Applied Learning Programme (Science)
The school’s Applied Learning Programme is called “Science for Life@HPPS”. In accordance with the school’s mission of ‘Nurturing leaders through a distinctive education in learning and character development’ and vision ‘A Leader in Every Child, with Talents and Strength of Character’, the school seeks to develop an Applied Learning Programme (Science) that hones 21CC skills through inquiry-based learning.
Inquiry-based learning is a student-centred learning process based on John Dewey’s learning theory of constructivism. Our approach to learning of science at HPPS is as follows:
§ Constructivist approach to concept development – using hands-on activities to develop concepts as students make connections with their surroundings.
§ Inquiry-based activities in and out of the classroom that brings our students through creative problem solving, decision-making and investigation processes.
§ Providing opportunities to apply concepts in varied contexts through authentic outdoor learning, use of ICT, self-directed as well as collaborative learning experiences
The skills and attitudes we hope to nurture through our Science curriculum is aligned to our Learning Framework. Developing innovation and talent are also included in the Science curriculum, giving our students the opportunity to showcase their creativity and aptitude for Science through our school-based programmes.
Learning experiences provided also aim to inculcate the following ethics and attitudes in our students: These skills, ethics and attitudes are in line with the 21st Century Competencies, such as Civic Literacy, Global Awareness and Cross-cultural Skills, Critical and Inventive Thinking, and Information and Communication Skills in order to realise our vision of seeing our students growing up to become confident people, self-directed learners, concerned citizens, and active contributors to the nation.
In the school’s approach towards building a passion for Science, learning opportunities are provided for all students. Further specialized training is also provided for students who show strong interest and talent in Science.
Tier One: Learning Opportunities for all (P1 to P6)
The school is committed to helping all the students develop a life-long interest in learning Science through a standards-based curriculum that includes inquiry, investigation and experimentation.
Junior Science (JS) for P1 and 2 students
- This programme is mainly integrated into the teaching of English in P1 and P2. However, there are selected stand-alone hands-on activities conducted by our Science teachers for P1 and P2 students once per Semester. Activities (such as float or sink, which object is magnetic, etc.) focus on basic process skills such as observing, comparing and classifying.
The JS programme taps on the natural curiosity and interest of the Primary 1 and 2 pupils, to further develop their Science skills and concepts.
Variable Lessons for P3 students
- The Variables Lesson package is an enrichment lesson for all P3 students. The package is developed to teach basic process skills related to science investigation.
The features of Variables Package include the following:
- Use of stories to teach variables and fair experiment
- Explicit teaching of how to carry out simple experiments, followed by introduction of terms such as aim, hypothesis, variables and conclusion.
- hands-on activities related to simple investigation for students to do in groups
YI Project (YIP) for P4 and P5 students
- Inquiry-based learning is greatly enhanced by the YIP programme introduced in P4 and P5 conducted yearly over a period of five weeks. Variables Lessons done in P3 prepare the students for this YI Programme. A YI resource package, consisting of proposal forms and roles & responsibilities is made available for teachers to refer to and use with their students. This helps to hone leadership and collaborative skills amongst the students. The project helps students to learn and practise critical thinking, inquiry and investigative skills. It helps to foster imagination and creative thought. They learn to work with others as a team, learn discipline in project management and organisational skills. These are essential skills that students need to develop to succeed in life.
Phyzwurx Programme (Basic)
- Phyzwurx is an enrichment Science Programme for students from P3 to P6. It aims to make the teaching of physical science more fun, interactive and connected to the immediate surroundings of our learners within the school compound. The Programme includes:
- Playground Science Module (P1 to P6)
- Everywhere Science Module (P4 to P6)
- Materials Science Module (P3 and P4)
In the Playground Science Module, activities for our lower primary students are designed to nurture basic process skills as observing and inferring. There is a play station with different types of ‘musical instruments’ for students to explore sound energy in a fun and interactive way.
For P5-P6 Students they will attempt to explain how the play stations work, using concepts from the topics of Energy and Forces.
Outdoor Education (P3 to P6 students)
- The Science Department is developing nature niches around the school for teachers to conduct outdoor lessons with the students, taking the learning of Science beyond the classroom. The focus is to develop resources around the school to enrich the students in the learning of life science topics.
For instance, our P3 students observe and classify the various organisms they study from the Terrarium, while our P6 students focus on the interactions between the living and non-living things that make up the terrarium.
Collaborating with the ICT department, we also conduct ICT Science trails within the school for our P4 and P5 students infusing the use of data loggers, iPad and QR codes. The lessons were piloted in 2013 and will be carried out again this year.
Students are being trained to create their own mini-trails for their peers as well.
Tier Two: Specialised training for Talented Students
The objective of having the following Enrichment programmes is to ensure that our passionate, high progress learners are stretched to fulfill their potential. Thus higher order thinking skills and advanced science concepts are, to some extent, infused in these activities. This would ensure that our high progress learners are adequately challenged to sustain their enthusiasm for learning Science.
Excellence 2000 (P4 – P6 mainstream students) seeks to engage High Progress learners in scientific investigations involving more advanced science concepts. They foster independence in scientific inquiry in students as well as other important 21st century competencies such as resilience & resourcefulness, critical & inventive thinking, & effective communication skills. Lessons covered are either based on physical or life science.
Phyzwurx Programme (Enrichment for High Progress Learners) - The Phyzwurx Science Programme is for High Progress learners from P4 to P6. Enrichment lessons expose students to challenging physical Science activities, stretching their ability to think within the subject discipline.
The details of the 3 Modules are as follows:
Playground Science Module – to explore the physical science principles and concepts behind the different items commonly found in playgrounds through open investigation as well as physical science concepts from topics such as energy, forces and light.
Materials Science Module – explore modern day materials e.g. polymers, etc.
Everywhere Science Module – To further raise awareness the prevalence of physics concepts in common facilities like ramps, elevators, etc.
The Phyzwurx Enrichment Programme makes use of the 20% white space in the Science Curriculum.
Junior Da Vinci Programme (NUS High) - Students who show the aptitude and passion for Science from P5 are selected to participate in the NUS High School Junior Da Vinci Programme.
A series of scientific and research workshops will be conducted to broaden and deepen the participants’ understanding of what is Science. After these workshops, students will work on a scientific project as a group. The project will be co-supervised by our students and our expert teachers.
The programme also helps to foster collaboration between the teachers of both schools, giving opportunities to explore other ways to nurture and develop our students’ competencies in the learning of Science especially with respect to the 21st Century competencies.
W1 Cluster YI Competition - Talented students who have carried out outstanding science investigations during YI take part in this Competition at the cluster level.
The Competition is supported by NUS High School of Mathematics and Science, with their teachers and students setting up booths to showcase Science projects. Their teachers also help HPPS in judging the YI projects submitted for this competition.
The Science curriculum at HPPS adopts the pedagogy of inquiry-based learning (IBL) in the teaching of Science. The premise is that students participate actively in learning. Active learning through inquiry takes place when students:
- take ownership of the initial question
- conduct individual experimentation
- strive for the outcome they want to see
- are able to access the needed information easily by knowing what it is that they are looking for
- are able to communicate their learning with other children through speaking and writing
Through active learning, students learn better, as their questions help them comprehend and synthesize knowledge.
With the above mentioned as guiding principles, HPPS capitalises on the following strategies to ensure that IBL is carried out holistically:
Questioning - In our day-to-day teaching of inquiry-based Science, our teachers focus on asking questions as well as encouraging students to ask relevant questions. Questioning strategy allows for a high degree of student participation as a good mix of low and high level cognitive questions are used. Hence, student understanding is increased which in turn stimulates, directs and extends student critical thinking skills. It also allows for feedback and appropriate reinforcement by the teacher as well as the peers. During our outdoor lessons, for example, students use their observations skills to make inferences. Students then ask relevant questions and take responsibility for searching for explanations on their own. This approach paves way for the development of confident learners.
Self-Directed Learning (SDL) establishes the teaching and learning conditions targeted to meet the needs of the students. Here, students take initiatives, set their own goals for learning and follow personal instructional and planning strategies. It is evident in our YI, Variables Lesson and E2K programmes. SDL allows for the curriculum to be adjusted to the students’ needs, evolve their own pace and take initiatives for their learning. These characteristics motivate students to be more engaged in their learning and be more responsible in improving their performance and social behaviour. Improved work behaviour also enables them to work and communicate effectively with their peers when working on science investigations in groups.
Cooperative Learning (CoL) is a well-researched instructional strategy that has been reported to be highly successful in the classroom. It provides students with the tools to effectively work in a collaborative environment. Many of our Science Investigations in the classroom provide opportunities for group work. During our YI projects, ICT is infused to enable our students to discuss projects online. With such structures in place, students are provided with a well-defined framework to learn from each other. This strategy emphasizes on team approach where the success of the group depends on the cooperation of each and every member. Through such collaborative projects students learn to be more sensitive to their peers, manage their opinions and emotions and show care and concern for others’ ideas and feelings.
Problem Based Learning (PBL) focuses on knowing and understanding issues, considering all possible factors, brainstorming for options and eventually deciding on the best solution. As all ideas are accepted initially, problem solving allows for finding the best possible solution as opposed to the easiest solution or the first solution proposed.
In our E2K and Phyzwurx Programmes, students are given opportunities to study real-life problems and exercise creativity in developing a scientific solution to the problem. Hence, this allows students to think both creatively and critically about a problem without applying their own pre-conceived ideas. Defining what the problem rather than looking at the cause of the problem, prevents premature judgment. Similarly, clarifying what an acceptable solution is before generating them prevents preconceptions from driving solutions. Here students are also searching for relevant information to evaluate the options before deciding on the best solution. Students’ competencies in information searching and decision making are raised.
Mr Mubaraq Ali
Head of Department (Science)