Science

Key Stage 3

Information

Science is the study of the nature of the universe. KS3 Science lessons at Ruislip High School are taught following the QCA scheme of work (www.qca.org.uk). Biology, Chemistry and Physics are taught together.

KS3 Science is delivered across eight terms from September in Year 7 to mid March in Year 9. Setting of students takes place early in Year 9, and all students are monitored and tracked to ensure progression and preparation for Key Stage 4 is secured. The range and content of the course is delivered as units.

During the course some units focus primarily on one science discipline (ie. Chemistry, Biology or Physics) whereas other units will draw on all three science disciplines as a combined approach. In order to deepen and broaden knowledge, skills and understanding a number of key concepts are addressed through the range and content.

KS3 Science and Student Progress

In Year 7, in addition to their core lessons, students have the opportunity to improve their analysing and problem-solving skills in CASE lessons (Cognitive Acceleration in Science Education, developed by Kings College London).

In Years 7 and 8 students remain in mixed ability classes and take an internal exam to assess their progress. In Year 9 students are split into either a higher ability or mixed ability class.

Key Stage 4

Information

KS4 Science is delivered from the summer term in Year 9 to Year 11. The Science GCSE courses available to be studied from September 2016 over this key stage are:

  • Combined Science: Trilogy. It is similar to the current core and Additional Science GCSEs, and a double award; equivalent to two GCSEs
  • Triple Science: Biology, Chemistry and Physics are taught separately and students will achieve three GCSEs

All Science GCSEs are held together by an underlying emphasis on ‘Working scientifically’ in different contexts.

There are a number of opportunities provided by this course such as encouraging students to develop a critical approach to scientific evidence and exploring the implications of science for society. The aim is to develop the scientific literacy needed for adult life to enable all students to engage with an increasingly scientific and technological society. The exam board followed at KS4 is AQA.

Below are quick links to subject content and assessment for each GCSE Science Specification:

Combined Science: Trilogy
http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science/gcse/combined-science-trilogy-8464

Biology
http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science/gcse/biology-8461

Chemistry
http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science/gcse/chemistry-8462

Physics
http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science/gcse/physics-8463

Key Stage 5

Information

A-level Biology

Biology is a subject which is never out of the news. Just think of gene technology, global warming, endangered species, GM foods, transplants, B.S.E., cloning. The list is endless and is growing every day. Biology at A-level provides an excellent basis for higher education courses from Medicine to Marine biology, Physiotherapy to Psychology as well as providing students with a wide range of useful skills which are transferable to any subject or field of work. Biology can 'stand-alone' as a Science subject amongst more 'Art' orientated subjects and is complementary to Geography, Psychology, Sociology and Sports Science in addition to Chemistry, Physics and Maths.

The A-level specification will present essential principles in contexts that students find interesting. It stimulates students' enthusiasm for biology from the start.

The specification emphasises the way in which scientists work and the contributions of science to modern society in a way that underpins the specification but is never intrusive.

Topics covered include:

  • Disease
  • The variety of living organisms
  • Investigating practical skills
  • Populations and environment
  • Control in cells and in organisms

The examination board followed is AQA. Students will sit three 2 hour exams at the end of their course. Required practical experiments will be carried out throughout both years, however, there is no longer internally assessed coursework.

What will students gain?

The aims of these specifications are to encourage candidates to:

  • Develop their interest in, and enthusiasm for, Biology including developing an interest in further study and careers in Biology;
  • Appreciate how society makes decisions about scientific issues and how the sciences contribute to the success of the economy and society eg. economic issues relevant to discussions on the need to maintain and preserve biodiversity;
  • Understand the moral, ethical, social and cultural implications of some of the applications of biology and technology eg. legal issues relating to genetic engineering;
  • Develop and demonstrate a deeper appreciation of the skills, knowledge and understanding of How Science Works;
  • Develop essential knowledge and understanding of different areas of biology and how they relate to each other, eg. the role of biology in describing the structure and functioning of the natural world.

A-level Chemistry

Did you know:

  • There is about 250g of table salt in the body of an average adult human.
  • Lightning strikes produce ozone (O3) and help strengthen the ozone layer.
  • DNA is flame retardant.
  • One bucketful of water contains more atoms than the Atlantic Ocean does bucketfuls of water.
  • If you slowly pour a handful of salt into a completely full glass of water, it will not overflow. In fact, the water level will go down.
  • Hydrofluoric acid is so corrosive that it will dissolve glass. Although it is corrosive, hydrofluoric acid is considered to be a ‘weak acid’.
  • Though solid at room temperature, gallium will liquefy in your hand.
  • The only letter that doesn’t appear on the Periodic Table of Elements is J.
  • The human body contains enough carbon to produce graphite for about 9,000 pencils.
  • Mosquitoes like the scent of estrogen, thus women get bitten more often than men do.

A-level Chemistry can explain all these facts and covers topics that range from the synthesis of dyes to how the ozone protects us.

Students follow the AQA Chemistry specification. The full A-level course consists of three written examinations. Paper 1 focuses on physical and inorganic chemistry. Paper 2 focuses on physical and organic chemistry. Paper 3 can ask questions on any content learnt in the 2 year course. All papers are examined in June.

There is no coursework at A-level and instead students must complete 12 required practicals. Questions regarding these practicals or skills developed during these can then be included in any of the written examinations.
 

A-level Physics

Physicists explore the fundamental nature of almost everything we know of. They probe the furthest reaches of the earth to study the smallest pieces of matter. If students have ever wondered about how things work and enjoy problem solving, then physics will help to satisfy their curiosity. Mankind thrives on finding answers to questions and it is physics which is at the forefront of finding these answers. 

Students will follow the AQA GCE Physics specification at AS and A-level.

AS Physics lasts one year, with exams at the end. A-level Physics lasts two years, with exams
at the end of the second year. The topics covered are:
 

AS and first year of A-level

Second year of A-level

Measurements and their errors

Particles and radiation

Waves

Mechanics and energy

Electricity

Further mechanics and thermal physics

Fields

Nuclear physics

Medical physics

There is no coursework on this course. However students will carry out numerous practicals throughout the course and their practical skills will be assessed. There are three exams at the end of the two years for A-level, all of which are two hours long. At least 15% of the marks for A-level Physics are based on what you students learn during practical sessions. The AS has two exams at the end of the year. Both are 1 hour 30 minutes long.

AS and A-level physics are highly valued qualifications and greatly supports students.

Extra-Curricular Activities

Science Club
One day a week after school there is a science club which involves fun scientific experiments that are not able to be done in lessons, which should lead to further understanding. It also leads to the BA CREST (Creativity in Science and Technology) award.

Animal Club
Students involved in this club take responsibility for caring for the department’s animals. A rota of duties is set up for students to clean and feed hamsters, gerbils, fish, snakes and stick insects.