Our math and science courses are typically yearlong and involve laboratory and experiential work. In all classes, we strive to make our students informed citizens of the modern world. We believe that students must understand where knowledge comes from, how it can be effectively used in society, and how scientific and mathematical thought will be incorporated into their lives and careers.
Current Courses – Math
Algebra I This course is the foundation for high school mathematics courses. Topics include the real number system, simplifying expressions, solving multi-step equations, evaluating and solving linear, quadratic, radical, and rational equations, solving one-variable, compound, linear, and absolute-value inequalities, and solving systems of equations. Real world applications are presented within the course content, and a function’s approach is emphasized. The successful Algebra I student will be prepared for Geometry.
Algebra II The last sequential math course in the high school curriculum, in that while it prepares students to go on to Pre-Calculus, it also gives the student the background to take Statistics in addition at a later time in their math careers (which is highly encouraged, as just about everyone would benefit from a basic understanding of Statistics). Topics of the course shall include but are not limited to in-depth analysis of functions (linear, quadratic, rational and so on) and of systems of functions. Exponential and logarithmic functions as well as sequences and series are included, as well as an introduction to basic statistical ideas (normal probability, measures of center and spread, and basic inferential concepts and the like).
AP AB Calculus This is a college-level calculus course designed to meet the Advanced Placement curricular requirements for Calculus AB (equivalent to a one-semester college course). The major topics of this course are limits, derivatives, integrals, and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. We will investigate and analyze course topics using equations, graphs, tables, and words, with a particular emphasis on a conceptual understanding of calculus. Applications, in particular to solid geometry and physics, will be studied where appropriate.
AP BC Calculus The development and subsequent use of calculus to understand and to represent many aspects of the world around us has opened opportunities and encouraged advancements beyond the comprehension of those who first defined its use. My primary objectives in the classroom are to inspire in students an appreciation of the power and beauty of calculus; to enable them to understand and to apply the big ideas of limits, derivatives, integrals, and series; and to give them a strong foundation for future study. This foundation will emphasize the development of skills and the communication of concepts. It will cover—at a minimum—the structural components of the curriculum framework from Calculus BC as defined by the College Board.
Geometry We will bridge the gap between the abstraction of Algebra I and the physical world of Geometry by looking at how we can graph the language of math to show how the numbers work and can be physically represented. The large topics covered this year will be the following: the building blocks of Geometry (point, line and plane), constructing geometric shapes and figures, line and angle properties, triangle, polygon and circle properties, the Pythagorean Theorem, and basic trigonometry.
Introduction to Calculus The overall goal of this course is to help students understand and apply two of the three big ideas of AB Calculus: limits and derivatives. Embedded throughout the big ideas are the mathematical practices for Calculus: reasoning with definitions and theorems, connecting concepts, implementing algebraic/computational processes, connecting multiple representations, building notation fluency, and communicating mathematics orally and in well-written sentences.
Pre-Calculus This course serves as the bridge between topics covered in Algebra II and those that comprise Calculus. Some course topics will include but are not limited to more rigorous analysis of functions from Algebra II, such as polynomial, geometric, logarithmic and trigonometric functions. Parametric and polar equations will also be introduced, as will basic introductory topics from Calculus such as limits and the concept of derivatives. The exact pacing and order of topics covered will be driven by both mathematical necessity (if you need to understand A before B then A comes first) and my own assessment of where my students are at any given moment. While breadth of understanding is of course valued, it is depth of understanding that should be our collective goal here, and I will set the daily schedule of how we operate with this in mind.
Current Courses – Science
Anatomy This course is designed to be an overview of the human body on a molecular, cellular, tissue, and organ system level. Emphasis is placed on the integration of the body systems into a coordinated whole and the correlation of anatomical structure with physiological function.
AP Biology This advanced biology course prepares students to take the AP exam in biology. The College Board has identified four “big ideas” that are unique to biology as a science, and topics such as the scientific process, biological chemistry, cells, energy conversions, meiosis and mitosis, heredity, gene chemistry and function, biotechnology, evolution and speciation, organisms’ diversity, and ecology are presented within this framework. Experimental design is a fundamental part of the AP exam, and lab exercises emphasize using equipment and handling materials, careful measurement, data recording and presentation, statistical analysis, drawing conclusions and identifying limitations. Journal articles and recent news stories expose students to contemporary research. Students are highly encouraged to sit for the AP exam in May.
Biology This class is designed to explore the workings of living organisms on multiple levels, including molecular, cellular, organismal, and ecological, and to explore overarching themes that connect each level to the next. Four interdisciplinary units – the bubonic plague, cancer, viruses in the body, and the Serengeti Plains – serve as frameworks to explore topics such as cell structure and function, genetics, molecular biology, energy transformations, evolution and classification, biochemistry, and biodiversity. Current scientific research is introduced throughout the course, and students will explore the development of scientific thought and its applicability to situations and problems faced by society today.
Chemistry This course is taught using a Modeling curriculum in which we follow the historical discovery of chemical principles. This course is structured differently from a standard high school chemistry course. In traditional chemistry curricula, students are introduced right away to the modern model of the atom and asked to accept all its complexities as a matter of faith. By contrast, our approach is to start with a simple model of the atom and realize that our model must evolve as the need for a better one arises. By examining data and through carefully-tailored inquiry experiments, we will develop increasingly detailed models of the particulate nature of matter, the role of energy, chemical reactions, and subatomic structure.
Environmental Science This year-long course will provide an overview of current topics in environmental science. As the human population grows larger and standards of living rise around the world, it is important that we understand the impacts of human activities upon the earth’s natural systems. While many environmental concerns span multiple disciplines, a strong grasp of the underlying science is essential for today’s environmental problem-solvers. In this class, we will explore environmental issues that are both global and local in scale, with an emphasis on understanding the physical, chemical, and biological basis of each issue. We will also make connections throughout the course to larger ideas such as sustainability, environmental ethics, and environmental justice. During labs, projects, and other activities, students will gain hands-on experience both in the field and in the laboratory, and apply science concepts to real environmental problems in our community. Work in this class will include regular reading and writing assignments, in-class quizzes and tests, and occasional larger assignments (e.g., research papers, debates, group projects, long-term lab reports).
Physics The study of our reality by applying an understanding of the properties of motion, matter, energy and force. Many concepts in Physics are expressed in mathematical terms and are subject to mathematical reasoning. Why this is, and what the advantages thereof are, is a major focus of the course. Wherever possible, this course will be taught in a “data first” way, meaning that while labs will be about collecting data in as useful ways as possible, class will often be about using lab results to build a new idea, not to confirm one already given by a book or some other source. After some initial handholding, students will be encouraged to participate in the creation of their own lab experiments. Though the teacher will generally contribute to the path of exploration that the labs represent somewhat more than the students do, it will often be by asking questions rather than stating facts. Even during class, the course will focus on analytical and critical thinking skills within the realm of physics over and above the learning of a set of convenient facts.