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A guide to Key Stage 2 science


Nov 17, 2022, 3:00 PM

A guide to Key Stage 2 science


Science is a compulsory subject on the Key Stage 2 national curriculum. This means that all children in Years 3 to 6 will have at least one science lesson every week.

While Key Stage 2 science covers the three main disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics, these will be combined into one subject – meaning that most children will just have ‘science’ on their school timetable. It's important to note that the national curriculum suggests a set order of modules for schools to teach, but it isn't compulsory for schools to teach topics in specific year groups.

Keep reading to see what topics your child will explore in Key Stage 2 science. You'll also see relevant questions from the science curriculum on Atom Nucleus – this is a great opportunity to have a go at some typical science questions with your child. The answers are listed at the end of this article.

Lower Key Stage 2 science curriculum

Lower Key Stage 2 covers year groups 3–4 (children aged between 7 and 9). In the classroom, they build on the foundational skills and scientific knowledge they have learnt in Key Stage 1 to broaden their understanding of how the world works and explain natural phenomena.

Year 3 science national curriculum

Year 3 biology

  • Plants: children learn about the different needs and parts of plants, including the life cycle of flowering plants and how plants transport water

  • Animals, including humans: pupils are taught about nutrition and the human body, including skeletons, and muscles

Question 1: Year 3 biology Year 3 biology question on Atom Nucleus

Year 3 chemistry

  • Rocks: children are taught how to compare rocks based on simple physical properties, understand how soil is made, and describe how fossils are formed.

Question 2: Year 3 chemistry Year 3 chemistry question on Atom Nucleus

Year 3 physics

  • Light: pupils learn about how light is reflected, and how shadows are created and can change

  • Forces and magnets: children are taught how things move on different surfaces, magnetic poles, magnetic attraction and repulsion, and magnetic materials

Question 3: Year 3 physics Year 3 physics question on Atom Nucleus

Year 4 science national curriculum

Year 4 biology

  • Living things and their habitats: children learn how to use classification to group living things and explore changes to their environments

  • Animals, including humans: pupils are taught about human teeth, the basic digestive system, and animal food chains

Question 4: Year 4 biology Year 4 biology question on Atom Nucleus

Year 4 chemistry

  • States of matter: pupils learn how to group materials, observe the changes in state, and identify evaporation and condensation in the water cycle

Question 5: Year 4 chemistry Year 4 chemistry question on Atom Nucleus


  • Sound: pupils learn how sound is made through vibration and explore patterns in pitch and volume

  • Electricity: children are taught how to construct a simple electrical circuit and how to recognise common conductors and insulators

Question 6: Year 4 physics Year 4 physics question on Atom Nucleus

What skills do pupils learn in Lower Key Stage 2 science?

In Lower Key Stage 2, pupils are taught how to use practical scientific methods alongside learning the curriculum content. The skills they develop include:

  • scientific enquiry, by asking relevant questions about scientific concepts

  • learning about fair tests

  • taking measurements using a range of equipment

  • collecting and recording data using simple scientific language and creating bar and line graphs

  • reporting on their test results to answer questions (orally, to begin with, then moving onto written explanations)

  • identifying differences and similarities in their evidence

Upper Key Stage 2 science curriculum

Upper Key Stage 2 covers year groups 5–6 (children aged between 9 and 11). Children start exploring more abstract scientific knowledge and ideas and begin to recognise how these ideas can help them understand and predict how the world works.

Year 5 science national curriculum

Year 5 biology

  • Living things and their habitats: pupils learn about the life cycles of animals, including mammals, amphibians, insects and birds, and reproduction in some plants and animals.

  • Animals, including humans: children are taught about the physical changes to the human body through the process of ageing

Question 7: Year 5 biology Year 5 biology question on Atom Nucleus

Year 5 chemistry

  • Properties and changes of materials: pupils are taught how to compare and group everyday materials, and learn about dissolving, separating, and reversible changes.

Question 8: Year 5 chemistry Year 5 chemistry question on Atom Nucleus

Year 5 physics

  • Earth and space: children learn about our solar system, including the movements of the sun, earth and moon, how they are relative to each other, and how day and night work.

  • Forces: pupils are taught about gravity, water resistance, air resistance and friction.

Question 9: Year 5 physics Year 5 physics question on Atom Nucleus

Year 6 science national curriculum

Year 6 biology

  • Living things and their habitats: pupils explore the classification of micro-organisms, plants and animals.

  • Animals, including humans: children learn about the human circulatory system and the impact of diet and exercise on human bodies.

  • Evolution and inheritance: pupils learn how fossils provide information, how living things produce offspring, and how animals and plants are adapted to their environments.

Question 10: Year 6 biology Year 6 biology question on Atom Nucleus

Year 6 chemistry

Children do not learn any new content in chemistry in Years 5 and 6.

Year 6 physics

  • Light: children learn how light travels, how we see light, and how shades are made.

  • Electricity: pupils analyse the different features of electric circuits (including buzzers, lamps, cells, and switches)

Question 11: Year 6 physics Year 6 physics question on Atom Nucleus

What skills do pupils learn in Upper Key Stage 2 science?

In Upper Key Stage 2, children build on the practical skills they have developed in Lower Key Stage 2 to further develop their scientific knowledge and carry out experiments with more depth and precision. New skills include:

  • understanding how to control variables

  • understanding how to improve accuracy in measuring

  • creating an increasingly complex range of graphs (e.g. scatter graphs) to record data

  • making predictions to set up comparative and fair tests

  • improving on their scientific enquiry by making conclusions based on their evidence

  • identifying scientific evidence to support or refute ideas

Help your child get ahead in Key Stage 2 science

Is your child a budding scientist making waves in the classroom and keen to extend their learning at home? Or do you have a child who might benefit from recapping challenging topics at a slower pace?

Atom Nucleus is your all-in-one online learning platform for Key Stage 2. Your child can build academic confidence and master the Key Stage 2 science, maths and English curricula for just £29.99 per month. Subscribers get access to:

  • Over 70,000 interactive teacher-written questions in English, maths and science for Key Stage 2 – just like the ones shown in this article

  • Learning resources, including downloadable helpsheets and tutorial videos, for every Key Stage 2 topic

  • Automatic marking with data insights to help you track your child’s progress and attainment

  • Engaging learning journeys to ensure your child stays motivated for academic success

Start your 5 day free trial of Atom Nucleus today and watch your child excel in Key Stage 2 science.

Try Atom for free

Answers to questions on Atom Nucleus

  1. Year 3 biology: Student 5: we would not be able to move easily

  2. Year 3 chemistry: A – 3 soils had over 25% water

  3. Year 3 physics: D – Magnus has correctly shown how we would see a dog

  4. Year 4 biology: 2 (mouth) and 4 (large intestine)

  5. Year 4 chemistry: B – evaporation is the name given to this process

  6. Year 4 physics: D is the complete electric circuit

  7. Year 5 biology: A (birds and insects hatch from eggs) and E (as adults, birds and insects are able to reproduce)

  8. Year 5 chemistry: 3 – sieving would allow John to separate the water and sand from each other

  9. Year 5 physics: Mercury is the planet closest to the sun

  10. Year 6 biology: Plant D is a fir tree

  11. Year 6 physics: B – a closed switch is missing from the circuit components



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