Science Stage 3

The Science Department endeavours to give pupils a firm foundation in fundamental concepts at Key stage 3 so that these can be used to ensure good outcomes at Key Stage 4 as well as developing scientific skills such as:

  • Considering and evaluating evidence,
  • Using abstract ideas,
  • Making and testing predictions.

Our schemes of work have been written specifically to develop the skills and knowledge required for the AQA GCSE courses. Pupils are continuously learning and revisiting key information and learning to apply their knowledge in unfamiliar contexts.

All pupils are set on ability in science.  In Year 7 we set pupils using Key stage 2 data. From this data each pupil is put into the correct set for his/her ability. We are confident that the setting is accurate, but if, throughout the year, a pupil is flourishing or indeed found to be struggling in their set we will adapt to meet the needs of the pupils. In Years 8 and 9 pupils are set on assessments and progress achieved in the previous year.

Pupils in Year 7 have 4 hours of curriculum time each week; pupils in Years 8 & 9 have 3 hours per week.

Pupils receive regular feedback from teachers and peers, both verbal and written. Pupils are regularly assessed with baseline assessments at the beginning of each topic, a mid-point peer assessed task per topic and end of topic assessments throughout the course. Pupils are encouraged to self-assess and peer assess work during lessons and this is then used to inform future planning.

Wherever possible Key stage 3 pupils have a single science teacher for all topics in science.

Pupils cover 10 “Big Ideas” topics in year 7 and revisit and extend their understanding of these topics in year 8. The 10 Big Ideas topics are:

                              Year 7                      Year 8
ForcesSpeedGravityContact forces Pressure
ElectromagnetsVoltage and ResistanceCurrentElectromagnetsMagnetism
EnergyEnergy CostsEnergy TransferWorkHeating and Cooling
WavesSoundLightWave effectsWave properties
MatterParticle ModelSeparating MixturesPeriodic TableElements
Reactions –Metals and Non-metalsAcid and AlkalisChemical EnergyTypes of reaction
Earth Earth StructureUniverse ClimateEarth Resources
OrganismsMovement CellsBreathingDigestion
EcosystemInterdependencePlant Reproduction RespirationPhotosynthesis
GenesVariationHuman ReproductionEvolutionInheritance

Year 7

Each group has a different sequence of topics to avoid clashes in equipment and to ensure that our highly practical approach can be facilitated. All pupils will complete the following topics over the course of the year:

Speed and Gravity

Students get off the mark quickly with a study of how speed can be measured and what might cause speed to change. They gain an understanding of distance –time graphs and how they can be interpreted. They conclude with an investigation into the relationship between weight, mass and gravity and predict what space travellers would experience at different positions in our Solar System.

Voltage, Resistance and Current

This electrifying topic teaches pupils about the concepts required to understand electric circuits. Through experimental work they gain an understanding of the flow of current and the relationship between potential difference, resistance and current in series and parallel circuits.

Energy Costs and Energy Transfer

This topic focusses on how energy is transferred from one store to another and how this relates to the cost of running household appliances. Students develop an understanding of different energy resources so that they are able to evaluate social, economic and environmental consequences of using different resources to generate electricity.

Sound and Light

This topic is music to the ears of any curious student. A wide ranging combination of phenomena associated with sound and light are studied as students develop their understanding of transvers and longitudinal waves.

Particle Model and Separating Mixtures

Within this topic students study the composition of a range of materials. They discover the concept of particles, and how this concept can be used to explain how the properties of solids, liquids and gases differ. Students learn how to practically separate different types of mixtures and use their experience to plan strategies that could be used to separate mixtures in new contexts.

Metals and Non-metals; Acids and Alkalis           

Students are introduced to some of the major concepts in chemistry through the study of metals and non-metals. Their basic chemical reactions are studied and students develop a reactivity series of metals through extensive practical work. Practical work also forms the core of the study of acids and alkalis with students developing their skill in applying their chemical properties to everyday applications such as indigestion remedies.

Earth Structure and Universe

What is the Earth made from? Why is the rock cycle important? Why do we have days and years? Could we live on Mars? All these questions can be answered in this topic. With practical class work and experiments students will delve into the structure of the Earth and gain an understanding of the Earth’s position in space.

Cells and Movement

Students are introduced to the unseen world of cells through the practical use of microscopes. They further develop their understanding by comparing the structure of plant and animal cells including those that are adapted according to their function. The functionality of the muscular and skeletal systems are studied with a dissection of a chicken wing allowing students to understand how these two systems work together to cause movement.

Interdependence and Plant Reproduction

Have you ever wondered what might happen if bees became extinct? Students develop the ability to make informed predictions about the impact on ecosystems that result from human actions. The complexities of plant reproduction are studied and the knowledge gained used to link flower structure to method of pollination.

Human Reproduction and Variation

Why are we all different? What is the sperm and the egg? Where does fertilization occur? These key Biological questions are all answered in this topic. Students investigate inheritance and gain an understanding of the importance of variation for a species.

Year 8

Each group has a different sequence of topics to avoid clashes in equipment and to ensure that our highly practical approach can be facilitated. All pupils will complete the following topics over the course of the year:

Contact forces and Pressure

How can drag be reduced? What effects do balanced and unbalanced forces have on speed? When is high pressure necessary? Students build on the knowledge and skills covered in Gravity and Speed to gain a deeper understanding of how contact forces allow us to design vehicles to attain higher top speeds.

Electromagnets and Magnetism

Students investigate the properties of magnets and magnetic fields through experimental techniques. They are introduced to the concept of electromagnetism and develop an understanding of its importance to our lives in the 21st century through the study of its applications such as loudspeakers and microphones.

Work and Heating and Cooling

The concept of “Work done” as a description of energy transfer is introduced. Students practice calculating the amount of work done in different contexts and gain an understanding of how levers and pulleys allow make work easier by reducing the force needed. The transfer of thermal energy is studied in the second half of this topic with students gaining the understanding required to be able to evaluate claims made by insulation or clothing manufacturers about the effectiveness of their products.

Wave effects and Wave properties

In this topic students relate the impact of different waves on cells. The uses of ultrasound are studied and the differences between sound and light in terms of direction of vibration relative to the direction of the wave are covered.

Periodic table and Elements

What is the difference between elements and compounds? Why are there only around 100 naturally occurring substances in the Periodic Table when we are surrounded by thousands of different types of material? Students deconstruct the Periodic Table by looking at the first 20 elements. They then look at trends and properties of some of the elements in group 1 and group 7. Students make predictions regarding the properties of other elements in these groups based on their observations.

Chemical energy and types of reaction

Why does burning release heat? Why do some reactions feel cold? Students answer these and other questions through the study of the energy changes that occur during chemical reactions. They further develop their skill in balancing chemical equations and begin to make predictions about the mass of products formed by a given amount of a particular reactant.

Climate and Earth’s Resources

How do we extract iron from its ore? Why didn’t the Victorians use aluminium in their engineering? Are humans causing climate change? Students apply their knowledge of the reactivity series to the method used to extract metals from their ores.  The carbon cycle is studied and the impact of our use of fossil fuels evaluated.

Breathing and Digestion

Students study the structure and function of these two key systems. They look at the impact of lifestyle on both systems and evaluate the effectiveness of different diets and treatments for lung cancer.

Respiration and Photosynthesis

Students unlock the processes needed to maintain life on Earth. They study respiration by investigating the action of yeast during fermentation and develop an understanding of the differences between aerobic and anaerobic respiration. The structure of a leaf is investigated and linked to the need to supply light, carbon dioxide and water to cells so that photosynthesis can occur.

Evolution and Inheritance

What is natural selection? Why is biodiversity essential? Who were Watson, Crick and Franklin? Should we genetically modify food crops? Students gain an insight into the complex world of genetics and evolution through the study of DNA, chromosomes and genes and how they are transferred during reproduction. The causes of extinction are studied as well as the importance of maintaining biodiversity for the benefit of humans.

Year 9

Cells and Genes

Students build on their knowledge from Year 8 and now focus on content that links more closely to GCSE. They look in detail at the structure of DNA and the function of different organelles within a cell. Finally, students develop their understanding of genetics and inheritance.

Forces and Energy

This topic bridges the gap between concepts taught in Year 8 and 7 and builds on principles that are needed for GCSE. Students consider the notions of moments and pressure, concluding with an in-depth mathematical look at speed.

Chemical reactions

Linking complex chemical theories to students prior understating, and building on what they already know so that they can succeed at GCSE is the main aim of this topic. Developing student’s ability to balance equations and have a deeper understanding of what is happening during a chemical reaction; they meet terminology such as Exothermic, Endothermic and look closer at what happens during a chemical reaction especially at an atomic level.

The Elton High School