British Science Week: Film Focused Talk

British Science Week is a 10 day program which took place between 8-17 March in 2019. This year the theme was ‘Journeys’ and our young children learned about journeys over land, by sea and through the air. But before my early learners set out designing vehicles to test each day I wanted to focus their attention on time passing as a journey and noticing changes that come as time passes.

In a short activity with ‘foam burst’ shower gel and cups, children observed how the shower gel became a cup of bubbles over a couple of minutes. It was hard for them to appreciate how the foam had started out as gel just minutes before though. When asked ‘how has it changed’ the responses were limited to the state now ‘it’s bubbles’ rather than the journey of change.


I wanted to children to talk about the changes they had observed and give reasons to why this could have happened. So I introduced filming to capture the process which could be watched over and over again.


We used the free Clips app and the children filmed the gel in their cups, watching how it changed but now talking about what they could see as there was a purpose for their talk. The children’s ideas were being captured by the filming. In Clips is a feature called Live Titles which uses the dictation software built in to iPad. As children talk, their words are displayed on the screen in real time. They could see their scientific talk become print right before their eyes. Children could record their ideas with their voice which in turn was effective for my observations as I could also take note of what they were saying when watching their videos back. I could spend more time talking with the children and asking further questions rather than taking notes.

When watching their Clips back, the children did notice how the bubbles were gel just minutes ago and could compare the start, middle and end of their observation journey over time.


Using film was a small tweak to this activity and it enhanced the process because it gave talk a purpose and documented the process. Having the real experiment outcome there in front of them and a recording of the passage of time to reflect on was effective in showing how the material had changed. Children could play the film back at speed too, showing the change happening in a matter of seconds. They also used still frames to make comparisons between the start and end of the experiment.

For more ideas of how to use film in young children’s learning, download the free guide ‘The Rich Potential of Young Children’s Video’ from the Young Children Can Create series here:

Screenshot 2019-03-19 at 19.34.45

The Rich Potential of Children’s Video.


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