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Chemistry

Chemistry is often referred to as the central science which links both Biology and Physics. It is an experimental science involved with the development of theories to explain and predict observations. The development of novel materials is crucial to technological development and therefore Chemistry underpins technological advancement. As teachers of Chemistry we aim to pass on our enthusiasm for the subject and help our students to recognise the important role that Chemistry plays in their everyday lives.

In years 7 and 8 all girls follow an integrated science course, and Chemistry is taught as a separate subject from year 9. At KS4 each science discipline is taught by subject specialists, and at GCSE, the girls are studying either AQA Science and Additional Science or AQA Triple Science.

Demand for Chemistry in the Sixth Form is very high. Currently we have seven groups following the AQA Chemistry specification to AS and five to A2. Results at KS5 have been consistently outstanding and more than 50% of girls elect to follow a chemically related course at University. In recent years girls have achieved national recognition in competitions run by Royal Society of Chemistry.

Within the Chemistry Department the girls are offered a range of extra-curricular activities to develop their individual interests. These include trips, competitions and a programme of lunch-time speakers.

 


 

Frequently Asked Questions

How are teaching groups organised?

At Key Stage 3 science is taught in form groups (mixed ability) with up to 30 pupils in a class.

At Key Stage 4 pupils are grouped according to their GCSE options; we currently have 4 Dual Award science classes and 4 separate science classes in each year. There are a maximum of 25 pupils in a class.

At Key Stage 5 pupils are taught in mixed-ability classes of up to 18.

How much practical work is involved?

Practical work is considered a vital part of all our Chemistry courses and we try to incorporate it into every topic. Practical skills are continually assessed and make up a significant proportion of the GCSE and A Level courses.

Should I do GCSE Dual Award Science or Separate Sciences?

Dual award scientist will have 3 chemistry lessons per cycle. At the end of year 11 you will be awarded two GCSEs in Science. Both GCSEs are divided equally between Biology, Chemistry and Physics, so your marks in each subject will impact on your final grades. It is possible for Dual Award scientists to carry on studying chemistry at AS level, however, it is required that you complete a Chemistry access course in the summer term after GCSEs.

Separate scientists will have 5 chemistry lessons per cycle. The GCSE grade you achieve in chemistry is independent of your grades in Physics and Biology. You will cover the same material as the Dual Award scientists plus 1 extra unit. The separate science GCSE will give you a good grounding for AS level chemistry, so if you want to study Chemistry at A-Level, or are considering a career in science we recommend but don’t insist that you opt to take GCSE separate sciences.

What can I do if I am struggling to understand Chemistry lessons?

Do not ignore the issue; it is very important that you seek help. You should let your chemistry teacher know and ask for extra help at a time convenient to you both. Alternatively, any member of the Chemistry staff will be very happy to help you at the ‘Open House’ drop-in session, every Wednesday lunch time on the ‘Chemistry floor’ between 12:40 and 13:20.

What skills are developed through the study of Chemistry?

Through the study of Chemistry you will use and develop your key skills in communication, application of number, ICT, decision making, team working, and problem solving. Thinking skills are developed through engagement in the processes of scientific enquiry. Through learning about the work of scientists and the ways in which scientific ideas are used, you will develop your entrepreneurial skills.

What impact do chemists have on society?

The tasks carried out by chemists are vast and varied, illustrating the huge impact that Chemistry has on society. Many chemists are employed in research and development making new nanomaterials e.g. graphene, medicines, fertilizers, paints, fuels, dyes, plastics, pesticides and cosmetics. Others will monitor the quality of these products once in production, and in the cases of substances like fertilizers, chemists will monitor their impact on the environment.

Doesn’t the work of chemists have a negative impact upon society?

Not everything chemists have developed is necessarily positive (for example chemical weapons) but most people would agree that the benefits that the subject has brought outweigh any disadvantages.

 


 

Extra Curricular

Salters’ Festival of Chemistry

Every year four of our best Year 8 chemists take part in the festival at The University of Manchester. The team carry out forensic experiments to solve a murder mystery. The girls have the opportunity to develop their practical and analysis skills and work as a team.

ChemQuiz at Manchester University

The RSC Chemquiz is an annual opportunity for students from local schools to gather and test their chemical and scientific abilities. Each teams consist of one student from each of years 8 to 11. 

 

Extra-curricular Activities in Chemistry for years 12 and 13

ChemNet

We encourage all of our A Level chemists to broaden their understanding of the subject and keep abreast of new and exciting developments. Most students join ChemNet, a network for chemistry students ages 16-18. As members of ChemNet, they’re invited to regular ChemNet events and receive monthly issues of ‘Chemistry World’. ChemNet members from AGGS have recently attended a talk entitled ‘What Chemistry has done for me’ at Manchester University. The girls heard talks from a number of local chemistry graduates and gained an insight into their different career paths.

RSC Chemistry Olympiad

Year 12 and 13 students entered the International Chemistry Olympiad. The event is run by the Royal Society of Chemistry to stretch and challenge the most talented chemists. Our girls gained two silver awards, eight bronze award and 7 commendations.

 

Chemistry Help Sessions Y12/13 Wednesday 12:30 L11 Chemistry Dept
Chemistry Year 13 Extension Wednesday 3:30 – 4:30 L10 Dr Yong
Science Club Y7/8 Thursday 12:30 L1 Miss Lloyd

 


 

Key Stage 3 – Year 7-9

In Years 7 and 8, Chemistry is taught within a science course. Pupils are taught in form groups and cover a range of topics.  In Year 7 these include: Solids, liquids and gases, Simple chemical reaction, and Mixtures. In Year 8 topics include: Elements and compounds, resources from the Earth and Reactions of Metals

They have the opportunity to carry out a range of practical work with the aim being to develop confidence in practical techniques that are needed to succeed as a Scientist. Pupils learn how Science and Scientific understanding is relevant to today’s society.

By midway through the Autumn term of Year 9 pupils will have completed the KS3 curriculum and will be ready to begin the GCSE course. Starting the course earlier provides pupils with a greater range of practical experiences and time to study aspects of the course in more depth, thus providing them with a better grounding for future study.

 


 

Key Stage 4 – GCSE

At GCSE, the Science Department offers either Science and Additional Science or Triple Science. All Science areas are taught by subject specialists in mixed ability groupings and the GCSE teaching starts in Year 9.

Science and Additional Science

The course aims to develop pupils’ interest and enthusiasm for science, develop a critical approach to scientific evidence and methods and to acquire a knowledge and understanding of Chemistry and how science works, also focusing on its essential role in society. There are a variety of teaching methods used to enable pupils to acquire scientific skills and knowledge and the understanding necessary to progress to advanced level, if desired.

A copy of the Science and Additional Science syllabi can be downloaded from the AQA website. Pupils study the Science A component of the course and are examined by one 60 minute written examination paper, which along with their Biology, Physics and ISA marks make up their year 10 Science grade. In year 11 they then sit a one hour Chemistry paper which again along with their Biology, Physics and ISA marks make up their Additional Science grade

The Investigative skills assignment (ISA) is a Centre Assessed Unit which comprises of a Practical skills assessment. These are completed at appropriate opportunities throughout the course. These consist of a 45 minute exam paper planning the experiment followed by a practical experiment in which pupils collect data and draw a graph to represent this data. They then complete another 50 minute exam paper under examination conditions where their knowledge and How Science Works Skills are assessed. If they do not perform well in their first ISA they will gain the opportunity to complete a second outside of lesson time.

Triple Science

Pupils complete the Science and Additional Science Units, but they also complete a third unit which includes areas of study such as: The Periodic Table, Water Chemistry, Energy Changes, Analysis and Quantitative Chemistry, The Production of Ammonia and Alcohols, carboxylic acids and esters. Within these topics, pupils also carry out more in-depth practical work.

A copy of the Chemistry Triple science syllabus is available from the AQA website. Pupils are assessed via 3 examinations at the end of year 11 and their ISA mark each one of these holding an equal weighting to their final Chemistry grade.

The Investigative skills assignment (ISA) is a Centre Assessed Unit which comprises of a Practical skills assessment. These are completed at appropriate opportunities throughout the course. These consist of a 45 minute exam paper planning the experiment followed by a practical experiment in which pupils collect data and draw a graph to represent this data. They then complete another 50 minute exam paper under examination conditions where their knowledge and How Science Works Skills are assessed. If they do not perform well in their first ISA they will gain the opportunity to complete a second outside of lesson time.

 


 

Key Stage 5 – AS Level

We aim to give interesting and varied lessons using a range of resources, and we value the contributions made from pupils to the lessons. Each pupil is provided with course notes, past paper questions, textbooks, practical booklets and a student handbook, which contain all the relevant information for the course.

We follow the AQA GCE Chemistry course. The AS course follows on from the GCSE Chemistry Separate Science course. Students who have done GCSE Dual Award Science will complete an access course in the summer term to ensure that they have the necessary knowledge and understanding to continue the subject at AS level.

The AS Chemistry course develops aspects of Physical, Inorganic and Organic Chemistry and emphasises the application of Chemistry into our modern lives. We encourage pupils to keep abreast of developments in Chemistry by reading magazines such as Chemistry Review or New Scientists of which copies are available in our school library.

An outline of the AS course

The AS specification has 3 units:

CHEM 1: Foundation Chemistry

Topic list

  • Particles, composition of the nucleus, isotopes and use of mass spectrometer
  • Calculating the amount of substance
  • Ionic, covalent and metallic bonding and intermolecular forces
  • The construction of the periodic table
  • Organic chemistry
  • Alkanes from crude oil.

Assessment

Written paper

1 hour 15 minutes

Weighting

33% of total AS Level marks

 

16% of total A Level marks

 

CHEM 2: Chemistry in Action

Topic list

  • Collision theory and effect
  • Definitions of oxidation and reduction
  • Redox properties of halogens and halide ions
  • The extraction of Metals
  • Haloalkanes and alkenes

Assessment

Written paper

1 hour 45 minutes

Weighting

46% of total AS Level marks

 

23% of total A Level marks

 

CHEM 3

Investigative and Practical Skills in AS Chemistry Externally marked route This will consist of an Externally Marked Practical Assignment (EMPA) and Practical Skills Verification (PSV – teacher verification). The PSV will be based around an assessment throughout the AS course of the candidate’s ability to follow and undertake certain standard practical activities across the three areas of Chemistry; Inorganic, Organic and Physical.

Weighting

20% total AS Level marks

 

10% of total A Level marks

 

 


 

Key Stage 5 – A2 Level

We aim to give interesting and varied lessons using a range of resources, and we value the contributions made from pupils to the lessons. Each pupil is provided with course notes, past paper questions, textbooks, practical booklets and a student handbook, which contain all the relevant information for the course.

The chemistry course follows on from the GCSE and AS Chemistry courses. It develops aspects of Physical, Inorganic and Organic Chemistry and emphasises the application of Chemistry into our modern lives. We encourage pupils to keep abreast of developments in Chemistry by reading magazines such as Chemistry Review or New Scientists of which copies are available in our school library.

An outline of the A2 course

The A2 specification has 3 units:

CHEM 4: Kinetics, Equilibria and Organic Chemistry

Topic list

  • Kinetic and equilibria
  • Acids, bases and buffer solutions and the changes in pH during titrations
  • Organic compounds containing the carbonyl group, aromatic compounds, amines, amino acids and polymers.
  • Spectroscopic techniques

Assessment

Written paper

1 hour 45 minutes

Weighting

20% of the total A-level marks

 

CHEM 5: Energetics, Redox and Inorganic Chemistry

Topic list

  • Thermodynamics
  • Periodicity
  • Redox equilibria
  • Transition metals
  • Reactions of inorganic compounds in aqueous solution

Assessment

Written paper

1 hour 45 minutes

Weighting

20% of the total A-level marks

 

CHEM 6

Investigative and Practical Skills in A2 Chemistry Externally marked route This will consist of an Externally Marked Practical Assignment (EMPA) and Practical Skills Verification (PSV – teacher verification). The PSV will be based around an assessment throughout the A2 course of the candidate’s ability to follow and undertake certain standard practical activities across the three areas of Chemistry; Inorganic, Organic and Physical.

Weighting

20% total AS Level marks

 

10% of total A Level marks