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, Principles of Engineering, and Environmental Science are available to students who complete introductory coursework. The Science Department also offers one minor elective, Human Anatomy and Physiology, to 10th, 11th, and 12th graders.
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 | prerequisite: Chemistry or departmental approval
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.
SCI810 Principles of Engineering (Physical) Advanced
major elective | grades: 11, 12 | prerequisite: satisfactory completion of Chemistry, Physics and departmental approval
The solutions to society’s greatest problems lie between disciplines. On top of that, the techniques necessary for approaching our most vexing questions are changing and will continue to evolve in unpredictable ways. In Principles of Engineering, students will work independently and collaboratively to use the engineering design process and equity-informed variables to design solutions to a variety of challenges. In that process, each student will master a number of skills including fabrication, graphical analysis, data collection, time management, presentation and critique. They will apply these skills to complete projects focused on different areas of Engineering, including Mechanical, Electrical, Civil, Chemical and Biomedical.
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; 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 a deep understanding of the foundational concepts of chemistry, fluency in dealing with complex chemical problems, and the ability to form mental models of the molecular world.
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, energy, electrostatics, circuits, and magnetism. We will integrate current events, both scientific and social, into our daily explorations. Advanced Physics 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 develop a rigorous understanding of the world around us. Computers will be used for simulation, data analysis and the completion of labs. Experimental design will be an important aspect of the laboratory experience. Participation in Science Night is required.
SCI740 Environmental Science
major elective | grades: 11, 12 | prerequisite: Chemistry
Students will look at a wide range of topics covering five major themes: ecology, human population, energy and climate, resource use and reform, and applied sustainability. Concepts in each theme will be explored by considering global and local environmental issues with special consideration of current events as they arise. The coursework will make use of laboratory and field experiments, which use local resources such as the GFS Cary Arboretum and the Schuylkill River, as well as a simulation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. 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. 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 the 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.