You will learn essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science. You will gain appreciation of how the complex and diverse phenomena of the natural world can be described in terms of a small number of key ideas that relate to the sciences and that are both inter-linked and of universal application.
The GCSE in Combined Science should enable students to:
- develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through the specific disciplines of Biology, Chemistry and Physics
- develop understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science, through different types of scientific enquiries that help them to answer scientific questions about the world around them
- develop and learn to apply observational, practical, modelling, enquiry and problem-solving skills in the laboratory, in the field and in other learning environments
- develop their ability to evaluate claims based on science through critical analysis of the methodology, evidence and conclusions, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
Students should study the sciences in ways that help them to develop curiosity about the natural world, that give them an insight into how science works and that enable them to appreciate its relevance to their everyday lives. The scope and nature of the study should be broad, coherent, practical and satisfying. It should encourage students to be inspired, motivated and challenged by the subject and its achievements.
The key ideas specific to the Combined Science content include:
- life processes depend on molecules whose structure is related to their function
- the fundamental units of living organisms are cells, which may be part of highly adapted structures including tissues, organs and organ systems, enabling living processes to be performed effectively
- lliving organisms may form populations of single species, communities of many species and ecosystems, interacting with each other, with the environment and with humans in many different ways
- living organisms are interdependent and show adaptations to their environment
- life on Earth is dependent on photosynthesis in which green plants and algae trap light from the Sun to fix carbon dioxide and combine it with hydrogen from water to make organic compounds and oxygen
- organic compounds are used as fuels in cellular respiration to allow the other chemical reactions necessary for life
- the chemicals in ecosystems are continually cycling through the natural world
- the characteristics of a living organism are influenced by its genome and its interaction with the environment
- evolution occurs by a process of natural selection and accounts both for biodiversity and how organisms are all related to varying degrees.
- matter is composed of tiny particles called atoms and there are about 100 different naturally occurring types of atoms called elements
- elements show periodic relationships in their chemical and physical properties
- these periodic properties can be explained in terms of the atomic structure of the elements
- atoms bond by either transferring electrons from one atom to another or by sharing electrons
- the shapes of molecules (groups of atoms bonded together) and the way giant structures are arranged is of great importance in terms of the way they behave
- there are barriers to reaction so reactions occur at different rates
- chemical reactions take place in only three different ways: proton transfer, electron transfer, electron sharing.
- energy is conserved in chemical reactions so can therefore be neither created nor destroyed.
- the use of models, as in the particle model of matter or the wave models of light and of sound
- the concept of cause and effect in explaining such links as those between force and acceleration, or between changes in atomic nuclei and radioactive emissions
- the phenomena of ‘action at a distance’ and the related concept of the field as the key to analysing electrical, magnetic and gravitational effects
- that differences, for example between pressures or temperatures or electrical potentials, are the drivers of change
- that proportionality, for example between weight and mass of an object or between force and extension in a spring, is an important aspect of many models in science
- that physical laws and models are expressed in mathematical form.
All of these key ideas will be assessed as part of this qualification, through the subject content.