Head of Science

Australian Science has been prominent in the media recently and two stories about fascinating discoveries reflect the dynamic nature of science and the capacity of the field in helping us to understand our world and improve quality of life. 

Professor Sally Dunwoodie from the Victor Chang Institute, has identified heart, spinal, kidney and cleft palate problems in newborn babies as well as a major cause of miscarriages and is expected to forever change the way pregnant women are cared for around the globe. Crucially, Australian scientists have also demonstrated a remarkably simple cure, in the form of a common dietary supplement.

Chris Clarkson from the University of Queensland led excavations of a rock shelter near Kakadu National Park discovering artifacts that indicate humans reached Australia at least 65,000 years ago — up to 18,000 years earlier than archaeologists previously thought. The new date would have a big impact on our understanding of when humans left Africa and moved through what is now South-East Asia.

The new HSC syllabuses for Biology, Chemistry and Physics and two brand new courses, Investigating Science and Extension Science, are all designed to engage students in working scientifically. Depth studies in all courses, will enable students to investigate an area of interest over an extended period of time. Topics such as the studies referred to earlier, could be the focus of a student’s depth study.

Investigating Science is replacing Senior Science and will allow students to experience what scientists do rather than just learn about it. The Year 11 course focuses on observation in initiating the scientific process and drawing inferences and generalisations from these observations. Students learn scientific models and the similarities and differences between scientific theories and laws. The Year 12 course builds on the skills and concepts learnt in Year 11 with students conducting their own scientific investigations and communicating their findings in scientific reports. Students examine the interdependent relationship between science and technology and apply their knowledge, understanding and skills to scientifically examine a claim. Ethical, social, economic and political influences on science and scientific research in the modern world are also explored. All Year 7 – 9 students should be considering this course which is designed to be studied at a range of levels and will be beneficial for students with ambitions as diverse as a research scientist to a journalist or a primary school teacher, who want a better understanding of Science to support their careers.

The Science Club in its second year, has grown as an extracurricular opportunity and students spend each second Monday afternoon experimenting and designing investigations that extend upon their class work. They did a fantastic job of designing, organising and presenting a Science Week Program of activities including, quizzes, demonstration in the Primary School and the Year 8 Toy Fair showcasing fantastic student work.

Experiential learning and connecting with the environment and scientific community is a valuable way of making Science relevant. Year 11 Biology and Senior Science students worked together to study a ‘Local Ecosystem’ at Bantry Bay. In the mid-year break, a group of Year 8 students accompanied by Ms Solo travelled to Houston Texas and Alabama for the HASSE Junior Space School Program which was a fun and engaging way to encourage and reinforce the STEM skills.

The ICAS science competition was completed by 246 students including all Year 7. This tested scientific reasoning and problem solving at a challenging level and gives students in-depth feedback. 15 students achieved distinctions and 70 achieved credits.

 

Mr David Little

Head of Science