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Big Ideas of Science


All material in the Universe is made of very small particles.


Objects can affect other objects at a distance.


Changing the movement of an object requires a net force to be acting on it.


The total amount of energy in the Universe is always the same but energy can be transformed when things change or are made to happen.


The composition of the Earth and its atmosphere and the processes occurring within them shape the Earth's surface and its climate.


The solar system is a very small part of one of millions of galaxies in the Universe.


Organisms are organised on a cellular basis.


Organisms require a supply of energy and materials for which they are often dependent on or in competition with other organisms.


Genetic information is passed down from one generation of organisms to another.


The diversity of organisms, living and extinct, is the result of evolution.

Principles and Big Ideas of Science Education, edited by Wynne Harlen, 2010, Association for Science Education

These 10 big ideas of science together with 4 ideas about science and 10 related principles form the basis for the 2010 report by Wynn Harlen and colleagues, outlining why and how schools should engage students in science education. They are proposed as the guiding principles for students to take with them throughout their school life, starting with small insights at a young age and growing to bigger more complex ones. The principles and ideas focus on making science education interesting, giving students ownership of their learning by showing the impact science has on their everyday lives, stimulating their curiosity and helping them to understand and make informed decisions about how science works in the world around them.

The big ideas of science are at the heart of the Inspiring Science Education's repository of digital tools and resources. The ideas build a recommendation for related activities whilst the eLearning tools enable a deeper understanding of a set of concepts, such as a sequence of laboratories. All the eLearning tools and resources connect to one or more of the big ideas.

Example: repository tools to explore idea 1 (All material in the Universe is made of very small particles. Light in all different wavelengths permeates the Universe.):CERN Land, H.Y.P.A.T.I.A., LHC Game