.

This circular diagram represents the engineering design process and its associated skills and components. It contains an outer circle and an inner circle. 
Going clockwise, the outer circle includes the associated skills of Initiating and Planning, Performing and Recording, Analysing and Interpreting, and Communicating. These four skill areas are connected to each other with arrows, suggesting that students might progress from one area to the next in a linear way, but students have to revisit prior stages. The inner circle includes components of the associated skills in the context of engineering design. For Initiating and Planning, the two components are 1) Research and understand a problem, and 2) Ideate and generate potential solutions. For Performing and Recording, the two components are 1) Select an option and develop a prototype, and 2) Test the prototype. For Analysing and Interpreting, the component is Evaluate and revise the prototype. For Communicating, the component is Communicate the solution.

Components of this EDP are described in more detail below. Students may not engage in all of these components in all grades, and the process will not always be linear. These components are meant as a general guide to the process.

Initiating and Planning

Research and understand a problem

  • identify and review resources related to a problem
  • identify the users affected by the problem
  • conduct interviews with those affected by the problem
  • listen closely to those affected by the problem and use empathy to understand their experiences, perspectives, and concerns
  • review related problems and solutions to these problems
  • identify issues related to sustainability and to health and safety


Ideate and generate potential solutions

  • brainstorm several ideas and potential solutions
  • review potential solutions, considering related research, problems, and solutions
  • develop specific success criteria and constraints, and evaluate potential solutions based on these criteria and constraints
  • consider the end-users and those impacted by potential solutions, taking into consideration their experiences, perspectives, and concerns
  • consider applying related and existing solutions (or some aspects of them) to the identified problem
  • consider developing new solutions that are different from existing solutions
  • refine or combine potential solutions


Performing and Recording

Select an option and develop a prototype

  • select the most appropriate solution, based on established criteria
  • plan the design of the solution, considering the required stages as well as available materials, equipment, and time
  • consider the economic, environmental, ethical, and health and safety concerns related to the potential design
  • consider the key components of the design, and ensure that they can be effectively produced
  • construct a prototype of the design


Test the prototype

  • develop tests to evaluate the solution
  • conduct tests in a variety of contexts, including in controlled and in real-world environments and with various potential users
  • record observations and data
  • obtain feedback on the prototype from others, including teachers, classmates, friends, family members, and/or community members


Analysing and Interpreting

Evaluate and revise the prototype

  • analyse results from testing to determine what changes should be made to the prototype to enhance the end-user experience
  • considering the results of testing, review initial resources, existing knowledge, and other brainstormed ideas to improve upon the design
  • consider additional components, materials, equipment, or time needed
  • refine the prototype to develop a finished product


Communicating

Communicate the solution

  • choose a form or medium for communication that is appropriate for the intended audience
  • identify the important information and components of the solution or project to share, and develop a draft or plan for the presentation or demonstration, using appropriate vocabulary
  • consider issues that might arise during the presentation or demonstration, and minimize their risk
  • review drafts and plans, considering the audience’s perspective, and make changes as required
  • present or finalize the design or solution