Whanganui High School offers a broad spectrum of scientific courses, ranging from highly academic to highly practical. In years 9-11 students study general science to introduce them to the major science disciplines. Students are then able to specialise in years 12 and 13 and may take any of: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Agriculture & Horticulture and Electronics. This will pave the way to a demanding university course or a fulfilling vocational route.

What Courses Are Available?

Junior Science

The Junior programme of study is aimed at appreciating the scientific method and being able to apply it to various situations and problems faced by humankind. Students will be guided through topics as diverse as Te Awa (our river) to Particles and the Atom to Earth & Space. The programme is deliberately broad in nature to give students a grounding in each major Science discipline.

Level 1 Science

Level One Science is a generalised course covering a range of studies in the major science disciplines of Chemistry, Physics and Biology. Chemistry studies are focused around the reactions of acids and bases, alongside further studies into the atom and their interactions with other atoms. Physics studies the role of mechanics and relates this to real-life situations. The Biology component studies variation in living things and relates this to genetics. The whole course is designed to give a flavour of each of the disciplines and help to guide students into specialist subjects in Year 12.


Biology studies several aspects of life ranging from tiny organelles in cells to whole ecosystems. This allows a student to experience a wide range of potential career options (from microbiology, genetic engineering, medicine through to working in the field of conservation and environment). Added to this we also dip into the dynamic subjects of Human Evolution and Evolution Theory in general. Biology scholarship is offered for the student who wishes to extend their ability of critical and holistic thinking.


Chemistry is the study of matter and how it can undergo change. Chemists form an important role in society through the constant need for new and improved materials such as solar cells and biodegradable materials. Chemists and students who study chemistry use their understanding of atoms, molecules, and ions – particles that are too tiny to be seen with our eyes – to explain and predict the properties and behaviour of different materials. Students will learn to communicate their ideas using appropriate symbols and equations and contribute towards informed discussions. Chemistry is a core scientific discipline studied in conjunction with Biology and Physics. Talented and self-motivated students can participate in national Chemistry Olympiad competitions as well as the prestigious NZQA Scholarship examination.


Physics seeks to understand nature at its most fundamental level. Physicists, and students studying physics, attempt to discover and apply the general laws that govern force and motion, matter and energy, space and time. Armed with such knowledge, students will be able to see phenomena around them in a new light and be able to make predictions and, ultimately, envisage new developments and applications for the laws they understand if they choose to continue on this journey in higher education.

SCI2 - Agriculture & Horticulture

Agriculture and Horticulture are the backbone of New Zealand’s economic stability. The products of these primary industries are of paramount importance to the social and environmental well-being of the present and future generations. SCI2 guides students through purposeful learning in the areas of crop growth and animal husbandry. Students will build practical skills and develop problem solving abilities as they make links between agriculture, horticulture, science and technology.

Subject Areas

(*) Last Reviewed: June 27, 2019

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