Newcastle High School

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Faculty Focus: Science

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Science Report

Amazing results in 2022

The 2022 Science cohort achieved some outstanding results. In the HSC Lara White achieved first in state in Earth and Environmental Science. Investigating Science students achieved four band 6 results and several band 5 results. Biology students achieved three band 6 results. Students in Physics and Chemistry achieved admirable band 5 results.

In Stage 5, Students completing the VALID online Science assessment with over 62% of Year 10 students in the top 2 bands. In the Stage 4 VALID online Science assessment, 35% of Year 8 students were in the top 2 bands.

Congratulations to these students and their teachers on these fantastic results.

Class Placements in 9-10 Science for Semester 2

Students in Science in Years 9 and 10 have recently undertaken their progress examinations. This consisted of online Canvas knowledge quizzes, written extended response questions and a data graphing exercise. Based on these examinations, teachers have made recommendations for class changes in Semester 2 that will recognise high level student achievement. Students who have earned an opportunity in a higher class will be consulted about this during weeks 8 and 9 this term. Some students accept these opportunities, and some will opt to remain with their current teacher (who may be why they are doing so well). Once finalised, these changes will be reflected in the Semester 2 student timetables.

iSTEM Electives

Year 10 iSTEM have been working on a unit called Design for Space. They learned about the theory and design of rockets, then built their own model rockets.The rocket flights were very successful and amazing to watch.

They have then been using a robotics setup that incorporates Augmented Reality (AR), allowing them to simulate programming mission objectives remotely, imagining they are running a colony on Mars.

Our most recent toy is a new 3D printer. Year 10 are commencing a CAD unit and will design, then 3D print parts for carrying out specific task as part of a machine.

Year 9 iSTEM have been learning the engineering design process and have applied it to the construction of spaghetti bridges. The one pictured held 140 times it’s own weight - an impressive structure.

Soon Year 9 will commence learning to manually fly drones to fly specific patterns, culminating in an obstacle course competition, before also learning to program them with coded flight.

Cows Create Careers

We have had two calves staying with us at Newcastle High for a three week stay, living behind the Science building as part of the Cows Create Careers program sponsored by Dairy Australia.

Students from class 8S are responsible for their feeding and care during this time. Students are in groups of two and each group has been allocated one half an hour timeslot during the three weeks to prepare the milk, feed the cows twice a day, and monitor the health and weight of the calves. ​

The Cows Create Careers Project aims to: 

• Introduce the dairy industry to school students 

•  Introduce students to pathways in the dairy industry and its many related career and educational opportunities 

•  Give students a hands-on experience working with calves 

•  Provide industry advocates and farmers to inform, encourage and support students


Forensic science is a catch-all name for many disciplines of science that may be used to help in the determination of a court case, either civil or criminal. In this course, students apply concepts of biology, organic and inorganic chemistry, physics, genetics, psychology and anthropology.

Students have been working in groups this term developing a crime scene investigation that includes dioramas, scripts, scenarios and the evidence needed to solve the crime.  Students have worked collaboratively and present their crime scenes in a class exhibition.

Next term, a new forensics class will begin.

Science and Engineering Challenge

On Friday 10 March, 32 Year 10 students participated in the annual Science and Engineering Challenge at Newcastle University, sponsored by Lockheed Martin and Newcastle-Maitland Rotary Club. The challenge has been running for over twenty years.

The challenge runs for a week, with schools competing every day in several teams of up to four students on a range of STEM challenges.

Challenges included:

• "Helter Skelter Shelter" - to design 2 towers to withstand sideways motion in a simulated earthquake.

• "Stringways" - a series of scheduling problems based on real life scenarios by arranging tiles on the Scheduliser X1000.

• "Confounding Communications" - to design efficient codes to send messages along fibre optic rods using only pulses of coloured light.

• "Return to Mars" - students construct a buggy to transport loads securely over undulating Martian terrain.

• "Job Juggle" - planning efficient transport networks to link towns.

• "Flight" - build a model glider to be launched with an electronic ejector.

• "ElectraCity" - to provide the lowest cost electricity to the city's infrastructure.

Competing against 7 other schools, the students represented NHS beautifully, coming 2nd overall and winning the coveted "Bridge Challenge" - the finale worth double points where students must build a bridge across a span using limited materials to withstand increasing trolley weights. Organisers commented that with the materials provided, no school had survived the gruelling 9kg "Bridge Buster" all week - a feat successfully achieved by bridge builders Jessica M, Mikayla J, Dylan B and Simon T.

NHS also came first in the following challenges: Helter Skelter Shelter, Confounding Communications, and Job Juggle - a fantastic effort for all involved.

Mr Backers and Mr Perry are super proud of all the students who participated. Well done NHS!

Upcoming Excursions and Events

Awabakal Environmental Education Centre Excursion

Year 11 Biology and Earth and Environmental Science students travel to Awabakal Environmental Education Centre for a field study in Week 9 this term. The biology classes use this study as part of the formal Depth Study assessment task. All Biology student must attend this excursion to meet the requirements of the task. This event will be conducted by Mr Doherty, Ms Herron, Dr Tacchi and Mr Rule


Year 12 Physics and Chemistry students are attending the University of Newcastle to access Science laboratories and conduct a series of investigations that are relevant to their HSC studies. Students access equipment that schools do not normally access and can interact with university staff. Students additionally can build familiarity in a university setting and be encouraged to consider Science as path for further study. This event will be conducted by Mr Bromfield and Mr Smith

Museum of Human Disease 

Year 12 Biology classes attend the Museum of Human Disease, which is located at the University of New South Wales. As Australia’s only publicly accessible medical pathology collection, the Museum of Human Disease is a truly unique experience. Listed as one of the world’s 10 weirdest museums by CNN in 2013, the museum houses a collection of the top 20 killers in Australia. It features displays on diseases long forgotten and those we bring on ourselves. This excursion aligns well with the HSC Biology focus on infectious and non-infectious disease. This event will be conducted by Mr Doherty and Dr Tacchi.