Science Department

Dean of Science

Kathy Ryan


Science provides an empirical way of answering interesting and important questions about the biological, physical and technological world. The knowledge it produces has proved to be a reliable basis for action in our personal, social and economic lives. Science is a dynamic, collaborative and creative human endeavour arising from our desire to make sense of our world through exploring the unknown, investigating universal mysteries, making predictions and solving problems. Science aims to understand a large number of observations in terms of a much smaller number of broad principles. Science knowledge is contestable and is revised, refined and extended as new evidence arises.

The Science curriculum provides opportunities for students to develop an understanding of important science concepts and processes, the practices used to develop scientific knowledge, of science’s contribution to our culture and society, and its applications in our lives. The curriculum supports students to develop the scientific knowledge, understandings and skills to make informed decisions about local, national and global issues and to participate, if they so wish, in science-related careers.

In addition to its practical applications, learning science is a valuable pursuit in its own right. Students can experience the joy of scientific discovery and nurture their natural curiosity about the world around them. In doing this, they develop critical and creative thinking skills and challenge themselves to identify questions and draw evidence-based conclusions using scientific methods. The wider benefits of this “scientific literacy” are well established, including giving students the capability to investigate the natural world and changes made to it through human activity.


YEAR 7 Science

Science in Year 7 introduces students to the three dimensions of Science including: understanding science knowledge; science-based enquiry skills; and the influence and contribution of scientists throughout time.  The Science program will be both practical and theory based, with students undertaking experiments in the specialist laboratories available at Holy Spirit College. The broad areas of Science covered in Year 7 will be: Introduction to Science and Mixtures; Classification and Ecology; Forces; and Earth and Space Science.

YEAR 8  Science
The program for Year 8 Science will be both theory and practically based with students experiencing the specialist laboratories and equipment available at Holy Spirit College. In Year 8, students are introduced to cells as microscopic structures that explain macroscopic properties of living systems. They link form and function at a cellular level and explore the organisation of body systems in terms of flows of matter between interdependent organs. Similarly, they explore changes in matter at a particle level, and distinguish between chemical and physical change. They begin to classify different forms of energy, and describe the role of energy in causing change in systems, including the role of heat and kinetic energy in the rock cycle. Students use experimentation to isolate relationships between components in systems and explain these relationships through increasingly complex representations. They make predictions and propose explanations, drawing on evidence to support their views. The broad areas being covered throughout the year will be: Cells and Biological Systems, Geology, Matter and Energy and the Environment.

YEAR 9  Science
In Year 9, students consider the operation of systems at a range of scales. They explore ways in which the human body as a system responds to its external environment and the interdependencies between biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems. They are introduced to the notion of the atom as a system of protons, electrons and neutrons, and how this system can change through nuclear decay. They learn that matter can be rearranged through chemical change and that these changes play an important role in many systems. They are introduced to the concept of the conservation of matter and begin to develop a more sophisticated view of energy transfer. The broad areas being covered throughout the year will be: Body Systems, Evolution, Ecosystems and Chemical Bonding and Chemical Change.


YEAR 10  Science (Semester 1)
In the Year 10 curriculum, students explore systems at different scales and connect microscopic and macroscopic properties to explain phenomena. Students explore the biological, chemical, geological and physical evidence for different theories, such as the theories of the Greenhouse Effect, Fossil Fuels and Global Warming. Carbon Chemistry is developed to understand relationships within Fossil Fuels and Ethanol based products. Understanding motion and forces are related by applying physical laws. Relationships between aspects of the living, physical and chemical world are applied to systems on a local and global scale and this enables students to predict how changes will affect equilibrium within these systems. The broad areas being covered throughout the semester will be: Motion, Light, Greenhouse Effect, Fossil Fuels and Global Systems.

Science (Semester 2)
Introduction to Biology  Introductory Biology aims to inform and engage the students in the wonders of plant and animal life. To increase their knowledge of life, plant and animal systems are examined from the microscopic cellular level through to the tissue and systems level. Biology students will also learn the skills to be able to consider and report scientifically using a range of genres. Both modern and historical issues will be examined and scientifically evaluated through both direct classroom learning and through the use of secondary research sources.

Introduction to Chemistry  Introductory Chemistry aims to inform and engage the students in the incredible chemical world we live in, through the understanding of materials from the atomic level through to the bonding and use of metals and non-metals. Analytical laboratory skills are a significant component of this course and will engage the students in an active kinesthetic learning environment.

Introduction to Aquatic Practices  Aquatic Practices involves human interactions with the marine environment and the development of skills appropriate to enabling these interactions to be carried out safely and intelligently. It also involves economic and recreational pursuits and issues relating to conservation of the marine environment and its resources. Hence, Marine Studies makes use of scientific knowledge of the sea, its inhabitants, the shores and the sea floor. Australia is a seaboard nation; therefore, a study of the sea and how people interact with it is relevant to its citizens. Marine industries are major contributors to our economic well-being in such sectors as food supply, mineral resources, trade, tourism and transport.

Introduction to Physics

Introductory Physics provides the opportunity for students to access, process and communicate information so that they may be culturally and scientifically informed and aware of the physical world. The course focusses on:

  • methods of empirical science and the expression of natural laws in mathematical form;
  • the fundamental laws of nature and some of the observable phenomena which result from them.

Biology – OP
To develop in students:

  • a knowledge and understanding of the living world;
  • the capacity to identify, gather, manipulate and process information;
  • an ability to apply the biological understanding, skills and mental processes to public issues;
  • the capacity to communicate competently in various formats on biological issues;
  • recognition of the unique nature of Australian ecosystems;
  • an appreciation that Homo Sapiens occupy a unique position in the biosphere and from this position derives certain responsibilities of stewardship;
  • an appreciation of the complexity and beauty of biological phenomena.

Some exciting topics of study within the HSC Biology Program are:

  • Foundations of Life – Classification and Cell Biology
  • Bush to Beach – Ecology
  • It’s good to be Green! – Plant Physiology
  • The Animal in Me! – Animal Physiology
  • The Essence of Life – Reproduction and Disease
  • How did I become me? – Genetics
  • Past to Present – Evolution

Chemistry – OP
Through a course of study in Chemistry, students should develop:

  • the capacity to work scientifically in chemistry contexts;
  • the skills to engage in informed chemistry inquiry and investigation techniques safely beyond the school context;
  • an ability to engage in solving chemistry problems in everyday contexts;
  • an ability to use technology productively in chemistry contexts;
  • an ability to understand and appreciate the chemistry encountered in everyday life;
  • a capacity to work as part of a team engaging in cooperative activity;
  • an ability to communicate chemical understandings;
  • an appreciation of the issues and impacts of chemistry.

Some of the exciting contextualised units of work that are incorporated in the HSC Senior Chemistry Program are:

Sweet Chemistry: a unit based around the separation techniques used in industry with a local link to the Sugar Industry.
Should I Dive In?: a detailed look at the Chemistry involved in water quality with particular emphasis on pool water chemistry.
Just One More Drink!: the Chemistry of wine making. Students will learn about the qualities of a good wine as well as make and test wine for the attributes such as alcohol and sulphur content.

Marine Studies – OP
The aim of Marine Studies in Senior Secondary Schools is to provide for the development of knowledge, processes, skills, attitudes and values that will enable students to develop:

  • Knowledge and understanding of our maritime interests and Marine Environment;
  • Awareness of the value of the sea and coastal zone;
  • Awareness of the necessity for wise management of the Marine Environment for present and future generations;
  • Ability to use the Marine Environment wisely;
  • Competence in basic mariner skills;
  • Ability to communicate positive attitudes and values about our maritime interests and Marine Environment;
  • Water ethic amongst Australians so future generations may benefit from its resources;
  • Appreciation of the complexity and diversity of Marine Ecology and the inter-connectedness of Marine Systems.

Some exciting topics of study within the HSC Marine Studies Program are:

  • Boating
  • Navigation
  • Personal Water Skills
  • Weather and Tides
  • Aquarium Studies
  • Recreational Fishing and Food Preparation
  • Commercial Applications of the Sea

Physics – OP
Through a course of study in Physics, students should develop:

  • the capacity to work scientifically in physics contexts;
  • the skills to engage in informed scientific inquiry and safe investigation techniques beyond the school context to solve physics problems;
  • an ability to use technology productively in physics;
  • an ability to understand and appreciate the physics encountered in everyday life;
  • a capacity to work as part of a team engaging in cooperative activity;
  • an ability to communicate understandings of physics;
  • an appreciation of the issues and impacts of physics.

The new HSC Physics syllabus includes some exciting contextualised units:

Cars – Speed and Safety: This unit allows students to explore many of the concepts developed from Newton’s Laws of Motion in the familiar context of motor vehicles.
Amusement Park Physics: Rides in amusement or theme parks provide an interesting way of demonstrating the application mechanics of some important concepts in Physics.
The Sounds of Music: A look at how instruments create sound and how the properties of sound are considered in the design of concert halls.
Physics in the Home: Everything in the home in terms of making our lives comfortable and enjoyable is reliant directly or indirectly on Physics. The unit looks at how electricity and water are brought to our homes.