Through providing opportunities to investigate our own preconceptions, to discover relationships between variables, to experiment, to create models. While some of the learning opportunities may seem mundane at times, the effect of the sum of them is to create a mind that is open to new ideas, that can weigh up facts and identify trends, that is inquisitive, that asks questions and seeks answers, that can appreciate that the answer may not exist, but can identify how to start searching for it.
The teachers within the Science Faculty have worked hard throughout 2019 to develop opportunities to foster authentic and deep learning of the concepts being covered. The end goal of this learning continuum is to create inquisitive, independent, creative and lifelong learners. This can be seen in the HSC class of 2019 who have undertaken Depth Studies in Biology, Chemistry, Investigating Science and Physics. The variety and breadth of Depth Studies has been from the Physics of Fun Park Rides, to modelling metabolic functioning within cells and investigating factors affecting chemical equilibrium. However, the highlight of the investigations came from the Investigating Science course, where each of the 34 students posed individual questions from ‘is ethanol production from fermentation of sugars dependent on the type of saccharide present’ to ‘the effect of microplastic on yellowtail fish in enclosed and open waterways’. The rich learning that was demonstrated by these young men was, no doubt, reflective of both the boys interests in these fields of studies, but also the passionate teachers that have helped guide them throughout their schooling.
The Depth Studies undertaken by the HSC classes is the culmination of a learning continuum beginning in Year 7 where the boys carry out their first Student Research Project (SRP). The focus of the SRP is to develop skills in Working Scientifically, being able to pose a question that can be investigated, research what is already known, formulate a hypothesis that can be tested, identify any safety concerns and create a risk minimisation matrix, develop a cause effect methodology, record and analyse data, identify any sources of error that may have occurred and explain the effect they may have had on the data and then communicate the findings. Each year of the students’ journey from Year 7 to 10 sees the boys develop and build upon skills learnt in designing and carrying out these activities. Year 7 investigated the factors affecting the dissolution of a polysaccharide, Year 8 focussed on the pH of soft drinks, Year 9 looked at factors affecting the cooling rates of a liquid and Year 10 had the opportunity to choose an investigation that they were uniquely interested in.
2019 saw some fantastic learning opportunities outside of the gates at St Edward’s. Year 7 ventured to Taronga Zoo to further their working knowledge on classification. Year 11 Investigating Science had an amazing opportunity to explore, with an indigenous guide, the bush around Killcare, Pretty Beach, Tallow Beach and Boxhead. The focus of the day was to learn about traditional bush medicine, stewardship of the land and resource management. Year 11 Biology carried out an investigation of the mangrove ecosystems of the Brisbane Water. Physics visited Luna Park for their Depth Study.
The Science and Engineering Challenge was held for the 5th consecutive year at the College, with over 500 students from 16 schools attending and competing over 2 days. The partnership between the College, Newcastle University and the Rotary Clubs of the Central Coast is an ongoing enterprise that challenges students to be collaborative, think creatively and to work to a deadline to construct models, solve problems and communicate concisely. Our boys worked exceptionally well throughout the day and were vying for top honours going into the last activity of the day. However, they were pipped at the post and finished a very commendable second by only a handful of points.
Marine Studies has had a very busy year, with Year 9 learning skills in open water snorkelling, reading rips and currents and attending the Irukundji, Shark and Ray Centre in Port Stephens to further research dangerous marine creatures. Year 10 have successfully gained their NSW Boating Licences, attending the Sydney International Boat Show, heard from maritime industry employers, studied the rocky shore and created their own fishing rods. Many thanks to both Mr Michael Lord and Mr John Moloney for facilitating these opportunities.