Emphasizing the importance of a rigorous knowledge base, valid scientific investigations, mathematical data analysis, and well-developed research capability, science at Somerville House nurtures scientific thinking.

Science (Years 7 to 9)

Year 7 
Students in this year level become familiar with the tools, equipment, resources and behaviours associated with the successful and enjoyable learning of Science. The subject comprises four units associated with each of the four terms. These focus on Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, Chemistry and Physics. Practical tasks are a prime part of this program, and the use of information and technology skills is integrated within the subject matter. Students are assessed under two criteria, Knowledge and Conceptual Understanding and Investigative Processes and Communication. The assessment techniques and data analytical skills are modelled developmentally on the types of assessment that the students will do in Year 10-12 science subjects. Students are introduced to the concept of uncertainty in measurement.

Year 8
Students in this year level have more practice in the development of assessment skills and knowledge of the key cognitions used in science education. Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, Chemistry and Physics units allow students to understand the basic differences between the four subjects. Practical tasks are again important, with data and error analysis taught in a more specific manner. Students are assessed under two criteria, Knowledge and Conceptual Understanding and Investigative Processes and Communication. There are four summative assessments in the year, each more closely modelled on explicit teaching of the assessment types that will be used in Years 10 -12. Scaffolding of learning and assessment, and ongoing formative quizzes for student feedback are important aspects of the subject.

Year 9
Year 9 students build on the knowledge and practical skills used in previous years. There are four distinct units on Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, Chemistry and Physics. Full error analysis of data including significant figures, uncertainty and calculations involving percentage error should make the transition to the Year 10-12 science subjects less challenging. Four summative tasks with explicit teaching of style and language is supported with formative quizzes and class challenges. The level of cognitive demand is planned to allow students to develop confidence, IT skills and the ability to write reports that are comprehensive and concise. Experimental tasks are an important teaching and learning aspect for both student enjoyment of concepts and development of managed risk taking in gaining and using knowledge.

Natural Sciences (Year 10)
In Year 10 Natural Sciences, students will embark on a course of study where knowledge, techniques and skills gained should prepare them for Biology studies in Years 11 and 12. There is an emphasis on a rigorous knowledge base, valid scientific investigations, mathematical data analysis and well-developed research capability. The subject encourages a fine understanding of living world of structure and function as well as aspects of environmental science. The study of Natural Sciences will develop in all students an understanding of the importance of scientific thinking for all life-long learners. The assessment is modelled on the tasks in the Senior Science syllabuses:

  • Examination
  • Data Test
  • Student Experiment
  • Research Investigation
Physical Sciences (Year 10)

This subject provides the necessary content and mathematical rigour required to prepare for the study of Chemistry and/or Physics in Year 11 and 12. The Chemistry component involves a dynamic study of the matter around us, its structure and reactions and the important role it plays in environmental understanding, social and economic practices and the quality of human life.

The Physics component provides students with opportunities to engage with classical and modern understandings of the universe and models that explain many common observable phenomena.

The assessment is modelled on the tasks in the Senior Science syllabuses:

  • Examination
  • Data Test
  • Student Experiment
  • Research Investigation
Biology (Years 11 and 12)

Biology provides opportunities for students to engage with living systems.

Students develop their understanding of cells and multicellular organisms. They engage with the concept of maintaining the internal environment. They study biodiversity and the interconnectedness of life. This knowledge is linked with the concepts of heredity and the continuity of life. 

Students learn and apply aspects of the knowledge and skills of the discipline (thinking, experimentation, problem-solving and research skills), understand how it works and how it may impact society. They develop their sense of wonder and curiosity about life; respect for all living things and the environment; understanding of biological systems, concepts, theories and models; appreciation of how biological knowledge has developed over time and continues to develop; a sense of how biological knowledge influences society.

Students plan and carry out fieldwork, laboratory and other research investigations; interpret evidence; use sound, evidence-based arguments creatively and analytically when evaluating claims and applying biological knowledge; and communicate biological understanding, findings, arguments and conclusions using appropriate representations, modes and genres.

Subject recommendation: Students will need to meet a prerequisite result for enrolment in this subject. A minimum achievement of a C+ result in Natural Sciences or Physical Sciences is required for Full enrolment in Biology, a C result for Provisional enrolment; and C standard in Mathematics 1 or 2 in Year 10.

Chemistry (Years 11 and 12)

Chemistry is the study of materials and their properties and structure.

Students study atomic theory, chemical bonding, and the structure and properties of elements and compounds. They explore intermolecular forces, gases, aqueous solutions, acidity and rates of reaction. They study equilibrium processes and redox reactions. They explore organic chemistry, synthesis and design to examine the characteristic chemical properties and chemical reactions displayed by different classes of organic compounds.

Students develop their appreciation of chemistry and its usefulness; understanding of chemical theories, models and chemical systems; expertise in conducting scientific investigations. They critically evaluate and debate scientific arguments and claims in order to solve problems and generate informed, responsible and ethical conclusions, and communicate chemical understanding and findings through the use of appropriate representations, language and nomenclature.

Students learn and apply aspects of the knowledge and skills of the discipline (thinking, experimentation, problem-solving and research skills), understand how it works and how it may impact society. 

Subject recommendation: Students will need to meet a prerequisite result for enrolment in this subject. A minimum achievement of an overall result of B by the end of Semester 2 in Year 10 Physical Sciences is required for Full enrolment, an overall result of B - by the end of Semester 2 in Year 10 Physical Sciences for Provisional enrolment; and a minimum of a B standard in Mathematics 2 in Year 10.

Year 11 Unit 1:

  • Topic 1: Atoms, isotopes, periodicity Topic 2: Bonding and properties
  • Topic 3: Compounds and mixtures
  • Topic 4: Analytical techniques
  • Topic 5: Chemical Reactions
  • Topic 6: Mole concept

Year 11 Unit 2:

  • Topic 1: Gases and intermolecular forces
  • Topic 2: Aqueous solutions, molarity and solubility
  • Topic 3: Chromatography
  • Topic 4: Reactions of acids and pH
  • Topic 5: Rates of reactions

Year 12:

  • Term 1: Materials for a Purpose
  • Term 2: Shipwrecks and Salvage
  • Term 3: Drugs and Medicine
  • Term 4: CSI-Somerville (forensic)
Physics (Years 11 and 12)

Physics provides opportunities for students to engage with classical and modern understandings of the universe.

Students learn about the fundamental concepts of thermodynamics, electricity and nuclear processes; and about the concepts and theories that predict and describe the linear motion of objects. Further, they explore how scientists explain some phenomena using an understanding of waves. They engage with the concept of gravitational and electromagnetic fields, and the relevant forces associated with them. They study modern physics theories and models that, despite being counterintuitive, are fundamental to our understanding of many common observable phenomena.

Students develop appreciation of the contribution physics makes to society: understanding that diverse natural phenomena may be explained, analysed and predicted using concepts, models and theories that provide a reliable basis for action; and that natter and energy interact in physical systems across a range of scales. They understand how models and theories are refined, and new ones developed in physics; investigate phenomena and solve problems; collect and analyse data; and interpret evidence. Students use accurate and precise measurement, valid and reliable evidence, and scepticism and intellectual rigour to evaluate claims; and communicate physics understanding, findings, arguments and conclusions using appropriate representations, modes and genres.

Students learn and apply aspects of the knowledge and skills of the discipline (thinking, experimentation, problem-solving and research skills), understand how it works and how it may impact society.

Subject recommendation: Students will need to meet a prerequisite result for enrolment in this subject. A minimum achievement of an overall result of B by the end of Semester 2 in Year 10 Physical Sciences is required for Full enrolment, an overall result of B - by the end of Semester 2 in Year 10 Physical Sciences for Provisional enrolment. Given the advanced numeracy demands of this subject, a minimum of an overall B standard in Mathematics 2 in Year 10 is highly recommended.