Gabrielle Gunn 
Head of Science

‘The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.’- Albert Einstein

‘The most exciting phrase to hear in Science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I found it!) but ‘That’s funny…’ Isaac Asimov

Year 7 and 8

The focus at Years 7 and 8 is to encourage the students’ natural curiosity about the world around them, to develop their observational and thinking skills and inform their problem solving and decision making.  There is a strong emphasis on practical investigations, creative problem solving and the safe and correct use of scientific equipment.

The concept of the scientific method is introduced and students are encouraged in class activities to plan their own experiments and constructively criticise their own investigations. Topics such as 
‘forensic science’ and ‘environmental education’ introduce students to skills of problem-solving, co-operation and evaluation. Year 7 students complete an independent investigation for their First CREST Award and for homework they complete tasks towards Science Badges. Year 8 students are encouraged to continue with this and they also complete their Primary CREST Award which involves an independent science investigation.

As well as being integral to all lessons, the Nature of Science strand of the New Zealand Curriculum and Thinking Skills are addressed explicitly in a weekly programme that incorporates CASE (Professor Philip Adey, Kings College University of London’s Cognitive Acceleration through Science Education programme). This programme, developed by Professor Philip Adey of Kings College (University of London), is based on practical activities which are guided by three central principles of cognitive conflict, social construction and meta-cognition. 

Year 9 and 10

Many of the major challenges and opportunities that confront our world need to be approached from a scientific perspective. Through the sciences, students develop an understanding of the world built on current scientific theories and use their scientific knowledge for problem-solving and to gain an understanding of its implications and relevance in their own lives.

While undertaking studies of plants and animals, chemicals, physical phenomena, relationships and patterns, development of observation, experimental, problem solving and research skills, and gaining scientific attitudes, students are able to recognise the importance of scientific knowledge and processes in the home, industry and the world around them. Students carry out several independent investigations throughout the year and complete a wide range of challenges of their 

Year 9 students work towards the Bronze CREST awards which promote high level, ethical and independent scientific thinking and they participate in the School Science Fair. Investigations are chosen from these to enter in the NIWA Regional Science and Technology Fair.

Year 10 students also complete an innovative task on New Zealand’s biodiversity, linking the methodical and creative aspects of both Science and Art and have the opportunity to participate in a bridge building challenge.

In Year 10 motivated and interested students may begin preparation for the Brain Bee, a competition in neuro-sciences open to Year 11 students.

Year 11

The Science course is divided into three modules, one each of Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The course prepares students for five Level 1 NCEA Science achievement standards each worth four credits. Two of the standards are internally assessed and three externally assessed. Each unit is taught in a block course. The classes rotate in order to share the expertise of specialist teachers in each of the scientific disciplines.

International Brain Bee Challenge
The Brain Bee Quiz is a challenging and stimulating optional extension to the Science course which is designed to capture the imagination of secondary students and motivate them to learn about neuroscience.  It introduces concepts relating to the human brain and nervous system, and includes the study of anatomy, neurochemistry, emotions, sleep and Alzheimer’s and stroke. Participants sit multi-choice web-based questions from school early in Year 11.  Those who qualify, progress to the North Island championship at Auckland University.  Two Marsden students have won the New Zealand Challenge and participated in the World Final.

NZIFST CREST Student Product Development Challenge
Year 11 students may choose as an extension activity to participate in this demanding team challenge working with a mentor in the food industry to develop a novel product.

Year 12 and 13

Year 12 and 13 – students may choose to take any or all of the three science subjects offered,  Biology, Chemistry and Physics. In Biology students choose the NCEA course or a combined NCEA Cambridge AS level course, which provides interesting extension work.

The environment and sustainability
An ongoing environmental education programme is embedded in our Science courses.  As part of this, students from across the year groups have been responsible for setting up and maintaining several initiatives.

Students operate a worm farm and compost bin as well as a vegetable and herb garden planted with companion plants.  Plants are harvested from time to time for use in the Food Technology classes.  

There are weta hotels in the school grounds to provide eco-friendly living spaces to help preserve this interesting native species.

All Year 7 students participate in a programme which studies human impact on freshwater ecosystems. Students are involved in gathering and analysing data from streams, analysing and comparing stream environments and in Year 8 they participate in a planting project to enhance ecosystems. 

Paper recycling and battery recycling are ongoing projects.
The student environment and science committees run annual activities and fundraise to donate money to Victoria University of Wellington for the upkeep of Tuatara and also to a voluntary organisation in Costa Rica involved in replanting a corridor for the Great Green Macaw.

Please feel free to contact our Science Department.