GREEN BAY HIGH SCHOOL
Science Department Memo
Date 7 December 2006
Re: The Science Curriculum and possible future directions. The second learning
paradigm and implications for Science education or why is it necessary to programme
lots of practical science into the learning process.
This is a response to discussions during and after yesterday’s CMT meeting. It is an
attempt to put some issues facing the department into context.
As with all initiatives that take hold in education the full consequences only become
apparent with time.
Senior course content has always been driven by existing assessment practices and it is
no surprise that the shift to standards based assessment has impacted on curriculum
delivery. The assessment of practical skills has been good for Science and our students
perform well in practical situations. Internal assessment demands time in two ways:
• Time is required to practice the skill or undertake field trips.
• Time has to be allocated for reteaching and reassessment
Recent programme changes in Science
In 2006 we dropped the internally assessed Practical Investigation with Guidance and
adopted the externally assessed Geology achievement standard. The change was a
response to difficulties associated with class size and the poor state of the laboratories in
B and D blocks. The new Science building has largely eliminated these problems. (The
laboratory area is designed to allow practical work with class sizes of thirty and the
classrooms have seating for 32.)
Green Bay High School students need time to assimilate course material and the
Education Revue Office in their penultimate visit recommended that we do less. The
geology unit at year 10 covers most of the NCEA level 1 course. We decided that the
Geology external would be useful to extend our more able students. Teaching would be
restricted to about 4 weeks with the expectation that students would revise material from
the fourth form course the fourth form and assimilate then extra content to meet level 1
NCEA through worksheets and limited transmission by the teacher..
Standards based assessment and its impact on course structure in the fifth form.
Level 1 achievement standards are based on level 6 of the New Zealand Curriculum.
Living World Planet Earth and Beyond Physical World Material World
Life processes Earth Cycles Physical enquiry and Properties of materials
• Investigate the • Understand how plate physics concepts • Identify patterns and
environmental factors tectonics shapes and • Demonstrate an trends in the properties
that affect life processes changes the structure of understanding of of a range of substances.
Ecology planet earth. physical phenomena Apply this information
• Recognise the impact Astronomical cycles and concepts by to how these substances
of natural events and • Investigate the different explaining and solving are used and issues
human actions on a parts of the solar straightforward arising from their use.
New Zealand ecosystem system, developing an questions and problems Chemical reactions.
Evolution appreciation of the Using Physics • Observe and classify a
• Explore patterns in the distances in the solar • Explore issues related to range of chemical
inheritance of system environmental and or reactions and factors
genetically controlled Interacting cycles technological that affect these.
characteristics • Investigate how Earth applications of physics Explore ways in which
• Explain the importance and astronomical cycles chemical reactions have
of variation within a can alter the balance of been used to address
changing environment conditions that support issues and needs in
life on earth over time society.
• Use collision theory to
explain the rate of
understanding of atoms,
ions and molecules and
School Certificate 1999 Achievemnt Standard 2006
Living World Living World:90188 describe aspects of
• Cloning ,advantages of biology
• Relationship between chromosomes • describe how bacteria reproduce
and genes (perhaps with diagrams)
• Mitosis, ordering diagrams of • use anaerobic respiration definition
• Chromatids, recognition of • diagram of fungus, label
• Sex cells, half number of chromosomes • function of sporangium
• Simple inheritance chart • compare and contrast digestion and
• Punnet squares, prediction of reproduction in bacteria and fungi
inheritance pattern • temperature and water content, discuss
• Meaning of fertilisation while powdered milk can be stored
• Bacteria and illness longer.
• Inoculating plates • Viruses, whay can’t they be grown on
• Bacterial resistance to antibiotics. agar.
• Reproduction of viruses, draw diagrams
• Sex cells, half number of chromosomes
• Define heterozygous
• Simple punnet square, phenotype ratio.
• Inheritance ratio is statistical
• normal coated dog, dominant. How
would you show whether homozygous
or heterozygous Use punnet squares to
• Cloning, difference between cloned
offspring and offspring by sexual
School Certificate 1999 Achievement Standards 2006
Planet Earth and Beyond Planet Earth and Beyond: 90190 Describe
• Earthquakes (faults,focus, Richter) aspects of Geology
• Plate collision (mantle, ocdeanic crust, • Sequencing geological events from a
ocean trench, convection current, diagram.
subduction zone) • What class of rock does sandstone
• Lunar cycle, lunar eclipse, shape of belong to?
moon • Explain igneous intrusion.
• Constellations satellites and meteors • Conditions for formation of
• Identification of rocks using a key metamorphic rocks
• crystals in rocks, major rock types • Name three metamorphic rock types.
• interpretation of a rock cycle diagram • Contact and regional metamorphism,
compare and contrast
• Examples and processes that produce
• Igneous rocks, classification on crystal
size and silica content
• Light coloured rocks high in silica.
• Discuss the differences in the formation
of granite and basalt
• Relative dating of a stratigraphic
90192: describe aspects of Astronomy
Planet Earth and Beyond 2007
90190 Describe aspects of Geology
Recommendation that we do not offer the Geology achievement standard due to time constraints
going from 5 to 4 hours per week in the senior school.
90192: Describe aspects of Astronomy
Possibility that we could offer the Astronomy achievement standard through the Carter
Observatory to the more able students
School Certificate 1999 Achievement Standards 2006
Physical World Physical World:90191 describe aspects of
• Drawing a simple circuit physics
• Resistance • Interpretation of a distance time graph,
• Power curve shows acceleration, reading
• work done distance from graph, average speed,
• acceleration (F=ma) slope of graph =speed.
• draw speed time graph(graphical or • Calculate KE
otherwise calculate distance) • Labelling weight support friction and
• Interpretation of a distance time graph, push
slope constant speed, speed 0 • Net force of zero results in a constant
• Examples of conduction, convection speed.
and radiation, explain energy transfer • Calculate deceleration
• Work done climbing a slide. • Unbalanced force results in acceleration
• F=ma, calculate force
• Wd=fx, then calculate power
• Energy transfer, elimination of
conduction convection or radiation in a
plastic silvered vacuumed coffee cup
• Parallel circuit, recognising advantage
of on motorbike stating voltage across
• P=IV given V and I
• Parallel circuit effect of bulb blowing
• Voltage and power given, calculate
current then resistance
• Higher wattage, higher energy output
School Certificate 1999 Achievement Standards 2006
Material World Material World:90189 describe aspects of
• Hydrocarbons chemistry
• Complete and incomplete combustion • Recognising protons neutrons and
• Exothermic electrons in an atom
• Number of atoms in a molecule • Drawing an atom from its symbol
• Covalent, ionic bonds
• Alcohols • Similarities and differences between
• Alkanes alkenes, difference sodium atom and ion
• Addition reactions • Naming compounds
• Fermentation of sugars • Formula from name
• Catalysts • Atoms in a formula atoms in formula
• Physical properties of metal (Calcium) when there is a number in front
• Numbers of particles in an atom • properties of materials, selecting light
(Calcium) conductors and insulators
• Formula of an ionic compound • inyerpretation of standard diagram
• Recognising bases neutralise acids (no showing close packing and “sea” of
word equation, no equation balancing) electrons
• Effect of heat on carbonates • Listing physical and chemical
properties of calcium
• Metal oxide + water (word equation
• Word equation magnesium + water
• Recognising calcium hydroxide
solution is limewater • Balanced chemical equation
magnesium = hydrochloric
• Understanding fair testing, rate of
reaction and surface area. • Acid +mag hydroxide
• Chemical name MgSO4
• Word equation for neutralisation
• Knowing universal indicator colours
• Carbonate + acid observations
• Balanced chemical equation acid +
• Colour changes UI sodium hydroxide
hydrochloric acid neutralisation start
neutral excess NaOH.
The challenges include:
Three hours a week allocation in the junior school. No one involved with junior curriculum
delivery has completed all units of work. (Was 4 hours in year 10 at Marcellin) Adequate
preparation of junior students for NCEA level 1 is difficult.
The wide ability range in junior classes and class sizes can be a challenge. Structural
differentiation (high impact on learning) through banding by blocking of junior classes in the
timetable would be beneficial. Development of differentiated learning strategies within the
classroom (lower impact on learning) is being looked at by the Department next year.
Literacy initiatives with an ICT slant are being implemented within the department in 2007. This
unfortunately exacerbates the “time to teach” problem.
Students should be given the opportunity to experience non linear learning in a Science context.
We learn naturally in eclectic mode and our brains are programmed to make sense of a
bewildering array of sensual inputs (Mark Treadwell). Students should experience science in a
less structured way than they currently do in the limited practicals they are exposed to in the
three hours per week of linear tuition. This could happen in year options in units of learning such
• Chemistry of Art ( copper etching, glass making lithography and making oil paints
• Biotechnology (yoghurt making, brewing bacteria and antibiotics)
• Electronics (simple circuits, building a radio or amplifier tuner)
We have enough the enough experience within the department to run these courses.
Advances in neuroscience.
Mirror neurones and the importance of copying in the learning process. Bypassing the
curriculum document (Primary school students taking responsibility for sound and light systems
at school assemblies prize giving. Front of 2007 Ponsonby telephone directory students has
copied Hunnertwasser technique.
The importance of a new educational paradigm
These questions are often asked about new technology,
• What do smart boards actually do?
• Are they just an expensive version of overhead projector technology
• They cost an extra $2,000 over the cost of a projector. What will this technology offer
that a projector and laptop doesn’t?
• Is it cost effective?
The answers are probably:
• Ask me again in two years, I’m trialling their use and can’t answer this.
• Yes but hmm but
• Not much and hmm
• Probably not.
It would be impossible to gain funding for new technology based on these legitimate questions
and uninspiring answers.
The problem is that these questions and their answers relate to the existing learning paradigm,
book based, which has been with us in a recognisable fom since the Middle Ages.
If we ask the same questions of a new paradigm that recognises the importance of the internet
and ICT. Does such a paradigm exist?
The answer is no but this could challenge us to construct a new philosophy.
A first stab at a new paradigm for education at any level might read.
Students will learn in a seamless environment that encompasses their physical space and
cyberspace. They can access an infinite source knowledge and information and ask deep learning
Obviously this is just a starter and will evolve.
The questions we ask of this paradigm are somewhat different.
What tools do we need to make this paradigm work? We need a portal that allows us to access
the huge volume of knowledge and learning tools that are available. What would this portal look
like; we have just invented a smart board.
This underlines the importance of articulating a new paradigm. The paradigm has to underpin the
technology and not the other way round.