Our Science Department aims to inspire a life-long love for learning by fostering curiosity and encouraging positive risk-taking. The expectations are to develop critical thinking skills with an appreciation of, and respect for, an ever-changing world of science. Through a creative, open-ended, multi-sensory, interdisciplinary curriculum, our students become scientifically literate stewards of the environment and humankind.
Biology I is the first class in the Country Day science curriculum, required of all 9th graders and 10th grade transfers who have not completed a comprehensive lab course in high school biology. This course develops the skills and lab experience necessary to move on in the sciences. Most students move onto a chemistry course in the sophomore year.
The foundations of Biology I and Chemistry I give students the necessary fundamentals to take on the upper level AP and IB sciences. In addition, the science department offers a rich array of electives in both the life sciences and physical sciences so that students can pursue their unique interests.
Required for 9th grade students.
A conceptual and lab-based survey of basic biology with emphasis on the scientific method, biochemistry, cell structure and function, genetics, biotechnology, human systems, and evolution. Rather than focusing on a body of facts, the course uses broad themes and questions to guide student learning by drawing connections between the different aspects of biology. Development of study skills and laboratory skills is integral to the course.
Prerequisites: Biology I, Chemistry I/Honors Chemistry I and qualification
This college-level survey course includes the study of cellular and molecular biology, signal transduction, biotechnology, genetics, evolution, diversity of living things, animal form and function, populations, and ecology equivalent to a two-semester introductory level biology course. This course explores science as a process, uses personal experience in scientific inquiry, and applies biological knowledge and critical thinking to environmental and social concerns. The goal of the course is to develop advanced inquiry and reasoning skills, application of mathematical routines, and connection of concepts in and across domains structured around four big ideas. Extended lab time is required. It is expected that students will sit the AP exam or equivalent at the conclusion of the course.
AP Environmental Science
Prerequisites: Biology I and Chemistry I OR Honors Chemistry I (previous or concurrent), and qualification
AP Environmental Science is a lab-based, college-level course designed to provide students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies to understand the interrelatedness of the natural world; to identify, analyze, and evaluate environmental issues and their potential risks and solutions; and become critical thinkers and problem solvers for environmental challenges. Topics include: energy flow and matter cycling in ecosystems, basic ecology, human population dynamics, resource use, energy issues, food/soil resources, water resources, biodiversity loss, air/water pollution detection and management, eutrophication, acid rain, ozone depletion, and climate change. Participation in a research-driven fall semester Saturday field trip within Charlotte and a spring field trip to Charleston, SC, is mandatory. Extended lab time is required. It is expected that students will sit the AP exam or equivalent at the conclusion of the course.
Prerequisite: Biology I. Open to grades 10–12.
This course provides a survey of contemporary environmental issues, such as climate change, endangered species, food production, and others. Students learn about both the underlying science behind the issue as well as explore different perspectives on it. The course draws from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Debate over the issues take place in class discussions and are also assessed on tests and lab reports. As a culmination to the course, teams of students present on an issue of their choice and argue from different perspectives.
Prerequisite: Biology I. Open to grades 10–12.
This semester course is a survey of the basic concepts of marine biology, primarily through examining the interdependence of organisms to each other and to their environment. Topics include the properties of water, the physical and chemical dynamics of marine environments; food webs and trophic dynamics, marine plants, marine invertebrates and vertebrates, adaptation of marine organisms, and a survey of selected marine ecosystems. Students study these topics through readings and discussions, hands-on activities, and participation in a mandatory overnight field trip to Charleston, SC.
Prerequisite: Biology I. Open to grades 10–12.
The course examines ethical issues surrounding controversial applications of biotechnology. Major topics include genetic modification, genetic screening, stem cells, and cloning. Students are challenged to consider the ethical implications of these topics while demonstrating an understanding of the science behind the issues. To accomplish this, students participate actively in class discussions, carry out complex labs with accuracy and efficiency, debate ethical topics and scenarios, compose detailed lab reports, and write in-class essays. Rather than taking a final exam, students complete a final project of their choosing on a bioethical issue.
Anatomy for Sports Medicine
Prerequisite: Biology I. Open to grades 10–12.
This semester elective is offered to students who desire further study into the structure and function of the human body specifically as it relates to the athlete. All the major organ systems of the body are introduced with an in-depth study of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Through various class activities, including a cat dissection, students have the opportunity to gain a better understanding and enhance their appreciation of these systems as each function both individually and collectively in the human body. With the basic knowledge of the body’s structure and function, students also begin to understand the basic components involved in achieving wellness and optimum performance as well as recognizing injury and illness. Furthermore, through knowledge gained about the body’s structure and function, students gain insights into the prevention, care, and treatment of athletic injury and illness.
Physiology of Human Systems
Prerequisite: Biology I (required); Anatomy for Sports Medicine (recommended but not required). Open to grades 10–12.
Physiology of Human Systems is an elective course offered to students who are interested in further study into the structure and function of the internal systems of the human body. Students participate in lab activities, including a cat dissection of the internal organs, designed to enhance their understanding and appreciation of how each system functions both individually and collectively in the human body. With the basic knowledge of the body’s structure and function, students also begin to understand the basic components involved in achieving wellness and optimum performance as well as recognizing injury and illness. Furthermore, students gain insights into the prevention, care, and treatment of a variety of medical conditions.
Prerequisite: Biology I and Algebra I
This course is designed to develop a conceptual understanding of the physical and chemical properties of matter and energy and relies extensively on problem solving (including algebraic manipulation) and laboratory experiences. Concepts central to the course include atomic theory, the mole concept, chemical reactions and reactivity, quantitative analysis of chemical changes, chemical bonding and the properties of substances, chemical kinetics and thermodynamics, and chemical equilibrium.
Honors Chemistry I
Prerequisite: Biology I, Algebra II or higher math required concurrently, qualification based on current science and math grades
This course covers the same topics as Chemistry I (in addition to nuclear chemistry) but in more depth and at a faster pace. An emphasis on problem-solving, analysis, and applications of concepts is stressed through homework, inquiry projects, and quantitative laboratory assignments. Development of investigative techniques and the ability to interpret results using math skills and laboratory experiments are integral parts of the curriculum.
Prerequisite: Chemistry I/Honors Chemistry I and qualification; Precalculus or higher math required concurrently
Through this college-level course, students develop an in-depth understanding of topics which include the structure of matter and properties of matter, chemical reactions and stoichiometry, thermodynamics, chemical kinetics and equilibrium, the chemistry of acids and bases, fundamental quantum mechanics, periodicity, and chemical bonding and properties. Principles are extensively applied both through classroom demonstrations and laboratory work, allowing students to develop competency in the typical laboratory skills of a college course. This course should contribute to the development of the ability to think clearly and to express ideas with clarity and logic. Extended lab time is required. It is expected that students will sit the AP exam or equivalent at the conclusion of the course.
Prerequisite: Algebra II or higher
This course stresses a conceptual understanding and application of the fundamental principles of physics and emphasizes the illustration of those principles to mathematical problems and questions that are relevant to students’ daily lives and interests. Topics studied include motion, forces, momentum, energy, waves and wave motion, sound, light and optics, and electricity and magnetism. The course is based on an inquiry through labs and mathematical application of topics.
Honors Physics I
Prerequisite: Algebra II or higher and qualification; Precalculus or higher math required concurrently
Honors Physics provides a more analytical approach to the concepts studied in Physics I for the student who enjoys mathematical applications. This course includes laboratory activities, problem-solving exercises, and student projects.
Prerequisite: Physics I OR Honors Physics I, AB Calculus or higher math required concurrently, and qualification
AP Physics is a second-year physics course for the student interested in preparing for the Level C Advanced Placement examinations in Mechanics and in Electricity and Magnetism. The course includes laboratory activities, problem-solving exercises, and independent student projects.
Astronomy: Solar System
Prerequisite: Chemistry I/Honors Chemistry AND Algebra II (any level, previous or concurrent). Open to grades 11–12.
The course is designed to introduce students to astronomy and the extraordinary space beyond our atmosphere. Students gain basic knowledge of the history and position of the constellations, celestial navigation, telescope design and function, electromagnetic radiation, the planets of our solar system, the sun and the moon, comets, meteors, and asteroids. Rather than a final exam, students complete a project.
Prerequisite: Chemistry I/Honors Chemistry I AND Algebra II (any level, previous or concurrent). Open to grades 11–12.
The course is designed to introduce (or continue) students to astronomy and the extraordinary space beyond our atmosphere. Students gain basic knowledge of the composition and evolution of stars, classification and formation of galaxies, the structure of the universe, global extinction, and the personalities, politics, and timeline of manned spaceflight. Rather than a final exam, students complete a project.
Prerequisite: Physics I OR Honors Physics
In this course, students are introduced to the principles of particle and rigid body mechanics with engineering applications: force and moment (rotation) systems and resultants, equilibrium of particles and rigid bodies, material effects, and friction. The course involves extensive use of structural engineering modelling kits from PASCO involving load sensors linked to laptops. The final assessment of the course consists of the detailed analysis of an original structure designed by the students.
Prerequisite: AP Chemistry/IB Chemistry and qualification
This semester course replicates a semester of undergraduate Organic Chemistry – the study of the chemistry of the element carbon. This rigorous course offers students with a rare opportunity—to develop the skills needed to excel in the college course that is dreaded by so many. Topics included range over structure, reactivity and synthesis of organic molecules, through to identification of organic compounds from spectra. There is a full synthetic lab component to the course and extensive molecular modeling, both hands-on and computerized. A synoptic exam of the concepts covered is taken at the end of the semester.
Prerequisite: Chemistry I/Honors Chemistry. Open to grades 11–12.
This semester course is designed to develop a wide range of practical chemistry skills. The course covers classical techniques such as re-crystallization, distillation, vacuum filtration and steam distillation, right through to modern purification methods such as gas chromatography. Students are expected to keep a full lab notebook and participate in the setting up of labs and the safe disposal of products. Assessment is based on presentation of experiments in the lab book and proficiency with the techniques we study. The course culminates in an individual research project.
Biomechanics of Sports Performance
Prerequisite: concurrent enrollment in Algebra II or higher math course (required); Anatomy for Sports Medicine and Physics I or higher (strongly recommended). Open grades 10–12.
This course offers an introduction to the study of the biomechanics of sports and exercise. In order to gain an understanding of biomechanics, students first study the concepts of force, Newton’s laws of motion in terms of both linear and angular motion, work, and energy. Students understand and are able to calculate the effects of both internal and external forces, how the body generates forces to maintain position, and how these forces create movement in physical activities. Through observation and analysis of common sports activities, students have the opportunity to gain practical knowledge related to the principles of biomechanics. In particular, students utilize the application of biomechanical principles to improve sport techniques, training, and injury prevention.