The Science Department strives to nurture a spirit of inquiry as we guide students in the study of the natural and physical sciences. Engaging in field and laboratory work and studying scientific literature enriches their study of the natural world. We explore the history of science and consider the implications of science in modern life. Students develop their analytical thinking skills as they learn to apply the scientific method.
Students generally enroll in Biology in 9th grade and Chemistry in 10th grade and Physics in 11th grade (see below for levels). In cases where students may not feel confident about their level of science or mathematics preparation, Conceptual Physics can be taken first followed by Biology and Chemistry. Science electives and AP classes are available to 12th graders who would like the opportunity to continue their studies in science. These courses are also available to 11th grade students who have satisfied the necessary prerequisites and are recommended by the science department faculty. Electives may be open to grades beyond 11th and 12th grade; please see course descriptions for details.
open to grade 9
The general biology course covers a broad range of biological topics. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is the foundation of the course and the tie that binds topics in biochemistry, cellular biology, molecular biology, genetics, anatomy and physiology, biodiversity, and ecology. In addition to these concepts, there is a strong study skills component as it applies to the study of science. Both semesters end with a non-cumulative semester exam. Learning to take notes, use the textbook effectively, and write scientifically are stressed. Placement in this class is dependent upon recommendations from middle school science teachers in consult with the Freshman Class Dean.
The honors biology course is designed for students with a strong background in laboratory-based science and an interest in the natural world. Topics covered are similar to general biology (biochemistry, cellular biology, molecular biology, genetics, anatomy and physiology, biodiversity, and ecology), but are introduced in greater depth and with more analytical detail. Along with a strong background in science, students should have strong reading, analytical, and mathematical skills. Both semesters end with a cumulative semester exam. Placement in this class is dependent upon recommendations from middle school science teachers in consult with the Freshman Class Dean.
AP Biology is an advanced-level course designed to offer a solid foundation in introductory college-level biology. The first semester includes exploration of population and community ecology, cellular biology and Mendelian and modern genetics. The second semester includes molecular biology, evolutionary theory, animal behaviour and a survey of plant and animal life histories. Laboratory work complements all the major topics investigated throughout the year. Investigations of photosynthesis, cellular respiration, enzyme activity, molecular biology, bacterial transformation and cladistics are just a few of the many laboratory investigations undertaken. This course prepares students for the Advanced Placement Exam in Biology. All students enrolled must take the AP exam. Prerequisites: Biology and Chemistry and permission of department chair are required; Prerequisite or Co-requisite: Physics
open to grade 11
This year-long course is an introduction to the science of chemistry. Inorganic and physical chemistry topics are the primary focus of the course. Examples include acid and base chemistry, chemical nomenclature, stoichiometry, solutions and states of matter. Organic, nuclear and environmental chemistry is covered on a smaller scale. A significant portion of time is spent in the lab where students learn how to problem solve, draw conclusions from experimental data and, apply principles learned in class and in their reading. Prerequisite: Biology or permission of department chair, Algebra 1.
This year-long course, for students with a strong background and interest in science and mathematics, covers a syllabus similar to Chemistry, but in greater depth and more mathematical detail. Additional topics such as electrochemistry, organic chemistry, nuclear chemistry, and mathematical treatments of equilibrium and acid-base chemistry are covered. This course involves a significant amount of laboratory work. Students are expected to collect, analyze, and interpret scientific data and use their mathematical skills to understand the underlying chemical principles. Prerequisite: Biology and/or department chair permission. Co-requisite: Algebra II.
This second-year course provides an in-depth study of the topics covered in college general chemistry: elements, compounds, and chemical reactions; properties of gases, liquids, solids, and solutions; chemical equilibrium (including acid-base chemistry); thermodynamics; electrochemistry and oxidation/reduction reactions; chemical kinetics; and an introduction to modern theories of atomic and molecular structure. In this course, students are taught the foundations of chemistry from a mathematical framework, including the important relationships between kinetics, thermodynamics, and equilibrium. This course prepares students for the Advanced Placement Exam in Chemistry. All students enrolled must take the AP exam. Prerequisites: Chemistry and Physics and permission of the department chair are required; prerequisite or co-requisite: Physics.