Science

Department Head: Cari Nelson

Teachers

  • Stacie Anastasio
  • Gretchen Faras
  • Jon Freer
  • Sarah Lanzetta
  • Ian Lough
  • Cari Nelson
  • Dan Perez
  • Jordan Reed

Curriculum

The Science curriculum at Solebury School provides students with diverse and challenging opportunities to explore the world of Science. Our Upper School required courses of Conceptual Physics, taken in the 9th or 10th grade, and Biology, taken in the 11th grade, teach students to think like scientists. In these classes, students develop their critical thinking skills through analysis, problem-solving, observation and experimentation. In addition, these courses give students a basic understanding of our physical universe, and of human beings as physical, biological and psychological beings, so that they can make informed decisions about society and themselves.

As with many of the programs at Solebury, the Science curriculum allows students to follow their own individual interests as they choose courses beyond the graduation requirements. It also allows for flexibility within the core sequence of classes. For students interested in a rigorous academic track, our Honors Science sequence takes a “Physics First” approach in which students take Honors Conceptual Physics, Honors Chemistry and Honors Biology. During the General level sequence, students will take Conceptual Physics in the 9th grade, but for those needing more math support in their freshman year, we have Chemistry in the Community as an option. This is a conceptual chemistry class, with minimal math demands, designed for 9th graders. Many taking Chemcom as 9th graders will take Conceptual Physics in the 10th grade, followed by General Biology. Most students taking Conceptual Physics in the 9th grade will take General Chemistry in the 10th grade, followed by General Biology in grade 11. However, it is possible to take Chemcom in the 10th grade for those wanting or needing a less demanding chemistry class. Elective options include AP Physics, Honors Environmental Science, Anatomy and Physiology and various trimester electives that change regularly in order to provide Solebury students with an incredibly diverse choice of classes. Past elective courses have included Forensic Science, Moral Conflicts, Climatology, Genetics, Physiology of Exercise and Nutrition, Field Natural History, Microbiology and Astronomy.

If you have any questions about Solebury School’s Science Department, please contact department chair Cari Nelson at cnelson@solebury.org.


FULL-YEAR COURSES

Chemistry in the Community: “ChemComm” is a conceptual course that introduces students to the foundational topics and basic mathematical concepts of chemistry. It is structured around community and environmental issues related to chemistry, putting chemistry into the context of students’ everyday lives. Students will gain skills in scientific inquiry, problem solving, and laboratory techniques, setting them up for success not only in future chemistry courses but also for any future science course they take. ChemComm is intended for 8th and 9th graders. 6 credits

Conceptual Physics: Conceptual Physics is a hands-on introduction to the basic concepts of matter and energy requiring no more than elementary algebra familiar to ninth graders. It will emphasize experiments and group work. Students are also introduced to the fundamentals involved in writing lab reports. Required. Conceptual Physics is intended for 9th and 10th graders. 6 credits

Honors Physics: Honors Physics is an honors-level physics course designed for the 9th or 10th grade student who excels in math and wishes to better understand the world around them. This class will cover more material than Conceptual Physics; including gravity, heat, optics, nuclear physics, and an introduction to electromagnetism. Laboratory experiments and group activities/discussions are an intrinsic component of the class. Prerequisite: Must have completed Algebra 1 and Geometry (ideally, honors classes) and earned no less than a B+ in each class. Honors Physics is intended for 9th and 10th graders. Honors, 6 credits

AP Physics: This course covers calculus-based classical mechanics and prepares the student for the AP Physics C (Mechanics) exam in May. We develop both a qualitative and quantitative understanding of the most fundamental laws governing nature at the human scale. We will establish and foster this understanding through both theoretical work and practical exploration in the laboratory. Beyond a solid conceptual foundation, students will gain the skill to become efficient and adroit problem-solvers. Those students who score well on the AP exam may receive college credit. Prerequisites: Completion of Conceptual Physics, recommendation from previous Science teacher and a grade of B+ or better in AP Calculus. Concurrent enrollment in AP calculus will be considered by petition. Honors. AP Physics is intended for 11th & 12th graders. 6 credits

General Chemistry: Chemistry engages students with topics concerning matter and how matter changes. We begin the course discussing the scientific method, atomic theory, the arrangement of the Periodic Table of Elements, and chemical nomenclature. Next the focus is on chemical reactions and their representation in chemical equations. We develop the tools, such as stoichiometry, to analyze and understand chemical reactions both qualitatively and quantitatively, and practice these skills in the laboratory. Finally, we study the behavior of solids, liquids and gases and when time allows we introduce nuclear energy and biochemistry in preparation for Biology. A traditional lecture format is used in this class, with supplemental demonstrations, group work, lab experiments and discussions when appropriate. Throughout the course problem-solving skills are emphasized and fostered along with writing lab reports. Prerequisites: Conceptual Physics and Algebra I. Chemistry is intended for 10th graders. 6 credits

Honors Chemistry: This is the honors version of the general chemistry class (above) and is a prerequisite for taking AP Chemistry at Solebury. It is intended to be a detailed introduction to academic and laboratory skills for students who plan to take science courses in college. In addition to the topics listed for regular chemistry, this class will explore such areas as chemical equilibrium, kinetics, thermodynamics, electrochemistry, and an introduction to more specific branches of chemistry, such as organic chemistry, biochemistry, and nuclear chemistry. There are more demands in this course compared to the general chemistry class and this class will move at a rapid pace. There are labs throughout the year where students engage with and apply the concepts. Prerequisites: honors physics or departmental recommendation or permission of instructor. This course may be taken concurrently with algebra II & trig with permission of instructor. Honors chemistry is intended for 10th graders. Honors, 6 credits

General Biology: Biology is a laboratory science course that covers the study of living things and allows students to explore a variety of concepts. Biology focuses on the study of life by examining the fundamental concepts of cellular biology, genetics, ecology, evolution and classification. The scientific process and laboratory skills are emphasized along with biology’s connection to other scientific disciplines. Topics that are covered include biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, evolution, classification of organisms and ecology. In addition, students learn scientific writing skills and improve their skills in lab experiments. Required. Biology is intended for 11th graders. 6 credits

Honors Biology: Honors Biology is a laboratory-based course that is designed to familiarize the student with the major concepts of biological science, scientific inquiry, interdependence of organisms, the cell, matter, energy, organization of living systems, molecular basis of heredity, and biological evolution. This course provides numerous opportunities for students to develop science laboratory skills, critical thinking, and an appreciation for the nature of science through inquiry-based learning experiences. Investigative, hands-on activities that address the variety of topics associated with high school biology are an integral part of this course. Honors Biology is designed for the highly motivated student with a strong interest in the field of science. Prerequisites: Honors Chemistry or departmental recommendation. Honors. Biology is intended for 11th graders. 6 credits

Honors Environmental Science: An introduction to interrelationships among the natural environment, humans, and the human environment, including the biological, social, economic, technological, and political aspects of current environmental challenges. This course focuses on building the scientific framework necessary to understand environmental issues. It explores the structure, function, and dynamics of ecosystems, interactions between living and physical systems, and how human enterprise affects natural systems. It also examines current issues regarding human impacts on environmental quality, including global warming, air and water pollution, agriculture, overpopulation, energy, and urbanization. This class fulfills a global studies program credit. Prerequisites: Honors Chemistry, Honors Biology or departmental recommendation. Global, Honors, 6 credits

Human Anatomy and Physiology: This course will concentrate on the Anatomy and Physiology of the human organism. Topics will include basic anatomical directional terms and taking an in-depth look at each system. Throughout the year, several dissections of organs will be performed and an end of the year dissection of a fetal pig. In addition, there will be one field trip to the Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians and Pharmacy. There is a heavy emphasis upon vocabulary in this course and rote information will be assigned to students with the expectation that they will learn much of it on their own. Grades will be determined by a series of tests, quizzes, and lab work. There are also two non-fiction books that we will be reading throughout the year called Complications, and Sick Girl. Prerequisites: C+ or better in Biology or taken concurrently with Biology. Anatomy and Physiology is intended for 11th and 12th graders. 6 credits

Robotics: This year-long elective class will apply STEM principles and basic programming fundamentals to create electromechanical systems for engineering demonstrations and participation in outside robotics competitions. It is required to participate all three trimesters in order to accommodate multiple design iterations and continuous design improvements on projects as well as systems for competition. The fall trimester will emphasize programming fundamentals using various programming languages to accommodate both novice and experienced programmers, while the Winter and Spring trimesters will focus on the design, build, and testing of robotic assemblies. Occasional field trips and Saturday morning required event participation (approximately once per trimester) are a core component of this class. Once a student has completed the year-long course, they are welcome to enroll in the Spring trimester of the course in future years in order to participate in the competition more than once. The intention of this course is to minimize outside of class “homework” through in class project participation. Prerequisite: Engineering I and II, or permission of the instructor. 3 credits

Health: This course provides an opportunity for students to learn about nutrition and fitness, drug use and abuse, lifestyle choices, reproductive health, sexually transmitted diseases, birth control, environmental health issues and other topics surrounding a person's physical and psychological well-being. Required. This course is intended for 9th and 10th graders. 1 credit per trimester—offered every term.


FALL TRIMESTER COURSES

Engineering I: Introduction to Engineering: This class is designed to be an educational and entertaining single trimester introduction to applied STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) concepts. Group and project based learning will be emphasized in this course with curriculum designed to introduce students to basic engineering design concepts and project management fundamentals necessary to plan and build a project while adhering to an anticipated schedule. Modern skills and technology used to assemble basic projects will be introduced with a focus on design using computers and access to the school’s 3D printer and makerspace materials. The technical aspects of coding and computer programming are not emphasized in this course, although students with a more technical background are welcome to contribute additional levels of engineered complexity to their group projects. Prerequisite: None. Introduction to Engineering is intended for 9th and 10th graders. 2 credits

Engineering II: Electronics: This class will work with the applied STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) concepts from the Engineering I class and use them to demonstrate programmable electromechanical systems for practical use. The emphasis of the class will be on group projects which reinforce mechanical design skills while incorporating technology such as arduino, introductory level circuit kits, and LEGO robotics systems. Prior experience with coding and computer programming are not a prerequisite, although students with computer science backgrounds will be able to enhance their understanding through projects with varied levels of complexity. Prerequisite: Engineering I. 2 credits

Forensics: This course is intended to be an opportunity for students to apply various aspects of previous science classes to the collection and interpretation of physical evidence. The lectures and in-class labs will include a variety of methods of crime scene investigation including glass fracture analysis, blood spatter analysis, DNA fingerprinting, toxicology, entomology, hair and fiber analysis, fingerprint analysis and other relevant methods of evidence collection. Case studies will also be used to gain a greater appreciation for how forensic investigation is used in the solving of crimes. Coursework includes lectures, hands-on lab activities, research papers, and presentations. Prerequisites: None. Forensics is intended for 10th, 11th, and 12th graders. 2 credits

Science of Movement and Exercise: This trimester course will concentrate on the movement of the human body during physical activity. You will have the opportunity to learn the basics of biomechanics, kinesiology, and exercise science. Topics will include anatomical direction, kinematics and kinetics, identifying forces on the body (acceleration, momentum, speed, power, energy), analyzing sport skills and identifying proper movement patterns, biomechanics of strength training, and different types of energy systems used while exercising. This course is intended to be hands on with a lot of movement. We will be going to the weight room frequently and will some days exercise to understand the concepts we are learning. There is a heavy emphasis upon vocabulary in this course and it will be assigned to students with the expectation that they will learn much of it on their own. Grades will be determined by a series of quizzes, homework, and lab work. Prerequisite: Biology or concurrent with Biology. This course is intended for 11th and 12th grade students. 2 credits


WINTER TRIMESTER COURSES

Design Thinking: This course will be an experience in design thinking and the design process. Design thinking is an organized process for developing effective and innovative solutions to problems on an individual, community or societal level. The design process involves developing a sense of empathy, understanding, optimism, creative thought and collaboration as teams of people develop real-world solutions to issues big and small. Throughout the course, students will learn the elements of design thinking through a series of design problems that are either presented to the class or discovered by the class through the design process. This class will involve a great deal of hands-on group work, regular personal reflection through blogging and making a difference in the world around us. This course is pass/fail. 1 credit

Engineering I: Introduction to Engineering: This class is designed to be an educational and entertaining single trimester introduction to applied STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) concepts. Group and project based learning will be emphasized in this course with curriculum designed to introduce students to basic engineering design concepts and project management fundamentals necessary to plan and build a project while adhering to an anticipated schedule. Modern skills and technology used to assemble basic projects will be introduced with a focus on design using computers and access to the school’s 3D printer and makerspace materials. The technical aspects of coding and computer programming are not emphasized in this course, although students with a more technical background are welcome to contribute additional levels of engineered complexity to their group projects. Prerequisite: None. Introduction to Engineering is intended for 9th and 10th graders. 2 credits

Engineering II: Aerodynamic System Design: This class will work with the applied STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) concepts from the Engineering I class and use them to demonstrate programmable electromechanical systems for practical use with emphasis on airplane and submarine design. The emphasis of the class will be on group projects which reinforce mechanical design skills while incorporating technology such as arduino, introductory level circuit kits, and LEGO robotics systems. As a final project option students will have the option of participating in competitive engineering competition for project credit. Prior experience with coding and computer programming are not a prerequisite, although students with computer science backgrounds will be able to enhance their understanding through projects with varied levels of complexity. Prerequisite: Engineering I. 2 credits

Moral Conflicts: Throughout the trimester we will explore challenging moral issues around the globe that have a strong hold in the scientific community. There will be a mix of reading assignments, debates, research projects, and presentations. Some topics that will be covered include the death penalty, eugenics, and physician assisted suicide. This class is co-taught with a history teacher and a science teacher, and fulfills a global studies program credit. Prerequisite: none. Global. Moral Conflicts is intended for 11th and 12th graders. 2 credits

Science of Movement and Exercise: This trimester course will concentrate on the movement of the human body during physical activity. You will have the opportunity to learn the basics of biomechanics, kinesiology, and exercise science. Topics will include anatomical direction, kinematics and kinetics, identifying forces on the body (acceleration, momentum, speed, power, energy), analyzing sport skills and identifying proper movement patterns, biomechanics of strength training, and different types of energy systems used while exercising. This course is intended to be hands on with a lot of movement. We will be going to the weight room frequently and will some days exercise to understand the concepts we are learning. There is a heavy emphasis upon vocabulary in this course and it will be assigned to students with the expectation that they will learn much of it on their own. Grades will be determined by a series of quizzes, homework, and lab work. Prerequisite: Biology or concurrent with Biology. This course is intended for 11th and 12th grade students. 2 credits


SPRING TRIMESTER COURSES

Astronomy: The foundation for the course will be the history of astronomy, and the evolution of mankind’s understanding of the stars and planets. Students will begin the trimester investigating the Earth-Moon system, followed by "The Solar System," and finally moving on to stars and galaxies. While this course will offer merely a glimpse of all that there is to learn in the field of astronomy, students should leave the course with the skills and knowledge needed to pursue their interest further if they choose. In addition to the topics covered in this course, students will learn how to use telescopes and other observational techniques. Students will be expected to participate in several evenings of observations on campus, and will be expected to attend at least one field trip to an astronomy-based site off-campus. A basic understanding of physics, and both geometry and trigonometry, is useful for students who wish to take this course. Prerequisite: Biology. This course is intended for 11th and 12th grade students. 2 credits

Community Garden Design: This course will be a hands-on experience in which students utilize the Solebury Greenhouse and Memorial Garden area as an area for individual learning and community impact. Over the course of the Spring trimester, students will build their knowledge of plant biology and reproduction, gardening in soil and with a hydroponics system and skills associated with creating and maintaining outdoor growing spaces. The class will also explore ways to utilize our garden space in order to make a positive impact on the school and surrounding community. This course is pass/fail. 1 credit

Engineering II: Aerodynamic System Design: This class will work with the applied STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) concepts from the Engineering I class and use them to demonstrate programmable electromechanical systems for practical use with emphasis on airplane and submarine design. The emphasis of the class will be on group projects which reinforce mechanical design skills while incorporating technology such as arduino, introductory level circuit kits, and LEGO robotics systems. As a final project option students will have the option of participating in competitive engineering competition for project credit. Prior experience with coding and computer programming are not a prerequisite, although students with computer science backgrounds will be able to enhance their understanding through projects with varied levels of complexity. Prerequisite: Engineering I. 2 credits

Science Fiction in Film and Literature: Putting the “Sci” in Sci-fi: This course will take students on a deep dive into the film and literature genre known as science fiction. From Isaac Asimov to Jules Verne, students will read novels and short stories, watch popular and lesser-known films, and may even examine stories and concepts from sci-fi video games. The ultimate goal of the course is to give students a deeper understanding of the sci-fi genre, as well as investigate the truth/fiction behind the scientific concepts introduced in many of the world’s great works of science fiction. Each work of fiction will be thoroughly investigated and vetted through a scientific lens. Students will complete several projects and labs as individuals and as part of a group during this course, and the course will culminate with each student producing a piece of original science fiction using scientific concepts learned during the trimester. The math used for this course will require an understanding of geometry and algebra. This class may also be taken for English credit. Prerequisites: Physics, Chemistry, and American Literature. 2 credits

Sports Psychology: The course will provide students with an initial understanding of the basic principles of sports psychology. The class will have practical application in that it will relate sport science and psychological understandings to current student-athlete concerns. This course will provide students with an overview of sport and exercise psychology, bridge the gap between research and practice, convey fundamental principles of professional practice, and capture some of the excitement of the world of sport and exercise. The goal of this course is for student-athletes to apply sports and exercise psychology knowledge to their own lives. Skills to be covered in this course will include: how to set measurable goals and strategies to achieve them, visualization and imagery techniques, leadership, team-building, and how to best cope and recover from injuries. This course is intended for 11th and 12th graders. 2 credits