Instead of a preset curriculum for this course, students create a personalized course of study for the year by researching, designing, and executing a unique science research project. At the beginning of the year, students choose a novel research question to investigate and then do an extensive search of scientific literature to learn about their topic. Next, they develop methodology and protocols to address the topic and conduct an experiment. Students examine their collected data using statistical analysis. Students write an in-depth research paper describing their work and present their research at a local science fair.
Young children are scientists by nature in that they are constantly thinking about the world around them and trying to understand and connect existing knowledge with new understandings. In preschool we observe, question and interpret what we see. We think critically about our observations and hypothesize about what we do not understand. We experiment with substances like sand, water, light, and color both formally and informally. Our invention center encourages three dimensional building and learning about what will make a strong connection based on the use of materials (glue, tape, string). We think about cause and effect and observe it by leaving water outside to freeze, or bringing a snowball inside and seeing it melt. Our campus allows for time in the woods, among the apple trees in the orchard, or seeing what rain does to a dirt path. Each class brings in new interests which we explore as a group; for instance: dinosaurs, sea animals, volcanoes, or chickens. We look to increase our knowledge of the physical and natural worlds throughout these types of explorations and investigations and encourage an investigative approach to the life of our preschooler children.
This course is taught in conjunction with the Environmental Politics class offered by the history department in the fall semester. We will focus on educating students to become discerning and actively engaged citizens regarding a range of environmental dilemmas. The first semester starts with an introduction to the history and philosophy of science, and aims to help students become objective, fair minded, mulit-dimensional thinkers. We then concentrate on the biology of soil, plants and food production, population dynamics and the challenges presented by an ever-expanding global population and the importance of biodiversity and its conservation. The second semester involves an in depth study of renewable and non-renewable energy sources and the future of energy, and ends with a major group project that responds to a prompt from the Catlin Gabel community (for example, the class of 2011 designed a rainwater harvesting system with Engineers Without Borders, and the Class of 2012 will work with the Global Education trip to Ecuador in response to the needs of the community being visited). Recommended corequisite: Environmental Politics (senior history elective).
In this year-long course, we will cover science topic by topic, blending the biological, chemical and physical aspects of the subject matter as we go. For example, when we study the anatomy of the eye, students will be amazed to see how the structure of the eye has been perfected to work with the light that passes through its lens. To understand the eye, they will first study the physics of light and the chemical reactions of the retina. Similarly, we will study ears along with the physics of sound. Other topics to be covered are electricity and the nervous system, muscle function and mechanics, and the biology, chemistry and physics of water.
This semester-long course investigates developments in physics during the last century. The photoelectric effect, particle-wave duality, the nature of the atom, quantum ideas, nuclear physics, and cosmology will be discussed. Where practical, labs will be done, but modern physics is mostly done on vast, expensive instruments, so audiovisual and Internet resources will also be used.
This semester-long course begins with an investigation into electric fields and currents. We will investigate circuit components such as resistors and capacitors and assemble various circuits. We’ll learn about logic circuits and build a simple calculator. The interaction of magnets and charged particles is very important to modern technology, and we will spend quite a bit of time in lecture, demonstration, and lab gaining a firm understanding of this critical concept.
After students observe actual waves in water in ripple tanks, the principles of waves will be investigated in sound. Human hearing, interference, the Doppler shift, the science of music, and the speed of sound will be investigated through demonstrations and experimentation. Mirrors and lenses will be introduced through geometric ray optics, and the operation of many optical instruments will be investigated. The wave nature of light will be investigated, with interference being used to measure the wavelength of light.
This semester-long course will investigate the physics of motion: how and why things move. Kinematics and Newton’s Laws of Motion (Dynamics) will be the main focus. Motion in one dimension will lead to projectiles moving in two dimensions and objects moving in circular motion. Energy transformations and conservation of momentum will also be studied. This study of mechanics will conclude with an investigation of simple machines. This course will include extensive hands-on lab work.
This course will delve into the world of carbon-based chemistry. Students will discover the large variety of compounds that can be produced with only a few simple elements. This laboratory-based course will look at many different classes of organic compounds, including alcohols, ketones, and esters. The course will also explore applications of organic chemistry to biology and to industry; students will learn to make aspirin, oil of wintergreen, and nylon! Experimental Chemistry is recommended but not required prior to enrollment in this course. Experimental and/or Organic Chemistry are recommended prior to enrollment in Advanced Biology.
This semester-long course investigates fundamental chemistry concepts through frequent experimentation. Topics covered include chemical bonding, reaction stoichiometry, solution chemistry and colligative properties, chemical equilibrium, acid-base chemistry, and oxidation and reduction. This course is a prerequisite for Advanced Chemistry. Experimental and/or Organic Chemistry are recommended prior to enrollment in Advanced Biology.
In this course, we will delve more deeply into topics that were introduced in Science I and Science II to learn about the relationship between organisms and the environment in which they live. Why do some plants and animals exist in one place but not another? By the end of the semester, students should understand how individual organisms are specialized to inhabit specific niches in the limited number of places they are found on Earth.
In this course, students will examine body form and function in a wide range of plants and animals. An evolutionary approach will be used to demonstrate how anatomy relates to function, including comparisons of specialized features in organisms adapted to different conditions. The class concludes with an extended dissection activity involving a variety of invertebrates and vertebrates that allows observation and comparison of all the system studied throughout the semester. This elective builds upon concepts introduced in Science I and II (for details, see the units below) and seeks to increase the depth and complexity of understanding of how the human body works, and how it evolved to its current form.
This course will apply cell biology, microbiology and immunology to the study of disease-related microorganisms. Students will become familiar with the mechanisms by which bacterial, fungal, viral, and parasitic infections cause disease. The course will also address the progression of infection, disease development, and cellular responses to pathogens. To complement their scientific understanding, students will also consider the historical and social impact of disease.
This will be a field-oriented class, requiring several field trips throughout the semester. The final trip to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in the month of May will be required for credit. In class, we will study the different families of birds found in Oregon. We will also note which species are found in which biomes and what habitats they prefer. We will study the special adaptations of avian anatomy and physiology that make it possible for birds to function as they do. Much time will be spent learning how to identify, by sight and sound, the different species of birds found in Oregon, thus beginning what we believe will be a lifelong hobby for most class members.
This course begins with an in-depth study of molecular biology, emphasizing prokaryotic and eukaryotic genetics and its manipulation. This leads into an in-depth study of human systems. Students engage in a term-long project in which they shadow a scientist in their field and delve into the topic based on their experience. Laboratory work includes genetic transformation of bacteria through plasmids, size exclusion and hydrophobic interaction chromatography, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and gel electrophoresis. The second half of the year involves a field trip to the OHSU cadaver lab and to the primate research center, viewing a live surgery and a variety of animal organ dissections.
Suggested (but not required) prior coursework: Experimental and/or Organic Chemistry.
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