Our objective is to give students a better understanding of the natural world. We train students to think critically and communicate clearly about scientific topics, we encourage curiosity and experimentation, and we teach techniques and technologies that are most useful in scientific research.

Benjamin Small, Department Head

Sample Courses:

Advanced Organic Chemistry

A study of the molecular structure and behavior of carbon compounds, this laboratory course explores the basic molecular patterns of the large organic molecules which are critical to life on earth. Molecular bonding and structure are examined with an eye towards understanding the physical and chemical properties of organic molecules. Kinetics and synthetic pathways of elementary organic reactions are examined in and out of the laboratory. Extensive experimental work is an integral part of the course. Projects include the isolation of orange oil and the synthesis of a soap from nutmeg. This course fulfills the second term of the three-term Advanced Chemistry sequence; however, it may also be taken by an interested student as a stand-alone course. Open to students who have completed one year of chemistry (CH350HO or equivalent), have completed Algebra II, and have the recommendation of the department.

Aspects of Cell Biology

This laboratory-based course examines the ultrastructure and function of cells, emphasizing the structure and function of chromosomes in the genetic process. Students learn advanced experimental techniques, such as protist culturing, DNA extraction, electrophoretic analysis of DNA and proteins, and the transfer of bacterial genetic markers. Current applications of biotechnology in areas of industry, human health, and agriculture are discussed. Open to fifth and sixth form students who have completed one year of biology.

Chemistry of Food

Have you ever wondered why chili peppers burn your tongue or what the difference is between saturated and unsaturated fats? What happens when bread rises, when eggs cook, or when a banana ripens? All of these involve structural chemical changes or chemical reactions. Students who enjoyed chemistry the first time around will benefit from the chance to explore these real applications of chemistry that are centrally important to our daily lives. In this course students study the components of food, explore commercial and home processing of food, and learn how food is transformed by various cooking techniques. Readings, tastings, field-trips, and lab activities will be used to enhance student understanding of this vitally important part of life.

Environmental Science

This laboratory course investigates major environmental issues, which may include global warming, recycling of materials, air pollution, acid rain, quality of drinking water, and various other environmental toxins. Supplementing class work are field studies and trips that emphasize a hands-on interdisciplinary approach to environmental assessment. Open to fifth and sixth form students who have completed one year of a laboratory science.

Reverse Engineering: How Things Work

This course introduces students to general principles of product design and function and examines some of the engineered items all around us. Students learn to take apart various mechanical and electrical devices and examine how component parts work together. Engineering skills such as sketching, 3D modeling, prototyping, testing, and clear communication are emphasized. An introduction to microcontrollers and programing is included and students build several devices of their own design.