Science plays an important part in all aspects of modern life. At Durston House, the teaching of Science aims to stimulate the boys’ curiosity in finding out why things happen in the way they do. The acquisition of relevant scientific knowledge will benefit our boys as we prepare them for their future lives. From their first years at Durston, boys learn to ask scientific questions, handle scientific equipment and begin to appreciate the way Science affects our day-to-day lives. The subject is taught in a practical way, through experimentation and demonstrations, linking the boys’ work in the laboratories with the world outside wherever possible. Middle and Upper School boys are taught by Science graduate, specialist teachers in two fully equipped laboratories.
In Pre-Prep the principle focus of Science teaching is to enable boys to experience and observe phenomena by looking closely at the world around them. Boys use simple measuring methods and equipment, like the magnifying glass for observations. They make use of the local environment, such as the woodland area at Castlebar Playing Field, to explore and ask scientific questions. They learn to identify, classify, gather and record basic data, discuss the growth of plants and animals, examine everyday materials and build a basic scientific vocabulary. Boys are encouraged to be curious and notice patterns. Outings to Kew Gardens and the London Aquarium enhance the curriculum further.
In Years 3-4, boys broaden their scientific view of the world around them. They develop and test ideas about everyday phenomena and develop a deeper understanding of the relationships between living things and their environments. They learn to ask their own questions about what they observe, and make decisions about which types of scientific enquiry are best suited to answering their questions. Overall, boys are encouraged to work individually and collaboratively to carry out investigations and to develop a body of knowledge on which to base future learning. Emphasis is placed on the importance of scientific enquiry in the outside world and its impact on our lives, both now and in the future. Boys develop a deeper understanding of habitats, plant growth and learn the importance of nutrition, digestion and the skeleton in particular. An Outing to London Zoo is used to enhance these parts of the curriculum. Additionally, the characteristics of light, forces, sound and electricity are discussed. Boys continue to develop a deeper understanding of materials and how they change.
Science in Years 5-6 is still taught as an integrated discipline, but looks towards a separation of subjects in preparation for Year 7. Boys continue to develop scientific skills by making their own decisions on how to conduct investigations. They continue to build and use scientific language to discuss, communicate and justify their findings. Boys learn about mixtures, the changes of state and solubility. They build upon their understanding of forces; the main focus being on gravity, friction and magnetism. Electricity and the Solar System are also taught and Year 6 boys visit the Science Museum to enhance their studies about Space. Pupils develop a deeper understanding of flowering plants, classification and the importance of variation in species. They further their understanding of cells, organ systems, health and disease and learn how to use a microscope. A Science Activity is offered after school for boys to enhance further their learning.
Years 7-8 boys are able to understand and discuss a range of scientific ideas in all three subject disciplines of Biology, Chemistry and Physics. They begin to see connections between these subject areas and become aware of some of the big ideas underpinning scientific knowledge and understanding. They are encouraged to relate scientific explanations to phenomena in the world around them and to start to use modelling and abstract ideas to develop, analyse and evaluate explanations. In Chemistry, boys learn about trends in the periodic table, chemical reactions, the reactivity series of metals and a variety of chemical tests, whilst experimenting as often as possible. In Physics boys deepen their understanding of forces, motion and energy, often integrating data loggers and IT technology. In Biology, pupils learn about several organ systems in detail, and photosynthesis. They also complete an ecological survey during their annual Trip to Snowdonia, in June, to support their studies on ecology.