NQ Science blog

NQ Science

All posts in the ‘SQA’ Category

January 6th, 2011

Happy New Year from the NQ Sciences team!

Comments: none Tags:  : Categories Higher Sciences, National Qualifications, Scottish National Qualifications, SQA

Hi Folks! Happy New Year from everyone on the National Qualifications Sciences Team at LTS!  We hope you’ve had a lovely restful break and wish you all the best for 2011!

The NQ Sciences team is looking forward to the busy few months ahead!  We will be working with our key partner organisations at engagements with the profession as the launch of the CfE-inspired Highers in June 2011 comes ever closer.  We will also be supporting the work of SQA as they consult with teachers all over the country on the design of the new Advanced Higher Sciences (in time for a June 2012 launch date!).  In addition, we will continue to support the development of the new CfE qualifications at National 4 and 5 levels as part of the Qualification Design teams. 

Watch this space for regular news updates on all of these activities!

December 22nd, 2010

New Higher Chemistry Resource: Functional Groups in Complex Molecules and their effect on Physical Properties

Comments: 1 Comment Tags:  : Categories Higher Chemistry, National Qualifications, resources, Scottish National Qualifications, SQA, Uncategorized

Check out an exciting new set of resources to support the ‘Consumer Chemistry’ and ‘Periodicity, Polarity & Properties’ units of the new CfE-inspired Higher Chemistry.  The resource consists of an interactive PowerPoint presentation which could be used to introduce the concepts involved, plus a sample set of  pupil problems, with associated answers.

The resources support learners and teachers with a new style of exam question which the SQA will include in the CfE-inspired Higher Chemistry.  This new question style requires students to identify key functional groups within complex organic molecules, and then to link the presence of certain functional groups to the molecule’s physical properties.   Physical properties such as solubility, melting and boiling point and viscosity are included.

The resources can be found both on the National Qualifications website  and on the NQ Chemistry Glow Group, and could be used to support aspects of the current and the CFE-inspired Highers in Chemistry. 

Let us know if you find them useful!

December 16th, 2010

Physics CPD on Open-Ended Questions in South Ayrshire

Comments: none Tags:  : Categories Higher Physics, National Qualifications, Open-Ended Questions, Scottish National Qualifications, SQA

Open-ended questions in the new Higher Physics were the topic for a  CPD session held at Marr College, South Ayrshire on the 14th December 2010.   The session allowed physics teachers to consider the benefits and challenges offered by incorporating these questions into the curriculum.

The ‘open-ended questions teacher’s guide’  housed on the NQ website was the basis of the core activities during this session.   We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments!

November 23rd, 2010

Calling all Aberdeen/ Aberdeenshire Physics teachers

Comments: none Tags:  : Categories Higher Physics, National Qualifications, Researching Physics, resources, Scottish National Qualifications, SQA, Uncategorized

 Roy Pearson (LTS) and  John Sharkey (SQA) will be giving a presentation on latest developments and resources for the new CfE-inspired Higher Physics to an Institute of Physics meeting at Aberdeen University on Thursday 25th November 2010.

 IOP members and/or interested Physics teachers are invited to come along to the Meston Building at 6.30 pm.

Many brand-new support materials for the new Higher Physics are in production. For a sneaky peak check out the Glow Group!

November 9th, 2010

Biology Teachers share bright ideas!

Comments: 1 Comment Tags:  : Categories case studies, Higher Biology, National Qualifications, Scottish National Qualifications, SQA

Approximately 30 Scottish teachers commissioned by LTS to produce materials to support the new Biology/ Human Biology qualifications met at the Optima Building in Glasgow on 8th November 2010.  The purpose of this meeting was to share ideas and good practice, and to establish the characteristics of a fantastic resource to support both learners and teachers.

The meeting was supported by representatives from Abertay University, The University of the West of Scotland and Edinburgh University, as well as SSERC and SQA.  All of these participants gave valuable input and perspective to the discussions.
Geoff Morgan (SQA Qualifications Design Consultant, Biology) gave a very interesting presentation on the use of ‘case studies’ in Higher Biology which stimulated lots of great discussions within the group. 

Some excellent materials which have already been produced were showcased during the meeting, highlighting the high standard of resources being produced.
The meeting was highly successful and allowed teachers to establish links between resources, as well as sharing innovative ideas and good practice.

Watch out for these new resources appearing on the NQ Biology GLOW group and on the NQ website over the coming weeks!

October 26th, 2010

‘Open-Ended Questions’ promote creativity and thinking skills

Comments: none Tags:  : Categories Higher Chemistry, Higher Physics, Open-Ended Questions, Scottish National Qualifications, SQA, Uncategorized

‘Open-ended questions’ will feature in the new SQA Higher examinations in Chemistry and Physics (see earlier posts).  These questions have no fixed response, and are designed to promote deeper understanding by encouraging learners to really think, rather than to merely recall facts.  

Sixty recent Higher Chemistry students from six diverse Scottish secondaries participated in preliminary trials of these questions in June 2010.   Their responses demonstrated impressive creativity and strong lateral thinking skills, as illustrated in the following selection of responses to a topical open-ended question on ‘teeth-whitening gels’:

Q/  Hydrogen peroxide is used in gels to whiten teeth.   The ion-electron equation for the oxidation of hydrogen  peroxide is shown below.  Using your knowledge of chemistry, comment on possible methods for measuring and comparing the concentration of hydrogen peroxide present in two different gels. 


Student 1: 

 ‘For a general idea of concentration, make a solution from the two different types of gel. Add potato disks, which contain the enzyme catalase, to catalyse the above reaction.  Add washing -up liquid to both solutions, and the oxygen will form a foamy top layer. The gel solution with the higher volume of foam has the higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide.’

Student 2:  

  • Measure the volume of oxygen given off in the breakdown of the the two gels
  • Make an aqueous solution of both gels and measure the pH difference
  • Measure which aqueous solution is more conductive
  • Use the gels on different teeth and view the different whitening-reaction times
  • Perform electrolysis and see which solution produces more hydrogen gas at the negative electrode


Student 3:

Hydrogen peroxide is a bleach, therefore the concentration could be determined by soaking a dyed material in equal volumes of the two gels for a fixed time. By finding out which one had the stronger bleaching effect, the concentrations could be compared.

Student 4:

  • Measure the rate of the decomposition of  hydrogen peroxide with manganese oxide catalyst. The faster the rate, the higher the concentration of hydrogen peroxide.
  • Measure its conductivity, as there are electrons given off.  More electrons released shows that more hydrogen peroxide has decomposed, and so the higher the conductivty the more hydrogen peroxide present in the gel.
  • Measure the pH of the products. The lower the pH, the higher the concentration of hydrogen ions, and the higher the concentration of hydrogen peroxide in the gel.

Student 5:

Add Universal Indicator to both gels. The colour formed would show their pH. The lower the pH the more acidic, so the higher the concentration of hydrogen peroxide.

Student 6:

 Stick a piece of the same tooth or bone material into the two gels for the same amount of time.  The gel which has whitened the tooth or bone the most has the highest concentration of hydrogen peroxide in it.

What do you think? An astoundingly diverse array of excellent were produced when pupils were given the freedom to really think!

In a later post, we’ll look at the marking of open-ended questions.

October 7th, 2010

Calling all Early-Adopters of new Highers in Physics and Chemistry!

Comments: none Tags:  : Categories early-adopters, early-adopting schools, Higher Biology, Higher Chemistry, Higher Physics, Higher Sciences, SQA

The brand-new CfE-inspired Highers in Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Human Biology will be available for uptake by early-adopting schools from 2011 -2012.  LTS are currently working in partnership with SQA, SSERC and the Scottish Government to develop a package of support which can be offered to early-adopting schools. 

Andy Shield at SQA is currently collating a list of schools who may be interested in adopting the new Highers in CHEMISTRY and PHYSICS next year.  If you think your school may be interested, or you would like more information, please contact Andy as soon as possible at andrew.shield@sqa.org.uk .

October 6th, 2010

‘Open-Ended’ Questions in the new Chemistry & Physics Highers

Comments: none Tags:  : Categories Glow, Higher Chemistry, Higher Physics, Higher Sciences, National Qualifications, Open-Ended Questions, resources, Scottish National Qualifications, SQA

One of the main objectives of the current revision of the new Higher Sciences is to promote deeper understanding, creativity and analytical thinking, in line with the principles of Curriculum for Excellence.  In order to help achieve this, SQA plan to include a small number of so-called ‘open-ended questions’ within the new Higher examinations in Chemistry and Physics .

Two excellent resources entitled ‘Support Materials for Open Ended Questions in Higher Chemistry‘ and ‘Support Materials for Open Ended Questions in Higher Physics’  have recently been published on the NQ Support page of the LTS website.   These resources provide a rationale for the introduction of OEQs in each subject, describe what ‘open-ended questions’ are, give a number of examples of questions with sample pupil answers, and advise on the marking of open-ended questions.

More information from recent extensive pupil trials of open-ended questions to follow in another post!

September 20th, 2010

Resources to support new Highers in the Sciences

Comments: 1 Comment Tags:  : Categories Content tables, Higher Biology, Higher Chemistry, Higher Physics, Higher Sciences, National Qualifications, Scottish National Qualifications, SQA

There’s lots of exciting development work going on now to ensure that teachers have quality resources to help them in delivering the new Highers in Biology, Chemistry, Human Biology and Physics.  A wide spectrum of teachers are now working away on developing subject-specific materials.  Publication of the SQA Content Tables in Physics and Chemistry makes the new courses seem a reality; this is just a month or two away now for Biology and Human Biology.

Click here for more information on the new Highers in Chemistry and Physics  .


About This Blog

National Qualifications in the Science subjects are being modernised and updated in line with Curriculum for Excellence. This blog provides latest information on the developments taking place. Watch this space for new resources, information on CPD opportunities, news updates, etc!