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Philosophy of Science Education at ISA

The following beliefs serve as a framework for science education at ISA.

As Science teachers we believe that the needs of students vary and that science education should be accessible to all students. We believe that students share responsibility for their own learning and for their learning environment, thus we insist upon safe practice in the laboratory and we maintain a classroom environment conducive to learning for all.

We believe that all science programmes should be primarily enquiry based, therefore we offer frequent opportunities for hands-on learning. We believe that skills and knowledge are of equal importance, so we ensure that language use and development are integral parts of all science courses. Additionally, we set high expectations for student learning and strive to master the skill or objective attainment levels we have set.

We believe that a holistic approach to subjects is superior to a reductionist approach, and that interdisciplinary projects should be undertaken where appropriate. We encourage students to apply the knowledge they have gained to their existing knowledge and experiences, as well as to things they are familiar with in everyday life.

We believe that science education should expose students to social and ethical issues relevant to the topic under study, thus social implications and issues are emphasised and discussed alongside the theoretical and practical investigations.

Finally, we believe that ongoing assessment of our teaching and student learning is necessary to guide teaching, thus students are evaluated both formatively and summatively, using a variety of assessment tools. These tools are typically in the form of objective testing, class work, homework, oral questioning, quizzes, research projects, and practical report writing.


The emphasis in our science programme is to provide students with as many practical science experiences as possible. This is a "hands-on" approach that allows students the opportunity to experiment, solve problems, investigate and pose new problems. Students will study units in the strands of Life Science, Physical Science and, Earth Science. The science programme in the elementary school helps each student understand nature’s impact on us and our impact on nature. This requires that each student gain:

  • Knowledge of natural phenomena and their effect on people
  • Understanding of scientific advances and their part in modern technology
  • Understanding and using the scientific method.
  • Application of the ways in which the application of scientific principles can improve the quality of life while preserving the natural order.

In the elementary school at ISA, many of the science activities are based on the Full-Option Science System (FOSS).

Middle School

Science 6

The unifying theme for sixth grade Science is how energy affects matter, specifically: "Heat Makes Things Happen!". The course emphasises in teaching students how to utilise information from a variety of sources.  Students then learn how to apply their learning during lab work and collaborative projects.  Furthermore, students are taught how to communicate their understanding in formal lab reports as well as how to articulate how Science is applied in the real world through various multimedia presentations.  These skills are taught throughout the following units: Environmental Science; Introduction to Matter; Heat; Energy Resources; Forms of Energy; Geology and Plate Tectonics; Weather and Climate.

Science 7

This course encourages students to develop an inquisitive mind into how humans interact with the world and beyond. The general theme for 7th Grade Science is Interactions.  Students begin the year learning about cells, tissues, organs and organ systems; including a focus on the reproductive system and genetics.  Students will also learn basic Chemistry, including reactions, solutions, and the states of matter.  In the second half of the year the focus shifts to Physics, where units of study include forces, electronic circuits and the solar system.  All units are made relevant to the students with a focus on their relationship with the world of science that is all around them.  Throughout the year, this course emphasises scientific investigation and research skills.

Science 8

The central theme for 8th grade Science is particle motion, with students taking an in-depth look at the mechanisms that allow particles to move.  Students start the year studying food and digestion, then move onto learning how our body utilises the energy stored within digested nutrients through respiration.  Students will also learn about atoms, elements and compounds, acids and alkalis, and patterns of reactivity.  During the second semester, the curriculum focuses on physics based units including heating and cooling, light and seeing, and sound and hearing.  Grade 8 students are encouraged to become more independent, scientific thinkers in their approach to problem-solving.  There is a large emphasis on student-led investigations that provide an opportunity for students to focus on the variety of strategies that are used to answer scientific questions, and to evaluate their own and others’ investigations.  Many of the units provide an opportunity for students to focus on data collection and data analysis as a way of providing evidence to support experimental work, and also require students to investigate how secondary sources vary in the quality and relevance of the information or data they provide.  Students are actively encouraged to use their scientific knowledge and understanding to justify and/or challenge their own or others’ conclusions and methods.

High School

HS Integrated Science 

This course will introduce students to the basic fundamentals of Physics, Biology and Chemistry, and provide them with the background to enter upper level science. They will start to develop the evidence gathering and communication skills they will need as they progress through the Sciences.

HS Biology

This course is designed to broaden a grade 10 student’s scientific skills using topics of a standard Biology curriculum. Problem-solving, numeracy skills, experiment planning, evaluation of experimental procedures, data collection and analysis will be an important part of this course.  Topics covered will include Cells, Biochemistry, Classical and Molecular Genetics, Ecology, Evolution, as well as, Human Nutrition, Digestion, Excretion, Circulatory, and Respiratory systems.

HS Chemistry

This course is designed to broaden a student’s scientific skills using the core topics of a standard chemistry curriculum. The focus will be on problem-solving, experiment planning, evaluation of experimental procedures, data collection and analysis.  Topics covered will include the periodic table, particle theory, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, oxidation and reduction, electrochemistry, thermodynamics, organic and environmental chemistry.

HS Physics

This course is designed to broaden a student’s scientific skills using the core topics of a standard Physics curriculum. The focus will be on problem-solving, numeracy skills, experiment planning, evaluation of experimental procedures, data collection and analysis.  Topics covered will include, mechanics, thermal energy transfer, electricity and magnetism, waves, and nuclear physics.

IB Biology 1,2

IB Biology is an intensive study into Biology and the study of life.  This is a two-year course which can be studied at standard or higher level.  The core topics of study are Cells, Biochemistry, Genetics, Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity, and Human Physiology.  In Higher level there are additional topics as well as more depth to some core topics, including Nucleic Acids, Metabolism, Cell Respiration, Photosynthesis, Plants, Genetics and Evolution, and Animal Physiology.  Experimental investigation is a requirement for IB Biology.  There will be many practical investigations as well as a Group 4 Integrated Science Project and a substantial Individual Investigation.

IB Chemistry 1,2

This course will enhance students’ understanding of topics visited in earlier science courses though no prior knowledge is assumed.  Topics are initially taught in isolation but, as the course proceeds, increasing integration of the topics will enable students to fully analyse applications and develop an appreciation for the nature of science.  Core topics studied include stoichiometry, periodicity, bonding, physical properties of matter, reaction kinetics, chemical equilibrium, oxidation and reduction reactions, acids and bases and organic chemistry.  Students choose from the Option topics of Biochemistry or Energy as part of the second year of the course and are required to undertake a substantial amount of practical work.

IB Environmental Systems & Societies 1,2

This two-year standard-level IB course will provide students with a coherent perspective of the relationships between environmental and societal systems. This perspective will enable them to develop an informed personal response to a wide range of pressing environmental issues that they will inevitably face as adults.  Students will evaluate the scientific, ethical, and socio-political aspects of issues.  During the course, students will study many different systems that require both environmental and societal considerations.  These studies will incorporate hands-on work in the laboratory, field investigations, and the use of social science techniques such as opinion surveys.  This course can be taken to fulfil either social studies or science ISA and IB requirements.

IB Physics 1,2 

Physics is the most fundamental of the experimental sciences as it seeks to explain the universe itself, from the very smallest particles to the vast distances between galaxies.

This two-year course examines topics such as mechanics, thermal physics, waves, electricity and magnetism, atomic and nuclear physics, and quantum physics.  Students will be given the option to focus their interests through in depth study of one additional topic (Astronomy, Relativity, Medical Imaging, Engineering).  Students will also do extensive experimental work requiring in-depth analysis of collected data. 

Accredited by

International Baccalaureate Council of International Schools Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Cambridge International Examinations