Spotlight on the 7-10 Science Syllabus: Incorporating New Content

This blog piece explores ways to incorporate the new Data Science content considering pros and cons of each option, from Robin Gordon, STANSW Councillor and Syllabus Working Group Convenor. 

When planning a Scope and Sequence for the new 7-10 syllabus, the integration of new content, like Data Science, requires careful consideration. Although NESA intended the focus areas to be implemented in order and without re-arrangement, Data Science 1 and Data Science 2 can be treated differently. Here are some opportunities and challenges that our Syllabus Working Group identified. 

Leaving the Data Science to stand alone, either at the end of the stages or at another point in the sequence of focus areas, would be convenient for developing an associated Depth Study and would invite an opportunity to connect Data Science with engaging contexts like forensic science, bioinformatics or sports science. On the other hand, these additional contexts could add cognitive load to an already demanding scope of learning and the time required to address all the content may stretch the limits of focus for some students. 

Splitting the Data Science focus areas into two or three discrete sections could resolve the problem of sustaining focus but could also give a disjointed feel to the whole learning sequence and cause odd term breaks in other focus areas. 

Alternatively, you could choose to integrate Data Science with another focus area like Living Systems in Stage 4 or Disease in Stage 5. Using a context from content already in the syllabus would give the Data Science relevance; however, this would significantly extend the time required to cover all content and thought would need to be given to strategies to keep students engaged, perhaps with a Depth Study or excursion. 

If you were looking for a more seamless integration, you could harness the creativity and collaborative skills of your team to embed the content from Data Science1 and 2 into a range of focus areas across Stages 4 and 5. Combined with Depth Studies and explicit teaching of Working Scientifically skills, this approach might be more balanced and prioritise engagement, but requires experience to understand the age-appropriate learning progression. 

Consult and encourage your team to think about the Scope and Sequence that best suits your school context and team capacity. Be flexible to evaluate and change after the first year. 

Robin Gordon  

STANSW Councillor and Syllabus Working Group Convenor 

[email protected]