Nurturing curiosity and knowledge
The Science Department’s aim is to provide pupils with challenges and stimuli to develop knowledge and creativity through independent learning. Pupils learn scientific enquiry skills, problem solving skills, experimental design and investigative methods, evaluation skills, a responsible attitude toward health and safety, as well as the opportunity to use and develop IT skills to assist in the learning process and to record and analyse data. Pupils learn to respect the natural environment around them, with the beautiful School grounds used at every opportunity within all three-science disciplines. The courses aim to encourage pupil curiosity and interest in how they and the world around them works, as well as an appreciation of the contribution science makes to society.
A diverse and wide range of fascinating subjects
In the three years of the Junior Department, pupils are taught Science as a single subject, but which looks at key areas in the three disciplines of Biology, Chemistry and Physics. In Year 3 pupils learn about plants, seed dispersal and the environment, healthy eating habits, teeth and food, sounds and how our ears work, and vertebrates and invertebrates. In Year 4 they look at many aspects of living things, such as the basic human life cycle compared with other creatures, joints and muscles and the effects of exercise on the human body, food groups and healthy eating. They also look at light and the solar system, and begin to look at different materials and their properties, such as rocks and soils, solids, liquids and gases. In year 5 pupils learn about electricity and magnetism, the water cycle, and ecology and the environment, including food chains, decomposition and the life cycle.
Starting in Year 6, pupils have separate lessons in Biology, Chemistry and Physics, taught by subject specialists, with a double period for each subject each week. In Biology, pupils study the human skeleton and organs, the characteristics of vertebrates and invertebrates, the characteristics of fungi, nutrition and digestion, photosynthesis, habitats, the use of microscopes, cells, microbes, breathing and respiration, the effects of smoking and drug abuse. In their final year pupils also study reproduction in flowering plants and in humans.
In Chemistry, pupils learn how to carry out investigations, study temperature and physical and chemical changes such as melting, freezing and evaporating, look at the properties of metals and non-metals and the Periodic Table, acids and alkalis, oxygen, air and rocks.
In Physics, pupils look at length, area, volume, mass and time, light, reflection and refraction, the Solar System, sound, speed, heat transfer, forces, electricity, magnetism and electromagnetism, energy conversion and efficiency as well as alternative energy.
Outstanding facilities and unparalleled opportunities in a beautiful environment
The Science Department is housed in five, large, purpose-built laboratories surrounding a grassed courtyard where the department’s wildlife feeding stations are located. All the laboratories within the department are very well equipped as great emphasis is placed on a practical approach to learning. Each laboratory has access to the Science Department’s laptops; which are linked to the school’s intranet as well as to the internet. Pupils are able to access a wealth of study materials through the school's Virtual Learning Environment (Frog VLE) wherever they have a computer and internet access. The department also includes a large well stocked preparation room, a greenhouse and a bog garden. A number of animals including gerbils, ferrets, geckos, frogs and fish also form an added attraction for pupils within the department. The school’s extensive grounds are often used during practical work in all three science disciplines. Lessons are backed up with relevant and interesting trips to such locations as Paignton Zoo and Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.
Six enthusiastic and committed teachers and a laboratory technician ensure each pupil has the opportunity to experience the positive and dynamic approach the department offers. The small teaching groups at MPS enable the staff to identify and meet individual learning preferences and styles whether the pupils are working towards Scholarship, Continuous Curriculum or our Adapted Continuous Curriculum examinations. Pupils are always expected to play an active role in all lessons.
Each year our pupils take part in many national competitions, some of which are open to pupils up to the age of 16. Our Year 7 pupils have won and been runners up in the Association for Science Education ‘Science Challenge’ Competition. A team of Year 5 pupils were the 'Quiz Club National Science Quiz' regional winners for 2011. Similarly some of our Year 8 pupils have gained both first and second places in the Salters’ Festival of Chemistry held at Bath University. MPS has also won and been highly commended in the British Naturalists Association ‘Blake Shield Award’ for pieces of original research.