Science at GHS by

What have the Scientists been up to last month?

Encouraging a passion and understanding of Science

Year 7 and 8: Science Badges

The opportunity to be involved with these badges has been advertised to all Year 7 and 8 students. There are 29 badges to choose from - the student can choose a badge they would like to do and then get stuck in completing tasks set out on the document. They have to do tasks that add up to at least 20 points to gain the badge/ certificate. Go to this website link to find out the type of badges there are:

This is voluntary - the lab is open one lunch hour a week, and students can also work on these at home. All Year 8 will be working on the investigation badge later this term and into Term 3. This will be linked to Science Fair type investigations. In Term 4 Year 7 will all be working on a badge too.

Year 9 and 10: Science Snacks

We have put together a programme for Year 9 and 10 called Science Snacks. The students will be working on this one period a fortnight but can also work on it in their own time or pop into a lab at lunchtime if they would like to. Again, there is choice in this - science linked to other subjects / interests - photography, art, design and technology, film, “magic”, food, environmental matters eg solar power etc. There are currently 23 certificates available with more being added as we go. If students have an interest in something and it cannot fit under the topics we can design to suit them. If they gain 3 certificates in a certain area ie Design and Technology they will gain a Diploma in Science in Design and Technology. We expect each student to complete a minimum of 2 certificates per year. This is definitely achievable, even if they are only using class time - there is a lot of hands on/ practical involved and we have kept writing to a minimum - but if students are interested and want to write more they can.

Science Fair

Some classes will soon be heading into preparing projects for the Science Fair. Some of the activities that the students have been working on in their Science Badges and Science Snacks create a very good base for a Science Fair type investigation if the student would like to take it further.

Year 7

We have now gained our bunsen burner licences and a whole lot of new skills and are moving on to use the skills in the form of kitchen chemistry! This is where we find out about white powders found in the kitchen, and the chemical properties they have. We are carrying out analysis using 4 different chemical methods to see how the white powders react. We will then be working like detectives to determine what is contained in some mystery white powders. After that we move on to look at acids and bases.

Year 8

We have had our first Year 8 Science assessment on the topic Communities.  This was a booklet we partly filled in on our Peel Forest trip. We have learnt how important it is to read questions carefully and answer what is being asked. We also now know that it is important to give everything a go. We have moved on and started the “Air We Go” unit which incorporates some Chemistry and Physics - looking at the particle state of matter and how particles behave in different temperatures. So far we have done a lot of experimenting to see if we can discover how particles make up solids, liquids and gases. Self management is really important in this topic with the number of practicals that are occurring .

Year 9

Miss Richmond’s class has finished up their Chemistry Unit “What’s the Matter?” and have now moved on to the unit about plants. As well as the experimental side they have looked at the biological naming of plants and how genus and species fit in. The other classes are about to start on the Chemistry unit called “What’s the Matter” where they extend their knowledge gained in Year 8 (the particle state of matter) and start to investigate elements, compounds and mixtures. They will have a challenge coming up soon - working in a group to solve a problem of separating out a container of mixed up ingredients!

Year 10

Mr Moulton’s class is now working on the Metallica chemistry unit. They have spent time investigating reactions, and learning how to write formula and chemical equations. They have been able to use a game of “Ions Battleship” to help with their learning and investigation of chemical reactions. The other classes have just about finished their unit on Genetics - how we pass on genetic information through mitosis and meiosis. We have worked on how to skim read and scan and annotate text, and how important it is to be able to put information into our own words. We have had a good look at a marking rubric so we can understand how to use this as a helpful tool in our learning. Their assessments will be handed in this week/ early next week.

Level 1 Science

We have just about completed our second standard for the year - a Physics unit on Mechanics. This is assessed as an exam at the end of the year. We have been introduced to speed, acceleration, forces, pressure, energy, work and power. A strong link to Maths, with the skill of being able to rearrange an equation being important. We have used tools that help us understand this topic - forcemeters, cars and ramps, and different surfaces (friction force) to investigate stopping distances. We have also signed up to a STEM programme for this topic which is run through the University of Auckland, plus, we have a free term of Education Perfect that allows students to practice what they have learnt online.

Level 2 Biologists

The biologists have completed their first internal assessment on the Opuha rivers and lake. Each student investigated an environmental condition that may have affected the number of invertebrates in at least two different locations. This involved a number of field trips - either to the Wahi river to practice, or to Opuha to gather data. Chris Konings from Waterwatch supported this so a big thank you to him! The class have quickly moved on and used the microscope skills they learnt in the Ecology unit, to look at cells and their organelles. They have just completed their second internal for the year - a practical based one - being able to make up a slide accurately so the required cell can be seen under a microscope. 

Level 3 Biologists

The biologists have spent some time looking into plants and how they respond to the environment. Why and how do plants grow towards the light? What is the mechanism that allows a venus flytrap to open and close? We have run a few simple investigations and now have a number of bean plants adorning the windowsills in O6! We are now looking at animals and how they respond to the environment, but also looking at how we tell time and the biological clocks we have ticking away inside us. This week we can hopefully find some woodlice/ slaters and have a look at their behaviour. This topic is externally assessed at the end of the year.

Level 2 Chemistry

We have been looking at completing titrations in chemistry. This is an important skill for anyone wanting to follow a chemistry pathway. The students have learned about the importance of accuracy and precision when completing experiments. Along with the practical component, students are then completing calculations to work out the concentration of acids and bases, as well as, predicting what mass of product will form in the reaction.

Level 3 Chemistry

We have been preparing for external exams, looking at organic molecules. This is extremely important as organic chemistry is all around us, from the food and medicine we consume, and the fuels and plastics we rely on. Once we have finished learning about the different types of molecules we will begin looking at data and how to distinguish between the molecules.

Level 2 Physics

We are just finishing up our third mechanics investigation for our internal portfolio. Some of the algebra has been a challenge, but now most have got the hang of it. We are also revising for a Mechanics end of topic test, which is a big deal since it’s an external worth 6 credits. Next we will make a start on Atomic physics with a focus on what Lord Rutherford contributed to this field.

Level 3 Physics

At last we have finally finished the mechanics theory which has taken up all our time so far this year. The mystery of simple harmonic motion and how to analyse it is starting to become clear. We are planning on having an end of topic test in week 5. Next is preparation for the practical investigation which builds on last years investigation skills. This year we can say for certain whether our results support the theory or not.

Level 1 Ag - are currently completing their second internal assessment where they have to demonstrate knowledge of the impact on the environment of primary production management practices. Here students select positive and negative management practices on farm and discuss how these impact the soil, water, air and other organisms. We have looked at management practices such as the indiscriminate spreading of effluent, riparian planting along waterways, crop rotation and the incorrect use of herbicides and pesticides.

Level 2 Ag - We are working on the preparation for our second internal assessment - demonstrate knowledge of livestock reproduction technologies. In this unit the students have looked at the reproductive systems of livestock, the control of these systems by hormones and are now beginning to look at technologies used on farm. We will look at a range of technologies from Artificial Insemination, embryo transfer, use of CIDR and scanning and how these technologies are used to improve economic productivity.

Year 9 Ag - have just finished their Beef and Dairy unit. During this we have looked at everything from beef and dairy breeds, the history of dairy farming in New Zealand to what is in the milk we drink. We did some cool investigations looking at the properties and components of milk by doing milk rainbows. This allowed us to look at the difference in fat content between green and blue top milk, tested milk with orange juice, lemonade and tea to see how it reacts with substances of differing pH and finally used the protein in milk to make milk plastic. We are now ready to start a unit on Poultry.

Year 10 Ag - are currently looking at a unit on Animal Production. In this unit we look the products that come from farm animals, livestock anatomy, digestion, animal health and finish by looking at the calendar of events on both dairy and sheep farms. We are also continuing to maintain the gardens we have planted.