Science

Under the graduation guidelines, each student is required to take three years of science in the upper school. All students are required to take Biology in ninth grade and Chemistry in tenth grade.

Electives have been added to make it possible to tailor a program individual to the student. Chemistry should be taken prior to Physics or any of the advanced placement sciences, but the semester electives may be scheduled at any time after the sophomore year. Juniors and seniors may double in science without departmental approval.

Many colleges consider three years of secondary science as a minimum for acceptance. Students considering a competitive college or science-based career, such as medicine or engineering, should take Biology, Chemistry, Physics and at least one Advanced Placement science course in the upper school as thorough preparation for the college curriculum.

It is a requirement that students take the basic sciences—Biology and Chemistry—before electing to take Advanced Placement courses or electives. A suggested science course sequence follows these course descriptions.

Biology (Full Year)

[Required Course, 9th grade]

This course is designed to give students a comprehensive introduction to the study of life science. Topics included are: biochemistry, cell structure and function, heredity, evolution, taxonomy, anatomy and physiology, and ecology. Frequent classroom activities and laboratory work reinforces conceptual understanding and develops analytical skills. The course incorporates new developments in biology and explores current-day applications resulting from this reseach. Students will be evaluated on homework, laboratory reports, tests, class participation, and various papers and projects.

AP Biology (Full Year)

Prerequisite: Biology and Chemistry completed with at least a “B+” average, or permission from course instructor

This course is designed to be the equivalent of a first year college biology course. Its goal is to provide students with the conceptual framework, factual knowledge, and analytical skills necessary to deal critically with the rapidly changing science of biology. Laboratory experiments are integrated wherever possible in support of the subject areas which include: biochemistry, cell biology, molecular genetics and biotechnology, evolution, taxonomy, human anatomy and physiology, plant anatomy and physiology, ecology, and animal behavior. The course includes review in the spring in preparation for the AP Biology exam.

Chemistry (Full Year)

[Required Course, 10th grade]

Prerequisites: Biology

This course serves as a general introduction to chemistry and as a solid foundation for more advanced work in science. A balance is sought between descriptive material, designed to stimulate interest and appreciation for the subject, and more quantitative (computational) material, which stresses the mastery of key concepts. Chemistry will cover a curriculum similar to Chemistry Accelerated, differing mostly in pace and mathematical complexity. Extensive student laboratory work is designed to reinforce concepts and develop the student’s skills in laboratory analysis and use of appropriate materials.

Chemistry Accelerated (Full Year)

[Required Course, 10th grade]

Prerequisites: Biology and departmental recommendation  

Chemistry Accelerated is an introductory chemistry course that offers a more extensive curriculum at a faster pace than Chemistry. This course will emphasize problem-solving, quantitative understanding of natural phenomena, and nuanced conceptual understanding of abstract topics. Frequent demonstrations and labs will be used to reinforce concepts and develop laboratory skills for future scientific learning. Students who successfully complete Chemistry Accelerated should be well prepared to enroll in AP Chemistry in future years.  

AP Chemistry (Full Year)

Prerequisites: Algebra II, B+ or above, and one year of Chemistry, B+ or above, or permission from course instructor

This is a course for those who wish to investigate major concepts in chemistry more thoroughly in preparation for a scientifically-based career. Class discussion and problem-solving, using a college-level text as the focus of effort, are the prime activities in the class. Laboratory work, as recommended by Advanced Placement guidelines, is incorporated as appropriate. At the end of the course, all students will take the AP Exam, and, if successful, may test out of the first year of chemistry at many colleges.

Physics (Full Year)

Prerequisites: Algebra II and Chemistry; 11th or 12th grade only

This introductory algebra-based physics course is intended for students seeking a basic, broad-based background in physics with particular emphasis placed on qualitative reasoning skills, the ability to conceptualize a variety of natural phenomena. This hands-on course also utilizes frequent demonstrations and laboratories to develop the quantitative skills in measurement, graphical analysis, and problem solving necessary to prepare students for a college level course or for advancement to AP Physics. This course is designed to provide a survey of topics in the areas of mechanics, electricity and magnetism, waves and sound, optics, and a brief introduction to modern physics. Students who successfully complete Physics may opt to enroll in AP Physics upon completion of the course.

AP Physics 1

Prerequisites: Algebra II and Chemistry; 11th or 12th grade only Students must have at least a B+ average in BOTH Chemistry and the math course taken the year prior, or written permission from the course teacher or department chair. Students enrolled in Physics in 11th grade may take this course in 12th grade for AP credit.. 

This introductory algebra-based physics course is designed to provide students with deep conceptual understanding of the physics typical of first semester college courses. Topics in the course include: Newtonian mechanics (including rotational motion); work, energy, and power; mechanical waves and sound; and introductory, simple circuits. By College Board requirement, 25% of class time will be spent doing work related to laboratory investigations, with the emphasis on student-designed inquiry. Students are required to take the AP Physics 1 exam at the end of the course. 

AP Physics C Mechanics and Electricity & Magnetism

Prerequisites: AP Physics 1 and Calculus Students must have at least a B+ average in AP Physics 1, or written permission from the course teacher. Prior enrollment or current enrollment in BC Calculus is highly recommended.

This advanced, calculus-based physics course is provided as an option for students who plan to go into college physics or engineering or who want the challenge of the application of differential and integral calculus to physics problem solving. During AP Physics C Mechanics in first semester, students will study concepts in kinematics; Newton’s laws of motion, work, energy and power; systems of angular and linear momentum; circular motion and rotation; oscillations; and gravitation. During AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism in the second semester, students will explore concepts in electrostatics, electric circuits, conductors, capacitors, dielectrics, magnetic fields, and electromagnetism. By College Board requirement, 20% of class time will be spent doing work related to laboratory investigations, with the emphasis on student-designed inquiry. Students are required to take both the AP Physics C Mechanics and the AP Physics C Electricity & Magnetism exams at the end of the course. 

AP Environmental Science (Full Year)

Prerequisites: Biology and Chemistry with at least a B+ average, or permission from course instructor

This class examines the relationships between living things and their environments and prepares students for the AP Environmental Science exam. Students will learn through a wide variety of media, including textbook, labs (both indoor and outdoor), videos, and online activities. Some environmental service will be required. Topics include: sustainability; biomes and climate regions of the earth; basic earth science, weather and climate; biogeochemical cycles; ecology; soil science; endangered species and loss of biodiversity; growth and control of populations; water use and water pollution; air pollution; climate change and ozone depletion; waste disposal and environmental toxicity; and energy resources.



Recommended Science Course Sequence

9th grade:
Biology

10th grade:
Chemistry, or 
Chemistry Accelerated

11th grade:
Physics
AP Physics 1
AP Chemistry
AP Biology
AP Environmental Science
Semester Science Elective

12th grade:
Physics
AP Physics 1
AP Physics C
AP Chemistry
AP Biology
AP Environmental Science
Semester Science Elective

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