Science

ScienceAn excellent science education is crucial for life in the 21st century and we take that responsibility very seriously.

We have a bespoke science curriculum for students joining us in the first two years. The aim is to stretch, inspire and to introduce the girls to the endless possibilities of science. Students in LIV study the three sciences separately but in two cross-curricular themes, the science of light and the science of the environment. For the MIV it is engineering – in Biology we look how nature allows us to see the laws of engineering in practice from the shape of a heart valve to the structure of a leaf. In Chemistry we explore the engineering involved in the contents of the girls’ wash bags - the science behind emulsions, pigments and the distillation of fragrances. In Physics it is the science of bicycles, planes, bridges and skyscrapers.

From UIV to UV the girls study for the IGCSEs in Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Double Science and then on to A Level. Details of the separate subjects can be found below.

Aside from the curriculum, we offer an engaging enrichment programme. This year we are delighted to be hosting the Science Series – three lectures exploring creativity and critical thinking within the science field. We have the Science of Music with Dr Neta Spriro of Cambridge University, the Science of Making with Radio 4 presenter and co-founder of the Institute of Making, Dr Zoe Laughlin, and Science and Religion with Dr Dennis Alexander of Cambridge University.

Girls in LIV and MIV will be looking at the physiology of the Olympic athletes and visiting Bath University’s elite sport physiology programme whilst the UIV will be trying out their surgical techniques in the spring when we are visited by Operating Theatre Live. The school celebrates National Science Week every year. Our theme for 2017 is ‘Chance’ and we are delighted that Professor Alice Roberts will be joining us for an evening to discuss the human journey and her book The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being.

It will be an action-packed year but that is exactly how we like it.

Alexandra Ballard (Head of Science)

Biology

Biology'Each species is a masterpiece, a creation assembled with extreme care and genius.' E. O. Wilson

There are four members of staff in the department who bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise from different areas of Biology, with specialisms in human physiology, biochemistry and behavioural ecology. We are all passionate about Biology and our lessons are both engaging and challenging to inspire them to achieve their best in this subject and develop a life-long interest in the living world around them. Alongside lessons the department runs enrichment activities and takes pupils on ecological visits throughout the year.

From UIV the girls embark on their IGCSE Biology course and are taught Biology as a separate science. Biology is a popular subject at A Level as it combines well with the other Sciences, the Arts and Humanities. The results achieved are excellent and see many girls going on to gain places for Natural Sciences at Cambridge, Biology at Oxford as well as medicine, veterinary medicine, physiotherapy, biochemistry and numerous other biology-related courses at university.

GCSE

Girls in the UIV, LV and UV study the Edexcel IGCSE course in Biology.

A Level

Since September 2015, Sixth Form girls have studied WJEC Eduqas A Level Biology (A400QSL). Throughout this course girls develop their practical expertise using a personal lab book which becomes a record of achievement.

Mrs Jan McKernan (Head of Biology)


Chemistry

chemistry

‘We think there is colour, we think there is sweet, we think there is bitter, but in reality there are atoms and void’ Democritus c.460 – c.370 BC.

The study of Chemistry has come a long way in the last two thousand years. Only Chemistry has provided humankind with the medicines to lessen suffering, fertilisers to feed the work and computer chips to drive technological advance. It is both a challenging and rewarding subject requiring logical thought, speed of reasoning and a strong academic capacity.

Chemists at St Mary’s enjoy a wide range  of experiences both inside and outside the laboratories. We have strong contacts with Bristol ChemLabs and enjoy visits from lecturers in the academic, entrepreneurial and scientific business communities. The science department is very supportive of the girls and they achieve excellent results, gaining entry to some of the best university courses including Chemistry and Natural Sciences at Cambridge.

GCSE

Girls in the UIV, LV and UV study the Edexcel IGCSE course in Chemistry.

A Level

Since September 2015, Sixth Form girls have studied OCR A Level Chemistry.
Mrs Caryn Harward (Head of Chemistry)


Physics

PhysicsPhysicists – the really good ones, like Albert Einstein – are known for asking simple questions. One of Einstein’s first thoughts on light came at the age of five. He asked 'I wonder what the world would look like while riding on a wave of light?' In Physics lessons at St Mary’s we aim both to ask and seek answers to the most basic questions about how the universe works.

The Physics Department is a place where independent thought and good ideas are nurtured. We enjoy practical work and design and make lots of things which illustrate the principles of Physics. Classes build balloon hovercrafts, magnetic coin sorters, rockets, spaceships, pinhole cameras and camera obscuras.

From UIV Form the girls embark on their IGCSE Physics course, which is taught as a separate science. Many girls choose to study Physics at A Level and participate in many activities such as the British Physics Olympiad and the Engineering Education Scheme, a nine-month programme which sees a team of girls working closely with a local engineering company.

We are very proud of the achievements of our A Level students, with our girls going on to study courses in a wide variety of different fields, many where Physics is essential. These include Aeronautical Engineering and Natural Sciences at Cambridge, Computer Science at Oxford and Chemical Engineering at Imperial College.

GCSE

Girls in the UIV, LV and UV study the Edexcel IGCSE course in Physics.

A Level

In the Sixth Form girls study for the AQA Physics A Level (7408).

Mrs Amanda Kingsland (Head of Physics)