Physics Problems for Primary Pupils

Physics problems - KS2

We teach Key Stage 2 children (7-11 year olds) how to solve interesting and sophisticated maths problems (see here). Many children are comfortable using the Singapore style bar-model methods to support mathematical problem solving.

But the only physics problems we set pupils at primary are data-handling types (typically bar charts).

I have written previously about cognitive load theory and problem solving (here and here). But to teach problem solving, you need problems.

ASE conference

There are many great things about going to conference: meeting up with colleagues and friends; making new friends (I have a dozen Japanese blogs welling up) and letting half-formed thoughts turn into half-formed plans.

One of my half-formed thoughts was problem solving at KS2.

So I went to the session on problem solving on Thursday by Ally Davis (Isaac Physics) and Robin Hughes (Physics Olympiad), and got totally distracted by the problems themselves.

Immediately after that, I had a very interesting conversation with Tony Sherborne about literacy and maths in primary science, which began to turn the thoughts into plans.

Finally, I bumped into Ally again and we talked for ten minutes about problem solving with younger pupils.

So here we are – a half formed plan.

Stage #1: Find, adapt and develop physics problems which KS2 pupils can access.

Stage #2: Develop teaching resources to support pupils learning (based on CLT).

Stage #3: Blog about it….

Here are two problem types and how I would teach them (CLT style): Physics problems – KS2 – Google Docs

If you know of any banks of junior physics questions from here or other jurisdictions, please send me the link.

Many thanks,


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