The Science Department promotes student curiosity through the study of scientific phenomena. Considerable time is allotted to laboratory investigation and research with emphasis on hypothesis development, problem solving, lab design and technique, and the analysis of qualitative and quantitative data. Through a combination of high-tech and low-tech experiences, students become familiar with technology while gaining a deep understanding of concepts and principles. A faculty STEAM coordinator encourages and supports interdisciplinary connections. The department reaches beyond the classroom to include the region’s rich resources for a hands-on, personalized experience.
The curriculum equips those students who may want to pursue further science education with a solid and comprehensive background, while providing all students with scientific awareness and sensibility. Students consider the potential of science to create positive change in our world through experiences that include the 8th grade Community Impact Project, environmental applications in chemistry labs and citizen science projects through clubs. The annual STEAM and Service Fair, encouraged for students of all grade levels, promotes independent scientific inquiry. Students who have met the demands of honors-level science courses are encouraged to take AP exams in Biology, Chemistry and Physics and to explore off-campus opportunities to develop their skills in scientific inquiry. It is our primary goal that all students find their science experience at Prep to be joyful and engaging, consistent with Prep’s core mission.
This course focuses specifically on the human body and general health. Through lab work, dissections, discussions, debates, and creative activities, students develop an understanding of the systems of the body as well as issues of alcohol, drugs, human sexuality and bioethics.
Earth and Space Science
Eighth grade science fosters scientific inquiry and deep understanding of concepts through laboratory investigations, hands-on learning and data analysis. Students gain experience formulating research questions and designing their own investigative methods. Topics include astronomy, geology, water, weather and climate. As part of the curriculum, each 8th grader completes a Community Impact Project (CIP), presented at the school-wide STEAM and Impact Fair in February. Through their CIPs students use scientific methods to evaluate the impact of a self-directed community service project.
9th Grade Biology
This course is a hands-on inquiry driven course. The course favors depth over breadth and focuses on 21st century skills including critical thinking, experimentation, communication, and collaboration. Students have repeated opportunities to design, complete and present their own experiments, including the opportunity to display their independent research at our school’s STEAM & Service Fair. Ninth Grade Biology prepares students for their future science courses by giving them experience with important science skills as well as core biological concepts such as the importance of balance in biological systems, how energy is harnessed and used, and the role of evolution in shaping the diversity of life. Chemistry concepts are woven in to the curriculum throughout the year.
This course uses a modeling approach to physics instruction, in which students are challenged to develop their own understanding of the physical world through the building of conceptual models. Students engage in hands-on lab activities throughout the course and will have the opportunity to participate in Prep’s annual STEAM & Service Fair.
This course builds on the introductory biology course in the 9th grade by providing students an opportunity to study biology in greater breadth and depth. The course uses an evolutionary approach to explore topics such as biochemistry, protein synthesis, gene regulation, cell signaling, ecology, animal behavior and systems of the body. Many of the labs are inquiry driven and students use statistical tools to allow for in-depth data analysis. Students become comfortable reading and interpreting scientific journal articles and using their findings to form sound scientific arguments. Students who are successful in this course will be qualified to take the Advanced Placement exam.
This course introduces students to the essential concepts of chemistry, both in preparation for future study and for participation in society as informed citizens. Investigations, experiments and research projects illustrate the evolving nature of scientific discovery, focusing on the composition and behavior of matter. Students develop strong scientific literacy skills, including the ability to read scientific publications and to communicate their opinions and knowledge in written and oral expression. Class discussions and investigations on the role of science in addressing social, environmental and medical needs encourage students to develop their own value systems and consider the place of science and technology in society.
This mathematically intensive, college-level course explores the connection between events at the molecular level and large-scale, observable phenomena. Through a combination of lectures, laboratory experiments, and classroom demonstrations, students become familiar with fundamental chemical principles and their applications to such topics as reaction rates, acid-base chemistry and electrochemical cells. The class heavily emphasizes problem-solving skills as well as data analysis and interpretation. Students who are successful in this course will be qualified to take the Advanced Placement exam.
Anatomy and Physiology
This course introduces students to human body organization and basic physiological principles using a systemic approach. In addition to learning the structures and functions of the body’s organ systems, students participate in dissections and labs on topics such as lung capacity, muscle imbalance and gait analysis, nutrition, forensics and blood pressure. Students also investigate disease pathologies affecting normal body function. In this course students gain an understanding of who they are, what makes their bodies work and what happens when their bodies malfunction. The course emphasizes the impact of lifestyle choices on health, as well as the importance of decision-making and responsibility for those choices.
This is an algebra-based course that examines the application of physical laws and principles to a wide range of topics, including Newtonian mechanics, astronomy, sound, and electricity. In this class, students develop an integrated approach to problem solving that combines visualization of physical systems with detailed mathematical treatment. The course features a prominent laboratory component that emphasizes critical evaluation of experimental design as well as graphical analysis of data.
AP Physics C, Mechanics
This is a thorough Calculus-based course in Newtonian mechanics. Rather than move quickly through topics, we derive mechanics concepts using the abstract elements of Calculus, including differential equations. Students complete labs both before and after the study of each concept, and the labs involve sensor technology as well as more traditional approaches. Students who are successful in this course will be qualified to take the Advanced Placement exam.
Algorithmic thinking introduces 7th grade students to a new way of thinking: how to solve a problem in a stepwise and repeatable way. Using individual assignments and group projects, students learn problem solving, basic programming, and symbolic logic. The projects range from gathering evidence to solve a mystery to building an original game built from the ground up.
Environmental Science is designed to draw on a variety of disciplines to examine the interconnectedness of Earth systems, understand the scientific framework for the idea of ecological sustainability, and explore the intersection of humans and the natural environment. The primary objective of the course is to build an understanding of systems and cycles, focusing in particular on their geochemistry, biochemistry, physical nature, and the manner in which they can be modeled. While the course will cover many themes in a qualitative manner, there is a notable quantitative component that aims to address not only what systems are, but how they function mechanically. In the latter half of the course, there is a major emphasis on student-driven inquiry and student-designed research projects. Learning to work in the field is a critical part of the course, and students will have opportunities for both survey-style field trips and intensive field-work experiences. Overall, students should emerge from this course not only with a grasp of Earth systems, but also an appreciation for their role as individuals in promoting environmental sustainability, as well as the role of local and global scale communities.