Structure of the Science Domain
The Science domain is organised into six sections, one for each level of achievement from Level 1 to Level 6. Each level includes a learning focus statement and, from Level 3, a set of standards organised by dimension. A glossary is included which provides definitions of or additional information about underlined terms.
Learning focus statements are written for each level. These outline the learning that students need to focus on if they are to progress in the domain and achieve the standards at the levels where they apply. They suggest appropriate learning experiences from which teachers can draw to develop relevant teaching and learning activities.
Standards define what students should know and be able to do at different levels and are written for each dimension. In Science, standards for assessing and reporting on student achievement apply from Level 3.
Standards in the Science domain are organised in two dimensions:
- Science knowledge and understanding
- Science at work.
These two dimensions include the traditional science disciplines of biology, chemistry, earth science, environmental science, health sciences, neuroscience, physics and space sciences and the emerging sciences including biotechnology, green chemistry, nanotechnology, and synchrotron science. The dimensions build students’ understanding of how science knowledge in the disciplines has been constructed through time and is applied in practical contexts.
The development of Science knowledge and understanding necessarily involves conceptual and experiential understanding of Science at work, and understanding of the ways the concepts, theories and models of science are used throughout the society in which students live.
Science at work involves students learning the processes of science through the ways they undertake and reflect on their own investigations and those of others.
The two dimensions are interrelated in the ways science affects the broader society in which the students live. Students’ own experience of science assists them to develop an understanding of these interactions. The two dimensions are also interrelated in ways that are central to both pedagogy and content.
Science knowledge and understanding
The Science knowledge and understanding dimension focuses on building student understanding of the overarching conceptual ideas of science. These include understanding:
- the nature of the similarities between, and the diversity of, living things and their sustainable relationships with each other and their environment
- concepts related to matter - its properties and uses, and the production of different substances through chemical change
- concepts of energy and force as a way of explaining physical phenomena
- the place of the Earth in time and space and the interactions between the Earth and its atmosphere
- how scale is important in relating structure to function at microscopic and macroscopic levels.
These understandings enable students to build on their curiosity and answer their own questions about themselves and their interactions with the world while at the same time allowing them to think through contemporary challenges and issues. Through this, students come to understand how science relates to society and the environment.
Science at work
The Science at work dimension focuses on students experiencing and researching how people work with and through science. Students learn to be curious and to use scientific understanding and processes to find answers to their questions. They design and pursue investigations ethically and safely; generate, validate and critique evidence; analyse and interpret ideas and link them with existing understanding; work and reason with scientific models and communicate their findings and ideas to others. They identify and practise the underlying values, skills and attributes of science.
Through their investigations, they gain insight into science as a human activity and the relationship between science, technology and society both now and in the future. They explore how science is used in multiple contexts throughout their lives and its pervasiveness throughout the workplace.
Students will be exposed to potentially hazardous materials and practices when undertaking scientific activities and investigations. Beginning with their first year at school, students are made aware of safe practices and are encouraged to act responsibly when conducting investigations. As students progress through their schooling they develop skills in the safe use of scientific apparatus, including heating and electrical equipment, the safe handling of living and non-living organic materials and the correct use and disposal of chemicals.
Standards and practices should be consistent with legal requirements including Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S). Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) provide information about the safe handling of hazardous substances used at the workplace. A Scientific Procedures Premises License (SPPL) is required when animals are used to teach science. If keeping animals then the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 and the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans – National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) 2001 also apply.