Investigate at School - Primary

Transform your classroom into an investigation centre! Collect your own objects or discover real Museum specimens online. Develop and use scientific skills by making observations, asking questions and looking for evidence.

These resources support four stages of a classroom scientific investigation as inspired by the work of our Museum scientists. The resources are flexible and can be tailored in many ways to suit your class.

1. Getting started
2. Select a specimen
3. Investigate
4. Share

Select a specimen

A specimen is an object from nature that we can learn from. It could be anything from a leaf collected on the walk to school to a pigeon in the playground.

It doesn’t matter if the object is familiar or not, as the value of this activity is in looking closely and asking questions. Encourage pupils to choose something that interests them.

Specific specimens can also be selected (where available) to support learning in particular topics, such as rocks and fossils, or animals including humans and more.

Collecting your own specimens

Specimens really can be anything. Pupils may have something at home that they collected once at the beach, or maybe they can find something suitable in the local park, on the walk to school or in the playground. Leaves, stones, feathers, seeds, shells and even fruit and vegetables can be great specimens.

You may want to extend your investigation beyond the natural world and study household objects as part of art, design and technology topics.

Whilst collecting, remind pupils to be safe, try not to take anything from a living plant (collecting only objects fallen to the ground) and be careful not to disturb any living animals.

Investigating digital specimens

Scientists around the world often rely on studying digitised specimens when they are unable to access the physical one. The Museum has a range of 3D digitised specimens from the collection, ranging from Hope, the blue whale skeleton, to dinosaur skulls and sedimentary rocks.

These 3D model specimens are available to your scientists in the classroom. They can make a brilliant alternative to or extension of learning from physical specimens and can also support IT and technology classroom topics.

Some of these digital specimens are available to 3D print.

Visit the complete collection of NHM objects on the Sketchfab website.

3D model of Hope, the blue whale skeleton

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Related content

Learning resources

We have a range of resources to support learning around natural history themes. For ages 5-14.