With a fully refurbished Chemistry Department at their disposal, pupils benefit from excellent facilities in which to explore chemistry to the full. From developing their analysis and evaluating skills, to building on their mathematical problem-solving abilities.
All Taunton School pupils study Chemistry until the end of Year 11. The subject can be taken as part of the dual award AQA GCSE Combined Science: Trilogy qualification or as a separate GCSE subject.
The AQA GCSE Chemistry course helps you understand the key role which chemistry plays in the world and your lives. It aims to give you a good understanding of the nature of substances, how they react together and an appreciation of how chemistry is relevant in the home and industry. Chemistry is also concerned with how the use of materials to improve our lives can affect the local and global environment. Practical skills and training in how to handle substances safely are emphasised throughout. GCSE Chemistry is an ideal foundation for students wanting to study IB or A Level Chemistry, but it also provides a good grounding for everyone in the fundamental scientific ideas which underpin our modern society.
Year 9 The course starts with a look at the fundamental ideas that underpin all chemistry, with a particular emphasis on learning how to predict the reactivity of elements and writing chemical equations. This is followed by a study of the ways that substances can be purified and identified. The year finishes with a look at the atmosphere – how it formed and the impact of human activities on its composition.
Year 10 This year begins with chemical bonding and its impact on the structure and properties of substances. The course continues with an exploration of chemical change in the context of the reactions of metals and of acids and some quantitative chemistry. Some of the chemicals available from oil are then studied, followed by a look at the pH scale and the neutralisation reactions of acids and alkalis.
Year 11 This year includes a look at the energy changes that take place during reactions, how fast they go and some important reversible reactions. Processes in which electrons are lost and gained are considered, along with their applications for the production of electricity. This is followed by more chemistry of carbon-containing compounds before concluding with a consideration of our use of resources and how chemistry can have a positive impact on the sustainability of human activities.
Throughout the course an emphasis is placed on all the activities that scientists undertake as they develop their knowledge and understanding of the subject and the vocabulary, terminology, units and symbols they use. Working scientifically also includes the development of scientific thinking, methods and theories, the use of models to develop explanations and understanding and the communication of results to a wider audience. A range of experimental and investigative skills are taught, including: planning investigations; developing hypotheses; working safely; recording observations; analysing results, including graphing data; drawing conclusions and evaluating methods. Consideration is also given to the power and limitations of science, the impact it can have beyond the laboratory and how the positive and negative consequences of this can be evaluated. These same skills are also taught and assessed on the exam papers in Biology and Physics.
Students taking Chemistry as part of the Dual Award Combined Science follow the same course but with reduced content.
Chemistry continues to be a popular subject in the Senior years, with as many as 40 to 50 pupils choosing to explore their passion further in the Sixth Form. Courses offered include A-Level Chemistry, following the OCR Chemistry A Specification, or IB Chemistry at both Higher or Standard Level.