Sciences in the PYP

Sciences in the PYP is integrated into the transdisciplinary units of inquiry or into other subjects such as physical and health education. Students explore a number of strands which provide a foundation for later study and inquiry. Living things includes the study of the characteristics, systems and behaviours of humans and other animals, and of plants and the interactions between them and their environment. Earth and space involves students in the study of planet Earth and the universe, natural phenomena, systems, and distinctive features and resources that shape the planet. Through units about materials and matter PYP students investigate the origins, properties, behaviours and uses of both natural and human-made materials. Finally, students explore forces and energy to develop an understanding of the origins, storage and transfer of energy and the work it can do. This includes application of scientific understanding through inventions and machines.

The aims of PYP units related to science are to encourage and enable students to:

  • develop observational skills
  • gather and record observed information in a number of ways, and identify patterns to make predictions, test and refine their ideas
  • explore the ways objects and phenomena function, identify parts of a system, and gain an understanding of increasingly complex cause and effect relationships
  • examine change over time, and recognize that change may be affected by one or more variables
  • reflect on the impact that the application of science, including advances in technology, has had on themselves, society and the environment
  • be aware of different perspectives and ways of organizing the world, and consider how these views and customs may have been formulated
  • examine ethical and social issues in science-related contexts and express their responses appropriately
  • use their learning in science to plan thoughtful and realistic action to improve their welfare and that of other living things and the environment
  • communicate their ideas or provide explanations using their own scientific experience and that of others
  • observe carefully in order to gather data
  • use a variety of instruments and tools to measure data accurately
  • use scientific vocabulary to explain their observations and experiences
  • identify or generate a question or problem to be explored
  • plan and carry out systematic investigations, manipulating variables as necessary
  • make and test predictions
  • interpret and evaluate data gathered in order to draw conclusions
  • consider scientific models and applications of these models (including their limitations)


Sciences in the MYP

Science, a cooperative venture between individuals and the international community, is constantly evolving and is influenced by its social, economical, technological, political, ethical and cultural surroundings. It comprises the traditional subjects of biology, chemistry, and physics, as well as basic topics, concepts and issues from other branches of science such as astronomy and earth and health sciences. The overall aim of science courses at NIST is to provide students with a foundation that will make them scientifically literate so that they can make informed judgements and decisions about scientific issues, and use the acquired scientific process skills for successful problem solving.

Learning about science is based on a process of enquiry. Scientific enquiry refers to the many ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their work. Thus, enquiry‑type activities are important in helping students develop their own knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas. The development of scientific skills and attitudes is inextricably linked to the development of ideas in science. Learning about science should be an active process, integrating both hands‑on and “mind‑on” experiences. Students must actively participate in scientific investigations, and use the skills associated with the formulation of scientific explanations. Students are expected to view learning as a personal activity, namely something that they do, not something that is done to them.

Science courses at NIST place considerable emphasis on scientific literacy, which means giving students the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and the ability to comment sensibly on local and global issues in areas such as health, environment and new technologies. Students should be able to understand the cultural, societal and historical influences on the development of science, and discuss the international nature of science and its relationship with technology.

Science in the MYP reinforces and builds on the understandings from the PYP. The MYP sciences curriculum explores the connections between science and everyday life. As they investigate real examples of science applications, students discover the tensions and dependencies between science and morality, ethics, culture, economics, politics and the environment. Scientific inquiry also fosters critical and creative thinking about research and design, as well as the identification of assumptions and alternative explanations. Students learn to appreciate and respect the ideas of others, gain good ethical-reasoning skills and further develop their sense of responsibility as members of local and global communities. In the younger MYP years, units will have a broad conceptual focus while also developing subject specific skills and knowledge. The final two years of the MYP units, while conceptual in nature, take on a more specific focus, exposing students to the specific nature of physics, chemistry, biology and environmental science

The aims of MYP sciences are to encourage and enable students to:

  • understand and appreciate science and its implications
  • consider science as a human endeavor with benefits and limitations
  • cultivate analytic, inquiring and flexible minds that pose questions, solve problems, construct explanations and judge arguments
  • develop skills to design and perform investigations, evaluate evidence and reach conclusions
  • build an awareness of the need to effectively collaborate and communicate
  • apply language skills and knowledge in a variety of real-life contexts
  • develop sensitivity towards the living and non-living environments
  • reflect on learning experiences and make informed choices


Sciences in the DP

Options for learning science in the Diploma Programme include physics; chemistry; biology; design technology; sports, exercise and health science; and environmental systems and societies. It is possible to take two sciences in certain combinations.

Physics is the most fundamental of the experimental sciences, as it seeks to explain the universe itself from the very smallest particles—currently accepted as quarks, which may be truly fundamental—to the vast distances between galaxies. The DP physics course allows students to develop traditional practical skills and techniques, and increase their abilities in the use of mathematics, which is the language of physics. The core modules of the DP biology course are cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, ecology, evolution and  biodiversity, and human physiology. Chemistry is an experimental science that combines academic study with the acquisition of practical and investigative skills. The Diploma Programme design technology course aims to develop internationally minded people whose enhanced understanding of design and the technological world can facilitate shared guardianship of the planet and create a better world. The prime intent of the environmental systems and societies course is to provide students with a coherent perspective of the interrelationships between environmental systems and societies, one that enables them to adopt an informed personal response to the wide range of pressing environmental issues that they will inevitably come to face. The sports, exercise and health science (SEHS) course covers the disciplines of anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, psychology and nutrition, all studied in the context of sport, exercise and health.