The study of science provides students with powerful ways to understand the natural world. We seek to inspire students’ curiosity, develop critical thinking and analytical skills, and provide a foundation for further exploration.
Our curriculum emphasizes laboratory work, data analysis, problem solving and clear communication. All Science courses are lab-based and meet for the equivalent of five periods each cycle. Students must satisfactorily complete one course in physical science and one course in biological science.
Typically, students take Physics in 9th grade, Chemistry in 10th grade and Biology in 11th grade. Advanced Physics, Advanced Chemistry, Advanced Biology, Environmental Science are available to students who complete introductory coursework. All students must take three years of major coursework in science.
SCI310 Physics (Physical)
major elective | grades: 9, 10
This introductory physics course primarily focuses on concepts and laws of classical physics, especially mechanics, including the topics of motion in one and two dimensions, Newton’s Laws of Motion, work, energy, power, circular and rotational motion, and the relevant laws of conservation. Material is also drawn selectively from wave motion, sound, light and color. The emphasis in this course is on conceptual comprehension of this material, but there will be quantitative work that complements the information being studied. Frequent laboratory experiments and reading material will reinforce problem-solving skills. Participation in the Physics Olympics is required.
SCI720 Chemistry (Physical)
major elective | grades 10, 11
This introductory course covers basic chemical vocabulary, nomenclature, stoichiometry, thermochemistry, gas laws, atomic theory, molecular geometry, equilibrium and acid-base chemistry, and provides a solid foundation for more advanced work in chemistry and biochemistry. Weekly labs are included. Participation in Science Night is required. We strongly recommend that students take chemistry before taking biology.
SCI710 Biology (Biological)
required major | grades: 11, 12
This is an introductory biology course. Students study a range of topics in evolutionary biology, cell biology, systems biology, and molecular biology. Specific units include evolution and biodiversity, ecology, cellular structure and function, cell cycle, biochemistry, DNA and genetics, protein synthesis, cell respiration, photosynthesis, and systems biology. Labs and several projects give students hands-on experience with biological materials and concepts. It is strongly recommended that students take chemistry before they take biology. Participation in Science Night is required.
SCI730 Advanced Chemistry (Physical)
major elective | grades: 11, 12
prerequisite: satisfactory completion of Chemistry; departmental approval required
This course covers much of the same material encountered in first-year college chemistry programs. Labs will occur on a nearly weekly basis and include experiments using pH, temperature, pressure, and other Vernier probes that employ computer-based data acquisition and analysis methodology. Topics covered include: the structure of matter; solution stoichiometry; the kinetic theory of gases and gas laws; thermodynamics; quantum theory and periodicity; chemical bonding and molecular orbital theory; the chemistry of solids, liquids, and solutions; kinetics and equilibria; acids, bases and aqueous equilibria; spontaneity, entropy and free energy; oxidation-reduction reactions and electrochemistry; nuclear chemistry; and a brief overview of organic chemistry. Students will develop an understanding of the fundamentals of chemistry and competence in dealing with chemical problems.
SCI750 Advanced Biology (Biological)
major elective | grade: 12
prerequisite: satisfactory completion of chemistry and biology; departmental approval required
This course focuses on a variety of topics including, but not limited to, the origin of life, cancer biology, population genetics, gene regulation, genetic engineering, evolutionary theory, and phylogenetics. Laboratory activities are a part of each unit. During the spring semester, students will learn how to apply molecular data to analyze evolutionary patterns, and they will work collaboratively to build a data set that can be used to answer a specific evolutionary question. Participation in Science Night is required.
SCI770 Advanced Physics (Physical)
major elective | grade: 12
prerequisite: concurrent enrollment in or completion of calculus or integral calculus; departmental approval required
This is a fast-paced course that will focus on a variety of topics, including mechanics, special relativity, electrostatics, circuits, magnetism, and more. It builds on material from the introductory physics course, but the introductory course is not a prerequisite. This course is math-intensive and we will use calculus and trigonometry as tools to understand the physics. Computers will be used for simulation, data analysis and the completion of labs. Experiment design will be an important aspect of the laboratory experience. Participation in Science Night is required.
SCI740 Environmental Science
major elective | grades: 11, 12
This course will look at a wide range of topics in five major themes: ecology, human population, renewable and nonrenewable resources, environmental quality and pollution, and society and environmental decision-making. Concepts in each theme will be explored by considering global and local environmental issues. We will also use local resources, such as the Wissahickon Creek, and the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers. This course is designed for students who would like to pursue a science course that is not a second-year course in chemistry, biology or physics. The coursework will make use of laboratory experiments that can be conducted in the laboratory and in the field. Participation in Science Night is required.
SCI800 Human Anatomy & Physiology
Minor elective | grades: 10,11,12
Students will study basic principles of human form and function at the system level, including topics such as integumentary, skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular, lymphatic/immune, respiratory, digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems. Laboratory activities will be included as part of each unit. In addition, students will engage in independent research.