In 2017 we were delighted to be the first independent school to be awarded the Platinum Science Mark. An understanding of Science is crucial for life in the 21st century and we take that responsibility very seriously. Whilst the exams (see below) are important we believe there is so much more to a full science education. Students at St Mary's are taught to question, to challenge the extents of their intellectual curiousity and to think seriously about the implications aof the applications of Science. This is achieved through lessons that are carefully planned to challenge misconceptions, to give students the opportunity to hone the key skills of science communication, to lead their own learning through inquiry and to read.
Alongside the lessons we run a number of key projects both in house and through external partners that expose the students to 'real' science. Over the next year we will be running air quality research in partnership with Dyson, building a Westfield car with Springfields school alongside a number of student led CREST projects at bronze and silver level.
We are extremely fortunate to have an established orchard in front of the science block. We have recently set up the Orchard Biodiversity Project as a long-term monitoring project and are currently focusing on lichens and moths. Our moth trap is set twice a month and students are learning to identify the extraordinary range of moths found with the help of a local moth expert. Every year in the autumn the Science Department runs Apple Day, a celebration of the year's harvest where the juice is pressed before being taken away to be pasteurised and bottled.
Our outside speakers are very important to our enrichment programme. In the last three years we have been fortunate to listen to the likes of Professor Dame Frances Ashcroft, Professor Alice Roberts Dr Helen Czerski and Libby Jackson.
National Science Week is a much anticipated event in the school calendar. Annually over 700 individuals from St Mary's, local primary schools and the Calne community participate in a variety of different Science events such as an Engineering in the Military evening fixing mini tank go karts, Brain Day, a focus day on Gravitational Waves, Dry ice workshops and our annual Great Science Bake Off competition. In 2018 we put a teddy bear, Mary Margaret, into near space. The data collected from her flight is used in our science lessons.
Our curriculum is built on the Big Ideas in Science to ensure that when students complete their compulsory science education with us they have a deep and holistic understanding of the nature of science.
We have a bespoke science curriculum for students joining us in the first two years. The aim is to stretch, inspire and to introduce the girls to the endless possibilities of science. Students in LIV study the three sciences separately but in two cross-curricular themes, the science of light and the science of the environment. For the MIV it is engineering - in Biology we look how nature allows us to see the laws of engineering in practice from the shape of a heart valve to the structure of a leaf. In Chemistry we explore the engineering involved in the contents of the girls' wash bags - the science behind emulsions, pigments and the distillation of fragrances. In Physics it is the science of bicycles, planes, bridges and skyscrapers. At the end of the MIV, students choose a project from one of the three science disciplines and complete a Bronze CREST award.
Girls in the UIV, LV and UV study for the Edexcel IGCSEs. Links to the courses can be found below:
• Edexcel IGCSE Biology
• Edexcel IGCSE Chemistry
• Edexcel IGCSE Physics
Biology: WJEC Eduqas A Level Biology (A400QSL)
Chemistry: OCR A Level Chemistry
Physics: Edexcel A Level Physics
The students use practical books in each subject to record evidence towards the important practical endorsement.
All students at VI form take part in Journal Club. We take a theme such as 'subglacial exploration' and the students are given reading from biological, chemical and physical perspectives. They read in advance and take it in turns to present and discuss.
Mr Joe Wood (Head of Science)