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Rosalind Franklin’s statement below represents the aims of science at St Paul’s. The three separate and distinct disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics have strengths that complement and build on each other, leading to a deeper and fuller understanding of the natural and physical world around us.
Science at St Paul’s is about creative thinking, identifying patterns and considering a range of evidence to provide solutions and answers. In our lessons we aim to develop the inquiry, discussion and questioning skills necessary for students to become our next generation of inspirational professional scientists, as well as scientifically literate and responsible citizens.
The science department is comprised of twelve specialist teaching laboratories in our beautiful 1930s building. The laboratories are all equipped with modern facilities such as interactive whiteboards and we are extremely well resourced. Each department has four laboratories and a dedicated preparation room.
Although biology, chemistry and physics all have their own separate identity, there are many areas of overlap in our planning and approach. The MIV (Year 7) follow a bespoke general science course taught by one teacher for the first year, before embarking on separate science courses in the UIV (Year 8). During Science Week the UIV carry out cross curricular projects to design a bionic limb, enabling them to expand their scientific understanding. A trip to the GCSE Science Live conference allows students to hear from leading scientists working across the three disciplines.
Science Week is a huge event at St Paul’s run by students in the VII (Year 12). During the week there are lunchtime talks from visiting scientists, special science assemblies and even a mobile inflatable planetarium. Lunchtime activities have included making a giant DNA model out of jelly babies, a dazzling pyrotechnic display of fun chemical reactions, explosion society, making ice cream with dry ice and a snake dissection.
Approximately 50 students decide to study science related subjects at university every year and we have a very comprehensive programme to support them in their applications. We run specialised university preparation tutorial sessions for medicine & dentistry, engineering, psychology, biological sciences, physical sciences and chemistry. Every student will receive guidance on her application from an academic mentor and be offered science specific mock interviews.
MIV (Year 7) science is a bespoke course designed to provide a smooth transition from primary or prep school science to separate science courses in the UIV (Year 8). We are committed to teaching science through hands on investigations and group work explicitly focusing on the acquisition of scientific vocabulary. The course is based upon the key ideas of forces, energy, cells to organisms, particles and chemical reactions, with a deliberate increase in abstract conceptual models as the year progresses. Students are expected to ask questions and devise experiments to test their hypotheses. We also teach them how to organise, analyse and evaluate the data they collect.
Teachers elicit prior knowledge to ensure that all students reach the same level of understanding, knowledge and skills by the end of the MIV regardless of their previous scientific experience. We aim to inspire, excite and challenge the students right from the start of their science journey at St Paul’s. There is a MIV (Year 7) science club run by students in the VII (Year 12) giving students the chance to try some new experiments such as making corn starch monsters, carrying out forensic investigations and making slime. We also take the MIV (Year 7) to the Barnes Wetland Centre as part of a topic on classification and interdependence.