ABSTRACT

Recent research suggests that children in their last year of primary school are not enjoying science lessons as much as they did a decade ago (Ruddock et al. 2004). This is a sad indictment of a science curriculum at upper primary level driven by external assessment - Key Stage 2 Statutory Attainment Tests (SATS) were introduced in 1996. If children are not enjoying science they are much less likely to engage with it as an area of study and reach that totally absorbed state Csikszentmihalyi (2002) refers to as 'being in the flow'; a key characteristic of creativity. So to re-energise children's creativity in scientific learning, we as teachers need to inspire them with some creativity of our own. Physical processes - forces, electricity, sound, light and space - despite being associated with our 'fear of physics', offer us the opportunity of putting some of the 'Wow! factor' back into our teaching. The seemingly magical behaviour of magnets and light, the spectacular flight of 'stomp rockets' and the harmonious movement of the celestial spheres can all be harnessed to promote more exciting and engaging lessons. This chapter sets out to suggest a few ways of bringing familiar elements together in unfamiliar ways to stimulate children's creativity in their developing understanding of physical processes. Einstein's own work on the Special Theory of Relativity, celebrating its hundredth birthday in 200S, demonstrates this exquisitely. Faced with the conundrum that the speed of light is the same wherever it is measured - on a speeding train or standing 'still' - Einstein postulated that it is actually time and space (previously regarded as separate and immutable

qualities of the universe) that are really part of the same essence and must change, depending on where you look at them from (your 'frame of reference'). Whilst as teachers of science we may not always demonstrate such exceptional creativity, we need to remember that teaching is one of the 'creative professions' (Howe et al. 2001), and that to teach for creativity we need firstly to teach creatively (NACCCE 1999). The first two-thirds of this chapter focuses on teaching for children's creativity, whilst the final section considers how we might teach physical processes creatively.