We study and practice science in dedicated classes as well as in classes that explore particular scientific principles, methodologies, and materials.
Big History 1: Science
This middle school course adapts the first three chapters of the Big History curriculum, with an added emphasis on scientific practice, laboratory work, and science writing. By studying the universe, solar systems, and life, students in this class cycle through foundational scientific disciplines like physics, chemistry, and biology. We add extended inquiry units that introduce students to scientific principles, procedures, and lab work.
The Scientific Method
This middle school course is a deep dive into the practice of the scientific method and how it varies between fields, such as physical, synthetic, biological, and social sciences. We’ll compare approaches to evidence and experiment in different contexts to develop an understanding of what we know and don’t know, how we know it, how well we know it, and how to assess how well we know. Specific questions to address can be determined by student interests. Block themes will likely include Measurements and Errors, Thinking and Learning, Biochemicals, Evolution, and The Anthropocene Age. Along the way, we’ll read excerpts from the primary scientific literature, and discuss the philosophy and ethics of experimentation.
Students begin the high school science sequence with physics, in a manner tailored for kids who love math. Topics covered include motion in a gravitational field, momentum, energy, collisions, electricity and magnetism, fluid dynamics, waves and periodic phenomena, and models of the atom. Laboratory work motivates and accompanies the various main topics.
The second course in our high school science sequence builds on physical principles to understand the properties of materials. We introduce topics in historical order, studying original experiments, data and writing, to get a feel for how the science developed. We also challenge students to use their math skills, going deeper into topics like atomic structure and kinetics. In the lab portion of the class, students practice designing, conducting and improving lab procedures, and interpreting data. We also address the thorny issue of chemical safety in lab and life: how do you decide how scared to be of a certain chemical, and how do you apply this in practice? Major topics include: reactivity patterns, stoichiometry, thermodynamics, atomic and molecular structure, equilibrium, kinetics and electrochemistry.
Our standard high school science sequence concludes with the study of how principles from physics and chemistry inform our understanding of life, particularly at the cellular level. Students consider topics such as molecular biology, genetics, the role and structure of DNA, and physiology. Laboratory work features prominently both as a means of illustrating concepts and providing an opportunity to further develop lab techniques and practices. Expected to be offered in the 2018-2019 school year.
Electives in Science
Advanced students may choose to take electives and engage directed research projects in areas determined jointly by student interest and faculty expertise.