Science Education Key Learning Area
Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4 - 6)
Jointly prepared by the Curriculum Development Council and The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority
Recommended for use in schools by the Education Bureau HKSARG
2007 (with updates in November 2015)
Chapter 1 Introduction 1.1
1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5
Implementation of Science Subjects in Schools Rationale
Interface with the Junior Secondary Curriculum and Post-secondary Pathways
1 2 3 4 4
Chapter 2 Curriculum Framework 2.1
Design Principles Learning Targets
2.2.1 Knowledge and Understanding 2.2.2 Skills and Processes
2.2.3 Values and Attitudes
Curriculum Structure and Organisation 2.3.1 Compulsory Part
2.3.2 Elective Part 2.3.3 Investigative Study
7 9 9 9 12 14 18 53 86 Chapter 3 Curriculum Planning
3.1 3.2 3.3
Guiding Principles Progression
Curriculum Planning Strategies
3.3.1 Interface with the Junior Secondary Science Curriculum 3.3.2 Suggested Learning and Teaching Sequences
3.3.3 Curriculum Adaptations for Learner Diversity 3.3.4 Flexible Use of Learning Time
3.4.1 Effective Curriculum Management
3.4.2 Roles of Different Stakeholders in Schools
89 90 92 92 94 98 99 99 99 101
Chapter 4 Learning and Teaching 4.1
Knowledge and Learning Guiding Principles
Approaches and Strategies
4.3.1 Approaches to Learning and Teaching
4.3.2 Variety and Flexibility in Learning and Teaching Activities 4.3.3 From Curriculum to Pedagogy: How to start
4.4.1 Scaffolding Learning 4.4.2 Effective Feedback
4.4.3 Use of Interaction for Assessment Catering for Learner Diversity
4.5.1 Knowing our Students 4.5.2 Flexible Grouping
4.5.3 Matching Teaching with Learning Abilities 4.5.4 Catering for the Gifted Students
4.5.5 Better Use of IT Resources
105 106 107 107 109 109 119 119 120 121 121 121 122 122 123 123 Chapter 5 Assessment
5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4
The Roles of Assessment
Formative and Summative Assessment Assessment Objectives
Internal Assessment 5.4.1 Guiding Principles
5.4.2 Internal Assessment Practices Public Assessment
5.5.1 Guiding Principles 5.5.2 Assessment Design 5.5.3 Public Examinations 5.5.4 School-Based Assessment
5.5.5 Standards and Reporting of Results
125 126 127 128 128 130 131 131 132 132 133 134
Chapter 6 Learning and Teaching Resources 6.1
Purpose and Function of Learning and Teaching Resources Guiding Principles
Types of Resources 6.3.1 Textbooks
6.3.2 Reference Materials
6.3.3 The Internet and Technologies
6.3.4 Resources Materials developed by EDB 6.3.5 Community Resources
Use of Learning and Teaching Resources Resource Management
6.5.1 Accessing Useful Resources 6.5.2 Sharing Resources
6.5.3 Storing Resources
136 136 137 137 137 138 139 140 142 143 143 143 143 Appendices
1 2 3
Time-tabling Arrangement and the Deployment of Teachers to cater for the Diverse Needs of Students
Periodicals and Journals
Resources published by the Education Bureau
146 150 152
Membership of the CDC-HKEAA Committee on Physics (Senior Secondary)
The Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB, now renamed Education Bureau (EDB)) stated in its report1 in 2005 that the implementation of a three-year senior secondary academic structure would commence at Secondary 4 in September 2009. The senior secondary academic structure is supported by a flexible, coherent and diversified senior secondary curriculum aimed at catering for students' varied interests, needs and abilities. This Curriculum and Assessment (C&A) Guide is one of the series of documents prepared for the senior secondary curriculum. It is based on the goals of senior secondary education and on other official documents related to the curriculum and assessment reform since 2000.
including the Basic Education Curriculum Guide (2002) and the Senior Secondary Curriculum Guide (2009)To gain a full understanding of the connection between education at the senior secondary level and other key stages, and how effective learning, teaching and assessment can be achieved, it is strongly recommended that reference should be made to all related documents.
This C&A Guide is designed to provide the rationale and aims of the subject curriculum, followed by chapters on the curriculum framework, curriculum planning, pedagogy, assessment and use of learning and teaching resources. One key concept underlying the senior secondary curriculum is that curriculum, pedagogy and assessment should be well aligned. While learning and teaching strategies form an integral part of the curriculum and are conducive to promoting learning to learn and whole-person development, assessment should also be recognised not only as a means to gauge performance but also to improve learning. To understand the interplay between these three key components, all chapters in the C&A Guide should be read in a holistic manner.
The C&A Guide was jointly prepared by the Curriculum Development Council (CDC) and the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) in 2007. The first updating was made in January 2014 to align with the short-term recommendations made on the senior secondary curriculum and assessment resulting from the New Academic Structure (NAS) review so that students and teachers could benefit at the earliest possible instance.
This updating is made to align with the medium-term recommendations of the NAS review made on curriculum and assessment. The CDC is an advisory body that gives recommendations to the HKSAR Government on all matters relating to curriculum development for the school system from kindergarten to senior secondary level. Its
1 The report is The New Academic Structure for Senior Secondary Education and Higher Education – Action Plan for Investing in the Future of Hong Kong, and will be referred to as the 334 Report hereafter.
membership includes heads of schools, practising teachers, parents, employers, academics from tertiary institutions, professionals from related fields/bodies, representatives from the HKEAA and the Vocational Training Council (VTC), as well as officers from the EDB. The HKEAA is an independent statutory body responsible for the conduct of public assessment, including the assessment for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE). Its governing council includes members drawn from the school sector, tertiary institutions and government bodies, as well as professionals and members of the business community.
The C&A Guide is recommended by the EDB for use in secondary schools. The subject curriculum forms the basis of the assessment designed and administered by the HKEAA. In this connection, the HKEAA will issue a handbook to provide information on the rules and regulations of the HKDSE Examination as well as the structure and format of public assessment for each subject.
The CDC and HKEAA will keep the subject curriculum under constant review and evaluation in the light of classroom experiences, students’ performance in the public assessment, and the changing needs of students and society. All comments and suggestions on this C&A Guide may be sent to:
Chief Curriculum Development Officer (Science Education) Curriculum Development Institute
Room E232, 2/F, East Block
Education Bureau Kowloon Tong Education Services Centre 19 Suffolk Road
Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong Fax: 2194 0670
AL Advanced Level
ApL Applied Learning
ASL Advanced Supplementary Level
C&A Curriculum and Assessment
CDC Curriculum Development Council
CE Certificate of Education
EC Education Commission
EDB Education Bureau
HKALE Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination HKCAA Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation HKCEE Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination HKDSE Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education HKEAA Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority HKEdCity Hong Kong Education City
HKSAR Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
IT Information Technology
KLA Key Learning Area
KS1/2/3/4 Key Stage 1/2/3/4
LOF Learning Outcomes Framework MOI Medium of Instruction
NOS Nature of Science
NGO Non-governmental Organisation
OLE Other Learning Experiences P1/2/3/4/5/6 Primary 1/2/3/4/5/6
PDP Professional Development Programmes
QF Qualifications Framework
RASIH Review of the Academic Structure for Senior Secondary Education and Interface with Higher Education
S1/2/3/4/5/6 Secondary 1/2/3/4/5/6
SBA School-based Assessment SEN Special Educational Needs
SLP Student Learning Profile
SRR Standards-referenced Reporting
STSE Science, Technology, Society and the Environment TPPG Teacher Professional Preparation Grant
VTC Vocational Training Council
Chapter 1 Introduction
This chapter provides the background, rationale and aims of Physics as an elective subject in the three-year senior secondary curriculum, and highlights how it articulates with the junior secondary curriculum, post-secondary education, and future career pathways.
The Education Commission’s education blueprint for the 21st Century, Learning for Life, Learning through Life – Reform Proposals for the Education System in Hong Kong (EC, 2000), highlighted the vital need for a broad knowledge base to enable our students to function effectively in a global and technological society such as Hong Kong, and all subsequent consultation reports have echoed this. The 334 Report advocated the development of a broad and balanced curriculum emphasising whole-person development and preparation for lifelong learning. Besides the four core subjects, Chinese Language, English Language, Mathematics and Liberal Studies, students are encouraged to select two or three elective subjects from different Key Learning Areas (KLAs) according to their interests and abilities, and also to engage in a variety of other learning experiences such as aesthetic activities, physical activities, career-related experiences, community service, and moral and civic education. This replaces the traditional practice of streaming students into science, arts and technical/commercial subjects.
Study of the three different areas of biology, chemistry and physics often complements and supplements each other. In order to provide a balanced learning experience for students studying sciences, the following elective subjects are offered under the Science Education KLA:
Biology, Chemistry and Physics
These subjects are designed to provide a concrete foundation in the respective disciplines for further studies or careers.
This subject operates in two modes. Mode I, entitled Integrated Science, adopts an interdisciplinary approach to the study of science, while Mode II, entitled Combined Science, adopts a combined approach. The two modes are developed in such a way as to provide space for students to take up elective subjects from other KLAs after taking one or more electives from the Science Education KLA.
Mode I: Integrated Science
This is designed for students wishing to take up one elective subject in the Science Education KLA. It serves to develop in students the scientific literacy essential for participating in a dynamically changing society, and to support other aspects of learning across the school curriculum. Students taking this subject will be provided with a comprehensive and balanced learning experience in the different disciplines of science.
Combined Science (Physics, Chemistry) Mode II: Combined Science Combined Science (Biology, Physics)
Combined Science (Chemistry, Biology)
Students wishing to take two elective subjects in the Science Education KLA are recommended to take one of the Combined Science electives together with one specialised science subject. Each Combined Science elective contains two parts, and these should be the parts that complement the discipline in which they specialise.
Students are, therefore, offered three possible combinations:
Combined Science (Physics, Chemistry) + Biology
Combined Science (Biology, Physics) + Chemistry
Combined Science (Chemistry, Biology) + Physics
1.2 Implementation of Science Subjects in Schools
Five separate Curriculum and Assessment Guides for the subjects of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Integrated Science and Combined Science are prepared for the reference of school managers and teachers, who are involved in school-based curriculum planning, designing learning and teaching activities, assessing students, allocating resources and providing administrative support to deliver the curricula in schools. Arrangements for time-tabling and the deployment of teachers are given in Appendix 1.
This C&A Guide sets out the guidelines and suggestions for the Physics Curriculum. The delivery of the Physics part of Combined Science is discussed in the Combined Science C&A
The emergence of a highly competitive and integrated world economy, rapid scientific and technological innovations, and the ever-growing knowledge base will continue to have a profound impact on our lives. In order to meet the challenges posed by these developments, Physics, like other science electives, will provide a platform for developing scientific literacy and the essential scientific knowledge and skills for lifelong learning in science and technology.
Physics is one of the most fundamental natural sciences. It involves the study of universal laws, and of the behaviours and relationships among a wide range of physical phenomena.
Through the learning of physics, students will acquire conceptual and procedural knowledge relevant to their daily lives. In addition to the relevance and intrinsic beauty of physics, the study of physics will enable students to develop an understanding of its practical applications in a wide variety of fields. With a solid foundation in physics, students should be able to appreciate both the intrinsic beauty and quantitative nature of physical phenomena, and the role of physics in many important developments in engineering, medicine, economics and other fields of science and technology. Study of the contributions, issues and problems related to innovations in physics will enable students to develop an integrative view of the relationships that hold between science, technology, society and the environment (STSE).
The curriculum attempts to make the study of physics interesting and relevant. It is suggested that the learning of physics should be introduced in real-life contexts. The adoption of a wide range of learning contexts, learning and teaching strategies, and assessment practices is intended to appeal to students of all abilities and aspirations, and to stimulate their interest and motivation for learning. Together with other learning experiences, students are expected to be able to apply their knowledge of physics, to appreciate the relationship between physics and other disciplines, to be aware of the interconnections among science, technology, society and the environment in contemporary issues, and to become responsible citizens.
1.4 Curriculum Aims
The overarching aim of the Physics Curriculum is to provide physics-related learning experiences for students to develop scientific literacy, so that they can participate actively in our rapidly changing knowledge-based society, prepare for further studies or careers in fields related to physics, and become lifelong learners in science and technology.
The broad aims of the curriculum are to enable students to:
develop interest in the physical world and maintain a sense of wonder and curiosity about it;
construct and apply knowledge of physics, and appreciate the relationship between physical science and other disciplines;
appreciate and understand the nature of science in physics-related contexts;
develop skills for making scientific inquiries;
develop the ability to think scientifically, critically and creatively, and to solve problems individually or collaboratively in physics-related contexts;
understand the language of science and communicate ideas and views on physics-related issues;
make informed decisions and judgments on physics-related issues; and
be aware of the social, ethical, economic, environmental and technological implications of physics, and develop an attitude of responsible citizenship.
1.5 Interface with the Junior Secondary Curriculum and Post-secondary Pathways
Physics is one of the elective subjects offered in the Science Education KLA. The Physics Curriculum serves as a continuation of the junior secondary Science (S1–3) Curriculum and builds on the strengths of the past Physics Curricula. It will provide a range of balanced learning experiences through which students can develop the necessary scientific knowledge and understanding, skills and processes, and values and attitudes embedded in the strands
“Energy and Change” and “The Earth and Beyond”. Figure 1.1 depicts how the strands in this KLA are inter-related.
Figure 1.1 Diagrammatic Representation of the Strands in Science Education The senior secondary academic structure provides a range of pathways to higher education and the workplace so that every student has an opportunity to succeed in life. Figure 1.2 shows the possible pathways.
Figure 1.2 Multiple Pathways to Higher Education and the Workplace S1-3 Science
Degrees Sub Degrees
& Vocational Related Courses
Further Professional Qualifications Further Studies / Work
This curriculum makes it possible for students to pursue a degree or sub-degree course in a specialised study or other discipline which treasures a good foundation of knowledge and skills in physics, and values and attitudes. The ability to apply physics knowledge and skills to daily life phenomena will enable students to study effectively in a variety of vocational training courses. Furthermore, the development of logical thinking and problem-solving skills among students will be valued in the workplace.
Chapter 2 Curriculum Framework
The curriculum framework for Physics embodies the key knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that students are to develop at senior secondary level. It forms the basis on which schools and teachers can plan their school-based curriculum, and design appropriate learning, teaching and assessment activities.
2.1 Design Principles
The recommendations set out in Chapter 3 of the 334 Report and Booklet 1 of the Senior Secondary Curriculum Guide (CDC, 2009) have been adopted. The following principles are used in the design of the Physics Curriculum framework:
(1) Prior knowledge
This curriculum extends the prior knowledge, skills, values and attitudes, and learning experiences that students will have developed through the junior secondary Science Curriculum. There is a close connection between the topics in the junior secondary Science Curriculum and the Physics Curriculum. Details of this connection are described in Chapter 3.
(2) Balance between breadth and depth
A balanced coverage of topics is selected to broaden students’ perspectives. In addition, there will be in-depth study of certain topics to prepare students for further study in a particular area or field of science and technology.
(3) Balance between theoretical and applied learning
Learning of the conceptual knowledge in this curriculum will help students to develop a solid foundation of physics. However, students are also expected to be able to apply the concepts and understand how science, technology, society and the environment are inter-related, so that they may analyse problems in a scientific way for the future.
(4) Balance between essential learning and a flexible and diversified curriculum The compulsory part of this curriculum will provide students with essential knowledge and concepts, whilst choice in the elective part will allow for flexibility to cater for students with different interests, aspirations and abilities.
(5) Learning how to learn and inquiry-based learning
This curriculum promotes self-directed and lifelong learning through a wide variety of learning and teaching strategies, such as contextual approach, scientific investigations, problem-based learning, issue-based learning and the embedding of learning in real-life contexts. These are also designed to enhance students’ understanding of contemporary issues.
Students can discover what interests them through the study of selected topics within the compulsory part in S4 and then make good choices as they progress through S5 and S6.
Details of the progression arrangements are described in Chapter 3.
(7) Smoother articulation to multiple progression pathways
This curriculum enables students to pursue academic and vocational/professional education and training with articulation to a wide range of post-secondary and university study or to the workplace.
(8) Greater coherence
There are cross-curricular elements in the curriculum to strengthen the connections with other subjects.
(9) Catering for diversity
Individual students have different aspirations, abilities, interests and needs. This curriculum provides an opportunity for students to choose elective topics according to their interests and needs. Furthermore, the curriculum is designed to make it possible for students to achieve the learning targets at their own best pace.
(10) Relevance to students’ life
Motivation and interest are key considerations for effective and active learning. This curriculum tries to ensure that learning content and activities are relevant to the physical world in which the student lives.
2.2 Learning Targets
The learning targets of this curriculum are categorised into three domains: knowledge and understanding, skills and processes, and values and attitudes. Through the learning embodied in the curriculum, it is intended that students should reach the relevant learning targets.
2.2.1 Knowledge and Understanding Students are expected to:
understand phenomena, facts and patterns, principles, concepts, laws, theories and models in physics;
learn the vocabulary, terminology and conventions used in physics;
acquire knowledge of techniques and skills specific to the study of physics; and
develop an understanding of technological applications of physics and of their social implications.
2.2.2 Skills and Processes (1) Scientific thinking Students are expected to:
identify attributes of objects or natural phenomena;
identify patterns and changes in the natural world and predict trends from them;
examine evidence and apply logical reasoning to draw valid conclusions;
present concepts of physics in mathematical terms whenever appropriate;
appreciate the fundamental role of models in exploring observed natural phenomena;
appreciate that models are modified as new or conflicting evidence is found;
examine theories and concepts through logical reasoning and experimentation;
recognise preconceptions or misconceptions with the aid of experimental evidence;
integrate concepts within a framework of knowledge, and apply this to new situations.
(2) Scientific investigation Students are expected to:
ask relevant questions;
propose hypotheses for scientific phenomena and devise methods to test them;
identify dependent and independent variables in investigations;
devise plans and procedures to carry out investigations;
select appropriate methods and apparatus to carry out investigations;
observe and record experimental observations accurately and honestly;
organise and analyse data, and infer from observations and experimental results;
use graphical techniques appropriately to display experimental results and to convey concepts;
produce reports on investigations, draw conclusions and make further predictions;
evaluate experimental results and identify factors affecting their quality and reliability;
propose plans for further investigations, if appropriate.
(3) Practical work Students are expected to:
devise and plan experiments;
select appropriate apparatus and materials for an experiment;
follow procedures to carry out experiments;
handle apparatus properly and safely;
measure to the precision allowed by the instruments;
recognise the limitations of instruments used;
interpret observations and experimental data; and
evaluate experimental methods and suggest possible improvements.
(4) Problem-solving Students are expected to:
clarify and analyse problems related to physics;
apply knowledge and principles of physics to solve problems;
suggest creative ideas or solutions to problems;
propose solution plans and evaluate their feasibility; and
devise appropriate strategies to deal with issues that may arise.
(5) Decision-making Students are expected to:
make decisions based on the examination of evidence and arguments;
(6) Information handling Students are expected to:
search, retrieve, reorganise, analyse and interpret scientific information from libraries, the media, the Internet and multi-media software packages;
use information technology to manage and present information, and to develop habits of self-directed learning;
be cautious about the accuracy and credibility of information from secondary sources;
distinguish among fact, opinion and value judgment in processing scientific information.
(7) Communication Students are expected to:
read and understand articles involving physics terminology, concepts and principles;
use appropriate terminology to communicate information related to physics in oral, written or other suitable forms; and
organise, present and communicate physics ideas in a vivid and logical manner.
(8) Collaboration Students are expected to:
participate actively, share ideas and offer suggestions in group discussions;
liaise, negotiate and compromise with others in group work;
identify collective goals, and define and agree on the roles and responsibilities of members in science projects requiring team work;
act responsibly to accomplish allocated tasks;
be open and responsive to ideas and constructive criticism from team members;
build on the different strengths of members to maximise the potential of the team;
demonstrate willingness to offer help to less able team members and to seek help from more able members; and
make use of strategies to work effectively as members of project teams.
(9) Self-directed learning Students are expected to:
develop their study skills to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their learning;
engage in self-directed learning activities in the study of physics; and
develop appropriate learning habits, abilities and positive attitudes that are essential to the foundation of lifelong and independent learning.
2.2.3 Values and Attitudes
(1) towards themselves and others Students are expected to:
develop and possess positive values and attitudes such as curiosity, honesty, respect for evidence, perseverance and tolerance of uncertainty through the study of physics;
develop a habit of self-reflection and the ability to think critically;
be willing to communicate and comment on issues related to physics and science;
develop open-mindedness and be able to show tolerance and respect towards the opinions and decisions of others even in disagreement; and
be aware of the importance of safety for themselves and others and be committed to safe practices in their daily lives.
(2) towards physics and the world we are living in Students are expected to:
appreciate achievements in physics and recognise their limitations;
accept the provisional status of the knowledge and theory of physics;
apply the knowledge and understanding of physics rationally in making informed decisions or judgments on issues in their daily lives; and
be aware of the social, economic, environmental and technological implications of the achievements in physics.
(3) towards learning as a lifelong process Students are expected to:
recognise the consequences of the evolutionary nature of scientific knowledge and understand that constant updating of knowledge is important in the world of science and technology;
be exposed to new developments in physics, science and technology and develop an interest in them; and
recognise the importance of lifelong learning in our rapidly changing knowledge-based society.
Figure 2.1 summarises the learning targets of the curriculum.
Figure 2.1 Learning Targets of the Physics Curriculum
phenomena, facts and patterns, principles, concepts, laws, theories and models
vocabulary, terminology and conventions
knowledge of techniques and skills
applications of physics
towards themselves and others
towards physics and the world
Skills and Processes
Self-directed learning Values and
Attitudes Knowledge and
2.3 Curriculum Structure and Organisation
This curriculum consists of compulsory and elective parts. The compulsory part covers a range of content that enables students to develop understanding of fundamental principles and concepts in physics, and scientific process skills. The following topics: “Heat and Gases”,
“Force and Motion”, “Wave Motion”, “Electricity and Magnetism” and “Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy” should be included.
The content of the compulsory part consists of two components, core and extension. The core is the basic component for all students whereas the extension component is generally more cognitively demanding. For some students, it will be more beneficial, less stressful and more effective to concentrate on the core component, so that more time is available for them to master basic concepts and principles; for others the challenges provided by the extension component may provide a higher degree of achievement. A good school-based physics curriculum should have an in-built flexibility to cater for the abilities of students, so that a balance between the quantity and quality of learning may be achieved. However, certain knowledge in the extension component must be introduced to prepare students better for the topics in the elective part.
To cater for the diverse interests, abilities and needs of students, an elective part is included in the curriculum. The elective part aims to provide in-depth treatment of some of the compulsory topics, an extension of certain areas of study, or a synthesis of knowledge, understanding and skills in a particular context. Topics suggested in the elective part are:
“Astronomy and Space Science”, “Atomic World”, “Energy and Use of Energy” and
To facilitate the integration of knowledge and skills, students are required to conduct an investigative study relevant to the curriculum. A proportion of the lesson time will be allocated to this study.
The suggested content and time allocation2 for the compulsory and elective parts are listed in the following tables.
Compulsory part (Total 184 hours) Suggested lesson time (hours) I. Heat and Gases a. Temperature, heat and internal energy*
b. Transfer processes*
c. Change of state*
II. Force and Motion a. Position and movement*
b. Force and motion*
c. Projectile motion*
d. Work, energy and power*
f. Uniform circular motion g. Gravitation
III. Wave Motion a. Nature and properties of waves*
IV. Electricity and Magnetism
b. Circuits and domestic electricity*
V. Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy
a. Radiation and radioactivity b. Atomic model
c. Nuclear energy
2 The lesson time for Liberal Studies and each elective subject is 250 hours (or 10% of the total allocation time) for planning purpose, and schools have the flexibility to allocate lesson time at their discretion in order to enhance learning and teaching effectiveness and cater for students’ needs.
“250 hours” is the planning parameter for each elective subject to meet local curriculum needs as well as requirements of international benchmarking. In view of the need to cater for schools with students of various abilities and interests, particularly the lower achievers, “270 hours” was recommended to facilitate schools’
planning at the initial stage and to provide more time for teachers to attempt various teaching methods for the NSS curriculum. Based on the calculation of each elective subject taking up 10% of the total allocation time, 2500 hours is the basis for planning the 3-year senior secondary curriculum. This concurs with the reality check and feedback collected from schools in the short-term review, and a flexible range of 2400±200 hours is recommended to further cater for school and learner diversity.
As always, the amount of time spent in learning and teaching is governed by a variety of factors, including whole-school curriculum planning, learners’ abilities and needs, students’ prior knowledge, teaching and assessment strategies, teaching styles and the number of subjects offered. Schools should exercise professional judgement and flexibility over time allocation to achieve specific curriculum aims and objectives as well as to suit students' specific needs and the school context.
* Parts of these topics are included in the Physics part of Combined Science (Biology, Physics) and that of Combined Science (Physics, Chemistry) respectively.
Elective part (Total 50 hours, any 2 out of 4) Suggested lesson time (hours) VI. Astronomy and
a. The universe as seen in different scales b. Astronomy through history
c. Orbital motions under gravity d. Stars and the universe
VII. Atomic World a. Rutherford’s atomic model b. Photoelectric effect
c. Bohr’s atomic model of hydrogen d. Particles or waves
e. Probing into nano scale
VIII. Energy and Use of Energy
a. Electricity at home
b. Energy efficiency in building and transportation
c. Renewable and non-renewable energy sources
IX. Medical Physics a. Making sense of the eye and the ear b. Medical imaging using non-ionizing
c. Medical imaging using ionizing radiation
Investigative Study (16 hours) Suggested lesson
time (hours) X. Investigative
Study in Physics
Students should conduct an investigation with a view to solving an authentic problem
16 Total lesson time: 250
The content of the curriculum is organised into nine topics and an investigative study. The concepts and principles of physics are inter-related. They cannot be confined by any artificial topic boundaries. The order of presentation of the topics in this chapter can be regarded as a possible teaching sequence. However, teachers should adopt sequences that best suit their chosen teaching approaches and benefit student learning. For instance, an earlier topic can be integrated with a later one, or some parts of a certain topic may be covered in advance if they fit naturally in a chosen context. Details about suggested
There are five major parts in each of the following nine topics:
Overview – This part outlines the main theme of the topic. The major concepts and important physics principles to be acquired are highlighted. The focuses of each topic are briefly described and the interconnections between subtopics are also outlined.
Students Should Learn and Should be Able to – This part lists out the intentions of learning (students should learn) and learning outcomes (students should be able to) to be acquired by students in the knowledge content domain of the curriculum. It provides a broad framework upon which learning and teaching activities can be developed. General principles and examples of learning and teaching strategies are described in Chapter 4.
Suggested Learning and Teaching Activities – This part gives suggestions on some of the different skills that are expected to be acquired in the topic. Some important processes associated with the topic are also briefly described. Most of the generic skills can be acquired through activities associated with any of the topics. In fact, students need to acquire a much broader variety of skills than are mentioned in the topics. Teachers should exercise their professional judgment to arrange practical and learning activities to develop the skills of students as listed in the Learning Targets in this chapter. This should be done through appropriate integration with knowledge content, taking students’ abilities and interests and school context into consideration. Learning and teaching strategies are further discussed in Chapter 4.
Values and Attitudes – This part suggests some positive values and attitudes that can be promoted through study of particular topics. Students are expected to develop such values and attitudes in the course of studying physics. Through discussions and debates, for example, students are encouraged to form value judgments and develop good habits.
STSE connections – This part suggests issue-based learning activities and contexts related to the topics. Students should be encouraged to develop an awareness and comprehension of issues which highlight the interconnections among science, technology, society and the environment. Through discussions, debates, information search and project work, students can develop their skills of communication, information handling, critical thinking and informed judgment. Teachers are free to select other topics and issues of great current interest to generate other meaningful learning activities.
2.3.1 Compulsory Part (184 hours)
I Heat and Gases (23 hours)
This topic examines the concept of thermal energy and transfer processes which are crucial for the maintenance and quality of our lives. Particular attention is placed on the distinction and relationships among temperature, internal energy and energy transfer. Students are also encouraged to adopt microscopic interpretations of various important concepts in the topic of thermal physics.
Calculations involving specific heat capacity will serve to complement the theoretical aspects of heat and energy transfer. The practical importance of the high specific heat capacity of water can be illustrated with examples close to the experience of students. A study of conduction, convection and radiation provides a basis for analysing the containment of internal energy and transfer of energy related to heat. The physics involving the change of states is examined and numerical problems involving specific latent heat are used to consolidate the theoretical aspects of energy conversion.
The ideal gas law relating the pressure, temperature and volume of an ideal gas was originally derived from the experimentally measured Charles’ law and Boyle’s law. Many common gases exhibit behaviour very close to that of an ideal gas at ambient temperature and pressure.
The ideal gas law is a good approximation for studying the properties of gases because it does not deviate much from the ways that real gases behave. The kinetic theory of gases is intended to correlate temperature to the kinetic energy of gas molecules and interpret pressure in terms of the motion of gas molecules.
learn: Students should be able to:
a. Temperature, heat and internal energy
temperature and thermometers
realise temperature as the degree of hotness of an object
interpret temperature as a quantity associated with the average kinetic energy due to the random motion of molecules in a system
explain the use of temperature-dependent properties in measuring temperature
define and use degree Celsius as a unit of temperature
realise that heat is the energy transferred as a result of the temperature difference between two objects
describe the effect of mass, temperature and state of matter on the internal energy of a system
relate internal energy to the sum of the kinetic energy of random motion and the potential energy of molecules in the system
heat capacity and specific heat capacity
define heat capacity as
T C Q
and specific heat capacity as
T m c Q
determine the specific heat capacity of a substance
discuss the practical importance of the high specific heat capacity of water
solve problems involving heat capacity and specific heat capacity
b. Transfer processes
conduction, convection and radiation
identify the means of energy transfer in terms of conduction, convection and radiation
interpret energy transfer by conduction in terms of molecular motion
realise the emission of infra-red radiation by hot objects
determine the factors affecting the emission and absorption of radiation
learn: Students should be able to:
c. Change of state
melting and freezing, boiling and condensing
state the three states of matter
determine the melting point and boiling point
latent heat realise latent heat as the energy transferred during the change of state without temperature change
interpret latent heat in terms of the change of potential energy of the molecules during a change of state
define specific latent heat of fusion as m Q
define specific latent heat of vaporization as m Q
solve problems involving latent heat
evaporation realise the occurrence of evaporation below boiling point
explain the cooling effect of evaporation
discuss the factors affecting rate of evaporation
explain evaporation in terms of molecular motion
general gas law realise the existence of gas pressure
verify Boyle’s law
determine pressure-temperature and volume-temperature relationships of a gas
determine absolute zero by the extrapolation of pressure-temperature or volume-temperature relationships
use kelvin as a unit of temperature
combine the three relationships (p-V, p-T and V-T) of a gas to constant
ip relationsh the
apply the general gas law pV= nRT to solve problems
learn: Students should be able to:
state the assumptions of the kinetic model of an ideal gas
realize that connectsmicropicandmacroscopicquantities 3
c pV Nm
of an ideal gas and solve problems
R . 3
. using gas ideal an of e temperatur
realise the condition that at high temperature and low pressure a real gas behaves as an ideal gas
solve problems involving kinetic theory
(Note: The underlined text represents the extension component)
Suggested Learning and Teaching Activities
Students should develop experimental skills in measuring temperature, volume, pressure and energy of a gas. The precautions essential for accurate measurements in heat experiments should be understood in terms of the concepts learned in this topic. Students should also be encouraged to suggest their own methods for improving the accuracy of these experiments, and arrangement for performing these investigations should be made, if feasible. In some of the experiments, a prior knowledge of electrical energy may be required for a solid understanding of the energy transfer processes involved.
Considerable emphasis is given to the importance of graphical representations of physical phenomena in this topic. Students should learn how to plot graphs with suitable choices of scales, display experimental results graphically and interpret, analyse and draw conclusions from graphical information. In particular, they should learn to extrapolate the trends of the graphs to determine the absolute zero of the temperature. Students should be able to plan and interpret information from different types of data sources. Most experiments and investigations will produce a set of results which can readily be compared with data in textbooks and handbooks.
Possible learning activities that students may engage in are suggested below for reference:
Studying the random motion of molecules inside a smoke cell using a microscope and video camera
Performing an experiment to show how to measure temperature using a device with temperature-dependent properties
Calibrating a thermometer
Reproducing fixed points on the Celsius scale
Performing experiments to determine specific heat capacity and latent heat
Measuring the specific latent heat of fusion of water (e.g. using a domestic electric boiler, heating an ice-water mixture in a composite container, or using an ice calorimeter)
Performing experiments to study the cooling curve of a substance and determine its melting point
Performing experiments to study the relationship among volume, pressure and temperature of a gas
Determining factors affecting the rate of evaporation
Feeling the sensation of coldness by touching a few substances in the kitchen and clarifying some misconceptions that may arise from their daily experience
Studying conduction, convection, radiation, the greenhouse effect and heat capacity by designing and constructing a solar cooker
Challenging their preconceived ideas on energy transfer through appropriate competitions (e.g. attaining a temperature closest to 4oC by mixing a soft drink with ice)
Using dimension analysis to check the results of mathematical solutions
Investigating the properties of a gas using simulations or modelling
Reading articles on heat stroke and discussing heat stroke precautions and care
Values and Attitudes
Students should develop positive values and attitudes through studying this topic. Some particular examples are:
to be aware of the proper use of heat-related domestic appliances as this helps to reduce the cost of electricity and contributes to the worthwhile cause of saving energy
to be aware of the large amount of energy associated with the transfer of heat and to develop good habits in using air-conditioning in summer and heating in winter
to develop an interest in using alternative environmentally friendly energy sources such as solar and geothermal energy
to be aware of the importance of home safety in relation to the use of radiation heaters
Students are encouraged to develop an awareness and understanding of issues associated with the interconnections among science, technology, society and the environment. Some examples of such issues related to this topic are:
the importance of greenhouses in agriculture and the environmental issues of the
debates on the gradual rise in global temperature due to human activities, the associated potential global hazards due to the melting of the polar ice caps and the effects on the world’s agricultural production
projects, such as the “Design of Solar Cooker”, to develop investigation skills as well as foster the concept of using alternative environmentally friendly energy sources
II Force and Motion (50 hours)
Motion is a common phenomenon in our daily experience. It is an important element in physics where students learn to describe how objects move and investigate why objects move in the way that they do. In this topic, the fundamentals of mechanics in kinematics and dynamics are introduced, and the foundation for describing motion with physics terminology is laid. Various types of graphical representation of motion are studied. Students learn how to analyse different forms of motion and solve simple problems relating to uniformly accelerated motion. They also learn about motion in one or two dimensions and rules governing the motion of objects on Earth.
The concept of inertia and its relation to Newton’s First Law of motion are covered. Simple addition and resolution of forces are used to illustrate the vector properties of forces.
Free-body diagrams are used to work out the net force acting on a body. Newton’s Second Law of motion, which relates the acceleration of an object to the net force, is examined.
The concepts of mass, weight and gravitational force are introduced. Newton’s Third Law of motion is related to the nature of forces. The study of motion is extended to two dimensions, including projectile motion and circular motion which lead to an investigation of gravitation.
Work is a process of energy transfer. The concepts of mechanical work done and energy transfer are examined and used in the derivation of kinetic energy and gravitational potential energy. Conservation of energy in a closed system is a fundamental concept in physics.
The treatment of energy conversion is used to illustrate the law of conservation of energy, and the concept of power is also introduced. Students learn how to compute quantities such as momentum and energy in examples involving collisions. The relationship among the change in the momentum of a body, impact time and impact force is emphasised.
Students should learn: Students should be able to:
a. Position and movement
position, distance and displacement
describe the change of position of objects in terms of distance and displacement
present information on displacement-time graphs for moving objects
scalars and vectors distinguish between scalar and vector quantities
use scalars and vectors to represent physical quantities
speed and velocity define average speed as the distance travelled in a given period of time and average velocity as the displacement changed in a period of time
distinguish between instantaneous and average speed/velocity
describe the motion of objects in terms of speed and velocity
present information on velocity-time graphs for moving objects
use displacement-time and velocity-time graphs to determine the displacement and velocity of objects
uniform motion interpret the uniform motion of objects using algebraic and graphical methods
solve problems involving displacement, time and velocity
acceleration define acceleration as the rate of change of velocity
use velocity-time graphs to determine the acceleration of objects in uniformly accelerated motion
present information on acceleration-time graphs for moving objects
equations of uniformly accelerated motion
derive equations of uniformly accelerated motion at
t v u s21( )
2 2 1at ut s
as u v2 22
solve problems involving objects in uniformly accelerated motion
Students should learn: Students should be able to:
vertical motion under gravity
examine the motion of free-falling objects experimentally and estimate the acceleration due to gravity
present graphically information on vertical motions under gravity
apply equations of uniformly accelerated motion to solve problems involving objects in vertical motion
describe the effect of air resistance on the motion of objects falling under gravity
b. Force and motion
Newton’s First Law of motion
describe the meaning of inertia and its relationship to mass
state Newton’s First Law of motion and use it to explain situations in which objects are at rest or in uniform motion
understand friction as a force opposing motion/tendency of motion
addition and resolution of forces
find the vector sum of coplanar forces graphically and algebraically
resolve a force graphically and algebraically into components along two mutually perpendicular directions
Newton’s Second Law of motion
describe the effect of a net force on the speed and/or direction of motion of an object
state Newton’s Second Law of motion and verify F = ma experimentally
use newton as a unit of force
use free-body diagrams to show the forces acting on objects
determine the net force acting on object(s)
apply Newton’s Second Law of motion to solve problems involving motion in one dimension
Students should learn: Students should be able to:
mass and weight distinguish between mass and weight
realise the relationship between mass and weight
moment of a force define moment of a force as the product of the force and its perpendicular distance from the pivot
discuss the uses of torques and couples
state the conditions for equilibrium of forces acting on a rigid body and solve problems involving a fixed pivot
interpret the centre of gravity and determine it experimentally
c. Projectile motion describe the shape of the path taken by a projectile launched at an angle of projection
understand the independence of horizontal and vertical motions
solve problems involving projectile motion
d. Work, energy and power
mechanical work interpret mechanical work as a way of energy transfer
define mechanical work done W = Fs cos
solve problems involving mechanical work
gravitational potential energy (P.E.)
state that gravitational potential energy is the energy possessed by an object due to its position under gravity
derive P.E. = mgh
solve problems involving gravitational potential energy
kinetic energy (K.E.) state that kinetic energy is the energy possessed by an object due to its motion
derive K.E. = ½mv2
solve problems involving kinetic energy
law of conservation of energy in a closed system
state the law of conservation of energy
discuss the inter-conversion of P.E. and K.E. with consideration of energy loss
solve problems involving conservation of energy
Students should learn: Students should be able to:
power define power as the rate of energy transfer
PW to solve problems
linear momentum realise momentum as a quantity of motion of an object and define momentum p = mv
change in momentum and net force
understand that a net force acting on an object for a period of time results a change in momentum
interpret force as the rate of change of momentum (Newton’s Second Law of motion)
law of conservation of momentum
state the law of conservation of momentum and relate it to Newton’s Third Law of motion
distinguish between elastic and inelastic collisions
solve problems involving momentum in one dimension
f. Uniform circular motion define angular velocity as the rate of change of angular displacement and relate it to linear velocity
statecentripetalacceleration andapply it tosolveproblem r
involving uniform circular motion
realise the resultant force pointing towards the centre of uniform circular motion
n G gravitatio universal
of law s Newton' state
r F Mm
define gravitational field strength as force per unit mass
determine the gravitational field strength at a point above a planet
determine the velocity of an object in a circular orbit
Suggested Learning and Teaching Activities
Students should develop experimental skills in measuring time and in recording the positions, velocities and accelerations of objects using various types of measuring instruments such as stop watches and data logging sensors. Skills in measuring masses, weights and forces are also required. Data-handling skills such as converting data of displacement and time into information on velocity or acceleration are important. Students may be encouraged to carry out project-type investigations on the motion of vehicles. Considerable emphasis is placed on the importance of graphical representations of physical phenomena in this topic.
Students should learn how to plot graphs with a suitable choice of scale, display experimental results in graphical forms and interpret, analyse and draw conclusions from graphical information. In particular, they should learn to interpret the physical significances of slopes, intercepts and areas in certain graphs. Students should be able to plan and interpret information from different types of data source. Most experiments and investigations will produce a set of results which may readily be compared with data in textbooks and handbooks.
Possible learning activities that students may engage in are suggested below for reference:
Performing experiments on motion and forces (e.g. using ticker-tape timers, multi-flash photography, video motion analysis and data loggers) and a graphical analysis of the results
Using light gates or motion sensors to measure the speed and acceleration of a moving object
Inferring the relationships among acceleration, velocity, displacement and time from a graphical analysis of empirical data for uniformly accelerated motion
Using light gates or motion sensors to measure the acceleration due to gravity
Using light gates or motion sensors to determine the factors affecting acceleration
Using force and motion sensors to determine the relationship among force, mass and acceleration
Using multi-flash photography or a video camera to analyse projectile motion or circular motion
Using force sensors to determine the relationship among radius, angular speed and the centripetal force on an object moving in a circle
Performing experiments on energy and momentum (e.g. colliding dynamic carts, gliders on air tracks, pucks on air tables, rolling a ball-bearing down an inclined plane, dropping a mass attached to a spring)
Using light gates or motion sensors to measure the change of momentum during a collision