Academics


Science

ABOUT SCIENCE

The Science Department provides a rigorous program in preparation for college-level coursework. From beginning classes for freshmen through elective courses in senior year, a clear emphasis on analytic problem solving is stressed. In addition to basic mathematical and critical thinking techniques used in science, insight into the laws and principles of the physical world is promoted through challenging laboratory activities. It is a serious goal of the department that all students have the opportunity to advance their understanding of scientific concepts through the use of computer-related technologies, available in the Science Wing. One of the department’s most successful learning aids is the Science Lab, a drop-in tutorial center where students can receive extra help from a member of the science faculty.

Concurrent enrollment in two science courses requires approval from both the Science Department Chair and the Associate Principal.

Biology - Grade 9 - Yearlong course

Biology in the 21st Century is focused on the use of life science principles as powerful conceptual tools to make sense of the complexity, diversity and interconnectedness of life on Earth. Students engage in laboratory and authentic learning experiences that encourage the application of biological knowledge to make decisions and solve problems in an evolving global community. Development of mathematical and analytical skills in this course support and prepare students to be knowledge seekers capable of analyzing and using scientific data collected from hands-on instructional activities.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Prerequisite: none

Biology Honors - Grades 9 - Yearlong course

Fundamentally, biology is the study of all life. It is an area of exploration into the smallest workings of the cell, and an examination of the grand interaction of organisms in our solar system. The course will cover a broad range of topics including DNA and heredity, molecules and biochemistry, cell structure and function, human growth and development, plants, ecology, evolution, and biotechnology. The textbook will set a framework for the course, but information from other sources will constitute a large portion of material for the class. Each student will take an active part in pursuing knowledge in biological science through lab work, Internet research, projects, and personal observation.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Prerequisite: Qualifying score on a placement exam with concurrent enrollment in Geometry Honors or higher level math course.

AP Biology - Grades 11-12 - Yearlong course

AP Biology is designed to be the equivalent of a college introductory biology course. The course content is divided into three general areas: molecules and cells, heredity and evolution, and organisms and populations.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Students enrolled in this course are required to take the AP examination in May. There is a College Board fee assessed for this examination that will be added to the students' tuition. No final exam is administered in this course in the spring semester.

Prerequisite: Overall GPA of 3.75 or better with concurrent enrollment in Algebra II/Trig Honors or higher level math course and B or better in previous AP science course, or B or better in all previous honors science courses, or A in all previous college preparatory science courses with a qualifying score on a challenge exam. If this course is taken in the junior year, the student is strongly encouraged to take physics in the senior year.

Chemistry - Grades:10-11 - Yearlong course

Chemistry is the branch of science that deals with the composition of matter and the changes in composition that matter can undergo. In investigating the composition of matter, the structure of the atom and the changes the atom undergoes and formation of new substances will be explored. This is a traditional chemistry class which emphasizes the topics in chemistry that form the basis for college-level courses as well as providing general knowledge on the subject matter. Problem-solving and critical-thinking skills along with the quantitative investigation of matter and its changes are the basis for this course. This class integrates lecture, class discussion, group problem-solving sessions, lab activities, and full lab reports while covering the basic principles of chemistry. Units include: Matter & Atomic Structure, Chemical Nomenclature, Measurements & Chemical Composition, Reaction Types, Stoichiometry, Thermochemistry, Modern Atomic Structure & Periodicity, Chemical Bonding, Gases & Solutions, and Acids, Bases & Equilibrium. This traditional chemistry class prepares students for problem-solving in the Physics curriculum in senior year.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Prerequisite: completion of Biology or Biology Honors

Chemistry Honors - Grades 10-11 - Yearlong course

Chemistry Honors is an advanced college-prep chemistry course designed to prepare a student for college or university chemistry course work. The course is also designed to prepare the student to take the Chemistry SAT Subject Exam.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Prerequisite: Overall GPA of 3.75 or better with concurrent enrollment in Algebra II Honors or higher level math course and B+ or better in Biology Honors. Students who earn a B or less in Biology Honors or who earn an A in college preparatory Biology must also receive a qualifying score on a challenge exam.

AP Chemistry - Grades 11-12 - Yearlong course

This course follows the course description for the Advanced Placement Program in Chemistry as per The College Board. This AP course is designed to be the equivalent of the general chemistry course usually taken during the first college year.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Students enrolled in this course are required to take the AP examination in May. There is a College Board fee assessed for this examination that will be added to the students' tuition. No final exam is administered in this course in the spring semester.

Prerequisite: Overall GPA of 3.75 or better with concurrent enrollment in Algebra II/Trig Honors or higher level math course and B or better in previous AP science course, or B+ or better in all previous honors science courses, or A in all previous college preparatory science courses with a qualifying score on a challenge exam. If this course is taken in the junior year, the student is strongly encouraged to take physics in the senior year.

Environmental Science - Grades 11-12 - Yearlong course

Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary course, which seeks to integrate concepts from a wide variety of disciplines (such as geology, physics, chemistry, biology and ecology) into a cohesive unit. The course pays special attention to the place of humanity within the natural world and the impact that humans have on the global environment. Current environmental issues will be explored on the local, state, national, international and global levels.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Prerequisites: Completion of Chemistry, Chemistry Honors or higher level science course.

AP Environmental Science - Grades 11-12 - Yearlong Course

AP Environmental Science is designed to be the equivalent of a one-semester, introductory college course in environmental science. This course is an interdisciplinary science that integrates geology, biology, environmental studies, environmental science, chemistry and geography. It will stress scientific principles and analysis and will include a laboratory component. In addition to this, the curriculum will include the study of environmental issues from a sociological or political perspective.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Students enrolled in this course are required to take the AP examination in May. There is a College Board fee assessed for this examination that will be added to the students' tuition. No final exam is administered in this course in the spring semester.

Prerequisites: Overall GPA of 3.75 or better with concurrent enrollment in Algebra II/Trig Honors or higher level math course and B or better in previous AP science course, or B or better in all previous honors science courses, or A in all previous college preparatory science courses. If this course is taken in the junior year, the student is strongly encouraged to take physics in the senior year.

Physics - Grades 11-12 - Yearlong course

In physics students will study the basic ideas of this fundamental science. The goal is to understand the laws of nature both from a conceptual and a quantitative point of view. In this context, students will learn the problem-solving techniques needed to make predictions about the world in which they live.

UC/CSU approved course.
NCAA Core Course

Prerequisites:

Junior year enrollment requires a B or better in Chemistry and B or better in Geometry

Senior year enrollment requires a B or better in Environmental Science or higher-level science course and a B or better in Algebra II or higher-level math course

Physics Honors - Grades 11-12 - Yearlong course

This course is designed to provide the student with a first time exposure to the physical processes that govern the world around him/her. The course focuses on traditional curriculum, drawing from mechanics, thermal physics, waves and optics, electricity and magnetism, and modern physics. Each topic will be investigated at a depth commensurate with a university level freshman physics course, although the breadth of material will be scaled back in order to best accommodate student mastery of the material. The principle skills developed through this course include critical thinking, proper laboratory procedure, problem-solving and data analysis.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Prerequisite: Overall GPA of 3.75 or better with concurrent enrollment in Algebra II/Trig Honors or higher level math course and B or better in previous AP science course, or B or better in all previous honors science courses, or A in all previous college preparatory science courses.

AP Physics C: Mechanics - Grades 11-12 - Yearlong course

AP Physics C: Mechanics is equivalent to the first semester of a college physics course intended for scientists and engineers. This calculus-based course covers kinematics, dynamics, energy, and momentum for systems of particles in translational and rotational motion. One of the primary goals of this class is to achieve the level of understanding of physics that is assumed in the top universities for incoming students majoring in the physical sciences. Another very important goal of this class is to complete the AP Physics C exam in May.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Students enrolled in this course are required to take the AP examination in May. There is a College Board fee assessed for this examination that will be added to the students' tuition. No final exam is administered in this course in the spring semester.

Prerequisite: Overall GPA of 3.75 or better with concurrent enrollment in AP Calculus AB or higher level math course and B or better in previous AP science course, or B+ or better in all previous honors science courses, or A in all previous college preparatory science courses

AP Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism - Grade 12 - Yearlong course

AP Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism (E&M) is equivalent to a second semester of college physics taken by engineering and physical science majors. The course is designed to provide each student with the necessary content, laboratory experiences, and problem-solving skills that are stressed in the Physics Advanced Placement C: E&M exam offered each May. The course utilizes differential and integral calculus to describe complex physical situations as necessary. Students are required to have completed or be currently enrolled in AP Calculus BC to take this course. The course uses guided inquiry and student-centered learning to foster critical thinking skills. Over 20% of the instructional time is devoted to hands-on laboratory work. Students are required to maintain a laboratory notebook throughout the year with all observations, data, and analysis for each lab. Classroom time is divided between instructor-led lectures, internet-based simulations, and student-centered worksheets to promote peer-to-peer learning and critical thinking skills.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Students enrolled in this course are required to take the AP examination in May. There is a College Board fee assessed for this examination that will be added to the students' tuition. No final exam is administered in this course in the spring semester.

Prerequisite: Overall GPA of 3.75 or better with concurrent enrollment in AP Calculus BC or higher level math course and B+ or better in AP Physics C: Mechanics

Feeding the World: Science of Agriculture - Grade 12 - Semester course

The goal of this class is to understand the origins, major concepts, and current issues of sustainability in agriculture. The first portion of the course will look at our current conventional agricultural system.  Students will explore where there food comes from and the implications of this system on the environment and its inhabitants. The second portion of the course will focus on sustainable farming techniques and the ability to maintain healthy soil, water, insect & weed control, while reducing energy needs. The final portion of the class will look at social and political issues surrounding food, the challenge of climate change, taking ideas from past cultures and looking at new, innovative ideas to make our food system sustainable in all aspects – environmentally, socially, and economically. Throughout the semester students will be involved in multiple labs, both inside the classroom and outside in the garden, as well as researching and presenting various topics to the class.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Prerequisite: Completion of Biology and Chemistry

From Big Bang On - A Scientific Origin Story - Grade 12 - Semester course

This course explores the beginnings of the universe, the birth of our solar system, early Earth conditions and how life might have emerged. The history of human evolution and big milestones in scientific developments will be examined to provide context and foundation for thinking about the future. This course combines interdisciplinary elements from cosmology, biology, chemistry and history to encourage critical thinking, scientific literacy and a big picture understanding of a human's role in the universe.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Prerequisite: Completion of Biology and Chemistry

Human Health and Disease in Society - Grade 12 - Semester course

Human Health and Disease in Society is a course designed to explain the biology of body systems, the maintenance of health, and the biological, environmental and socioeconomic factors that contribute to prevalent human diseases along with the interventions that promote healthier communities.

The course examines health at the global and population level through investigating the response to epidemic and pandemic diseases past, present and future; infectious and non-infectious diseases, chronic diseases, and physical, degenerative and mental health disorders. Course work will investigate laboratory diagnostic tools and treatment protocols for disease.

Students interested in understanding individual and general health, and those interested in pursuing careers in healthcare will find this an informative and valuable foundation.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Prerequisite: Completion of Biology and Chemistry

Introduction to Design Thinking - Grade 12 - Semester course

Design Thinking is a process of observing deeply, being empathetic, identifying problems, and creating innovative solutions. We will practice user-centered design and so we will spend lots of time thinking about, discussing, and practicing empathy. Taking another person’s point of view and understanding how different perspectives may lead to very different design problems and solutions is a central theme. Over the course of the academic year we will study how design thinking can be a key skill for success in the 21st century; learn the theoretical underpinnings of the design thinking process; practice the design thinking process; familiarize ourselves with many universal principles of design; discuss and identify “good” and “bad” design; and explore and develop our capacities for innovative & creative thinking and problem solving. 

UC/CSU approved course

Prerequisite: Completion of Biology and Chemistry

Machine Design – Grade 12 – Semester course

This course covers the basic elements of mechanisms.  Screws, gears, springs, bearings, brakes, couplings, and strength of mechanical elements will be covered.  Assignments are project-based, using the Solidworks CAD program to design mechanisms and to create part drawings.  The focus is on structures that move in some way, and students will choose projects from the panoply of applications in automotive, robotics, or industrial arenas.  Mitty’s 3D printers and machining facilities will be used to implement student projects.

 UC/CSU approval pending

Prerequisite:  Completion of Physics and concurrent enrollment in pre-calculus or higher level math course.

Science of Food - Grade 12 - Semester course

Science of Food is a semester-long science course that combines concepts from biology, chemistry, and environmental science with practical, hands-on training in basic cooking and kitchen skills.  Students will explore the science behind common foods, from farm production to the molecular effects of heat during cooking.  Students will also examine the historical and cultural influence of such staple foods as bread, yogurt, curry, and rice.  A student who completes this course will be ready to approach written recipes with confidence, and to create original meals using innate cooking concepts.  They will also be able to make educated decisions about nutrition, ethical food sourcing, and food safety.

Prerequisite: Completion of Biology and Chemistry

UC/CSU approved course

Science of Sound and Music - Grade 12 - Semester course

This course will investigate the science underlying sound and music.  We will look at the science behind the operation of musical instruments, including strings, brass/woodwinds, and percussion.  We will also look at modern technology for digital sampling of music / audio signals.  Topics include vibrations and wave mechanics, sound waves, interference, standing waves and harmonics, overtones and timbre, beats, consonant and dissonant chords.  As a class project, we will make our own musical instruments and perform as a class orchestra.

NCAA Core Course

Prerequisite: Completion of Biology and Chemistry

Co-Curricular Elective

Introduction to Robotics A&B - Grades 9-12 - Semester course

Introduction to Robotics is a project-based course that prepares students to participate in robotics competitions and in more advanced engineering and programming classes.  It is taught as two single-semester courses (A & B) that can be taken in the same or separate years, but the “A” version is a prerequisite for “B”.  The course teaches the basics of robot programming and elementary electronics using VEX robotics kits.  Mechanical Computer-Aided Design (CAD) is taught using the Solidworks software package.  3D printers and an advanced CNC machining center are used to create physical copies of student designs.  The course includes numerous small projects during the first semester and a keystone project in the second semester.  Students use paper notebooks and electronic media to record their project work and are encouraged to create tutorial webpages on the school’s robotics website to document their creations.

Prerequisite:  Completion of Algebra I

DEPARTMENT CONTACT

Department Chair
Kate Slevin