This primary resource takes three scientific inventions and explains how they resulted from accidents. Find out how mistakes can sometimes lead to groundbreaking discoveries. What fortunate mishap lead to the invention of the microwave oven? Whose temper tantrum gave us durable rubber? What sweet treat came from a scientist’s dirty hands?

As well the history of three modern-day inventions (artificial sweetener, durable rubber and the microwave oven), this science primary resource helps pupils learn why it’s not always bad to make mistakes, and how accidents can help us to learn new things.

The teaching resource can be used in study group tasks for discussion about scientific experiments, inventions and technology, and the concept of learning from mistakes. It can be used as a printed handout for each pupil to review and annotate, or for display on the interactive whiteboard using the images included in the resource for class discussion.

Activity: Ask pupils to write account of a time when an accident led to something positive. Get them to really think about what they have learned from mistakes they have made. Have they ever broken a toy and, in doing so, learned how it worked or what it was made from? Have they punctured a tyre on their bicycle and learned how to fix it? Maybe they made a mistake preparing food or drink and discovered a tasty treat/new recipe? Pupils could read out their accounts for a group/class discussion, sharing their experiences.


N.B. The following information for mapping the resource documents to the school curriculum is specifically tailored to the English National Curriculum and Scottish Curriculum for Excellence. We are currently working to bring specifically tailored curriculum resource links for our other territories; including South AfricaAustralia and New Zealand. If you have any queries about our upcoming curriculum resource links, please email:


This primary resource assists with teaching the following Science objectives from the National Curriculum:

Ensure that pupils:

  • develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics
  • develop understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science through different types of science enquiries that help them to answer scientific questions about the world around them
  • are equipped with the scientific knowledge required to understand the uses and implications of science, today and for the future. 


National Curriculum Upper Key Stage 2  Year Five Science objectives:

Pupils should be taught to:

  • compare and group together everyday materials on the basis of their properties, including their hardness, solubility, transparency, conductivity (electrical and thermal), and response to magnets
  • give reasons, based on evidence from comparative and fair tests, for the particular uses of everyday materials, including metals, wood and plastic.
  • explain that some changes result in the formation of new materials, and that this kind of change is not usually reversible


Design and Technology Key Stage 2 Design and Technology objectives from the National Curriculum:

  • Pupils should be taught to understand how key events and individuals in design and technology have shape the world


This primary resource assists with teaching the following Science Third level objective from the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence:

  • By exploring radiations beyond the visible, I can describe a selected application, discussing the advantages and limitations.


Science Fourth level objective from the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence:

  • By carrying out a comparison of the properties of parts of the electromagnetic spectrum beyond the visible, I can explain the use of radiation and discuss how this has impacted upon society and our quality of life.

This primary resource
assists with teaching the following Technologies First level objective from the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence:

  • I can explore the latest technologies and consider the ways in which they have developed
  • I can explore and discover engineering disciplines and can create solutions

Technologies Second level objective
 from the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence:

  • I can investigate how product design and development have been influenced by changing lifestyles

Technologies Third level objective from the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence:

  • I understand how scientific and technological developments have contributed to changes in everyday products

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