Chapter 6 of The art of teaching primary science (Dawson, V. & Venville, G. (2007)) describes the 5E model for teaching science. “The 5E model consists of five distinct but interconnected phases” (Dawson & Venville, p 116). These phases are
- Engage the interest of students through a stimulus activity or question
- Explore problems of phenomena through experimentation
- Explain the results of experimentation using scientific terms
- Elaborate by applying scientific ideas to new scenarios
- Evaluate what has been learned
The engage phase starts with students having an opportunity to share what they already know about the unit topic. This creates a connection which means students are not merely thinking about new things, but linking it to what they already know. This will pique their interest as well as helping them to challenge where their current needs to adapt. This will help raise questions for them to investigate.
The explore phase using experimentation and exploration to give students a new and common experience through which they can learn. Hands on learning activities, combined with discussing ideas in their own language contributes to an effective inquiry based learning environment.
The explain phase helps students to reflect on what they have experienced in the explore phase. Explanation and scientific terms are given, to assist students develop their ideas.
The elaborate phase is where students can take the new things they have learnt and apply them in new situations. They can know discuss what they have learnt using the scientific language and consider how it might apply to other situations. Based on what they have learnt in the explore and explain phase, student now have an opportunity and the knowledge needed to construct a scientific argument based on sound reasoning.
The evaluate phase gives students an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learnt and is also where teachers can assess learning.