The Science Department comprises a team of dedicated teachers who love their subjects and communicate them effectively.
The students learn about and develop skills in science as they move up the school and the mixed programme and extracurricular activities available are designed to inspire as broad a cross section of the community as possible.
We aim for scientific literacy for all, with all abilities enjoying and feeling that they ‘can do’ science. We also aim to create future scientists who can take up careers in pure science or science based professions or bring highly sought after skills into other fields.
The Science department occupies new, temporary, purpose built, laboratories. There are ten labs that are designed to be used by any of the sciences but in reality some will have a focus on Biology, Chemistry or Physics with others taking on a more general role.
We are extremely well equipped and this enables teachers to be creative in the lessons that they plan. We have three full-time and two part-time technicians who support this work. The temporary laboratories provide excellent accommodation until new dedicated Science facilities are built in the new STEM building (to be completed 2020).
Year 7 and 8 are taught Biology, Chemistry and Physics with a programme which encourages the students to make links between disciplines. In Year 9 they are put into divisions and start on their International GCSE programme of study. This continues in Year 10 with some students going on to take 3 separate science GCSEs, while others complete a double award still covering the three sciences but in less breadth. As A Level specifications assume double award knowledge, it is not necessary to study separate science in order to opt for A Level Science. Often, over half of the Sixth Form choose to study one or more science subjects at A Level as a precursor to university study in such areas as Medicine, Dentistry, Optometry, Pharmacy, Engineering and Pure Sciences.
The development of thinking skills is a high priority in every Science lesson. iPads, notebook computers, software and sensors enable the use of a wide variety of learning resources and data logging equipment.
We are an Associate School of the Royal Society and take Year 12 girls to the Summer Exhibition each year. Girls in Years 7–13 may attend extra curricular sessions working towards Crest Awards. Girls in years 7 and 8 may join the STEAM team, where they take part in activities that combine science, technology, engineering, art and maths. There are lectures either in school or outside that can broaden the experience of the senior girls and there is a Biomedical Society in the Sixth Form.
Biology provides a wide breadth of knowledge which touches on many varied topics. These range from the internal workings of organisms in physiology and the interdependence of living things in ecology, to social issues including human influences on the environment and the ethical considerations of genetics. The study of biology therefore encourages an appreciation of these issues and their implications as well as providing an insight into the living world.
At Advanced Level, the girls study the OCR A Syllabus, which provides an excellent foundation to support the further study of biological courses at university. Fieldwork is undertaken during Year 12 at Amersham Field Centre. Biology is a very popular A level, providing an excellent preparation for further study of either a pure science subject or courses such as Medicine, Dentistry or Pharmacy.
Biology Department extra curricular activities:
Students can participate in Biology activities in either the Lower School STEAM team or Crest Award sessions and for aspiring medics we run our Biomedical society and provide support for aptitude tests e.g. BMAT.
Pupils in Year 10 have the opportunity of participating in the Biology Challenge competition. Sixth Form pupils have the opportunity of participating in the Biology Olympiad.
Chemistry is everywhere in the world around us. It is in the food you eat, the clothes you wear, medicines, and art. Indeed your body is all about chemistry just as much as it is biology. It is exciting to learn about the composition and structure of materials, including biological molecules and smart materials such as thermochromic pigments or carbon nanotubes.
Chemists learn to look for patterns and to control chemical changes. They ask questions such as ‘What causes an explosion?’ or ‘Why are plants green?’ and they develop new theories, planning investigations to test these theories.
GCSE Chemistry begins in Year 9 and continues into Year 10 & 11, taught by subject specialists. Students follow the Edexcel International GCSE Chemistry specifications in Double Award Science or as a Separate Science.
Chemistry is a very popular Advanced Level subject. We follow the OCR A syllabus and through it students develop their interest in Chemistry, with excellent preparation for further study and careers in Chemistry and other related scientific disciplines such as Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy or Engineering.
Chemistry Department extra-curricular activities:
- Students can take part in Chemistry activities in either the STEAM team or CREST Awards Club.
- There are visits and lectures organised for GCSE and A Level students.
- Students in Year 8 to 11 can participate in competitions including the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) ‘Top of the Bench’ competition and Salters’ Festival of Chemistry.
- The Sixth Form take part in the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge and the Chemistry Olympiad.
Physics is the study of the fundamental laws that govern all natural phenomena. It pervades every part of the world of science, technology and engineering. Its methods and insights are widely applicable. A key ingredient is a curious, questioning mind. Physics is an exciting subject to study, stretching the mind and helping to develop critical reasoning and analytical abilities. Without physics there would be no space rockets, digital cameras, mobile phones, non- invasive imaging techniques in hospitals or fibre optic technology to name a few applications. Focusing on everyday applications of the principles of Physics stimulates interest. Experienced teachers ensure that Physics is accessible to everyone by placing it in context.
GCSE Physics begins in Year 9 and continues into Year 10 & 11 taught by subject specialists. Students follow the Edexcel International GCSE Physics specifications in Double Award Science or as a Separate Science.
At Advanced Level we consider the development of pupil practical skills crucial to the enjoyment of learning Physics and the department is very well resourced with equipment for investigations into topics such as heat, light, sound, electricity, forces, motion, radioactivity including the use of data-logging probes and motion sensors. All the classic Sixth Form standard experiments are also available.
We are proud of the fact that a very healthy number of girls opt for Physics A level each year in relation to the size of Northwood College for Girls.
Physics Department extra -curricular activities:
- The Physics Department organises several trips, lectures at the Institute of Education for both GCSE and A Level student’s as well as a trip to CERN, Geneva.
- Students can join the Astronomy Society and make use of our school Astronomical telescope as well as our Solar telescope.
- The Department has helped pupils organise summer school activities between Years 11, 12 and 13. Examples include the “Headstart” engineering courses at university. The Year 13 students take part in the Physics Olympiad competition and Year 11 students take the Physics challenge.
Steam Team (Lower School)
Girls in Years 7 and 8 have the opportunity to join the STEAM team where they will be taking part in activities that combine science, technology, engineering, art and maths. As well as having an enjoyable time the girls develop their practical skills and learn some of the theory behind each experiment. Activities can be incredibly varied and we are always looking for new ideas. Possibilities include; how to make invisible ink, making mini lava lamps, making and flying paper “rotocopters” and chemical magic.
Crest Award Club
CREST (CREativity in Science And Technology) awards have run at Northwood College for Girls over a period of years. The Awards are at three levels, Bronze (Y7 to 9), Silver (Y9 to 11) and Gold (12 to undergraduate). Gifted and talented pupils can enter these awards earlier if appropriate.
In school, we offer girls the opportunity to participate at Bronze and Silver level (roughly equivalent to doing a scientific topic to about GCSE and A level respectively). The Gold level awards (roughly undergraduate degree level) have been awarded to some of our very best young scientists.
Each week in the Autumn Term speakers are invited into school to speak about different careers in the Health Service. Examples of the talks given have included a general medical practitioner, a dental surgeon, an optometrist, a pharmacist, a haematologist, a psychiatrist and a physiotherapist. During the Spring term those pupils wanting to study medicine and dentistry are involved in a specially designed programme involving interview practice and consideration of ethical issues associated with health care.