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 core class in the Country Day science curriculum, required of all current students and 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 on to Chemistry and Physics in their sophomore and junior years.
Current students entering 9th grade and students new to the school have the option to take Inquiries in Biological and Physical Science before taking Biology 1. This qualifies as one of the three required years of science for graduation.
The foundations of Biology I and Chemistry I give students the necessary fundamentals to take on upper level AP and IB sciences. In addition, the science department offers a rich array of electives in the life sciences and physical sciences so that students can pursue their unique interests.
Inquiries in Biological and Physical Science
Full year. This foundational class will introduce a range of topics from life and physical sciences while emphasizing critical reading and thinking, the scientific method, and lab skills. It is designed to be taken before Biology I and will prepare students for that class and the physical science classes to follow it. Students will complete a broad lab curriculum that covers aspects of measurement, data recording and processing, along with analysis of results and drawing conclusions. Topics studied will include cell biology, ecology, earth science, conceptual chemistry, chemical reactions, materials science, and conceptual physics.
Full year. Required for any subsequent science course
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. Intentional development of study and laboratory skills is integral to the course.
Full year. Prerequisites: Biology I, Chemistry I or 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. The 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, and students are expected to sit the AP Biology exam.
IB Biology; IB Biology
Please see IB section for more information.
AP Environmental Science
Full year. Prerequisites: Biology I, 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. In addition, students are taught to identify, analyze, and evaluate environmental issues and their potential risks and solutions, and to become critical thinkers and problem solvers. 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, is mandatory. Extended lab time is required and it is expected that students will sit the AP Environmental Science exam.
Full year. Prerequisite: Biology I
This semester course provides a survey of contemporary environmental issues, such as climate change, endangered species, food production, and others. Students learn about the underlying science behind these issues as well as explore different perspectives on them. The course draws from the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences. Debate over issues takes place in class discussions and also on tests and lab reports. As a culmination to the course, teams of students will present on an issue of their choice and argue from different perspectives. The course is open to grades 10–12.
First semester. Prerequisite: Biology I, concurrent enrollment in Algebra II or higher
Practical Biology will focus on what students often enjoy most about their science classes: performing experiments. In this course, students will learn new techniques and reinforce those learned in prior biology courses. Areas of investigation will include plants, ecology, cellular biology, genetics, biotechnology, and physiology. Students will learn both the basic biology and lab techniques associated with each of the above topics. Field trips will occur during the plans and ecology units to sites near the school or to local parks. The course will culminate in a student-designed investigation, rather than having a final exam. The course is open to grades 10–12.
Second semester. Prerequisite: Biology I
This semester course is a survey of the basic concepts of Marine Biology. Topics include the interdependence of organisms to each other and to their environments, 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. The course is open to grades 10–12.
Second semester. Prerequisite: Biology I
The semester course examines ethical issues surrounding controversial applications of biotechnology. Major topics will include genetic modification, genetic screening, stem cells, and cloning. Students will be challenged to consider the ethical implications of these topics while demonstrating an understanding of the science behind the issues. To accomplish this, students will 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 will complete a final project of their choosing on a bioethical issue. The course is open to grades 10–12.
First semester. Prerequisite: Biology I
This semester course examines the structure and function of the human body. All the major organ systems of the body are introduced along with an in-depth study of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Through various class activities, including a cat dissection, the students have the opportunity to 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. The course is open to grades 10–12.
Physiology of Human Systems
Second semester, offered alternate years to Advanced Anatomy. This course is offered in alternate years. Prerequisite: Biology I (required); Human Anatomy (recommended but not required)
This semester course is offered to students who are interested in deeper study into the structure and function of the internal systems of the human body. Students will participate in lab activities that are designed to further 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 continue to understand the basic components involved in achieving wellness and optimum performance as well as recognizing injury and illness. Furthermore, students will gain insights into the prevention, care, and treatment of a variety of medical conditions. The course is open to grades 10–12.
Second semester. This course is offered in alternate years. Prerequisite: Human Anatomy
This advanced course is offered to those students who have completed their study of Human Anatomy and wish to further develop their understanding of the structure and function of the human body by applying biomechanical principles to what they have already learned about the musculoskeletal anatomy of the body. Anatomical structures studied will include the foot, ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, and spine with an emphasis on the injuries that can be suffered for each and the respective treatments that can be employed. Each student will have a minimum number of clinical hours in the athletic training room during the semester in order to observe and practice skills learned in the classroom. This course will include Red Cross Certification in First Aid and CPR w/AED. The course is open to grades 10–12.
Full year. Prerequisites: Biology I and Algebra II or higher Math required concurrently
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
Full year. Prerequisites: Biology I, Algebra II or higher Math required concurrently; qualification based on current science and math grades
This course will cover 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.
Full year. Prerequisites: Chemistry I or Honors Chemistry I and qualification; Pre-calculus or higher Math required concurrently
Through this college-level course, students will 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. Students are expected to sit the AP Chemistry exam.
IB Chemistry SL
Full year. Please see the IB section for more information.
IB Chemistry HL
Half year. Please see the IB section for more information.
Full year. 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
Full year. Prerequisites: Qualification and Pre-calculus 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.
Full year. Prerequisites: Physics I OR Honors Physics I, AB/IB 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. Students are expected to sit the AP Physics exam.
Astronomy: Solar System
First semester. Prerequisites: Chemistry I/Honors Chemistry AND Algebra II (any level, previous or concurrent)
This 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 significant project. The course is open to grades 11–12.
Second semester. Prerequisites: Chemistry I/Honors Chemistry I AND Algebra II (any level, previous or concurrent)
This course is designed to introduce (or continue) students to Astronomy and the extraordinary space beyond our atmosphere. The course requires more application of mathematical concepts than the first semester Astronomy course. 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 significant project. The course is open to grades 11–12.
First semester. 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.
Honors Principles of Engineering
First semester. Prerequisite: Physics I OR Honors Physics and qualification
This Honors level course focuses on three major branches of Engineering: Structural Mechanics, Material Science, and Digital Electronics. Students will be introduced to the principles of particle and rigid body mechanics with engineering applications; force and momentum (rotation) systems and resultants; equilibrium of particles and rigid bodies; material effects, and friction. Students will also learn about the behavior of materials based upon composition and therefore their applications; properties of concretes and metal alloys that will be crafted in the classroom setting; and basic principles of digital electronics based upon physical coding. Projects will include the construction of electronic devices from simple (digital keyboard) to complex (wirelessly controlled robotic hand); and the concept of using technology to “build something that actually does something.” Open to grades 11–12.
Physical Computational Biochemistry
Second semester. Prerequisites: Organic Chemistry or previous or concurrent AP Physics, AP Computer Science, AP Biology or IB HL Biology (CR/NC)
In this course, students can extend their study of science into actual primary research. The research students will do in this course revolves around the folding of proteins and the constructing of dynamic physical models that show how they interact. Students with skills in Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Computer Science are especially needed to create 3D printed models that can be used to further our understanding of biochemistry. Small groups of students with weekly targets to solve problems will work towards the ultimate goal of developing an improved physical model. It is expected that students will keep track of their hours, present their progress at weekly group meetings and write a literature review and a final research paper in collaboration with their group. Students will work with professors around the country and may publish findings and/or present at conferences as the work progresses. Due to the unique nature of this course, there are no grades assigned, only transcript credit along
with a record on the group website, ccdsbiochem.com.