Cross Curriculum Priorities in HSC Chemistry
One of the changes introduced when the new syllabus was introduced in 2017 was the inclusion of several pieces of content that were identified as “cross-curriculum priorities.
These priorities are meant to be represented and examined in several subjects, including in the HSC Chemistry course.
In this entry, I’d like to highlight these particular dot points and give you some background about why they are included and how you could go about preparing to answer questions on them.
What areas of the HSC Chemistry syllabus fit into these priorities?
These areas are:
1. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
2. Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia
The HSC Chemistry course has three dot points across the syllabus that are labelled as relating to these areas:
Inquiry question (Module 5)
How does solubility relate to chemical equilibrium? Investigate the use of solubility equilibria by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples when removing toxicity from foods, for example:
– toxins in cycad fruit.
Inquiry question (Module 6)
How are solutions of acids and bases analysed? Explore acid/base analysis techniques that are applied by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
Inquiry question (Module 8)
How are the ions present in the environment identified and measured? Analyse the need for monitoring the environment (Sustainability)
Why are these areas included in the HSC Chemistry course?
The syllabus identifies the importance of considering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander historical and cultural knowledge, as well as for including consideration of sustainability in this course:
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have diverse cultures, social structures and a history of unique, complex knowledge systems. In Chemistry students are provided with opportunities to learn about how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have developed and refined knowledge about the world through observation, making predictions, testing (trial and error) and responding to environmental factors within specific contexts. Students investigate examples of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ understanding of the environment and the ways in which traditional knowledge and Western specific knowledge can be complementary.”
“Sustainability is concerned with the ongoing capacity of the Earth to maintain all life. It provides authentic contexts for exploring, investigating and understanding systems in natural and human-made environments. In Chemistry, students are provided with opportunities to investigate relationships between systems and system components and consider the sustainability of food sources and the natural and human environments. They engage in ethical debate and with different perspectives in solving ethical problems.”
How should I prepare for these dot points?
Reviewing the 2019 and 2020 HSC Chemistry papers, there has not been a question related to these dot points. Hence, it is likely that they will be included in one of the next few papers, to justify their inclusion in the syllabus.
It would be difficult to assess these dot points in multiple choice question or in long response, 7+ mark questions, so you can expect that the questions would be roughly 3-5 marks and be relatively close in wording to the dot points themselves. So, it would be best to prepare for questions using verbs like “outline” or “describe” and have a general background knowledge of each topic.
For example, you would need to know how to describe the drying and leaching processes that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples used to remove toxins in cycad fruits considering that was the provided example. It would also be useful to have a general understanding of the molecular structure of these toxins as they have an impact on solubility (e.g large molecular weight with polar hydroxyl groups).