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.


Ideas for sharing in the classroom

The format: ‘I see, I notice, I wonder’ can be useful to get the conversation going between students to report on their investigation.

‘I see lots of bumps and it is brown all over. I noticed there are holes in the bottom. I wonder if the holes were made by insects!’

Pupils could describe a specimen using only their observations (without mentioning its name) whilst their classmates try to guess which one it is.

Pupils could take part in a ‘scientific conference’ and present their observations and ideas to their classmates. Those listening could ask questions about the specimen the speaker has been investigating.

Pupils could debate over ideas to attempt to answer a specific question. Ask them to look for evidence and try to determine which idea (if any) has the most evidence.

‘Molly’s idea is that this empty shell is from a crab. Omar’s idea is that the empty shell is from a snail. What does everyone else think? Who can see any clues, or evidence, to support one of these ideas?’

Sharing investigations can link to a wide variety of classroom topics such as making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.

Stories from Museum staff

Hear more from Museum staff about their own investigations as the investigation process.

Investigate at School: Share

  • Transcript

    Bintu’s investigation

    Hey everyone, my name is Bintu and today I’m going to be investigating the difference between a lemon and a lime and I’m going to try and use as many of my senses as I can.

    So, the lemon is about 10 centimetres long. Its yellow, feels bumpy smells a little sweet and tastes quite sharp.

    The lime, is about five centimetres long, green, also bumpy, smells tangy and also tastes quite sharp.

    So, although they are different, they do share some similarities.

    I’m now going to record my findings and share them with my friends to see what they think.

    Khalil’s investigation

    Hello, my name’s Khalil. Today I am going to be investigating this thing I found in my garden.

    I’m pretty sure it’s a snail shell because I've seen those before. But when I look closely, it’s a little bit different to  some others I've seen.

    For a start, there’s no snail inside! Does that mean it left, or died?

    It’s also much whiter than other shells I've seen on most snails. Could that be connected to the fact that it doesn't have a snail living inside it anymore?

    And then, there’s this hole at the back of the shell. What could have caused that? Did the snail fall off something high and crack its shell? Perhaps something attacked the snail. I’ve seen birds eating snails before and this hole is about the same size as a small bird’s beak. So that could be the answer.

    I think I’m going to have to do some more investigating to really find out!

    Cristina’s investigation

    Hello everyone, my name is Cristina and this is the specimen I am investigating today to figure out the answer to the question: does it come from a plant, or from an animal?

    I’m also going to do a drawing of it because that helps me focus on the details and maybe find some more clues.

    By looking at it in detail  I can see that it's got loads of pointy bits and hair like structures.

    And if I look at the back  I can see that it looks a lot like wood or even feels a bit like paper.

    This makes me think that this pointy thing might be a defensive structure from a plant.

Sharing with the Museum

Share investigations and stories with us @NHM_Learn on Twitter.

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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.