We recently introduced a brand-new course which brings Biology into the 21st century. SNAB is a new and innovative approach to the teaching and learning of Advanced Level Biology. It is relevant, exciting, engages and motivates students and takes account of recent developments in Biology.
Four topics make up the AS course and there are four in the A2 course.
- Topic 1
Lifestyle, health and risk - This is about risk and cardiovascular diseases. It starts with the experiences of two real people, Mark, a 15 year-old boy who suffered a stroke and Peter, a very fit man in his 60s who had a heart attack. The topic presents the biology that is needed to understand what has happened to Mark and Peter, including the biology related to the heart and circulation, atherosclerosis, blood clotting, before going on to the risk factors which contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease, such as obesity, cholesterol levels and smoking.
- Topic 2
Genes and health - We are introduced to a couple, Claire and Nathan, who are trying to decide whether they should have a child. They are faced with a dilemma. Claire's mother had cystic fibrosis and they are concerned that their child may get the disease. The topic is structured to answer the questions that they may be asking.
- Topic 3
The voice of the genome considers the most fundamental biological story there is - development from a single egg into a complex multi-cellular organism. Cell structure, gametes, DNA replication and mitosis are among the biological ideas studied in detail. The use of stem cells in medical therapies, and the ethics of the processes is discussed.
- Topic 4
Biodiversity and Natural resources investigates the methods plants have developed to overcome the difficulties of being located in one place and looks at how humans have exploited the ingenuity of plants. "Plants are cool". Biodiversity and Natural Selection are introduced, and the role of zoos and seedbanks in conservation is discussed.
- Topic 5
On the wild side is an ecological topic, looking at ecosystems and how they work. It also focuses on the evidence for, and impact of climate change and asks the question "will living things evolve fast enough to cope?"
- Topic 6
Infection, immunity and forensics in the context of Forensic biology, with our own Crime Scene Investigation.
- Topic 7
Run for your life considers what allows a cheetah to run at 100 km an hour and a human sprinter to run 100 m in 10 seconds whereas long distance athletes cannot achieve these speeds, even with performance-enhancing drugs, but can keep going for much longer.
- Topic 8
Grey matter starts with the story of the anthropologist Colin Turnbull who took a forest-dwelling Bambuti tribesman out to the plains. Kenge, the Bambuti, looked across the plain, turned to Colin Turnbull and asked what the insects he could see were called. He was in reality looking at buffalo away on the horizon. The topic looks at how he actually saw the buffalo, covering the eye, vision, the nervous system and brain. It also looks at development of the brain, perception, and learning, linked to why Kenge might have been mistaken.
Assessment is by written examinations, two topics at a time, in January and June of each year. These include questions on some of the experiments done during the course. In addition, there is a written report of a visit to a site of biological interest for AS. During the A2 course, students complete an individual coursework investigation which is submitted electronically.
There is more Biology of humans in this course than there is in any Human Biology Syllabus.
The course is supported by superb textbooks, imaginative activities and very good electronic resources, including a dedicated website.
Find out more from the present Year 12 & 13 students. They are very keen, motivated and even passionate about the Biology they have learned thus far.