6 ways to teach Science creatively 

A selection of resources for teachers looking to emphasise creative skills and thinking in science

1 March 2022

With a focus on subject knowledge and data recording, it can sometimes be easy to forget how creative Science is as a subject. The very nature of finding solutions to a problem, and coming up with explanations is creative, the process of gathering information and curiosity is creativity in action, and all our historical scientific innovations across history wouldn’t have happened without creative thinking.

To mark British Science Week, we have highlighted some teaching resources that focus on the creative side of science, so you can re-kindle your students’ joy of being imaginative and inquisitive scientists.

1. Dreamachine resources

Developed in partnership with UNICEF UK and British Science Association, A New Direction have created a range of classroom resources for Dreamachine for ages 5 – 13. They fuse science with arts to explore the power of the human mind and brain and the big questions of perception and consciousness – our sense of self, how we see the world and how we connect with others.

The sets Power of the Brain and Perception and Illusion are CREST accredited, linking to science curricula across the four nations. They include investigations into our senses, how we learn, our experience of colour, optical illusions and senses of perspective and even why we spot faces in random objects!

Find out more about our work on them here, and download the resources on the Dreamachine schools site here. You can find out more from the schools programme here, including free teacher CPD and a national take part opportunity.

Commissioned as part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, Dreamachine is a unique immersive experience created by Collective Act in collaboration with Turner Prize-winning artists Assemble, Grammy- and Mercury-nominated composer Jon Hopkins, leading technologists, and a team of pioneering scientists and philosophers from the University of Glasgow and the University of Sussex.

2. British Science Week resources

One of the best ways to take part in British Science Week (BSW) 11th – 20th March 2022 - is by downloading this year’s activity packs from the British Science Association, including an optical illusion activity from Dreamachine created by A New Direction in the Primary and Secondary packs. The activities are designed to be student-led, fun, easy to engage with and they all foreground creativity and critical thinking. This year’s theme is Growth, and there is even a poster competition to enter too.

STEM Learning has collated a range of guides that will help with generating ideas for British Science Week events, with guidance to help you get started and run an event.

Hands on Science have a range of workshops across Key Stages linking to this year’s BSW theme including CSI Biometrics, a rocket challenge, and building a roller coaster. Their STEM experience days are delivered across the UK, with live online workshops available to book too.

Although ideally learning and events would take place during BSW in March – there is nothing to stop you organising your own school science week later in the academic year, if this one has already managed to pass you by!

3. Braintastic! Science

Braintastic! Science creates spectacular live science shows for schools, with bookable shows and workshops for KS1 – 4, from hands-on activities for smaller groups to headline stage shows packed with wow moments and interactive demos. They often work out cheaper than a school field trip and are far less hassle to arrange!

Check out their Curiosity Corner videos for some answers about the brain – and even submit your own questions to be answered. And just in case the Dreamachine resources weren’t enough for you, they have some free resources about optical illusions and memory!

4. Science Museum resources

London’s Science Museum has free online resources such as Bottle Top Shapes for KS1, Bubble Geometry for KS2, and Wreck Your Tech for KS3. If you fancy a trip to the museum itself, they have suggested self-guided itineraries.

To fuel your student’s curiosity, their Wonderlab+ YouTube channelanswers questions such as ‘What is lightning made of?’ and ‘How do giant bubbles work?’. Why not try a simple starter or lesson brain break by posing the question and seeing what answers they come up with, before revealing the solution in the short video?

5. Teaching for Creativity

Bring nature into the classroom & change your students' perception of the natural world with our Teaching for Creativity Resource, Nature Inspired Design. With links to Design Technology, this KS3 resource can be adapted for younger or older students, and particularly focuses on the creative habit of being ‘collaborative’.

Our Teaching for Creativity framework is a great place to start when trying to plan out what creative elements you want your science lessons to cover, and most science investigations are probably already using the skills. For example, when coming up with a hypothesis and presenting results and conclusions, your students will be using their imagination – they will have made connections and played with possibilities. If your Science lessons are experiment led, then your students will be being inquisitive by exploring, investigating, wondering and questioning.

For more easy ways to practice these Creative Habits of Mind, check out our Taster Cards – with sets for Primary, Secondary, SEND settings, and an EYFS set coming soon. You could use the ‘See, Think, Wonder’, ‘Step Inside the Climate Crisis’ or ‘Predicting with Pictures’ cards but swap in an image relevant to your Science topic as a starter. ‘Wonder by Numbers’ is a great way to kick off an investigation and get children generating questions, while ‘Four Corners’ and ‘Connection Maps’ are both a great way to get your students discussing ideas and solutions to problems.

6. Other resources and ideas

Set up a school club encouraging girls to take part in STEM with STEMettes. Check out these STEAM resources from Encounter Edu. – including plastics and the ocean, making a plastic snack box and designing a coral reef. You can find more resources like these on our LookUp directory.