Primary General Science Glossary

This is a general primary science glossary. For class specific glossaries please go to the specific subjects

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Café Wall Illusion

This optical illusion was first observed and described by Doctor Richard Gregory when he noticed the curious effect in the tiles of the wall of a café in Bristol. This optical illusion makes the parallel straight horizontal lines appear to be bent. This illusion consists of alternating light and dark ‘bricks’ that are laid in staggered rows.


A mineral salt that strengthens the bones.

Calcium carbonate

Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) is a common substance found in rock in all parts of the world, and is the main component of shells of marine organisms like snails, pearls, seashells and corals. Saltwater reef tank keepers have to dose or supplement this compound in order for corals to grow. Corals need calcium carbonate to grow.


It is often called the ‘art of fancy lettering’ by means of an ink pen. This style of writing is described as a script and is often used for wedding invitations etc.

Camera obscura

A darkened enclosure in which images of outside objects are projected through a small aperture or lens onto a facing surface. A camera obscura uses the same principles as a regular camera.


Canines are teeth used for tearing and ripping food. Children learn about them as part of their study of teeth and how to take care of them.


A capacitor is an electrical component used to control the flow of charge in a circuit. The name derives from their capacity to store an electric charge. Capacitors consist of two conducting surfaces separated by an insulator; a wire lead is connected to each surface. A capacitor can store electric energy and discharge it at a determined rate.

Capillary action

The flow of liquids through porous media, such as the flow of water through blotting paper.


Made by cooking sugar slowly, used in candy making and sweetening of foods

Carbon dioxide

Carbon dioxide is a colourless, odourless incombustible gas present in the atmosphere. It is formed during the breathing of living organisms, the decomposition and combustion of organic compounds, and in the reaction of acids with carbonates: used in fizzy drinks, fire extinguishers, and as dry ice for refrigeration.

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