Integrating Theory and Practice in Primary Science

Science Education

My view of science tends to be a typical Western one, where previous scientific knowledge is used to build new scientific knowledge. In addition to the component of observation, research is used to determine a theoretical background before new scientific knowledge is built upon this basis.

When considering the indigenous perspective, one interesting thing to take into account is that this perspective does not necessarily need to clash with the Western one. Instead, the two approaches can complement each other, as pointed out by the Queensland Studies Authority (2012). According to this publication, Aboriginal and Torres indigenous peoples tend to derive knowledge about their world by primarily engaging in it. In other words, the main thing that contrasts this type of knowledge with the Western one is a tendency to use the physical senses to experience and observe the world, building knowledge upon this, rather than upon existing theoretical knowledge and research.

The implication of this for my classroom practice will be that I can use both approaches to point out the strengths of each and how these can enhance the experience of the other. In a study on shadow and light, for example, I can build a theoretical basis by asking the students to research what is already known about shadow and light. During the practice session then, I devise activities that engage all their senses, helping them to experience first hand what theorists have found out before them.

In this way, I can help my students to develop a sense of enjoyment in terms of the scientific process; both theoretical research and practical experience. In the classroom, I will therefore demonstrate the invaluable contribution of both to new scientific knowledge and to the enjoyment my students can derive from their experience of the world.


Science can involve many misconceptions, mainly as a result of an incorrect interpretation of a child’s experience of the world. There can also be culturally specific, or simply the result of a child’s own experience and socialization. Two specific misconceptions I addressed in my work were appropriate for the age group of students I am working with. Not being experienced in existing theory, for example, many students believe that light travel faster at night than during daytime, and that shadows follow people around and are created by the sun’s reflection. My lesson is set up in such a way as to create both a theoretical basis and practical experience to test these misconceptions and either dispel or confirm them.

It is interesting to also investigate the misconceptions about shadow and light within different cultures. Algerian students, for example, find it difficult to cultivate an accurate understanding of the way in which light functions in optics. In other words, there may be some misconceptions about the role of light in creating a platform for seeing colored objects (Bizak, Chafiqi, and Kendil, 2009). This is also a concept about which my students might have some misconceptions, and I can therefore follow up my lesson about shadows and light with one about how light helps human beings to see color.

Misconceptions in science are common, especially among children, who are continuously learning about the world around them and the way things work. In a multi-cultural classroom, using different ways of knowing in an integrated way can help to enhance students’ learning experience and also help them to learn more accurate information more quickly.

Learning takes place in a much more effective way when more than one sense is engaged. It is therefore vital for teachers to understand that a pedagogical framework should include not only creating a theoretical basis for further knowledge, but also a practical component rather than simply theoretical building blocks for creating further information and learning.

The framework I used for my lesson on light and shadow is an integrated interactive one of theory and practice. I started by activating students’ existing knowledge, which begins the theoretical component of the lesson. After brainstorming and sharing their ideas, students are required to do theoretical research via the Internet. Again, they share their ideas. Finally, the practical component focuses on experimentation to support or discard existing hypotheses.

In scientific study, an integration between theory and practice is vital in order to derive accurate scientific knowledge (Wijayawardana and Bhattacharya, 2004). Common scientific practice, for example includes a measure of both theoretical study, hypothesis, and practical experience and observation in order to support theoretical knowledge.

By mimicking the actual process of scientific discovery in my classroom, I believe I am preparing my students not only for their future studies in the natural sciences, but also for a possible career in this field. It is therefore vital that I enhance their experience as much as possible to help them understand that learning is both informative and fun.

In any subject, engaging as many of the senses as possible in a lesson is helpful towards providing students with a good platform of learning. This is the case with all students, but also particularly with young children, whose main mode of learning is physical experiential.

In order to provide my students with the best and most useful possible learning experience, I will therefore continue to create lesson plans that enhance the possibility of engaging all their senses.

In conclusion, my career as science teacher is enhanced by helping students learn to the best of their ability. By activating what they already know, helping them to do theoretical research, and creating a platform for practical experience of their knowledge, I am helping to cultivate young scientists of the future.


Bizak, D., Chafiqi, F., and Kendil, D. (2009). Students’ Misconceptions about Light in Algeria. Retrieved from:

Queensland Studies Authority. (2012, June). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures resources: Science. Retrieved from:

Wijayawardana, K. And Bhattacharya, M. (2004). Integrating Theory and Practice in Primary Science Teacher Education. Retrieved from:

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