Learning to ask salient questions is the core of our science program. Open-ended lab work teaches students to devise ways of exploring and testing scientific concepts. Our program provides rare opportunities for field research in ethnobotany, photochemistry, and field ecology.
During the 9th grade year in science, students rely on their own observations and questions to develop a methodical process for investigating the physical world around them. Project-based laboratory experiences on topics such as optics, kinematics, and Newton’s Laws provide opportunities to focus on practical laboratory methods, modeling, scientific writing, and collaborative group work strategies. Through these investigations, students build a community of scientists.
A laboratory course in the processes of life. Special emphasis is placed on cell biology, human physiology, embryology, sex and reproduction. Evolution is studied intensively in a combined unit with the 10th grade Humanities program. Genetics and ecology close out the year. Expectations are high for independent studying and thinking on the part of all students, including opportunities to design labs and to summarize current research from the professional literature. The art of asking good, researchable questions is central to the course.
The chemistry curriculum focuses on four primary goals: 1) allowing students to be chemically literate in a highly chemical world, giving them tools with which they can tackle issues without intimidation; 2) preparation for any college-level chemistry course they may choose to take; 3) a solid basis in critical thinking and problem solving skills done from a chemistry perspective but useful in all disciplines; 4) giving students the opportunity to learn to function in the laboratory to solve problems and answer questions.
The advanced chemistry course is an opportunity to explore topics in chemistry not introduced in the first-year course; for example, electro-chemistry (how do they make that gold-plated jewelry?) and oxidation reduction reactions (why do those ceramic glazes turn colors in the kiln?). We study the energy of reaction extensively, but what does that tell us about how fast the reactions happen (kinetics)? We discuss equilibrium, but what happens when equilibrium is upset by altering the conditions of the reaction? Building upon a year of laboratory skills, the advanced course will involve more student-initiated lab work and some experience with chemical instrumentation.
In discovering what makes the world work, students explore the following areas: motion, forces, energy, sound, light, electricity, and magnetism. We will investigate these areas through hands-on activities and lab investigations. We will learn how real physicists work through trial-and-error model building and problem solving. Mathematics is an important part of physics, but the emphasis will be placed on conceptual understanding of the ideas of physics.
Every culture that has existed on the planet has developed a deep connection to the plants that grow where its people live. This course is an exploration of some of the ways in which people have traditionally used plants. The focus is on the plants and people of the Pacific Northwest. Students study the dendrology and plant taxonomy of the plants native to this region, and once they are grounded in plant ID, they practice using plants. This includes eating those that are edible, making simple medicines, extracting dyes, and using plants to create tools or musical instruments. Field work and keeping field journals are core parts of this course.
Schedule permitting, the student will attend at least one discussion section and one lab section per week in either the 10th or 11th grade. Other meeting times will be arranged with the supervising faculty to help prepare materials for labs, clean materials used in labs and, occasionally prepare presentations for the classes. In addition, the student will be required to carry out a research project that culminates in a paper. Permission of faculty required.