Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Introducing historic and contemporary scientists' discoveries into the primary classroom through practical investigations


Written by Alex Sinclair and Amy Strachan from St Mary’s University and PSTT Fellow Dr. Alison Trew.

Cross-curricular links between history and science are really valuable in the primary classroom, but how much of the focus is on developing scientific understanding and the skills of working scientifically? Standing on the Shoulders of Giants offers a series of engaging practical investigations based on the scientific work of a historic figure that encourage children to generate their own questions to explore and develop their understanding further. The resource links the work of 10 famous historic scientists to the work of contemporary scientists, giving children an appreciation of how wider scientific understanding develops over time.

Included in the resource for each of 10 historic scientists and their contemporary counterparts:

  • A Teacher Guide (printed book) outlining learning objectives, resources required and a practical activity to carry out with the children. Extension activities, vocabulary and focus questions are included.
  • A Classroom Presentation (downloadable resource) that guides you through the scientist’s work, the nature of their enquiry and how a contemporary scientist has developed ideas.
  • 3 Timelines (downloadable resources): one to provide a teacher with background information (also printed in the book); one that is simplified for children’s use, providing questions and their answers; and one that includes pictures and simple questions.
  • A Template (printed in the book and in digital format) to help structure the lesson.
  • An overview of opportunities for cross-curricular links.

ISBN: 978-0-9954811-8-3



This is a sample unit based on the work of Charles Macintosh from Standing on the Shoulders of Giants.
It is free for you to download and try.

Click here to download the Charles Macintosh book pages.

Click here to download the teacher resources from this unit.