User Guide

The User Guide provides further information about the design of the Science Continuum F-10 and the effective use of the resource in planning.

Navigating the Science Continuum F-10

2 students with a beaker half full of waterThe Science Continuum F-10 is designed to assist teachers in supporting students to achieve the AusVELS standards.

The Science Continuum F-10 is a work in progress. At present the continuum addresses the ‘big ideas’ of living things, matter, forces and motion and the Earth and space for students progressing towards Achievement Standards Level Foundation to Level 10. Within each ‘big idea,’ the continuum identifies focus ideas. The focus ideas represent those ideas that are important in student conceptual development, and will support students in meeting the AusVELS Achievement Standards.

Each focus idea explores a number of areas: firstly, student everyday experiences are identified and linked to common alternate conceptions. Secondly, the currently accepted, age-appropriate scientific view is provided; encouraging contrast of these two, sometimes conflicting, views. Critical teaching ideas are then identified; these are specific ideas that are interconnected and important for student conceptual development.

The critical teaching ideas are supported by purposeful teaching activities that scaffold student conceptual development. These are built around the key idea that effective science teachers recognise the importance of working from students’ existing ideas to build rich understandings of currently accepted science. The teaching activities have been designed to support conceptual understanding; they do not represent a unit plan, rather they are a selection of exemplars.

These purposes are described and explored in the link below:

It is important to recognise that each focus idea has been designed to be read sequentially; the purposeful teaching activities are strongly reflective of earlier sections and will be most effective when read in this context.

In developing understandings about science, the knowledge and skills that students learn in different year levels and topics (and even different domains) depend on and support one another. Student ideas do not develop in isolation; instead they are strongly networked, and important ideas often only really coalesce when students have made sufficient connections to realise the usefulness of the idea. For this reason, each critical concept recognises connections between ideas within the science domain and also suggests links to the broader range of student experience. Some of this complexity is captured in the science concept development maps, which represent possible developmental pathways students may take when developing scientific understandings.


Learning and teaching using the Science Continuum F-10

To use the continuum effectively, it is best read with a specific group of students in mind. Teachers determine the AusVELS level at which their students are operating, and use this as the entry point into the continuum.

The continuum can be used to consider how to draw out the range of alternative conceptions held by the group:

  • the student everyday experiences section can be used to anticipate the range of student alternate conceptions and to relate these to student experiences.
  • The teaching activities can be used to elicit student ideas, or as models for designing similarly purposed activities. In the continuum, activities such as ‘bringing out students’ existing ideas,’ ‘opening up discussion via a shared experience’ or ‘providing an open problem to be explored by play’ have been specifically designed to elicit student ideas.

In planning for differentiation teachers should consider the range of ideas in the cohort and where students may be placed according to the achievement standards and progression points.

An example of a Concept MapThe science concept development maps are another useful tool in identifying and articulating student understanding. The maps also assist in identifying related or supporting ideas which students may be struggling with, and that may consequently limit understanding of the critical teaching ideas. By looking at increasingly complex ideas, teachers may also plan for future challenge and extension.

In designing activities to support student progress, consider the teaching activities suggested and/or use these as models to develop further activities suited to your students’ needs. It may be useful to check the purposeful teaching activities page at this point, for ideas about the range of activities you could develop.

When considering assessment, plan for assessment for, as and of learning. While it is important to monitor student progress, consider how you can do this while developing a classroom culture that encourages and rewards risk-taking and experimentation. When is it appropriate for students to discuss their alternative ideas, and when should you introduce more scientific ways of explaining phenomena? When developing assessment of learning, consider the tasks carefully and ensure that they are assessing concepts and higher order thinking, rather than just content recall. Check that the assessment is designed to make student thinking visible. Plan opportunities for students to reflect on how their thinking has changed as a result of their learning.


Science Glossary – this glossary provides definitions of terms used in the Science Continuum F-10.