Biology


Head of Department: Simon Greenwell

Teaching Staff: Michelle Mathews, Katie Sweetnam and Barbara Tyack

Technicians: Patrick Ogada and Joshua Wanjohi


Introduction
At Hillcrest, the Biology Department aims to nurture and stimulate an interest in and respect for the Natural World. As the most popular science at the school, the vast majority of our students opt to take it at IGCSE, and a considerable number also take it through to A Level. As well as an obvious desire to understand how organisms, such as ourselves work Biology is also often perceived by non-scientists as the Science that is the most accessible!

Facilities
The Biology Department consists of two specialist Biology laboratories, together with a prep room. Both laboratories have a desktop computer, whiteboard, data projector and video/DVD player. The Department is well resourced with the necessary equipment to carry out student-centered practical investigations, which form an integral part of the learning process at Hillcrest. The School is lucky to be located in an extensive campus in the leafy suburbs of Karen and we have ready access to ponds and wild vegetation, not to mention the Nairobi National Park which is on our doorstep. A troupe of vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) share our school grounds and a crocodile not so long ago took up temporary residence in our dam!

Curriculum

Biology is taught throughout the school as a separate science from Years 9 to 13. The IGCSE course runs from Years 9 to 11. The Department follows the Cambridge International Examinations specifications (codes 0610).  IGCSE places an increasing emphasis on the applications of Biology in today’s society and issues such as the causes of heart disease, methods of birth control, genetic engineering and the ecological impact of humans on the environment are investigated. Experimental work forms an integral part of the course.


Biology in Year 9

Students join Hillcrest Secondary School in Year 9 and participate in three lessons of Biology every two weeks. The IGCSE Biology course begins in Year 9 and the topics of Characteristics of Living Organisms, Cell Structure and Organisation, Animal Nutrition and Digestion, Enzymes, and Movement In and Out of Cells are learnt.  By the end of Year 9, Hillcrest students will have already completed about a third of the CIE IGCSE Biology course. 


The Year 9 Biology course is assessed at the end of Year 9 with an end-of-year examination, in which students complete three papers comprising multiple-choice questions, structured questions and practical questions with a weighting of approximately 30%, 50% and 20% respectively.

Biology in Year 10

At the end of Year 9 the vast majority of Hillcrest students decide to carry on with IGCSE Biology and in Years 10 and 11 they have two lessons of Biology per week. In Year 10 the topics of Photosynthesis, Transport in Plants and Humans, Respiration, Gaseous Exchange, Ecology and Sexual Reproduction in Plants are covered. In the May term the students participate in a one day trip to a local flower farm and the Ololua Forest where the topic of ecology is brought to life.

The Year 10 Biology course is assessed at the end of Year 10 with an end-of-year examination, in which students complete three papers comprising multiple-choice questions, structured questions and practical questions with a weighting of 20%, 50% and 40% respectively.

Biology in Year 11

In Year 11, the topics of Sexual Reproduction in Humans, Growth and Development, Inheritance, Excretion, Homeostasis, Coordination and Control are mastered.

The IGCSE Mock examinations are taken in January after which the decision whether to take the easier Core or the more challenging Extended exam is made. At the end of the course CIE IGCSE Biology is examined as follows:

  • Paper 1 multiple choice (core and extended) 45 minutes
  • Paper 2 structured short answer (core only) 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Paper 3 structured short answer (extended only) 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Paper 5 practical test (core and extended) 1hour 15 minutes 

During the course, all students are expected to cover the work required for the extended examination. However, some students are recommended to sit the easier core exam once the results of their mock exam are known.


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