Make a splash with the chemical sciences

If you teach primary science, see the headings below to find out how to use this resource:

Skill development

Children will develop their working scientifically skills by:

  • Selecting and planning the most appropriate ways to answer science questions, recognising and controlling variables where necessary, including:
    • Carrying out comparative and fair tests.
    • Noticing patterns.
  • Using a range of scientific equipment to take accurate and precise measurements or readings, with repeat readings where necessary.
  • Drawing conclusions and raising further questions that could be investigated based on their data and observations.
  • Using appropriate scientific language and ideas to explain, evaluate and communicate their methods and findings.

Learning outcomes

Children will:

  • Observe that some materials dissolve in liquid to form a solution.
  • Investigate factors that affect the rate of dissolving.

Concepts supported

Children will learn:

  • That some solids dissolve and that this process is usually reversible.
  • That dissolving can be affected by a variety of factors, including temperature, amount of solvent, amount of solute and stirring.

Suggested activity use

This activity can be used to introduce an investigation into solutions, solubility and dissolving, with the possibility of linking to the topics of reversible and irreversible reactions and separation techniques.

Children can first conduct a test by watching what happens when sugar/salt is added to water, thinking about factors that might affect the rate of dissolving, e.g. temperature, stirring, type of liquid, etc. Children could then design and carry out their own investigation based on their suggestions, presenting their findings to the rest of the class.

The presentation can also be used as an introduction to the topic of water resistance. 

Practical considerations

Care needs to be taken to ensure children fully understand what has happened – that the powder has dissolved and is still present in the solution, and that it has not just ’disappeared’.

Also, if not carefully managed, children may develop or reinforce the misconception that the amount of solute that can be dissolved is limitless and that the solution will never become saturated.

The student worksheet may only be accessible to more able primary children without teacher support.