The Beaver Science Program offers students an opportunity to study physics, chemistry, and biology using equipment and laboratories of exceptional quality. Learning in the science curriculum is a student-centered and interactive process that reinforces investigation and discovery. Each course offers students unique opportunities for developmentally appropriate experimental and project work. Through experimental work, students exhibit their approach to scientific inquiry, logical thinking, precision and accuracy in measurement, control of variables, and clear, concise reporting of findings.

The science program has three critical features which incorporate the Beaver core values: providing a progressive curriculum which uses current best practices in education. The 1st feature is our preferred sequence for Core Courses in the Upper School: 9th Grade Conceptual Physics, 10th Grade Chemistry, and 11th Grade Biology introduces students to laboratory exploration based on a progression of fundamental science skills and understandings as they move through the curriculum. The 2nd feature is our emphasis on process learning. Students spend significant amounts of time performing experiments and focusing on primary concepts rather than content-driven science curricula. The 3rd feature is our unique offering in advanced science (e.g., Organic and Reaction Chemistry, Genetics, Anatomy and Physiology, Ecology, and Mechanics and E&M Physics) and integrated science electives (e.g., Astronomy, Bioethics, Biotech Investing, Environmental Science, Forensics, Nutrition, etc), where students extend and apply their core science understandings to in-depth and applied science topics.

Independent Study

Students have the opportunity to explore English, History, Mathematics, Science, Language, or Arts topics of interest under the supervision of a member of the appropriate department. After designing a project with a faculty member, the student presents a formal proposal to the Department Heads for approval. (An Independent Study may not duplicate the content of another course already being offered by the department because of schedule conflicts.) The student works in his or her own time and meets with the specified department member during one scheduled period per week for discussions and planning. Application forms are available from the Upper School Director. Proposals must have been submitted by the regular course selection dates.

Science: Advanced Biology - Anatomy and Physiology

In this lab-based course, we will explore the integrated systems that make up the incredible human body and learn about how the structures of the body perform the functions necessary to maintain the balance of life (homeostasis). Students will continue to investigate the relationship between structure and function through dissections, projects, and discussions. We will look into the pathophysiology of diseases and disorders that compromise the functioning of our body systems and visit Harvard Medical School MedScience program once a week to apply this content to hands-on medical simulations and skill labs.

Prerequisites: Biology Foundations and any Biology Applications and with departmental permission.

Science: Advanced Chemistry – Organic Chemistry

Organic molecules are the building blocks of all life on Earth, and the carbon atom is central to the formation of all organic molecules. The importance of chemistry in biological systems will be the focus of the course, and modern biological topics will be explored. The course will investigate the properties and functions of several categories of organic molecules including alcohols, acids, and ethers. The synthesis and decomposition of synthetic and biological molecules will be performed in the lab. Experiments will include synthesizing and purifying aspirin, extracting caffeine from tea, and examining the properties and behaviors of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates as organic compounds.

 

Prerequisites: Chemistry Applications – Quantitative Analysis AND Biology Foundations. Departmental permission required. Offered at the Honors level only.

Science: Advanced Chemistry: The Natural Order (Equilibrium, Thermodynamics, and Electrochemistry)

The balance of chemical systems is a critically important theme in Nature. Students will cover in this course the challenging fields of thermodynamics, thermal and chemical equilibrium (including advanced acid-base chemistry), and chemical kinetics, which all describe how chemical balance is achieved. A thorough understanding of how chemical systems behave will be gained through hands on laboratory experiences, and students observe how these systems will respond to external stress. Students will research chemical system this in the context of key environmental, industrial, biological situations.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Applications – Quantitative Analysis. Departmental permission required. Offered at the Honors level only.

Science: Advanced Engineering Design - Project Studio (Honors)

This course is intended to give students a more challenging and demanding environment to apply the skills they learned in either Engineering Design Foundations or at NuVu and allow them to continue to wrestle and build on solutions to real problems. This course is largely project-based, and students will be expected to use the time to research and design solutions to an engineering design challenges. All projects will be student-led.In addition to learning and using the tools and approaches of the engineering studio and mindset.

Open to 11th and 12th graders.
Prerequisites: Engineering Design Foundations: Tools and Process or NuVu. Departmental permission required. Offered at the Honors level only.

Science: Advanced Physics – Electricity & Magnetism

Advanced Electricity and Magnetism is an extension of the skills and concepts learned in Conceptual Physics. These concepts will be more rigorously explored and use more sophisticated mathematical tools than were used freshman year (geometry, trigonometry, functions, pre-calculus, and some calculus). The goal is to develop tools and intuition capable of describing the physical world at a very general level. The topics studied during this term include electricity, electrostatics and electric fields, magnetic fields, and the interplay between electric and magnetic fields. This course is extensively laboratory based while developing the theoretical ideas of an introductory college physics course. Students will be required to draw conclusions based on evidence gathered with such devices as batteries, bulbs, capacitors, wires, hand generators, and motors. If time allows, the course may also include electromagnetic radiation (light, x-rays, microwaves, etc.) as an extension.

 

Prerequisites: Conceptual Physics A and B or equivalent and departmental permission. Offered at the Honors level only.

Science: Advanced Physics – Mechanics

Advanced Mechanics is an extension of the skills and concepts learned in Conceptual Physics. These concepts will be more rigorously explored and use much more sophisticated mathematical tools than were used freshman year (geometry, trigonometry, functions, pre-calculus, and some calculus). The goal is to develop tools and intuition capable of describing the physical world at a very general level. The topics studied during this term can be tailored to student interest but will likely draw from a list of topics including accelerated motion, vectors and projectile motion, Newton’s Laws, 2-D statics and dynamics, rotational motion, torque, and special relativity. This course includes at least one large research project in which students are required to explore a topic of interest and use their mechanics knowledge to analyze and make calculation-supported predictions for a physical situation.

 

Prerequisites: Conceptual Physics A and B or equivalent and departmental permission. Offered at the Honors level only.

Science: Biology Applications - DNA and Genetics

DNA is often referred to as the “code of life”.This course seeks to explore what we know about how our bodies interpret and utilize our genetic code and how our understanding has changed in recent years. Included in this course will be discussions of protein synthesis, heredity, genetics, evolution, and recombination. In addition, students will be introduced to laboratory techniques that have driven our understanding of these topics, including gel electrophoresis, bacterial transformation, proteomics, and bioinformatics. Emphasis on effective communication of experimental design and findings through formal reports and presentations will also be an integral part of this course.

Prerequisites: Biology Foundations. Honors section with departmental permission.

Science: Biology Applications - Ecology and Systems

Ecology is all about relationship and interconnections. In this course, students will focus on the interdependence of living organisms (biotic factors) and their environment (abiotic factors) and how energy flows through Earth’s systems and connects us to all living things. Topics covered in this course include photosynthesis, cellular respiration, nutrient cycles, water quality, and ecological principles. In addition, students will be asked to critically consider the relationship between humans and the environment and explore the impacts we have on living systems. All of this will be done through the lens of a term-long aquaponics design project. Throughout the design process, students will think critically about the political, geographic, and economic challenges of food systems and connect their lessons learned to the larger global community. This course integrates concepts from biology, ecology, environmental justice, coding and engineering.

Prerequisites: Biology Foundations. Honors level with departmental permission.

Science: Biology Applications - Neuroscience

The most basic function of the brain is to keep you alive. Your 100 billion neurons regulate breathing, heart rate, hunger and sleep cycle. But perhaps what fascinates us the most about the human brain is how it goes beyond these basic functions and generates emotions, perceptions, and thoughts that guide behavior. In this course, we will take a deep dive into brain science, exploring everything from the biochemistry of a neuron, to the latest research on psychological disorders such as depression and addiction. Topics in this course include anatomy and physiology, synaptic transmission, neuroscience, perception and learning, behavior and cognition, and psychology.

Prerequisites: Biology Foundations. Honors section with departmental permission.

Science: Biology Foundations - The Structure & Function of Life

From the development of antibiotics to solar panels, the living world has provided countless solutions to the most challenging problems we have faced as a human race. This course will give students the opportunity to learn about the fundamentals of life, from the whole organism down to the molecular level. In this course, we will focus on a deeper understanding of the biological concepts of biochemistry, cellular biology, genetics, evolution, and comparative anatomy and physiology. This lab based science course will further develop scientific writing skills and help incorporate strategies to process and understand complex biological concepts.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations. Honors section with departmental permission.

Science: Chemistry Applications - Quantitative Analysis

In Quantitative Analysis, students will build on the basic chemical concepts and skills learned in the foundations course. The concept of a mole will be explored and students will use stoichiometry to predict and analyze products of chemical reactions. Students will be able to assess their experimental efficiency by determination of percent yield in the different reactions/experiments. Additionally, students will explore solution chemistry, including acids and bases,through both conceptual and quantitative lenses.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations. Honors section with departmental permission.

Science: Chemistry Foundations - Atoms and Reactions

Chemistry Foundations covers essential core content, while providing hands on opportunities for students to learn how to think like a chemist. Students learn to use the language of chemistry to describe physical and chemical changes of matter. They explore atomic structure and theory, ionic and covalent bonding, and the structure and organization of the Periodic Table in order to understand how atoms function both individually and when bonded together. Students begin to develop skills around formalizing scientific research and writing. The course will culminate with a research project that incorporates atomic structures and applications.

Prerequisites: Conceptual Physics A & B or departmental permission. Honors section with departmental permission.

Science: Conceptual Physics

Conceptual Physics A
A student’s first upper school science course at Beaver, Conceptual Physics is a two-term course that introduces many of the major skills and themes of science through collaborative investigations and design challenges. The first term uses a hands-on approach to develop an understanding basic kinematics and dynamics while emphasizing problem-solving, collaboration, experimentation, data analysis, communication of ideas, and more.
Prerequisites: None. Open to 9th graders only.

Conceptual Physics B
In the second term of physics, students will continue exploring Newton’s Laws, energy, and electricity. An emphasis is placed on the application of ideas to real-world situations as students explore physics principles through experimentation, design challenges and projects, and conceptual and quantitative models. Students will explore physics concepts (both conceptually and mathematically) and apply these concepts to projects throughout the term.
Prerequisites: None. Open to 9th graders only. Honors level offered only with departmental permission.

Science: Engineering Design Foundations - Tools and Processes

Engineering Design Foundations is designed as an introductory class that does not depend on any prior knowledge. This course provides a general introductory experience with engineering design, focusing on the creative design process and providing a strong foundation in project work. The topics studied during this term can be tailored to student interest, but will focus on core techniques and tools used in most engineering fields. Topics include the engineering design process, project management, workshop skills, electronics, and coding. This course will have several small projects designed to develop and assess the various engineering skills.

Open to 10th, 11th, and 12th graders.
Prerequisites: None

Science: Forensic Science - CSI BCDS

Forensics is the application of science to solve crimes using evidence that will be admissible in a court of law. A multidisciplinary approach that encourages analytical thinking and problem solving in biology, chemistry, and physics will be used. Students may cover the following topics: deductive reasoning, fingerprinting, qualitative analysis of substances such as fingerprints, blood, DNA, document analysis, and ballistics. Along with lab work, students may do research projects, look at the legal aspects of forensic science, take field trips, and solve mock crimes.

Open to 11th and 12th graders
Prerequisites: Biology Foundations

Science: Physics and Engineering Applications

In this course, students will explore the phenomena of the mechanical world and develop the toolkit and mindset of an engineer. Learners will use their engineering skills and apply their understanding of physics to analyze situations and design new solutions.

This elective explores a selection of physics concepts (based on student interests and experience, ranging from mechanics to E&M to waves), develops foundational engineering and design approaches (ranging from research and documentation to modeling and prototyping to iteration and troubleshooting), and exposes students to a variety of tools (power tools, 3D modeling and printing, laser cutting, coding and arduinos, etc.).

This course is designed for students who (a) would like to explore physics but did not take Conceptual Physics in ninth grade, (b) would like a follow-up course to freshman physics without the mathematical rigor of Advanced Physics, (c) would like an introduction to the tools and techniques of engineering.

Open to 10th, 11th, and 12th graders.

Prerequisites: Algebra II or equivalent.