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Department of Science & Tech.

Nurturing Science Education at San Andrea Senior School



A word from the Head of Department ……

In an effort to create an awareness of the necessary interaction with the natural and cultural environment in students as early in their life as possible, the science department of the San Andrea Senior School has come up with a number of educational activities that trigger the student’s investigative interest.

The department basically endeavours to make students depart from a strictly examination-based assessment, towards a more practical mode based on skill-development assessment. Whilst keeping in mind the need of certification, teachers introduce structures that encourage individual curiosity and develop investigation. Initiatives are taken to actually challenge students into being curious, ask questions, seek answers and plunge into hands-on experiences in order to be satisfied. The department creates platforms aimed at literally letting students loose to quench their own curiosity. This vision incorporates initiatives that inspire, build and develop important skills like research, synthesis, investigation, numeracy, communication, doing, analysis, evaluation and other skills so much required by a future adult to relate with society and with the environment.

Extracurricular initiatives have been therefore organized as a pedagogical means already for a number of years with the aim of complementing SEC programmes in the sciences, as well as kick starting latent abilities and skills that lie dormant in the student who frequently is unconscious of latent characteristics in his or her possession. We believe that school visits to industry and to sites that show the theoretical principles in their technological, frequently industrial applications, are important and beneficial. But we tend to give more weight to the students’ own discovery of this applicability by providing them with different mechanisms to take their own initiatives and use their own imagination. At the same time we monitor the progress made to reach their aims on their own whilst we feed them with the required methodological and theoretical support to guide them towards achieving the answers required.

With these ideas in mind, the department has devised several activities such as the Energy Terrace (solar water heater, PV panels, greenhouse etc.), the Science Soirée and the Stephen Hawking Science and Technology Project activity which has been already organised for 15 consecutive years since 2001. We also organise other activities such as enjoyable Scuba Diving Sessions in which students are taken for educational dives and lessons that combine entertainment with the illustration of some physics principles.

Alex Bonavia

Head of Department Science & Technology


Important information for parents and students

Click here  to download the information on practical coursework.


Click on the links below to access information about the subjects or the various activities organised by this department.

Subject Activities
General Science Stephen Hawking Project
Physics Science Soiree
Chemistry Diving
Biology Mole Day
Computer Studies Biology Field Work
Graphical Communication
Design and Technology

General Science

During Grades 8 and 9 students follow a science syllabus aimed at exposing them to Physics, Chemistry and Biology that will be pursued at further levels (eventually leading to SEC certification). Throughout these two years the students follow related topics in the three sciences and carry out experiments in the said topics. Such topics vary from cellular functions to ecology in Biology, forces to energy in Physics and matter to chemical reactions in Chemistry. The aforementioned syllabus is adapted by the teachers in order to instil an innate sense of curiosity about the world within these students. It is also designed to give the students the skills they require to further their studies at later stages.

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The aims of the Physics syllabus are to trigger and increase an interest in the student from a very young age, to discover the physical principles and laws that govern our world from. Researching and discovery learning through experimenting are encouraged and enhanced in line with the National Minimum Curriculum with the aim of certification through the MATSEC Board. The SEC syllabus spans three years and includes classroom and laboratory interaction, with home reinforcement. Students carry out experimental work building an experiment logbook which is presented as coursework as part of the certification process.

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Chemistry is an experimental science with a discovery learning approach and hands-on experience. The emphasis is on application of chemistry to everyday life situations … as after all chemistry is not a theoretical subject but is happening all the time around us. They are exposed to possible real life situations and to a vast range of job possibilities using the study of chemistry. Students learn to appreciate the environmental and technological applications of chemistry and of the economic, ethical and social implications of these. End of unit tests, homework and projects, experimental and investigative work, problem solving competences and application of knowledge, analysis and evaluation take place in the three-year Chemistry course; as well as an experiment logbook which is presented as coursework as part of the SEC certification procedure.

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Biology is the study of life and the things that affect it. It incorporates a variety of topics, including the physical and chemical aspects of life. Plant and animal life, a variety of organisms as well as environmental biology are covered. Each topic is cross-linked with other curricular subjects; proving that studying biology can open a number of fields of work. The SEC syllabus followed for Biology spans three years and as for all other science subjects includes classroom and laboratory work, with home reinforcement. Students carry out experimental work building an experiment logbook which is presented as coursework as part of the certification process.

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This is a three-year course for students who will be sitting for the SEC Syllabus Examination. The course is split between theory and practice. Topics include the computer system, hardware, different computer systems, algorithmic problem solving and programming, information and communications technology in society. The syllabus also includes of one coursework assignment in JAVA programming.

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Information and Communications Technology (knows as ICT) is used to create a solid ground for students where computer usage is involved. ICT covers from the most basic topics like :- Switching on a computer, using the mouse and keyboard and basic computer care, and later on it also ventures further into the I.T World and covers all the basics of computer use, Computer parts (known as Hardware), types of Operating Systems, types of Software programs, the Internet, Safery online, E-mailing, Microsoft Office, Games, Presentation Skills, Networking and even Computer History. We then cover a very important subject called ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence) that is made up of 7 exams covered over 4 years from Grade 8 to Grade 11. This provides the students with their first International Qualification that will accompany them throughout higher education, University and even their future jobs.

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Graphical Communication

The three-year SEC syllabus for Graphical Communication followed develops the ability to interpret, reason and communicate graphically, fosters an awareness of the importance of Design as an International language, develops the ability to use a range of drafting techniques in 2D and 3D and contributes to the student’s personal development and overall education. Knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis and technique are the assessment objectives of the subject.

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Design and Technology

Design and Technology aims to assist the students to acquire a useful range of relevant and transferable skills that include knowledge, practical skills and application, investigation, attitudes, values and evaluation, appreciation of design and practical work. Throughout the scholastic year a number of activities involving designing and making and problem solving tasks will be held.

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I.T. Vet

The VET Information Technology course is a three year course starting in Grade 10 focusing on the vocational aspect of Information Technology. It consists of three different units:

Unit 1: Computer Systems and Networks

Unit 2: Multimedia Systems and Basic Website Design

Unit 3: Computer Hardware Installation

Each unit consist of assignments that are to be worked out during the course with the supervision of the teacher. It is important that they submit high quality work to gain the maximum marks for their assignments. At the end of the course the student will be able to:

1. Choose modern computer systems and networks for specific needs.

2. Install and configure an operating system.

3. Identify threats and devise security solutions.

4. Create simple multimedia productions.

5. Develop static web pages.

6. Identify suitable components and justify a system installation/replacement/ upgrade.

7. Carry out, test and document a system installation/upgrade/replacement following good working practices

For further information please click on the following link .

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This is an introductory course in robotics. The course will explore the different aspects of how robots are built, programmed and used in society. The students will learn about past achievements that lead to the development of robotics. Students will also have the opportunity to build simple robots using sensors and motors. Students do not need previous experience in robotics, however, they can challenge themselves to more advanced topics within the field of robotics.

Stephen Hawking Project


  • understand that the Sciences are not just subjects to study and get certification in, but should be interesting areas of understanding to help visualize better the technological world around us.
  • understand as early as possible that Technology is essentially an application of scientific and other knowledge in general. All knowledge learnt at school is meant to help them live a better life, have a better future and be in a position to affect those tiny changes in society that result in progress.

The figure of Professor Stephen Hawking, his attitude towards dedicated research, study, investigation, exciting discovery and courage has been constantly used to help students leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of discovery learning and eventually its application.

With these ideas in mind, the project is organized at San Andrea Senior School with the following objectives in mind:

  • To trigger and increase in the student at a very young age an interest to discover the natural principles and laws that govern the world around us
  • To encourage, develop and build such skills as researching a chosen or an assigned topic and its understanding, creativity, communication, analysis, synthesis, evaluation, public presentation, discussion, group work, etc.
  • To be an opportunity in discovery learning
  • To introduce and prepare already now our students in disciplined learning systems that will eventually be encountered later on in their education (6th Form, University, MCAST etc.)
  • To be in line with the spirit of the National Curriculum Framework in Malta.


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Science Soiree (click here to view article)

As happens every scholastic year in May, the Science and Technology Department organizes the Science Soirée at San Andrea Senior School. This year the theme chosen was “Applying Science – How can Science affect my future career choice?” A number of ex-San Andreans who have made science their career were invited over to show how they have applied and are living science daily as part of their job or on-going studies. Thomas Pace Moore who is finishing clinical dentistry and is compiling a scientific paper for his course brought over some of his dentistry instruments; Luke Lapira who just finished his final dissertation in architecture and Mark Cauchi who still has a few years to finish his course brought over models and plans of some of their course projects with them, Ryan Grixti who graduated in computing and is currently a microchip design trainee with an international electronics firm and Darryl Schembri an electrical engineer were also present.
Ing Dr John Betts Dean of the Department of Metallurgy & Materials Engineering at the University of Malta was also present to answer any queries posed by anyone interested in knowing more about the courses available post sixth form.
Stephen Hawking Science and Technology Project teams were at the ready to describe their project should any of the judges appear on the scene with questions. This year’s projects were varied as always with topics ranging from renewable energy sources and their application, the physics of falling objects, bridge leg streamlining, sound amplification, earthquake-proof buildings, thermal insulation materials, solar desalination of sea water to water saving measures which could be very well employed in any household.
Nature Trust Malta was also present with a stand. Free membership was being offered as part of their 50th anniversary of actively working towards protecting the natural environment of our islands. Their Turtle Rehabilitation project was very prominent after last summer’s visit by a turtle to lay eggs at Gnejna Bay.
The Hon Dr Evarist Bartolo Minister for Education and Employment paid a very short visit and was shown round by Ms Claire Felice Pace, head of Senior School.
For the first time, this year the Soirée was held on Level B of the school. This allowed teachers to set up experiments that in previous years posed logistics problems. The newly installed interactive whiteboards were also put to good use. Computer studies students took the initiative and presented a number of projects on computer programming and game design. Graphical Communications projects were on display in one of the classrooms. The foyer was decorated with a miniature version of the Solar System on loan from the Geography department for the evening.
The Stephen Hawking Project finals were held on Friday 17th May. Five projects had been shortlisted, the external judges brought over for the occasion choosing Water Saving Measures at San Andrea Senior School as the winning project. The project had all the ingredients that a scientific investigation should have together with the economical, practical application and solutions to the problem that the three team members had set out to investigate. Lara Caruana Montaldo, Nicola Kirkpatrick and Kim Stivala Cachia Castelletti will be enjoying a scientific oriented trip abroad in October 2013 as prize for this competition.
These events were an overall positive experience for those students who participated. The teaching staff of the Science and Technology department encourages these annual activities as they know the benefits that students reap will serve them well in years to come.
Nadya Anne Mangion

Head of Department Science & Technology

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Physics Diving Trip
Last October a group of Physics students went on a diving trip to not only learn but also experience the effects of pressure under water. They all met at the Maltaqua diving centre but before going to the diving site, the students watched a video which explained the effects of being underwater, some of which are related to pressure.
After the video, they were kitted out in wetsuits, fins and goggles and after that, they proceeded to the diving site near Sirens. Each dive took approximately 30 minutes. Students formed groups of two or three students to go with different instructors. They showed us different signs to be able to communicate underwater.
Whilst underwater, students not only enjoyed feeling weightless and seeing different marine life, but also had the privilege of doing some small tricks, for example, how to get rid of any water in our goggles or taking off the mouthpiece of the regulator and putting it back in without getting any water into our mouths. The instructors advised the students to keep their nose closed and blow to equalise the pressure in their ears as they descended.
These diving trips are a wonderful experience as it relates theory in class to practice.

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Mole Day

Every year the Science Department organises Mole Day. The mole is a basic measuring unit in Chemistry. Mole Day commemorates a number – 6.02 x 1023 which is referred to as Avogadro`s Number. The aim of this event is to instil in the students studying chemistry the importance of this constant. Various activities related to chemistry and moles were organized on this day.

Even though Mole Day is celebrated mainly during long break, lots of preparations were involved. Two weeks before the event, Grade 10 chemistry students started preparing T-Shirts by drawing on them themes related to the mole. They eventually wore these T-shirts throughout the day. Some were also brave enough to wear the mole mask during lessons. Well actually there were students who do not study chemistry and enjoyed wearing the mask for the day too!

The game `Moluno` was played whilst listening to music related to Mole day. This game is based on the popular game UNO but simple numbers were replaced with number of moles, masses of elements and Avogadro`s number. A calculator was definitely of great help!

The peak of activities was during long break. The Grade 12 students read the Mole Day Pledge whilst the mole flag was raised after which the cookie sale started. Ms. Nadyanne, Ms. Elaine and several students baked muffins, cakes and cookies which were sold to raise funds for the science department. They were a hit! The money raised goes to buy materials for fun experiments carried out during the Science Soirée.

The students enjoyed themselves so much that they came up with the idea to have another day dedicated to chemistry – `Elements Day`.

Maybe next year!

Ms Therese Agius

Teacher of Chemistry

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Biology Field Work

Every scholastic year grade 10 students take part in fieldwork activities out of school as part of the preparation for SEC certification in Biology. This involves a whole day out, where the students carry out extensive fieldwork activities such as observation of different habitats, population density calculations, observations of characteristics of organisms and various discussions about current events and factual incidents. This year the fieldwork took place along the Mellieha coastline, where the students observed various habitats, effects of fish farming, hunting, afforestation projects and calculated tree heights amongst other activities planned. Each year the day is a highly successful one, in which the students learn so much more than they actually would do when confined within the normal classroom setting.

Ms Elaine Bajada

Teacher of General Science and Biology

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