Michaela Community School | Science at Michaela
Michaela Community School, Wembley

Science at Michaela

Science at Michaela

At Michaela all pupils study the three main fields of science: biology, chemistry and physics. Each year they study three units, with each of the three units based on a different field. During these units they study core theoretical knowledge that fully prepares them for GCSE, A-Level and beyond. Units are carefully prepared to balance this knowledge with relevant examples and introduce it in a systematic way. This knowledge is extended with information concerning the history of science. Pupils receive five one-hour long science lessons per week in which teachers go into the finest of details to teach them about all the many parts of our world and the Universe.

Michaela teachers have extremely high expectations of Michaela pupils and believe that pupils are capable of understanding even the most complicated science, even year seven pupils. This is because the world’s best universities accept only for the most knowledgeable pupils. Practicals are only ever carried out after content has been explicitly taught, and they are rarely carried out. We cannot teach our pupils to ‘think like scientists’. If teachers explicitly teach knowledge, skills will develop. Cognitive psychologists such as Daniel Willingham, Adriaan de Groot and Herbert Simon have found that skills are tied to background knowledge. As a result of these findings, Michaela teachers have recognised that time spent on card sorts, investigation, learning powers and ICT, is time not spent learning about the alkali metals or the halogens. Every minute counts at Michaela.

Year 7 Science

Unit 1 (Biology)

 a – Organelles

During the introduction to Biology at Michaela, pupils will learn about the building blocks of all organisms, which are known as cells, and the organelles that make up each type of cell. Pupils will learn how cells are organised into tissues, organs and organ system. Following this, pupils will learn about three organ systems found in the human body.

b – Reproduction

The female reproductive system is the first organ system that pupils learn about. They will learn about several organs that make up the reproductive system, such as the vagina and uterus, as well as two specialised cells: the ova and the sperm.

c – Respiration

The respiratory system is the second organ system that pupils learn about. They will learn about several organs that make up the respiratory system, such as the trachea and lungs. Pupils learn about gaseous exchange and respiratory diseases such as bronchitis.

d – Digestion

The digestive system is the third organ system that pupils learn about. They will learn about several organs that make up the digestive system, such as the oesophagus and small intestine, as well as three main nutrient groups: lipid, protein and starch. Pupils learn about adaptations of the small intestine and about processes such as absorption.

Unit 2 (Chemistry)

 a – Matter Introduction

During the introduction to Chemistry at Michaela, pupils will learn about a brief history of what some ancient Greek philosophers’ thought everything was made out of. They will learn that whilst some of their ideas were correct, recent scientific discoveries corrected and refined these ideas. They will also learn about what matter is and the differences between chemical and physical properties of matter.

b – Atomic Structure

Pupils will learn that the tiny building blocks of everything (including cells) are called ‘atoms’. Here, they will learn about sub-atomic particles.

c – Periodic Table

Before written history, people were aware of some the chemicals found in the Universe. Chemical elements such as gold, silver, copper, lead and tin, were well known. Pupils will learn about a scientific enquirer who organised all of the known chemical elements into a table. This table is still used all over the world by students and scientists today, as it is a map of every chemical that makes up the Universe. They will learn about the order of the Periodic Table and the chemical elements in it.

d – Matter Behaviour

Here, pupils will learn about how atoms attach to other atoms, and how this affects the behaviour of matter. They will learn about the intricacies of processes such as condensation and evaporation.

Unit 3 (Physics)

 a – Solar System

During the introduction to Physics at Michaela, pupils will learn about our Solar System, including its inner and outer planets. They will learn that six of the eight planets were named after figures from Roman mythology, as well as some characteristics of these planets. They will also learn about how and why our understanding of the Solar System has changed over many centuries.

b – Universe

Here pupils will have their minds blown by the gigantic size of the Universe. They will learn about how big a galaxy is and different scientific enquirers’ theories about how the Universe began. They will then discover some of the many recent explorations into space and what this tells us about our galaxy, the Milky Way.

Year 8 Science 

 Unit 4 (Biology)

 a – Specialised Plant Cells

Pupils learn about eight different specialised plant cells and how they are organised to form tissues, organs and organ systems within the plant, building on knowledge learned in Unit 1. Pupils learn about photosynthesis, during which they use knowledge learned in Unit 4 to recognise that light energy from the Sun provides the source of all chemical energy in our food.

b – Ecology

Pupils learn about the distribution of plants and carry out ecological field studies to investigate this in practice.

c – Control in Plants

Pupils learn about hormones that control plant growth, and the commercial uses of these growth hormones. They also learn about commercial aspects of plant breeding and discuss ethical issues surrounding genetic modification. Discussion of the practical uses of science ensures that knowledge stays relevant to everyday life.

 Unit 5 (Chemistry)

 a – Equations

In the first section of this unit, pupils learn how to construct chemical equations, and balance them too. They also understand the concept of ’conservation of mass’. This is vital knowledge for all aspiring scientists and it will help pupils to accurately represent all of the chemical reactions they will study in the future.

b – Chemical Reactions

In the second section of this unit, pupils learn about an array of chemical reactions including: combustion, thermal decomposition, redox reactions, displacement reactions, reactions of metals and reactions of acids and alkalis.

Unit 6 (Physics)

 a – Ions

Drawing upon knowledge acquired in Unit 2, pupils use what they know about sub-atomic particles to understand ions. This knowledge will come in handy when pupils learn that a delocalised electron is an electron not found in the energy level of an atom. Pupils then learn that electric current is the flow of delocalised electrons.

b – Electric Circuits

Pupils are introduced to the components that make up circuits. Pupils learn about concepts such as resistance and will be able to use this knowledge to explain why adding more lamps in series affects the brightness of each lamp, but not in parallel. Pupils be taught in detail about concepts such as voltage so that when they perform Ohms Law calculations, they will be able to provide detailed explanations.

c – Energy Transfers

Pupils learn about the Law of Conservation of Energy, which is a fundamental law in physics, as everything that happens in the Universe obeys this law. Such knowledge enables pupils to appreciate energy transfers that take place in electric circuits.

Year 9 Science 

 Unit 7 (Biology)

 a – Ecology

Pupils learn about genetic, variation and combined variation and how this leads to behavioural, functional and structural adaptations. Pupils apply their knowledge about variation and adaptations to predator and prey species, when they learn about food chains and webs.

b – Evolution

Pupils learn that some organisms are better adapted to survive in certain conditions, which leads to those favourable characteristics passing on to successive generations. Pupils learn that scientific theories are explanations of natural laws that have been confirmed by evidence and not disproved. This leads pupils on to learn about why Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection eventually gained respect, whilst Jean Baptiste Lamarck’s theory of acquisition fell out of favour.

c – Genetics

Pupils learn about the finer details of genetics. They learn about how base pairing forms the triplet code to produce proteins, which form structures, enzymes and hormones in the body. Pupils learn how to predict the probability that a child will inherit a genetic disorder through the construction of Punnett squares and genetic diagrams.

 Unit 8 (Chemistry)

 a – Chemical Bonding

In the third section of this unit, pupils learn about chemical bonds including: covalent bonds, ionic bonds and metallic bonds. This will in turn help them understand how chemical bonds change during chemical reactions and more about the atoms, molecules and compounds they met in Unit 2 and 4. Pupils apply what they learned about chemical bonding to learn about materials such as Buckminster fullerene and carbon nanotubes.

b – Molar Mass

Pupils learn how to calculate relative atomic mass and relative formula mass, using what they learned about atoms and the Periodic Table in Unit 2. In addition to this, pupils carry out mole calculations and apply this to the balanced chemical equations that they learned about in Unit 4.

c – Rates of Reactions

In the final section of this unit, pupils draw upon all their chemistry knowledge to learn about a variety of ways the rate of chemical reactions can be changed. They will look closely at catalysts and study collision theory.

Unit 9 (Physics)

a – Kinematics

As an introduction to the Newtonian universe, pupils learn the foundational concepts of vector analysis, velocity and acceleration, before proceeding on to an algebraic understanding of motion using the Galilean equations, and then a Cartesian understanding using graphical methods.

b – Force and Motion

Pupils consolidate their understanding of kinematics with a thorough grounding in Newton’s Laws of Motion and Gravitation. This leads into a consideration of the concepts of Momentum and Impulse, and the Conservation of Momentum through the specific cases of collisions and explosions. The section concludes with work on balance, stability and the Law of Moments.

c – Work and Energy

The role of force in deformations is used as an introduction to potential and kinetic energy and energy transforms. The concept of work done is introduced, leading on to an understanding of Power and the Conservation of Energy.

Year 10 Science 

Consolidating their knowledge from Key Stage 3, pupils work towards the Science Double Award, covering all three science domains across two years.

Unit 10 (Biology)

 a – Hormonal coordination

b – Circulatory system

c – Health and non-communicable disease

d – Ecosystems

 Unit 11 (Chemistry)

 a – Chemical cells and fuel cells

b – Carbon compounds as fuels and feedstock

c – Pollutants and their sources

d – Using Earth’s resources

Unit 12 (Physics)

a – Internal energy

b – Electromagnetic waves

c – Energy transfers

Year 11 Science 

 Unit 13 (Biology)

a – Microorganisms

b – Communicable diseases

c – Human nervous system

 Unit 14 (Chemistry)

a – Reactions of acids

b – Electrolysis

c – Purity, formulations and chromatography

d – Identification of common gases

Unit 15 (Physics)

a – Atoms and nuclear radiation

b – Magnetism

c – Electromagnetism

If you would like to find out more about the Science curriculum, please email info@mcsbrent.co.uk