Year 9 Science

Year 9 Science is the first science that students will encounter at Nossal High School. For 2016, the course consists of elements of Biology, Chemistry and Physics so that they can experience each of these main fields. The Year 9 Science Units include: Atomic Science (where students learn about atomic structure, ionic bonding and nuclear radiation); Body Disharmony (where students learn about their endocrine and nervous systems and what can go wrong with them); a unit on Electricity (where students consider the behaviour of electric charges when they are at rest, and when they are moving in various circuits), and Chemistry (where students will learn how to write and balance chemical equations, the nature of salts, solubility and acids and bases). Students also complete a short unit on astronomy. The year will conclude with a unit on adaptations of organisms. Students will visit Healesville sanctuary in October and undertake fieldwork as part of a guided inquiry approach to science. They will consider the classification of organisms, how specific examples of Australian organisms have evolved over time, the influences of continental drift and human activity on ecosystems and conservation strategies.

Environmental Science

Environmental Science is offered as an elective subject in Year 9. It is a single semester unit. This subject covers a unit of work on Renewable Energy where the students investigate solar and wind energy through practical work, and also discuss issues around Renewable Energy in society. The other unit in Environmental Science involves students performing an audit of biodiversity around the grounds of Nossal High School.

Foundation Biology

Biology is the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution and taxonomy. Foundation Biology is a pre-VCE course offered to Year 10 students. A semester-long course, Foundation Biology develops key skills necessary to perform well at VCE. Students study biochemistry and the building blocks of life – cells. They investigate the basis of genetic information and how it is used and the mechanisms of evolution.

Foundation Chemistry

Chemistry is about explaining the properties and interactions of all substances that make up matter. It is about explaining and predicting reactions that will occur when two substances come into contact, whether it is the formation of molecules out in space to the complex biological interactions that occur in the human body. Chemistry is used to explain natural phenomena at a molecular level, as well as to create new materials such as medicines and polymers.

Foundation Chemistry (Year 10) is a semester long subject and is divided into two areas of study of roughly equal length. Each area of study has one major assignment.

Foundation Physics

Foundation Physics is a semester long introduction to the topics of Motion, Newtonian Mechanics and Energy Transformations. Students are encouraged to move from observations made during student designed experiments to the theoretical construction of models. In addition, students spend time reflecting on the breadth of topics embraced by the discipline of Physics. A focus on the history of early discoveries and the development of scientific methodology and the philosophy of science pervades this unit of work.

Intensive Science

This subject has been designed for Year 10 students who would like to do all three sciences within one year. Intensive Science covers the syllabi of Foundation Biology, Foundation Chemistry and Foundation Physics but the content is covered more quickly. This subject is for high-achieving science students and entry is based on academic achievement in Year 9 Science and teacher recommendation.

VCE Biology

In VCE Biology, students undertake studies relating to a number of aspects of living things. We look at the most basic unit of life – a cell, and observe how cells make up specialised tissue and organ systems. We observe how organ systems assist organisms to survive in a range of Australian climates and study how organisms interact with each other and with their environment. We investigate and analyse the biochemistry of life and the role of signaling molecules in both homeostasis and immunity. We explore how genetics determines heredity, how evolution has led to the formation of the living world around us, and we examine the use of genetic technologies.

VCE Chemistry

VCE Chemistry is made up of four units. Year 11 Chemistry examines topics including the Periodic Table, materials, water and the atmosphere. During the first year of VCE Chemistry students learn the basic theory and techniques. Year 12 Chemistry is about applying the skills and techniques gained during Units 1 & 2 to real world applications. Units 3 & 4 examine topics such as chemical analysis, organic chemical pathways, industrial chemistry and the use and supply of energy. The chemistry undertaken in this study is representative of the discipline and the major ideas of chemistry.

VCE Physics

Physics is a branch of science which deals with the study of the universe and all it contains. It has many points of focus, ranging from the smallest of subatomic particles to the shape and size of the universe (or perhaps, multiverse). The VCE physics course begins with the study of Thermodynamics, and ends with a study of relationship between matter and energy that brings together many of the concepts encountered by students across the course of the four VCE units.

The topics covered by the VCE Physics course include the study of Thermodynamics; Electricity; Sound; Motion and Mechanics, Electromagnetism including the nature of electricity, the generation of electric power, circuit theory and electronics, and the relationship between electric and magnetic forces; Astrophysics;; and the Interactions between Light and Matter. Throughout the course there is an emphasis on the experimental nature of the discipline, and a reflection on the historical context of various discoveries to help delineate the scientific method.

VCE Psychology

Units 1 & 2: Psychology is the systematic study of thoughts, feelings and behaviours. As a Science, psychology aims to describe, explain and predict behaviour. Students investigate the scope of psychology, its scientific disciplines and fields of application. They explore visual perception, visual illusions and development over a lifespan. Students develop an understanding of what influences the formation of attitudes of individuals and the behaviour of groups and how this can lead to aggression. They also look at how differences in individuals can be ascribed to differences in intelligence and personality.

Units 3 & 4: Students study the relationship between the brain and mind through examining the basis of consciousness, behaviour, cognition and memory. Students investigate the ways in which information is processed, stored and utilised. This enables them to apply different theories of memory and forgetting to their everyday learning experiences. Students consider different concepts of normality, and learn to differentiate between normal responses such as stress to external stimuli and mental disorders. Students explore the causes of mental illness, avenues of assistance and factors that promote mental wellbeing.

Throughout all the units of Psychology students analyse research methodologies and consider the ethical issues associated with the conduct of research and the use of findings. They apply appropriate research methods when undertaking their own investigations.