GSIS has an impressive history of producing graduates who continue onto pure or applied science study at prestigious institutions such as Oxbridge and the London Universities in the UK, Ivy League and Stanford in the US, and HKU/CUHK in HK. Medicine, engineering and pure science are all very popular tertiary study and career choices amongst our graduates.
With such a target audience in mind, Chemistry at GSIS is focused on providing the underpinning rigour of understanding and practice of manual skills required for successful continuation in this tertiary environment.
JUNIOR CHEMISTRY (Years 7-9)
At Year 7 level, in order to help the students settle to their new secondary environment without an intimidating array of new teachers, we have the same science teacher instructing the class across all three individual sciences (biology, chemistry, physics). Total contact time is two double periods/week (i.e. 2 x 85 minutes), and the individual science topics are interleaved to provide a variety of exposure throughout the year.
The students are placed in mixed class groups (or sets), with a maximum size ofapproximately 20 studentsto allow a size which is conducive to effective practical work in the laboratory. The groupsareselectedso that a complete range of ability is present in each group, and so that agender and class balance is achieved.
The focus of the syllabus in all three sciences is the development of required practical and scientific investigation skills, and familiarity with the basic apparatus required for further study.The Chemistry topics selected as contexts for this have been specifically chosen and developed in our own syllabus so as to not only allow horizontal relationship with the other two sciences taught at Year 7, but to logically and rigorously build vertically into the Year 8 and Year 9 syllabi and provide a very strong foundation for IGCSE Chemistry.
Topics covered in Year 7 include:
- The kinetic model of matter
- The Bunsen burner and separation techniques
- Acids &alkalis
- Chemical &physical change
- Air &combustion
For Year 8 and Year 9, there are a total of two double lessons per week (i.e. 2 x 85 minutes)dedicated to Chemistry as a discrete subject, taught by a specialist Chemistry teacher.
The students are, as with Year 7, placed in mixed class groups (or sets), with a maximum size of approx. 20 students, as in Year 7.
The courses are rigorous, following our own syllabus, with an intensive practical component. They are aimed at developing a comprehensive preparation for IGCSE Chemistry. The material focuses on fundamental phenomena that are explicable using the kinetic model of matter, but conceptually culminates in Year 9 with a first exposure to the Bohr model and atomic structure and bonding in anticipation of the IGCSE to follow. There is also some importance placed on establishing a sufficient level of comprehension of chemistry to allow complete access and waying of argument with respect to public media and contained debates (e.g. global warming, pollution, incineration, power generation) for those students not continuing further in Chemistry.
Topics covered over these two years include:
- The Elements
- Metals – physical properties
- Metals – relative reactivity
- Metals – extraction
- Metals – rusting of iron
- The Halogens
- Atomic Structure and Metal/Non-metal Bonding
- Chemical Rates of Reaction
- Chemical Energetics
- Petroleum, Plastics and Polymers
- Environmental Chemistry
IGCSE CHEMISTRY (Years 10-11)
At GSIS, there are a total of two double lessons per week (i.e. 2 x 85 minutes) dedicated to Chemistry. The school follows the IGCSE syllabus offered by the Cambridge Board (CIE).
Despite the limited time available in the subject, as much practical work as possible is used to reinforce understanding, and the external examination includes a practical examination which constitutes 20% of the final examination grade. Classes are generally kept at 16 students or fewer (giving eight laboratory pairs of two) to allow effective practical work.
Chemistry at IGCSE level more definitely launches into the more conceptual Bohr (planetary) model to allow explanation of chemical bonding, and resulting structures and properties.
Chemistry is regarded as the pivotal ‘central’ science, and is prerequisite for the pursuit at tertiary level of both pure/applied ‘biolological’ science courses (like medicine and veterinary science) and pure/applied ‘physical’ science courses (like engineering). IGCSE Chemistry should be pursued by any student who maintains even remote considerations of such scientifically-oriented careers and wishes to keep doors open for such tertiary study.
GSIS students have a commending history at IGCSE Chemistry, and by far the great majority of students grade at A* in the final examinations. It does, however, demand not only interest and curiosity from the student, but also mature and self-motivated study habits.
A-LEVEL (AS & A2) (Years 12-13 – OLD CURRICULUM)
The 2013-2014 academic year will see the final A-level cohort (Y13) complete their studies, following the A2 syllabus offered by the Edexcel Board (9CH01: Edexcel Advanced GCE in Chemistry). The Y12 class of the same year will be the first to pursue the International Baccalaureate curriculum.
The course will continue in its final year with our ‘historical’structure, with two teachers sharing the teaching load with each class (i.e. 2 teachers x 4 periods/week each), and concludes with the May/June examinations: unit 4 theory (6CH04: application of core principles of chemistry), unit 5 theory (6CH05: general principles of chemistry II – transition metals and organic nitrogen chemistry) and the ‘alternative to practical’ paper (6CH08: chemistry laboratory skills II alternative).
INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE CHEMISTRY (Years 12-13 – NEW CURRICULUM)
The 2013-2014 academic year will see the introduction of the International Baccalaureate for the Y12 class. Chemistry will be offered at both standard level (SL; four contact period/week) and higher level (HL; seven periods/week), in separate classes. Each group will be taught by a single teacher only.
The IGCSE single award Chemistry course pursued at GSIS in Years 10 and 11 (as opposed to combined or coordinated mixed science programmes) provides a very strong foundation for students following the SL course, The likely optional topics selected for the SL course (Chemistry in Industry and Technology,Environmental Chemistry) will focus on those areas offering greatest merit for students who are pursuing Chemistry as a complement to their intended tertiary programme, rather than a prerequisite.
The HL course is demanding, with asignificant theory coverage and a demanding practical component. Students who are likely to need Chemistry as a prerequisite in their university course (e.g. medicine, veterinary science, engineering) should follow IB Chemistry at Higher Level (HL). The optional topics chosen will be those offering greatest preparatory benefit for such students (e.g. Modern Analytical Chemistry, Further Organic Chemistry)