Science for Excellence: Physical Science: Level 4

Paul Chambers, Nicky Souter (Editor), Stephen Jeffrey

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Science for Excellence Level 4: Physical Science is directed towards the Level Four Science experiences and outcomes of Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland. Its main focus is on those relating to the Forces, Electricity and Waves organiser, but it also encompasses a number of the outcomes in the Planet Earth organiser. It was felt that much could be addressed in this section from a physical science perspective that is different to the traditional recall of factual content regarding the Solar System. It makes frequent reference to key concepts identified in Curriculum for Excellence and the topics chosen in the text can be linked with content across the other organisers.
Although the chapters are designed to meet Curriculum for Excellence Level Four outcomes, their approach and content have also been influenced by the need to articulate with National Four and National Five developments which were underway at the time of writing. An enquiry-based approach suggests activities which are designed to encourage pupils to plan and design experiments which present opportunities for individual investigation or practical challenges but also others which are more designed to provide progression onto the next stage. This is reflected in the inclusion of content covering forces, gas laws, sound and electricity.
In an attempt to allow our pupils to make more informed decisions on scientific issues relating to their own experiences, the chapters have a strong Scottish viewpoint, but this is balanced by reference to global issues. It is hoped that the physical science content, presented alongside examples of historical ideas, will develop pupils’ awareness of science as a continuing process involving tentative ideas, and that what is considered correct at one time may be refined in light of new discoveries.
Some of the activities in the book involve experiments. These should only be attempted under the instruction of the Science Teacher and in accordance with the appropriate safety guidelines. Problems and activities are designed to examine and extend the content of the chapters. Skills in literacy and numeracy as well as an awareness of the importance of health and wellbeing will be developed through these exercises – look out for the icons shown at the end of this Introduction. Some chapters allow for numerical and graphical activities where others seek to reinforce the scientific principles contained in the main text. It was also felt that in an attempt to make the learners more active participants, open ended and pupil investigation activities should feature. These activities encourage individual project work, research and group work, with learners being asked to make informed decisions on scientific advances which may have ethical or societal implications. The tasks are designed around the ‘broad features of assessment in science’.
The principles and practices outlined in Curriculum for Excellence have been adopted throughout the Science for Excellence series. The series is designed to be used in conjunction with schemes of work which reflect learning and teaching approaches which are most applicable to the sciences.
The series provides opportunities for scientific enquiry and examples of scientific scenarios where pupils can, for example, link variables to determine relationships or improve their scientific thinking or make informed judgements on the basis of scientific principles.

Scientifically Literate Citizens
The series’ use of real data and experimental type situations is designed to support the development of pupils’ scientific attitudes. They will be able to look at data critically, make informed judgements on the basis of these and be critical and analytical of the science as well as the implications of broad or bold claims. Our scientific and technological development in various areas and at various times is recorded, and the impact of those developments is seen in context and as an indication of how our society has used and managed science for our benefit.
A significant challenge for Curriculum for Excellence and the Science for Excellence series is to change our pupils’ attitudes to science and to help them become more able to engage positively in issues that will affect them. It is intended that the series’ approach and content will help them to appreciate the scientific challenges and issues facing mankind and to respond in critical and informed ways.
Science for Excellence strives to act as a sound preparatory text for pupils, including those progressing to the next stage, providing a secure understanding of the key issues in science.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationPaisley
Number of pages112
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2011


  • education
  • teaching science
  • physics
  • physical science
  • science education
  • curriculum


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