The Hall School Science Department is made up of a team of specialist science teachers working closely to foster a love of learning for the subject. A holistic teaching approach means that the students have a chance to develop their own strengths as well as acquiring and practising new scientific skills. Alongside building a strong, theoretical foundation, the boys are given ample opportunities to practise hands-on scientific investigations and tasks. To reinforce the application of Science in everyday life, boys are encouraged to bring in real-world examples from their own lives, which are then linked to content covered in lessons. Other important skills helpful in succeeding in the 21st century include collaboration, perseverance, critical and creative thinking, and investigative skills which are encouraged in lessons, alongside The Hall School Habits for Learning. Additionally, the use of devices is integrated into day-to-day learning to keep up to speed with technological advances.
From the very beginning, in the Junior School, boys are given time to observe small things, to pull things apart in order to find out how they work and are encouraged to ask questions. They are then probed to think about what they expect the answer might be and to consider the range of possible solutions. They are supported in carrying out investigations which may provide the answers or raise more questions. During science lessons, teaching aims to channel the boys’ natural curiosity through practical means, by doing things. The boys are supported in using a wide range of simple equipment, in developing a range of practical skills (for example being able to measure accurately) and increasingly, in developing a set of specific academic skills, such as collecting and recording data and displaying results. Boys learn to use a framework to help them draw conclusions from their results and present them in a form that can be shared with other people.
In the Middle School, Years 4 and 5, Science is taught in three fully equipped laboratories. The labs help the boys to develop practical scientific skills as well as encouraging collaborative work. They also provide a place where the students can investigate things they are curious about, using authentic scientific equipment. Introduction to the scientific method in Year Four develops a methodical approach to investigations, which thereafter becomes an integral part of Science. The students carry out practical and project work on a regular basis and are expected to present projects using a variety of media.
Through Years 4 and 5, previous learning from the Junior School is built upon and new and old topics are developed in greater detail. The courses cover a range of biology, chemistry and physics topics that focus on real life situations that the boys can easily and enthusiastically relate to. The hands-on approach is evident in activities such as the catapult challenge (the boys have to build their own catapults based on what they’ve learnt about forces) and the 3D representation of the Water Cycle. These activities provide marvellous opportunities for collaboration and creativity while the boys have a lot of fun!
In Senior School Science a range of intellectual, practical and graphical skills are refined in increasing depth as the boys get older. Some of these skills include methods of observation, information selection, analysis, critical thinking and problem solving. Practical work, open-ended projects and fieldwork are used to teach these skills in an engaging and challenging way. The boys’ understanding of scientific concepts is deepened even further as they look into topics such as energy, electricity, chemical reactions and material cycles. These allow for more academic applications of theory, and provide excellent, and challenging, practice for critical thinking. Teaching supports the Senior School boys in becoming independent learners with a holistic approach to science education which incorporates a balance between general theory, experimentation and research/enquiry based learning. Inspiring young scientists is our passion.
In support of the boys’ formal learning, we provide many opportunities to experience Science beyond the classroom. Various activities are planned, including:
- A weekly Science club
- Science-focused trips such as to the Swanage coastline and the Bedford Chemistry Lecture
- A Science Fair to celebrate the annual national Science Week.
- Partner school events where we team up with other schools to learn about Science
- National Science Quiz (regularly hosted at The Hall School)
These are but some of the opportunities the boys have to extend their knowledge and experience, enforcing the notion that all Science is about exploration and curiosity. We strive to create a Science community at The Hall where we can all celebrate the wonders of the world we live in.