Academic Program
Upper School



Our program is designed to give students a solid foundation in science and to provide a link between scientific concepts and their application to real-world situations. 
We endeavor to cultivate in our students a sense of wonder, curiosity, and awe about how much the field of science has given us, as well as the infinite possibilities that lie ahead. We want our students to understand that science is a process of creating and refining models of the world around us.

In the Upper School years, students build upon skills they have already begun to develop and explore material with increasing depth and rigor. The questions they formulate about testable phenomena become more sophisticated and nuanced. More advanced equipment appropriate to the level of inquiry is utilized. Students also hone the skill of developing well-supported conclusions in both oral and written form. Critical analysis of data and a healthy dose of skepticism are fostered through class discussions as students explore the breadth of scientific knowledge and its meaning 
in their lives.

Upper School Science Curriculum

List of 4 items.

  • Grade 9: Physics

    There is a striking beauty and elegance in the fact that we are able to describe and predict aspects of our physical world through the use of models that are often mathematical in nature. In this course, students perform a variety of activities to discover these models. Students are encouraged to ask questions and play with ideas, materials and new technologies. Topics discussed include laws of motion, vectors, gravity, energy, electricity, magnetism, atomic structure, heat, sound and light. By the end of the year, students will be prepared to enter Grade 10 chemistry with confidence because they will have an understanding of the rules that govern the complicated dance that atoms participate in—the rules of physics.
  • Grade 10: Chemistry

    In this course, students explore the structure of atoms and the complicated dances in which atoms participate—better known as chemistry. Students learn how this knowledge can give us a deeper appreciation of our world and lead to wondrous new materials and applications. Problem-solving, the critical analysis of models and processing skills are emphasized, and students are encouraged to make connections to chemistry in their everyday experience. A well-equipped chemistry classroom enables students to have a rich, hands-on experience. Topics include scientific measurement and analysis, properties of matter, atomic structure, quantum theory, periodicity of elements, bonding, organic chemistry, chemical reactions, chemical quantities, thermochemistry, reaction rates, equilibrium, acid-base reactions and electrochemistry. The course requires a solid understanding of basic algebra.
  • Grade 11: Biology

    With the discovery of the structure of DNA, the sequencing of the human genome and the advent of biotechnology, molecular biology increasingly affects our understanding of the underlying principles of biology. This course builds on previous knowledge to help foster a broad understanding of biological concepts. Major areas of study include the chemical basis of life, cells, similarities and differences in living organisms, evolution, reproduction and genetics. Major themes are homeostasis, the relationship between structure and function (on both macroscopic and microscopic levels), division of labor and evolutionary adaptations of various organisms. Emphasis is placed on the analysis of data generated through lab activities.
  • Grade 12: Semester and Yearlong Electives

    Forensic Science: Criminal Behavior
    Why do some individuals engage in criminal activity? What are the behavioral, psychological, and cognitive factors that influence the likelihood of committing a crime. This college-level course gives students the opportunity to explore different theories in criminology and deviance. Through the lens of a forensic psychologist, students gain an understanding of abnormal brain structures and possible links to antisocial or violent behavior. Students will also learn about the process of criminal investigations, the collection of evidence, and the impact that social justice has on our current legal system.  Prerequisites: Physics 9, Chemistry 10, and Biology 11.

    Forensic Science: Evidence Analysis
    Did you ever wonder how scientists collect and analyze evidence for criminal investigations? Do contemporary crime shows accurately represent what it means to be a forensic scientist? This college-level survey course allows students to explore the many fields of forensics. Students will develop an understanding of evidence collection, crime scene investigation techniques, organic and inorganic chemical analysis of physical evidence, and biotechnology application in DNA analysis. In addition, students will explore fingerprinting, blood spatter analysis and the newly emerging field of forensic entomology. This elective will draw upon knowledge from introductory physics, chemistry, and biology courses and apply it to authentic case studies in criminology and forensics. Prepare to put your detective skills to the test.

    Geoscience: Welcome to the Anthropocene
    In Earth's tumultuous 4.6 billion-year history, never has there been a time such as this, where a single species is rapidly, and in some cases critically, altering and disrupting natural systems. The Nobel-prize-winning atmospheric chemist, Dr. Paul Crutzen, coined the term "Anthropocene" to mark this new geologic epoch. Though climate change and global warming are politicized, there is real and significant scientific evidence showing how human activities are altering the Earth's climate at an unprecedented rate. How does this affect populations around the globe? In this course, students will focus on the interactions of the geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere with a critical look at scientific research. Building upon the skills and knowledge in the three core Upper School Science courses, students will scientifically determine how and to what extent the human species is leaving its mark on the planet, culminating in the ultimate question: Are we on the brink of the next mass extinction? Prerequisites: Physics 9 and Chemistry 10. 

    Advanced Biology: Genetics and Biostatistics
    Students will explore the human genome and the statistical methods required for its study in this course. The fundamental concepts in human genetics: Inheritance of Mendelian disease, population genetics, multifactorial disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Coronary Artery Disease, and functional genomics will be taught. Students will use advanced modern statistical genetic methods and cutting-edge technologies to quantitatively assess gene function and the genetic influences on diseases. Students will develop statistical programming, computational thinking, and problem-solving skills through projects and hands-on practical experience.

    Advanced Biology: Vertebrate Evolution and Physiology 
    In this course, students develop their skills as a natural historian by linking the fundamentals of evolution to vertebrate physiology. Through a series of dissections of vertebrate animals, students gain a deeper understanding of the anatomy and physiology of fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. In tandem with these dissections, students explore neurological pathways, muscle contractions, the development of integument, and the endocrine system. By engaging with physiological systems, students hone their understanding of basic biochemical reactions. At the end of the course, students students deepen their inquiries throughout the course in a capstone project on evolution and development.

    Advanced Chemistry: Applied Chemistry
    "Not for school but for life we learn." In this experiment and project-based course student not only develop a deeper understanding of many of the topics they covered in Grade 10 but also learn how to use their knowledge to creatively solve real-world problems. We first rediscover ionic and covalent compounds, stoichiometry and combustion analysis. Then we move to complex solutions chemistry, followed by acid-base reactions. We conclude by examining thermochemistry, thermodynamics and kinetics. This course is intended to provide the students with considerable exposure to a variety of experimental experiences and laboratory techniques common across a wide range of industries. This course is designed for those students looking for a more practical science experience, who like to work through a problem and with an interest in chemistry and mathematics. Grade 12.

    Advanced Chemistry: Organic Chemistry
    Carbon is life. Every biological process on the planet, from the splitting of a single-cell amoeba, through the photosynthesis of plants, to how the human brain functions, is governed by carbon and its ability to form covalent bonds. Understanding how these bonds form, break and rearrange is fundamental to a wide variety of life sciences, such as medicine, veterinary science, and pharmacology. It is also of vital importance in industrial fields such as fossil and bio-fuels, plastics and household chemicals. This semester-long course provides an intensive and rigorous college-level introduction to organic chemistry. Students begin by discovering what makes carbon special, followed by learning about functional groups. Then we cover naming conventions and stereochemistry. We conclude by examining a wide range of important substitution and elimination reactions. This course is designed for those students with an intense interest in understanding the chemistry underpinning biology. Grade 12.

    Advanced Physics: Classical Mechanics - Calculus
    Building on the foundational skills of Grade 9 Physics, this course provides a thorough survey of classical mechanics that is typically covered in the first semester of freshman college calculus-based Physics courses. We will tackle a variety of complex physical scenarios by pairing a deep conceptual understanding with effective mathematical modeling. Using algebra, trigonometry, and calculus, we will explore the topics of forces, motion, momentum, energy, torque, and rotational motion. The beauty of physics lies in its ability to explain so many of the physical phenomena we experience every day, from the subways we ride to the sports we play, and do so with a limited number of principles. This course is designed for students who like to puzzle through a problem, are comfortable moving at a brisk pace, and have a strong interest in physics and applied mathematics. Grade 12.

    Advanced Physics: Electricity and Magnetism
    Have you ever wondered what makes a summer's day hot, or what causes the aurora borealis to look so serenely beautiful, or how exactly your phone works? Physics has the answer: energy. This course provides a thorough examination of electricity and magnetism that is typically covered in the second semester of freshman college Calculus-based Physics courses. We will explore a broad variety of physical phenomena through problem solving and hands-on laboratory experimentation. Utilizing advanced mathematical tools and techniques including differentiation and integration, we will  investigate the topics of electric and magnetic forces and fields, current flow, circuitry, electromagnetic radiation. This course is designed for inquisitive students who are eager to sink their teeth into challenging problems. Grade 12.

Explore Our Curriculum

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