Aboard the helicopter: from adult science to early years (and back)

Mike Watts, Saima Salehjee

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This paper links early foundations in science for young children to the eventual achievement of science literacy for adults. There are five key arguments being made: (i) the early-years foundation stage (EYFS) specialists need to have a view for exactly what foundations are being laid in classrooms; (ii) that they all need to be–minimally–scientifically literate, despite the variety of definitions of that term; (iii) becoming scientifically literate is a long-term process of engaging with and developing an interest in ‘matters scientific’ that are easily available in the public domain; (iv) that there is a plethora of informal learning opportunities in science across the UK to foster adult engagement, and (v) taking a ‘helicopter view’ on occasions helps shape planning and processes in the nursery/ reception school classroom. To illuminate this, we offer two examples from materials science that grow out of traditional block play, and from all things plastic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-29
Number of pages9
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
Issue number1
Early online date18 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2020


  • early years science
  • science education
  • learning opportunities


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