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Curriculum: Science

Public Health

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

Science

Credits: 1

Students will learn about public health through a multidisciplinary approach that includes biology, chemistry, psychology, sociology, history, English literature, language and culture, economics, anthropology, geography, statistics, communication, film, and visual arts. This course will center around leading health indicators that include access to health services, clinical preventive services, maternal, infant, and child health, mental health, nutrition, physical activity, obesity, reproductive and sexual health, social determinants of health, and substance abuse. Course topics will include environmental health, biostatistics, epidemiology, public health policy, problem solving in public health, population dynamics, social and behavioral sciences, health literacy, community assessment, health informatics, global health, and women’s health and human rights.

Climate Change

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

Science

Credits: 1

Students will explore issues surrounding global climate change: What is it? What is causing it? Why should we care? What information can we trust?  Why do some people believe it is not a concern? Students will work towards answering these questions by examining data and resources from the fields of climate science, psychology, and media literacy.

Earth Science

Middle School

Grade 8

Science

Required for Grade 8

This course introduces students to the many major topics of Earth Science, including weathering and erosion, plate tectonics, volcanoes, earthquakes, and geologic history. In addition, students will explore the solar system, stellar evolution, galaxies, and the origin of the universe. Through numerous inquiry-based labs, students will become proficient with the scientific method and gain valuable laboratory skills that include data collection and display, analysis, and interpretation. Students will also engage in many student-driven projects and develop essential research and communication skills as they explore topics that pique their interest.

Human Biology

Middle School

Grade 7

Science

Required for Grade 7

This course allows students to explore the structural organization of the human body from cells to organ systems. Students are introduced to the scientific method, cell theory, cell reproduction, genetics, and the human body systems. The emphasis of this course will focus on how to be healthy and how the body keeps itself healthy. Students learn how to work both collaboratively and individually. Laboratory work emphasizes making careful observations, learning correct measuring and data collection techniques, analyzing data, and discussing errors. Lab work, dissections, study skills, and current events will be integral parts of this course.

Equine Science

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

Science

Credits: 1

Prerequisite: Current enrollment in or completion of Biology

The Equine Science course is an intense equine biology class that encompasses the anatomy and physiology of all the systems of the horse, including nutrition, toxicology, parasitology, health management, neonatology, epidemiology, and sports medicine. Students will explore numerous case studies and immerse themselves in the world of equine medicine. Through hands-on labs at the Frank O.H. Williams Barn, students can apply the skills and knowledge of the class while they perform health and lameness exams on school horses and use stethoscopes to listen to heart, lung, and intestinal sounds.

Tropical Ecology

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

Science

Credits: 1

Prerequisite: Current enrollment in or completion of Biology

Tropical ecosystems contain some of the most diverse habitats on the planet. These systems are both unique and fragile compared to temperate systems, and are threatened by climate change and human activities. This course is designed to provide students with a general understanding of tropical ecology and conservation and to enhance student research skills. Students will be responsible for weekly readings, leading class discussions, presentations, and various writing assignments, including a research proposal required for the field aspect of the course.

Human Anatomy and Physiology

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

Science

Credits: 1

Prerequisite: Current enrollment in or completion of Biology

The Human Anatomy and Physiology course is designed to give the student an overview of all of the systems of the human body. Students will study the structure, function, and numerous disorders of each body system as well as the interrelationships among the various systems. Students will be exposed to critical thinking and clinical application questions throughout the course as they delve into actual case studies and work through these cases to reach a diagnosis. In addition, students will experience hands-on learning and develop collaborative skills through various labs, activities, and projects throughout the year.

Astronomy

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

Science

Credits: 1

Sophomores may be allowed to enroll in this class concurrently with Honors Chemistry with departmental approval.

Astronomy is a year-long course that explores the origin, structure, evolution, and fate of the universe and the objects in it. Topics studied in this course include gravitation and orbits, the Solar System and other planetary systems, the structure and evolution of stars, galaxies and their creation, and black holes and curved spacetime. Students will also study the history of humans’ understanding of our place in the universe, from the astronomy of ancient civilizations to modern-day space missions. Finally, the course will explore current questions about the mysterious presence of dark matter and dark energy, theories about the future of the universe, and the search for habitable planets and extraterrestrial life. Although the course is mostly conceptual, there is some basic problem-solving required. No prior physics courses are necessary. Students will also make periodic observations using Walker’s van Gemeren Observatory.

Advanced Psychology

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

Science

Credits: 1

Prerequisite: Completion of Biology and departmental approval

Advanced Psychology is a rigorous science elective which requires students to think critically, synthesize current research, and develop a deep understanding of the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. Topics include: history and approaches; research methods and statistics; biological bases of behavior; behavior genetics; sensation and perception; states of consciousness; theories of learning; cognition; memory; testing and individual differences; 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 school year. Students may choose to take the Psychology Advanced Placement Test in the spring.

Advanced Physics

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

Science

Credits: 1

Prerequisite: Completion of a year-long physics course and departmental approval

Advanced Physics is our most challenging physics course that parallels an introductory algebra-based college physics course. Major topics include Newtonian mechanics, including both linear and rotational motion; waves and vibrations; and electricity and electromagnetism. Time permitting, select topics in modern physics will also be explored. This is a rigorous, fast-paced course that also includes a heavy laboratory component. In collaboration with their lab teams, students will have significant license in designing experimental procedures and in analyzing and explaining their data in ways that demonstrate a strong command of the underlying physics concepts. This course assumes that students are comfortable with both algebra and trigonometry. Students enrolled in this course may choose to take the Physics 1 Advanced Placement Test.

Honors Physics 11-12

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

Science

Credits: 1

Prerequisite: Chemistry, Honors Math placement and departmental approval

Honors Physics 11-12 is designed for students who enter Walker’s after ninth grade and who have not yet taken Physics. Honors Physics 11-12 explores similar topics as Physics 11-12, but this course goes much further into each topic than the regular-level course. It is also much faster paced and requires deeper synthesis between content areas and greater depth of analysis. This course has a much heavier emphasis on algebraic problem-solving, and the set-up of these problems requires a deep understanding of the underlying physics concepts. Student proficiency in both algebra and basic trigonometry is necessary. Laboratory work is more demanding and allows students to have more independence concerning experimental design. This is a rigorous course with high expectations for student effort and commitment.

Physics 11-12

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

Science

Credits: 1

Physics 11-12 is designed for students who enter Walker’s after ninth grade and who have not yet taken Physics. This is a laboratory science course in which students develop skills by conducting experiments, working collaboratively, and solving problems that allow them to understand and describe the physical phenomena of the world around them. Through this course, students will explore major themes of causes and effects of motion; waves and vibrations; and the conservation laws of energy, momentum, and electrical charge. Each topic will be introduced through a hands-on discovery process in which students investigate scientific trends in the laboratory and discuss their results in class. Students will then formalize their observations through the guided derivation of the quantitative relationships that govern our world, with a strong emphasis on conceptual understanding. Through this course, students will build skills in quantitative problem-solving, experimental design, data collection and organization, construction and interpretation of graphs, clear and concise scientific writing, and analysis of scientific error. Students are expected to be proficient in both algebra and basic trigonometry.

Honors Research Seminar: From Microbes to Molecules

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

Science

Credits: 1

Prerequisite: Completion of Chemistry and Biology and departmental approval (Possible concurrent enrollment with Honors or Advanced Biology)

This course will be run in partnership with the Small World Initiative (SWI) and the Tiny Earth Network (TEN), two innovative programs that encourage students to pursue careers in science while addressing a worldwide health threat – the diminishing supply of effective antibiotics. This course centers around an introductory biochemistry course in which students conduct original hands-on field and laboratory research in the hunt for new antibiotics. Through a series of student-driven experiments, students will collect soil samples, isolate diverse bacteria, test their bacteria against clinically-relevant microorganisms, and characterize those showing inhibitory activity. This is particularly relevant since over two thirds of antibiotics originate from soil bacteria or fungi. SWI and TEN’s approach provide a unique platform to crowdsource medical breakthroughs by tapping into the intellectual power of many people concurrently addressing a global challenge and advances promising candidates into the drug development pipeline.

Advanced Biology

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

Science

Credits: 1

Prerequisite: Completion of Honors Chemistry and departmental approval

The Advanced Biology course is our most challenging biology course and parallels a college-level introductory biology class. This course requires strong critical thinking skills and the ability to apply biological concepts to new situations and real world problems. The class is designed to cover numerous biology topics in an in-depth and hands-on manner using many forms of instruction that include lecture, flipped classroom, problem-based learning, inquiry based labs, case studies, and field work. This course is for highly motivated students who have a genuine interest in biology, are capable of self-directed and self-paced work, and possess the ability to collaborate with classmates on many different labs and projects. To allow for the completion of college-level laboratory experiments, the course meets for an additional 80-minute block each week. The Advanced Biology course will revolve around the four Big Ideas of Evolution, Energy, Information, and Interactions. Students may choose to take the Advanced Placement Test in the spring.

Honors Biology

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

Science

Credits: 1

Prerequisite: Honors Chemistry and/or departmental approval

The Honors Biology course is designed to give students an overview of the biological sciences such as biochemistry, cellular biology, genetics, evolution, microbial biology, human anatomy and physiology, plants, animals, and ecology. The Honors Biology course utilizes a more indepth textbook, proceeds at a faster pace than the Biology course, and requires students to integrate multiple chapters at one time in their analysis of the material. In addition, students will develop laboratory skills that include experimental design, data collection and analysis, proficiency with laboratory equipment, and error analysis through numerous inquiry-based labs throughout the year. Laboratory work in this course is more demanding and allows students to have more independence involving laboratory design.

Biology

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

Science

Credits: 1

Prerequisite: Chemistry

The Biology course surveys the field of biology from biochemistry, cells and genetics to evolution, microbiology, and ecology. Many of the most important topics in biology rely heavily on an understanding of the fundamental concepts from physics and chemistry which is why this course is offered after the completion of these other disciplines. Generous amounts of laboratory work allow students to develop laboratory skills that include experimental design, data collection and analysis, and proficiency with laboratory equipment. Students will work collaboratively and independently as they learn to research numerous biological topics and engage in argument-driven inquiry. Through fieldwork, students will become familiar with the woodlands and ponds that surround The Ethel Walker School and will come to appreciate the biodiversity of life that exists in our community.

Advanced Chemistry

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

Science

Credits: 1

Prerequisite: Completion of Honors Chemistry and departmental approval

The Advanced Chemistry course is our most challenging chemistry course and parallels a college-level introductory chemistry class. Building on the foundation of Honors Chemistry, this course emphasizes the advanced topics of equilibrium, kinetics, and thermodynamics. Students must be prepared for a significant commitment in both time and level of challenge. To allow for the completion of college-level laboratory experiments, the course meets for additional 80-minute block each week. Students may choose to take the Chemistry Advanced Placement Test in the spring.

Engineering

Upper School

Grade 10, Grade 11, Grade 12

Science

Credits: .5

Prerequisite: Departmental Approval

Engineering is a semester-long course for students who have demonstrated passion for overcoming challenges in innovative ways. Through this 100% hands-on, project-based course, students will immerse themselves in the process of engineering – defining a problem and identifying its constraints, brainstorming solutions, creating and evaluating a prototype, iterating to improve their prototype, and communicating their solution. Students will develop confidence and fluidity in this process over the course of the semester. The challenges encountered in this course will focus on different types of  engineering, possibly including mechanical, electrical, civil, and environmental engineering. Students will develop skills in group collaboration and will be encouraged to make use of all of their available tools and resources. Students will be evaluated based on in-class engagement, fulfillment of project components, documentation of their unique engineering process, written reflections, and an analysis of their work.

Honors Chemistry

Upper School

Grade 10, Grade 11, Grade 12

Science

Credits: 1

Prerequisite: Honors Physics 9 and concurrent enrollment in Honors Algebra 2 or departmental approval

The Honors Chemistry course covers content similar to the Chemistry course with the addition of stoichiometry and acid-base chemistry. The course is fast paced and requires a sophisticated depth of analysis. As students progress through the year, their work increasingly focuses on the applications of basic concepts and involves complex, multi-step problem solving. Lab work includes a focus on experimental design and requires more involved error analysis. This is a rigorous course with high expectations for student effort and commitment.

Chemistry

Upper School

Grade 10, Grade 11, Grade 12

Science

Credits: 1

Prerequisite: Algebra 1

Chemistry is a laboratory-based course that allows students to discover basic chemical principles and understand how to use them to make sense of the world around them. The course covers the scientific method, measurement, atomic theory, nomenclature, chemical quantities, chemical reactions, aqueous chemistry, bonding, and gas laws. Students learn how to work both collaboratively and individually. Laboratory work emphasizes making careful observations, learning correct measuring and data collection techniques, analyzing data, and discussing errors. Projects each semester enable students to explore how chemistry is relevant to their daily lives.

Honors Physics 9

Upper School

Grade 9

Science

Credits: 1

Prerequisite: Departmental approval and concurrent enrollment in Honors Geometry or a higher level math course

Honors Physics 9 explores similar topics as Physics 9, but is faster paced and requires deeper synthesis between content areas and greater depth of analysis. This course has a heavier emphasis on algebraic problem-solving, and the set-up of these problems requires a deep understanding of the underlying physics concepts. Laboratory work is more demanding and allows students to have more independence concerning experimental design. This is a rigorous course with high expectations for student effort and commitment.

Physics 9

Upper School

Grade 9

Science

Required for Grade 9

Credits: 1

Physics 9 is a laboratory science course in which students develop skills by conducting experiments, working collaboratively, and solving problems that allow them to understand and describe the physical phenomena of the world around them. Through this course, students will explore the major themes of cause and effect of motion; waves and vibrations; and the conservation laws of energy, momentum, and electrical charge. Each topic will be introduced through a hands-on discovery process in which students investigate scientific trends in the laboratory, discuss their results in class, and formalize their observations through the guided derivation of the quantitative relationships that govern our world with a strong emphasis on conceptual understanding. Through this course, students will build skills in quantitative problem-solving, experimental design, data collection and organization, construction and interpretation of graphs, clear and concise scientific writing, and analysis of scientific error.

Ecology

Middle School

Grade 6

Science

Required for Grade 6

This course is designed to introduce students to the natural world around them. Students begin the year by studying the role honeybees play in their ecosystem. Students visit the apiary on campus, build their own hive box to add to the apiary, and extract honey. Students also compete in National Geographic’s GeoChallenge, a project-based competition that challenges students to design an innovative solution to a unique environmental problem. For the remainder of the year, students explore field, forest, and aquatic ecosystems inside and outside of the classroom, and the human impacts on these ecosystems.