Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Plant Growth Investigation

For the end of the year, we are investigating the germination and growth of peas. Our first task was to identify the factors that affect germination and growth, and how we can control these factors:

Our next task will be to plan a Fair Test to see what happens if we change one of these factors on purpose.

Monday, 10 November 2014


Today, we learned that there is often variation within a population. This helps the population (but not all of the individuals) survive if factors change. For example, a new predator may arrive in the habitat. But is this biodiversity always a good thing?

When conditions change, this biodiversity can lead to Natural Selection:

Tuesday, 4 November 2014


Today, we started to look at the process of osmosis. Sadly, the wet weather meant we could not do our experiment outside, so we will do it tomorrow.

Osmosis helps explain how water gets absorbed by the roots of plants. This is the first step in the water getting to the leaves.

In our experiment, we found that the potato chip in the saline solution became really bendy (flaccid). We think this is because water was lost from the potato into the saline solution it was soaking in. The potato chip in the tap water became really hard (turgid). We think this is because the potato absorbed some tap water. These are both examples of osmosis in action.

Monday, 3 November 2014


Leaves are water-proof, so how does the water required for photosynthesis get into the leaves of a plant?

We saw that the food colouring had gone into the leaves, and that there was a smaller volume of water in the beaker. When we cut the celery stem, we saw coloured tubes in the stem. These are called xylem tissue, and help get the water up the stem to the leaves.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Plants - Leaves

We started by looking at the main parts of a flowering plant:
Then, we focused on the leaves of plants:

Friday, 24 October 2014


We learnt about the parts of microscopes and how to use them to look at slides. On Tuesday, we will get a chance to make our own slides and to look at them under a microscope.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Animal Cells

Today, we looked at the structure of animals cells, then compared and contrasted animals with plants:

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Plant Cells

Today, we had to learn about the parts of a general plant cell. On Friday or Monday, we will get a chance to look at plant cells through a microscope.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Introduction to Biology

Today, we compared how we decide if something is living or not with how a biologist decides.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Exodus Earth?

There are a lot of threats to Earth, or to the continuation of life on Earth. Because of these threats, some people have started to think about whether we can (and should) look at "exo-planets" for us to move to; "Earth 2.0".

We started by looking at a short National Geographic video about "Global Warming", which we now call "Global Climate Change": VIDEO

Here are a few other videos that show the effect of Global Climate Change:

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Myths About Space

I found this article which has some good facts about space, that Hollywood stretches the truth about in films:

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Black Holes

One of the topics we wanted to learn more about was Black Holes. We started by looking at this video clip:


We used the following website to find out more about Black Holes, from other people's Frequently Asked Questions: HubbleSite

Mr Nicoll used the idea of a balloon to help us understand the forces that cause a large star to collapse and form a Black Hole:

From this, we had two tasks to carry out:
  1. DESCRIBE Black Holes

  1. SEQUENCE how Black Holes are created

Those doing Black Holes as their Research Project have one more important task:
  1. INFER what is inside Black Holes (or on "the other side"). Remember to include evidence in your answer, not just popular Science Fiction.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Astronomy - Unit Planning

As well as our research project, we have a few other things to do:


There are some key ideas that we must have an understanding of throughout this unit. These have been put on SOLO hexagons:

On the back of each card, we need to DEFINE and DESCRIBE each key idea. In the coming weeks, we will learn more about each of these and be asked to EXPLAIN the links between each of these key ideas.


Over the weekend, we were asked to watch two YouTube videos about Astronomy/Space. We also watched the start of a video, called Exodus Earth. Today, we were also given two pieces of paper and asked to write down two idea or questions that we want to know more about.

Mr Nicoll is going to use these pieces of paper to design the "teaching" part of the unit; hopefully we will get to learn about things we are really interested in!!

The key areas of interest are:

  1. The Big Bang Theory
  2. Black Holes
  3. The Death of Stars (not the Death Star...haha!)
  4. Exodus Earth (Why? Are there other options?)
  5. Earth (Its formation and why it is how it is: rotation; tectonic plates; the atmosphere...) 

The format of each lesson will be:
  1. Learn about one of our interests (from the green pieces of paper).
  2. Work on our own Research Project OR
  3. Work on the links between the hexagons

Year 9 Astronomy Research



Research an area of Astronomy that interests you. Ideas include (but are not limited to):
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Phases of the Moon
  • The Hubble Telescope
  • Matariki
  • Navigation
  • Solar Eclipses
  • Lunar Eclipses
  • Space Travel
  • Black Holes
  • Ancient Religions
You will be given a grade based upon:
  1. The presentation of the project.
  2. The clarity of the information.
  3. The relevance of your topic to everyday life (or to the future of the Human Race).
You may present your findings in any way that can be shown to other people. Ideas include (but are not limited to):
  • A3 (or larger) Poster
  • Model
  • Website


Using your research from the Project (Task One) and/or other visual aids (PowerPoint, YouTube, handouts etc), summarise your research. The presentation to the class should be no shorter than one minute and no longer than five minutes.

Ideas for your presentation include (but are not limited to): 
  • Speech
  • Video
  • Narrated PowerPoint

You will be given a grade based upon:
  1. The clarity of your explanation(s) of your research.
  2. How well you answer questions from your peers.


Using the same topic as your Project, produce a one page (A4) summary of your research. Labelled diagrams and/or images should be included.
You will be given a grade based upon the same criteria as the Project (Task One).


Your final grade will be the lower of your best two grades.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Creating a Marking Rubric

Today, we gave feedback on each other's work and created a marking rubric to measure the level of thinking we all showed. We used a padlet to share this:

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Chemical Reactions and Physical Changes

Substances change when they are heated. Sometimes they react with other substances (like the iron and sulfur). This is a chemical reaction. Sometimes, though, the heat just causes the substance to melt, evaporate or sublime. This is called a physical change.

Today, we heated sugar to see if we could melt it. We heated some more sugar to see if we could caramelise it.

Melted Sugar (left)
Caramelised Sugar (right)
Solid Sugar (middle)
SOURCE: George, Alex, Jack G and Thomas B

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The Periodic Table of Elements

We were asked to think about the Periodic Table of Elements as a city. The elements "live" in this city. Where do they live? Why are they found there? Who are their "neighbours"? Who are their "friends"? What happens when they spend time with their "friends"?


Everyone had to choose one element to research. We have to find out everything we can about the element and present our findings in one of these ways:

  1. A4 or A3 poster
  2. PowerPoint presentation (no more than 3 slides)
  3. Creative writing (pretending to be one of the elements)
This is due at the end of Friday's lesson.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Mixtures vs. Compounds

The ingredients of a cake can be described as a mixture (before it is baked). If we had the equipment, we could separate the ingredients again. After it is baked, though, we cannot separate the ingredients. Why?

We did an experiment where we mixed some iron and sulfur, then heated them which made a new substance, called iron sulfide.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Suspensions and Solutions

Today, we returned to our Elements, Compounds and Mixtures topic. We started with a reminder about suspensions and solutions:

Each group had 10 minutes to discuss the question, then 2 minutes to report back. Everyone had to "rate" the thinking shown by each other group, using SOLO.

Well done to Megan, Keegan, Harry, Sam, Emma and Jasmine whose answer was the closest to Relational today. We all identified some key properties of suspensions and solutions, and a method to separate them. However, nobody explained how those separation techniques worked.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Science of the Commonwealth Games

This week, we are taking a break from our Elements, Compounds and Mixtures topic. With the 20th Commonwealth Games opening in Glasgow this week, we are doing some work on the science of the Commonwealth Games.

Today, we chose a sport and looked at the past winners. We looked for any trends: are times getting shorter, or distances getting farther; are any countries dominant, and could there be a reason for this?

Wednesday, Friday and Next Week
We are working with a Year 7 class. We have been given a sport to study the Science of, and carry out a "Fair Test" (investigation) on: cycling, shotput, netball, lawn bowls, swimming or sprinting. Can we find some Science to help New Zealand win GOLD?

One of the Bronze-Medal winning Quiz teams - Wales
Today, we were put into groups, mixing up the Year 9 and Year 7 students. We had a quiz about the history of the Commonwealth Games and discussed a couple of issues:
  1. How does the training of a marathon runner differ now (just before competing) and four years ago (when they are trying to qualify)?
  2. Is there a place for performance-enhancing drugs in sport? If everyone used them, is it really cheating? 

Kenya finished out of the medals in the quiz, but worked well as a team!
Today, we learned about the sports we are expected to investigate:
  • England and Scotland need to investigate track cycling. Which gear is best to use over a distance of 20 metres?
  • Australia need to investigate shooting in netball. What is the relationship between angle and distance/height?
  • Canada need to investigate shotput. What is the relationship between angle and distance?
  • Wales and Malaysia need to investigate lawn bowls. How does the speed affect the amount of curve on the lawn bowl?
  • South Africa need to investigate swimming, particularly reaction times to give their athletes the best chance of a good start to the race.
  • Kenya need to investigate athletics, also focusing on their reaction times.


Friday, 4 July 2014


Toady we looked at two different methods for evaporating the solvent out of a solution, leaving only the solute behind:

The method on the left was much slower, and it made blue crystals of copper sulfate. The method on the right was much faster but it left a white powder. This was still copper sulfate, though. When we added water to the white copper sulfate powder, it made a blue solution again!!

This idea of slow cooling and fast cooling helps us understand how different types of rocks are formed. For example, marble and limestone are two very different rocks but are made of the same chemical (calcium carbonate).



Wednesday, 2 July 2014


Solutions are a special kind of mixture that acts like a pure substance. This is because the solute has dissolved in the solvent. Some solutions are made up of lots of solutes and solvents:

Then, we got to investigate solubility or concentration. These are two important properties of solutions.

Friday, 27 June 2014


Today we learned abut one type of mixture - suspensions. We also looked at one way to separate suspensions: filtration.

For homework (due on Tuesday), we need to do some research about the THREE methods used to separate suspensions. We have to decide: Which separation method is THE BEST for separating suspensions?

Using a SOLO Compare/Contrast Map would be a good idea...

Wednesday, 25 June 2014


Matter can be classified as a Pure Substance or as a Mixture. How do we decide?

Our sciPad (p27) had some everyday substances we had to classify. How did we make our decisions?

The generalisation has to be completed for homework. We were give some hints, such as: salt being made of two substances, yet not being a mixture; there being different types of dirt...but they are still called dirt!

We also have to complete p28 in our sciPad for homework (by Friday).