What is science about?

Science is a way of investigating, understanding, and explaining our natural, physical world and the wider universe. It involves generating and testing ideas, gathering evidence – including by making observations, carrying out investigations and modelling, and communicating and debating with others – in order to develop scientific knowledge, understanding, and explanations. Scientific progress comes from logical, systematic work and from creative insight, built on a foundation of respect for evidence. Different cultures and periods of history have contributed to the development of science.

Why study science?

Science is able to inform problem solving and decision making in many areas of life. Many of the major challenges and opportunities that confront our world need to be approached from a scientific perspective, taking into account social and ethical considerations.

By studying science, students:

  • develop an understanding of the world, built on current scientific theories
  • learn that science involves particular processes and ways of developing and organising knowledge and that these continue to evolve
  • use their current scientific knowledge and skills for problem solving and developing further knowledge
  • use scientific knowledge and skills to make informed decisions about the communication, application, and implications of science as these relate to their own lives and cultures and to the sustainability of the environment.

Learning Areas within the science faculty:

Junior Science- Years 9 and 10

The junior science programme is a two year course. Throughout the course, students learn what science is and how scientists work. They develop the skills, attitudes, and values to build a foundation for understanding the world. They come to appreciate that while scientific knowledge is durable, it is also constantly re-evaluated in the light of new evidence. They learn how scientists carry out investigations, and they come to see science as a socially valuable knowledge system. They learn how science ideas are communicated and to make links between scientific knowledge and everyday decisions and actions. These outcomes are learnt through contextual units in which scientific knowledge and understanding is developed.

Each unit of work brings together relevant theory from the chemistry, biology, physics, and earth and space sciences in order to achieve an understanding and appreciation of science skills and concepts. Units are based on an essential question about the world we live in, and students are guided through inquiry lessons to achieve the goals of the programme and the national curriculum.


Junior Science Topics:

Year 9 Year 10
Mythbusting Our Waitemata Backyard
Building Blocks NZ: Past, Present, and future
Survivor Westlake Building and Structures
Bang Goes The Theory Move It or Lose It!
Heat My House I’ve Got the Power
What Are You Eating?


Science in Year 11

Science study in Year 11 aims to provide a broad and balanced science education which enables students to develop an understanding of concepts in all four science strands, while meeting the demands of NCEA Level 1*. The general science course aims to further students understanding of science concepts and phenomena, while giving students’ opportunity to demonstrate investigation and research skills developed in the junior programme. Extension classes, which are in addition to the general course, provide challenge and focus towards two of chemistry, biology, and physics.

*Currently, IGCSE courses in chemistry, biology, and physics are available for students invited into the CIE pathway from Year 10 in 2016.

Science in Year 12 and 13

Students make decisions on which strands of science they are most interested in pursuing. Biology, Chemistry, and Physics are separate options for study from Year 12. Study in all three areas is discouraged, as this will reduce the breadth of learning areas in a students’ overall curriculum, although there are exceptions.

Students wishing to continue in science study without specialising can do so, by taking a general science course. The programme in Year 12 and 13 general science includes aspects from all three main science strands.

*Currently, CIE courses in chemistry, biology, and physics are taught at both AS-Level and A-Level, continuing the CIE pathway in sciences from IGCSE in Year 11.

Biology – The living world strand

Biology is about living things and how they interact with each other and the environment. Students develop an understanding of the diversity of life and life processes, of where and how life has evolved, of evolution as the link between life processes and ecology, and of the impact of humans on all forms of life. As a result, they are able to make more informed decisions about significant biological issues. The emphasis is on the biology of New Zealand, including the sustainability of New Zealand’s unique fauna and flora and distinctive ecosystems.

Physics – The physical world strand

Physics provides explanations for a wide range of physical phenomena, including light, sound, heat, electricity, magnetism, waves, forces, and motion, united by the concept of energy, which is transformed from one form to another without loss. By studying physics, students gain an understanding of interactions between parts of the physical world and of the ways in which they can be represented. Knowing about physics enables people to understand a wide range of contemporary issues and challenges and potential technological solutions.

Chemistry – The material world strand

Chemistry involves the study of matter and the changes it undergoes. In their study of chemistry, students develop understandings of the composition and properties of matter, the changes it undergoes, and the energy involved. They use their understanding of the fundamental properties of chemistry to make sense of the world around them. They learn to interpret their observations by considering the properties and behaviour of atoms, molecules, and ions. They learn to communicate their understandings, using the symbols and conventions of chemistry. Using their knowledge of chemistry, they are better able to understand science-related challenges, such as environmental sustainability and the development of new materials, pharmaceuticals, and sources of energy.

For more information about individual courses, and course requirements, please see course information.

Science Staff:

Head of Faculty Mr M W Russell
Head of Junior Science Mrs C Phillips
Head of Senior Science Mr S McWilliams
Head of Biology Dr T Holden
Head of Chemistry Mr J Webster
Head of Physics Mr R Paton
Head Technician Mrs B Naylan
Assistant Head of Biology Miss J El-Labany
Assistant Head of Chemistry Dr I Burnett
Assistant Head of Physics Mr N Kennard