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Thematic approach to teaching Science

Discussion in 'Science' started by DannyB2k1, May 7, 2017.

  1. DannyB2k1

    DannyB2k1 New commenter

    Hey everyone,

    I'm a coordinator who is in the process of changing the curriculum for a massive school over in Oz. The goal is to take a thematic approach to the subject, breaking down the boundaries between the 4 science subjects. Although not entirely convinced it is the right way to go, I'm open minded and 100% behind the HoD.
    Anyway, I was wondering if anything had been done like this in your school? If so what themes have you used? How did the implementation go? How did other staff take to it? Was it delivered context then content or the more common content then context?
    Have you any examples to share?
    I do miss the English curriculum and know that Y10 is GCSE, whereas here Y10 is potentially the last year of Science for some students. We want to make it as enjoyable as possible without leaving out key knowledge, skills and understanding that is critical for further Science study (VCE here in Victoria)

    Any comments will help


  2. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    Well, I know the current neuroscientific theories promotes "interleaving" as the best way to have information retained. (mixing up the topics and types of information given) I'm not a big fan of "educational scientific research" as an awful lot of it is neither scientific or research. However , this is something I have always intuitively done when teaching myself, so to me, it does make sense.

    We looked into it, but its just not possible to resource for us, we can't have the whole year group studying a topic when they might need test tubes, for example, we don't have enough, we have to rotate.

    As far as the thinking got though, the themes I had come up with were

    Carbon- fuels, carbon cycles, respiration, photosynthesis, ecology,etc

    Politics ( although we might have called it media) - evolution, contraception, stem cells, mobile phones and internet, funding issues and decisions,etc

    Other worlds - space, geology, tectonics, forces, extremophiles, logistics of human colonisation, ie atmosphere, nutrition, waste disposal etc

    does this help at all?
    tsarina likes this.
  3. m.mouse

    m.mouse New commenter

    I'm an expat teaching in Oz (I'm in WA) and we try to do this (we are a VERY small school, so it is easier). We haven't managed to completely integrate everything all the time (I do believe it is possible, but takes a big overhaul and we settle for a semester with a theme and a semester to fill in the gaps!) Last term we focused on war technologies because most of the history curriculum is about the ANZACs. Our project was a focus on the chemistry of chlorine and how to create a home made gas mask from 'everyday' materials which could be adopted by the troops in the trenches. This ended up being quite student lead as they created the themes that we would study (with the integration of the relevant curriculum statements!) We eventually made gas mask filters which we tested on a micro scale using a micro kipps apparatus. I haven't compiled the resources completely (I'm not happy with the final resources, so I'm going to re jig it for next time) but I think it worked really well. We then studied Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the ideas about nuclear energy; which was right in line with the 'Science as a Human Endeavour' and allowed the higher students to access some ATAR level calculations (which I like to do with year 10s so they can see what ATAR is really like!)
  4. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    I am curious, I'm assuming that 3 of those sciences are biology, chemistry and physics. So what's the fourth?
  5. m.mouse

    m.mouse New commenter

    Chemical Sciences, Biological Sciences, Earth and Space Sciences, Physical Sciences.
    Moony likes this.
  6. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter


    Now if only they realised that this was equally as valid over here. :(
  7. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Are the terminal exams going to be thematically based as well? If not them you risk a lot of confusion.
  8. Goat2

    Goat2 New commenter

    Well you could in investigate the SCISP project ( don't know if Blazer is as old as me to remember it!). Check out the STEM Centre archive. Also if you were in the UK then somewhat more recent are the big themes of the National Strategy Interdependence, Particles, Forces etc.

    The danger is you choose atopic then make very tenuous links to get one of the disciplines into it.
    Always loved "lost in space" or now of course The Martian where you have to study all four to survive and escape.
  9. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    Sorry I am of the opinion that a thematic approach to science will leave massive holes in understanding how everything in science is linked together. You approach maths in a systematic way and the same should apply to science.
  10. DannyB2k1

    DannyB2k1 New commenter

    Psychology :)
  11. DannyB2k1

    DannyB2k1 New commenter

    Thanks everyone- this is going forward in our school so I'll keep you updated with the progress. We are combining Biology & Psychology with the overarching theme of Forensics and Physics & Chem with an overarching theme of Future Earth. :)
  12. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    That question was already answered.

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