Science 14/01/2020

What’s the point of GCSE Science?

By RONAN O'NEILL

This is a blog for  for Year 11 students

Year 11… it’s hard to believe right now, but in a few months’ time your GCSEs will be over and you’ll be looking forward to a long, lazy summer!

But the time between now and then will be tough. Parents and teachers will drone on about how GCSEs are important for your future. And they’re not wrong! Universities look for good Science GCSE grades. They’re a gateway to professions like medicine and engineering and also to careers in business and finance.

From personal experience, I know the difference that good GCSEs can make. My parents both left school at age 15, without any qualifications and struggled to make ends meet. But thanks to their support, a strong state education and encouragement from my teachers, I achieved a strong set of GCSEs, made it to a top university and my horizons were completely transformed.

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So it’s true that Science GCSEs bring personal success. But there’s a much bigger picture.

The purpose of science is to explain life, Earth and the universe. Scientists test ideas with evidence and come to reasoned conclusions. Thinking like a scientist helps you make good decisions about everything from your own personal health to global climate change.

Yet, despite all the evidence, many world leaders refuse to accept that the Earth’s atmosphere is warming because of human activity. They prefer to ignore the threat that this poses to all of us.

The best solutions to climate change are natural. Greta Thunberg talks about these solutions in this short video. We need to consume less and take care of Earth’s natural habitats. We need to stop digging finite resources out of the ground, burning them and sending harmful gases into the atmosphere.

But… it will take society a long time to fully understand this. And time is running out. So scientists will need to step in to help reverse the destruction of our natural environment. That’s where you come in. We need young scientists to help secure the future of the planet!

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GCSE Science is a great place to start.

In her video Human impact on the environment, our GCSE Biology teacher explains how the human population explosion has led to environmental problems and what needs to be done to improve things. For example, cattle farming causes huge habitat losses, removing natural carbon sinks which help maintain a steady climate. In the video Sustainable food production, she describes how high protein food can be produced with minimal environmental impact.

Our GCSE Chemistry teacher explains the make-up of the Earth’s atmosphere and how global warming is caused by an increase in greenhouse gases due to human activity. She talks about the negative effects of global warming, how humans can reduce their carbon footprint and how sustainable development is vital. For example, biological extraction of metals from ore is less damaging to the environment than traditional methods.

Engineering solutions will be essential to combating the effects of climate change. Our GCSE Physics teacher explains nuclear fission, which provides carbon-free energy, but brings the risk of radioactive contamination. He also discusses renewable energy resources such as wind, tidal and solar power. Scientists may even launch structures into space to help reflect the sun’s rays and offset the greenhouse effect.

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Over to you, Year 11.

As your exams approach, My GCSE Science will provide support all along the way. If you didn’t understand a topic in class, missed a lesson — or you were just having a bad day and weren’t able to listen — our videos give you a second chance. Take your time, rewind if necessary, try a few of the questions and before long you’ll get the hang of it.

With the GCSEs coming up, do yourself a favour and switch on the determination. You can do it. Revise regularly in 30 minute chunks, and you’ll be surprised what you’re capable of.

Those of you who choose to take science at A-level will open a world of opportunity. You might even join those scientists that humanity is depending on to save the planet.

 

 

Ronan O'Neill

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