Learn Chemistry is changing
Our new website is coming soon. Find out more

Small is...challenge - Practical Action


A link to Practical Action's 'small is... challenge' and its related resources, where students are tasked with analysing technology from the last hundred years, and to invent a product that could help achieve a sustainable future.
small-is-challenge RSC Recommended

A link to the teacher and student resources for Practical Action's 'small is... challenge'.


A link to a technology timeline, powerpoint, student worksheets and certificates for the Practical Action 'small is...challenge'.

If you teach primary science, click the headings below to find out how to use this resource:

Skill development

Children will develop their working scientifically skills by:

  • Asking their own questions about scientific phenomena.
  • Selecting and planning the most appropriate ways to answer science questions, including:
    • Finding things out using a wide range of secondary sources of information.
    • Carrying out comparative and fair tests.
  • Recording data and results using scientific diagrams and labels, classification keys, tables, scatter graphs, bar and line graphs.
  • Drawing conclusions and raising further questions that could be investigated, based on their data and observations.
  • Using appropriate scientific language and ideas to explain, evaluate and communicate their methods and findings.

Learning outcomes

Children will:

  • Develop their perceptions of themselves as scientists or engineers.

Suggested activity use

This resource works well when used with a science club, or as part of school enrichment day. The activities provide good opportunities for cross-curricular links with PSHE, design technology and history.

The resource gives children the chance to research the great science discoveries of the past 100 years as well as working in groups to design, test and evaluate a new idea of their own choosing.

Practical considerations

The resource doesn’t link to any particular part of the national curriculum but does provide plenty of opportunities for skills to be developed.

Children may need some support or direction when it comes to the idea they would like to develop. You may wish to choose a common theme or show children previous ideas, to give them some inspiration.

The process could take some time from initial idea development to final design being agreed upon, so you will need to plan session times accordingly.