The aims of the Science department are:
- To make Science interesting, inspiring and relevant to everyday life (and hopefully sometimes fun).
- To increase pupils' understanding of the world around them and their understanding of Science as being a set of theories tested and proven by the collection and analysis of reliable empirical data.
- To follow the National Curriculum at KS3 to build up pupils' skills in terms of planning, developing and carrying out investigations and other enquiries and reflecting on the outcomes.
- To prepare pupils thoroughly for GCSE AS and A level exams and the submission of BTEC portfolios so that pupils can achieve their full potential and gain useful qualifications.
- To give pupils the opportunity to practise and develop the useful key skills of literacy, oracy, application of number, communication, IT, working with others, problem solving and improving their own learning and performance.
- To give pupils as much chance as possible to experience engaging and enjoyable science outside of the classroom.
At KS3 all pupils study Science through a series of topics such as "Living Things", "Reproduction", "Acids and Alkalis" and "Electricity".
The modules all have a practical element and a range of other activities aimed at developing key skills.
All year 7 pupils go on a field trip to Parc Penglais and there is an optional field trip to RSPB Ynyshir in year 8 as well as an annual trip to Science Week activities at Aberystwyth university. There are also ocassional visits and demonstration lectures from speakers from various organisations such as Science Made Simple and the Royal Society of Chemistry.
A team of KS3 pupils competes in the Salter's Science competition and KS3 pupils represent the school in the national Top of the Bench Chemistry competition.
There is a "hands on" Science club every Thursday lunchtime for year 7 pupils to take part in fun practical work and challenges.
At KS4 most pupils study for two WJEC Science GCSEs: Core and Additional Science.
Some of the cohort are selected to study for the BTEC First Certificate in Applied Science instead (worth the equivalent of a grade C at GCSE).
There is also the option to study separate Sciences for which pupils study the core and additional science syllabii and take extra modules to gain three separate GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Pupils are usually taught by three specialist teachers. The GCSEs include both written papers and practical assessments while the BTEC is entirely portfolio based with pupils completing a series of assignments over the course of the year.
We have a good track record at KS4 with over 75% of pupils gaining a grade A* - C or equivalent in 2011.
KS4 pupils are given the opportunity to attend three lectures a year given by visiting speakers at Aberystwyth university as part of the West Wales Association of Scientists (WWAYs). programme.
KS4 pupils also represent the school in the Top of the Bench Chemistry competition.
At KS5 we offer Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Geology AS and A levels, all taught by specialist teachers.
We have a good track record with most pupils achieving their target grades or above. We often have pupils successfully gaining places to study science related degrees at Oxford or Cambridge.
Biology students usually have the opportunity to enter the national Biology Olympiad competition. Physics students participate in various projects e.g. the Engineering Science Scheme Wales (ESSW) competition and the UKAYRoC rocket competition.
Geology students visit Arran and the Pembrokeshire coast for field trips.
Chemistry underpins our everyday existence
It is responsible for advances in the quality and comfort of our lives and is central to our understanding of the natural world. Everyday items we take for granted such as washing powders, cosmetics, perfumes, toothpaste and toiletries were developed with the help of chemists.
Exciting products such as new fabrics for sportswear, laptops and state of the art mobile phones are all dependent on chemistry.
Many of the challenges facing today's society will be overcome with the help of chemists. Their work is essential to the development of sustainable energy resources and new medicines.
A qualification in chemistry is highly regarded in the outside world as it teaches many of the most important key skills. Chemistry is not only important as a subject in its own right but is a prerequisite for many other degree courses e.g. medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, biochemistry, chemical engineering etc.
At Penglais, chemistry is studied as part of science at key stages 3 and 4 with an option to study it as a separate GCSE at KS4. It is a popular choice at A level and we have two classes in both years 12 and 13.
Every year we take part in the Salters Festival of Chemistry and the Royal Society of Chemistry 'Top of the Bench' competition, where we have reached the UK final on a number of occasions.
Physics is the most basic and fundamental of all the sciences. Physicists want to REALLY understand how things work, in every detail and at the deepest level.
This includes everything from elementary particles, to nuclei, atoms, molecules, macromolecules, living cells, solids, liquids, gases, plasmas, living organisms, the human brain, complex systems, supercomputers, the atmosphere, planets, stars, galaxies, and the universe itself.
The Physics department has its own department website http://penglaisschoolphy.blogspot.co.uk/ which contains past papers and more information.