Inscribed on a 10th century Islamic dish, now sitting in the Louvre, in Paris, is the thoughtful wisdom, “Science, its taste is bitter at the beginning but, at the end, sweeter than honey”. While we do not set out to create a ‘bitter’ experience with the study of Science, we want the girls to experience the growth and enlightenment that is implied in this astute, ancient insight.

So how do we get students, especially those whose very first experience in Science is ‘a bitter taste’, to leave in Year 12 with a taste that is ‘sweeter than honey’? Well, we approach this through creating as many connections that are real to the world of science and its research. Students learn by interacting with their peers and teacher, the latter often acting, at most, as a ‘mediator’.

The psychologist Vygotsky, observed that student interaction with their peers is more influential in their learning than is any form of teacher-led learning. This reasonable conclusion sits alongside the research that shows clearly that great teachers make a real difference to girls’ learning. We appreciate the importance of allowing the girls opportunity to interact as they learn. In our Labs, a majority of the classes involve students performing experiments, during which time the teacher moves between groups encouraging individuals to ‘talk her thoughts out loud’ so that both speaker and listeners can act to modify each other’s ideas. The teacher (mediator) listens and poses questions that either gently guide student discussion to the accepted view of the world, or poses questions that create cognitive conflict, leading to further modification and a deeper understanding of the concept(s) the experiment demonstrates. Watching the frustration and frowns of students at the start of an activity, or activities, gives way to satisfaction and smiles; this is indeed an indication of a ‘bitter taste’ becoming ‘sweeter than honey’ and a fulfilling experience.

Through the students’ journey from Middle School through Senior School, they will encounter a range of mediators (teachers), from those with boundless wisdom to those whose forte is using the latest technology. One of the strengths of the ‘St Hilda’s Science experience’ that past students routinely highlight, is the fact that they themselves gained wisdom along with skills needed to excel in the 21st century.

Science in the Senior Years

In the senior years, students have to option of studying one or more of the following subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Physics or GriffChem.

Biology is the study of life in its many manifestations. It encompasses the study of living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, evolution, distribution and taxonomy, as well as living systems and the impact of intervention in these systems.

Chemistry is the study of matter and its properties; matter’s composition, structure, chemical reactions and interaction with energy. It is often considered ‘the central science’ as it bridges physics with the natural sciences such as biology.

Physics is the study of the natural world and how it works. It encompasses the study of the behaviour of objects and the forces that act on them; heat, temperature and energy; radioactivity; electromagnetism; and, light and sound, just to name a few.

GriffChem is a two-year Griffith University program taken over Years 11 and 12. Most topics studied closely mirror those studied in Years 11 and 12 school Chemistry, but are explored in more depth. Upon successful completion of the course, students gain automatic energy to Griffith-nominated Science programs as well as credit for Griffith 1023SCG Chemistry I or 1021SCG Chemistry IA.



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