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Upper School
Upper School

Science

A Walker’s graduate should incorporate into her personal philosophy the key concepts and basic principles of science. She should be familiar with the natural world, appreciate its beauty and diversity, and recognize its vital role in shaping human destiny. She will be conversant with the methods of obtaining scientific knowledge and will appreciate the relevance of science to all spheres of life.

There is a minimum three-year laboratory science requirement for graduation: students must take one course each in physics, chemistry, and biology. Common to all science courses is the emphasis on understanding basic concepts through active personal involvement in laboratory and field experiences, in discussions, and in collaborative learning exercises.

All elective courses in the department are subject to enrollment, and enrollment in all honors and AP and advanced courses is subject to departmental approval.

Courses in this department:

Science

Physics 9

Required for Grade 9
Credit: 1


The concepts and analytical techniques of physics underlie the major concepts of biology and chemistry and a mastery of these physics concepts is a prerequisite for success in all scientific fields. Laboratory work and mathematical skills are given equal emphasis with conceptual understanding. Students will also be taught to solve quantitative problems and to collect, analyze, and present data in both written and oral form.

Honors Physics 9

Open to Grade: 9
Prerequisite: Departmental Approval and Concurrent Enrollment in Honors Geometry or a Higher Level Math Course
Credit: 1 


This course covers the same content areas as Physics 9 but moves more rapidly and involves more in depth mathematical analysis and problem solving. Time required outside of class: 4 hours/week.

Chemistry

Open to Grades: 10-12
Prerequisites: Algebra I
Credit: 1 


Chemistry is a laboratory-based course that encourages students to take their conceptual understanding of science and apply these principles to everyday phenomena. The course covers the scientific method, atomic theory, nuclear chemistry, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, aqueous chemistry, bonding, acid-base chemistry, organic chemistry and gas laws.

Honors Chemistry

Open to Grades: 10-12
Prerequisite: Honors Physics 9 and Concurrent Enrollment in Honors Algebra II or Department Approval
Credit: 1 


The Honors Chemistry course covers the same content as the regular Chemistry course but is faster paced and requires greater depth of analysis. This is a rigorous course with high expectations for student effort and commitment. Time required outside of class: 5-6 hours/week.

Advanced Chemistry

Open to Grades: 11-12
Prerequisite: Completion of Honors Chemistry and Department Approval
Credit: 1 


This course is the equivalent of a college level introductory course in chemistry. This course emphasizes the advanced topics of equilibrium, kinetics and thermodynamics. Time required outside of class: 10-15 hours/week. 

Biology

Open to Grades: 11-12
Prerequisites: Chemistry
Credit: 1 


This first year course surveys the field of biology from biochemistry, cells and genetics to evolution, microbiology, plants and animals. Many of the most important topics in biology rely heavily on an understanding of the fundamental concepts from physics and chemistry. Generous amounts of laboratory work allow students to work independently. Through fieldwork, they will become familiar with the woodlands and ponds that surround the School and appreciate the diversity of life that exists right in our community. They will learn to collect and analyze samples, use microscopes, conduct experiments, and do research.

Honors Biology

Open to Grades: 11-12
Prerequisites: Chemistry and Department Approval
Credit: 1 


The Honors Biology course is faster paced than the regular Biology course and requires students to integrate multiple chapters at one time in their analysis of the material. The laboratory work is also more demanding and allows students to have more independence concerning laboratory design.

Advanced Biology

Open to Grades: 11-12
Prerequisites: Completion of Biology and Chemistry and Departmental Approval
Credit: 1 


Exceptional students may be allowed to enroll in this course as their biology course. This course is the equivalent of a college level introductory biology course. Topics covered in depth include biochemistry, cells, heredity, evolution, organisms and populations. The course is demanding, moves quickly, and requires a great deal of independent work outside of class (10-15 hours/week).

Physics

Open to Grades: 11-12
Credit: 1 


This first course in Physics examines everyday phenomena such as motion, wave phenomena, and electricity and magnetism. The goal is to apply fundamental principles to understanding common occurrences and devices. The course emphasizes, equally, understanding concepts and solving quantitative problems. Students are taught to rely on analysis rather than memory. Laboratory work and lab reports are two very important parts of this course. Emphasis is on clear thinking and concise writing. The mathematical analysis of data and error is explored in depth. This is a hands-on laboratory based course.

Honors Physics

Open to Grades: 11-12
Prerequisites: Chemistry, Honors Math Placement and Department Approval. 
Credit: 1 

This course is designed for those students entering Walker's after 9th grade who have not yet taken Physics. Honors Physics explores the fundamental concepts of physics. The emphasis is on understanding the basic forces and phenomena of the physical world. Applying that understanding to practical situations is also stressed. Students are taught to rely on analysis rather than memory. The course is faster paced and more in-depth than the regular physics course. Laboratory work and lab reports are two very important parts of this course. Emphasis is on clear thinking and concise writing. The mathematical analysis of data and error is explored in depth. This is a hands-on, laboratory based course. Time required outside of class: 5-6 hours/week.

Advanced Physics

Open to Grades: 11-12
Prerequisites: Completion of a Yearlong Physics Course (not Physical Science) and Department Approval
Credit: 1 


Advanced Physics is a second year physics course that addresses topics normally covered in an introductory college physics course. Major topics may include kinematics, dynamics, energy, wave phenomena, electricity, and magnetism. The course uses mathematical concepts from algebra and geometry, but not from calculus. The course is rigorous, mathematical, and fast-paced, and assumes the student is comfortable with all aspects of mathematical problem solving.

Arctic Studies

Open to Grades: 11-12
Credit: 1 


This interdisciplinary course will cover multiple topics related to the polar regions and will provide a unique opportunity to combine the natural and social sciences in a study of current events and critical global issues. Possible areas of study include: the history and exploration of the Polar Regions, arctic biology (terrestrial and marine), arctic environmental management, arctic geography, and marine geology. The course will also look at the political, economic, and environmental impacts of climate change. During the fourth quarter, each student will choose an independent research topic to explore in depth.

Astronomy

Open to Grades: 11-12
Credit: 1 

Exceptional sophomores may be allowed to enroll in this class concurrently with Honors Chemistry.

Astronomy is a yearlong course that includes such topics as the evolution of astronomical thought and a study of our solar system, stars, galaxies, and beyond. Some physics is included in the course, but concurrent enrollment in physics is acceptable. There will be mandatory evening observation sessions each month (weather dependent).

Environmental Engineering

Open to Grades: 11-12
Credit: 1 

 

The course is designed to introduce some of the major environmental problems facing our world today. Students will learn the science behind the atmosphere, water, ecosystems, energy and agriculture. Each unit will have an engineering problem to solve that the students will work on over the course of several weeks. Throughout the curriculum, there will be a string of other topics that play a key role in our environment such as population, exposure, sustainability, economics and government policy. Each quarter will also involve a field trip relevant to the topic of study.


Environmental Science

Open to Grades: 11-12
Credit: 1 


This course also satisfies the Ethics requirement for graduation.
Exceptional sophomores may be allowed to enroll in this class concurrently with Honors Chemistry.


The first semester of Environmental Science is designed to provide an understanding of the environment and human impact on it. With this dual purpose in mind, the first semester of this course covers the study of the basic principles of ecology, ecosystems, population dynamics, and the interdependence of all life forms, human population growth; pollution; endangered species and biological diversity; deforestation issues and global warming; finite fossil fuels and nuclear energy; alternative energy sources; and developing a sustainable society. The impact of economics and politics on the environment is stressed.
 

The second semester is an inter-disciplinary course that is team-taught by teachers from the Science, History and Art departments. The course evolved through discussions among faculty about the need to help students become sensitive observers of the environment, and to think seriously about how people interact with their world. The course is designed to make sophisticated connections among the latest findings in environmental science, recent discussions in ethics concerning bio-ethical issues, classic literary writers such as Thoreau, historical considerations such as the history of humanities’ technological relations to the natural world and how artists have interpreted the natural environment in painting, sculpture and film. The course plan is to focus first on the immediate socio-ethical and physical environment of Walker’s, the Farmington Valley, and the State of Connecticut and, ultimately, expand awareness to global ecology. The course will include field trips to sensitize students to the local ecology and the significant ways in which people affect the environment and how the environment has shaped the culture of New England.

Exercise Physiology and Kinesiology

Open to Grades: 11-12
Prerequisite: Completion or Concurrent Enrollment in a Biology Course
Credit: 1 


Exercise Physiology and Kinesiology is an elective science course designed to expand the student’s knowledge and understanding of human physiologic response to exercise and motion. The bioenergetics of the respiratory, cardiovascular, and neuromuscular physiology will be explored through lab-based exercises. Once the students understand how the body responds to exercise they will take it a step further by breaking down human motion through examining athletic skill-based movements. The students will study the anatomy of the musculoskeletal and articular systems and determine factors that enhance or impede movement. Biology and Anatomy & Physiology background are helpful but not required for this course.

Human Anatomy and Physiology

Open to Grades: 11-12
Prerequisites: Current Enrollment in or Completion of Biology 
Credit: 1 


The Human Anatomy and Physiology class will be a yearlong course covering all twelve of the human body systems. Each body system will be studied on the basis of structure, function, and disorders. Class assessments will include homework, tests, projects, and labs. Students will also be introduced to medical journals, current event articles, and quest speakers. Labs will include microbiology, pathology, hematology, and dissection (nonhuman).

Equine Science

Open to Grades:11-12
Prerequisites: Current Enrollment in or Completion of Biology 
Credit: 1 


This course will introduce students to the many aspects of equine science and medicine. Students will acquire a general foundation of equine anatomy and physiology as well as an understanding of equine general care, nutrition, common diseases, and sports medicine through lectures, laboratories, and extensive case studies. Students will have hands on laboratories in the School barn as well as classroom-based laboratories.

Forensics

Open to Grades: 11-12
Credit: 1 


Exceptional sophomores may be allowed to enroll in this class concurrently with Honors Chemistry. 

Forensics is a yearlong course that will study the fundamentals of criminal investigations. In this hands-on course, students will gather and analyze data and participate in lab activities. Students will develop lab skills as well as critical and analytical thinking skills. Topics will include genetics, bloodstain pattern analysis, fingerprinting, ballistics, tool marks, casting of footprints and tire tracks as well as skeletal analysis.

Marine Science

Open to Grades: 11-12
Credit: 1

 

Marine Science is designed to be a full year junior/senior elective science course. The curriculum is intended to promote awareness of coastal and marine systems and current problems the ocean is facing. It will cover areas of oceanography, marine biology, and ecology. Students will focus on sustainability of our oceans by researching and exploring coral reefs, plant life, and marine animals. The class will examine the salt water as well as other physical properties of the ocean. The course will provide opportunities for decision-making, problem solving, collaboration, and developing stronger scientific literacy skills. Students will have an opportunity to participate in experiments, field trips to the seacoast, and dissections. Completion of the three core sciences (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology) is recommended but not required for this course.

Psychology

Advanced Psychology

Open to Grade: 12
Prerequisites: Completion of Biology and Recommendation of the Science Department
Credit: 1


Advanced Psychology is a rigorous senior science elective designed to encourage students to think critically, synthesize current research, and develop a deep understanding of the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. Topics will include: history & approaches; research methodology and statistics; biological bases of behavior; behavior genetics; sensation and perception; states of consciousness; theories of learning; memory; cognition; language development; motivation emotion and stress; life-span development; theories of personality; intelligence and individual differences; abnormal psychology; treatment of psychological disorders; and social psychology. Students will conduct an in-depth literature review to be presented at the end of the year.

 
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Commencement 2015