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.


30 credits of science including Physics, Chemistry Foundations, Biology Foundations, and any Application course are required for graduation.



After the first term of Conceptual Physics in 9th grade, students are recommended by the Science faculty for Honors placement in the remaining Foundations courses for 9th and 10th grade. Once students have completed the Foundations sequence they can opt into Honors placement for Applications courses in Biology and Chemistry. At least one Applications course must be taken successfully at the Honors level before students can enroll in any Advanced Honors level course in all science disciplines. In addition to engagement, curiosity, and content mastery, Honors students in Science display strong organization and communication skills, can work effectively independently as well as collaboratively, and are willing to grapple with new and challenging material.

Course Descriptions

Foundation Courses
(please note: all 9th-grade students take physics)

Physics Foundations - Motion

The Physics Foundations course serves as a student’s first introduction to science in the upper school. This initial term of 9th-grade physics familiarizes students with essential scientific skills and concepts through collaborative investigations and design tasks. Emphasizing problem-solving, teamwork, experimental methods, data analysis, and clear communication, students engage in hands-on activities to understand core principles of kinematics and energy.

Prerequisites: None. Open to 9th graders only.

Biology Foundations - The Structure & Function of Life

From the use of antibiotics to evolution of skin color this survey course applies the concepts of biology to the real and changing world around us. This course will give students the opportunity to learn about the fundamentals of life, from the evolution of homo sapiens down to the microscopic viruses that invade us. This course focuses on a deeper understanding of the biological concepts of biochemistry, cellular biology, genetics, and evolution while further developing lab skills, data analysis, inferences and reasoning, scientific writing, and presentation skills. Collaborative and independent research projects have students incorporate strategies to processes and deeper understand complex biological concepts and how they play out over time.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations. Honors section with departmental permission.

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. In addition, students will explore the nature of chemical reactions in theory and in practice. Students investigate environmental chemistry and pollution while applying it to issues of injustice in the US through an independent research project. Students further develop skills around conducting labs, scientific research, synthesis in scientific writing and creating formal scientific posters.

Prerequisites: Physics Foundations and Physics Applications -Engineering (previously Conceptual Physics) or departmental permission. Honors section with departmental permission.

Applications Courses
(open to students who have completed the foundation level courses, please note: all 9th-grade students take physics)

Physics Applications - Engineering

This course is the second term of 9th-grade science following the Physics Foundations course. It offers students an opportunity to further their understanding of physics principles through engineering. Throughout this course, students will delve into the practical application of physics, specifically focusing on engineering principles such as design, fabrication, and iteration. Students will engage in hands-on exploration and experimentation, applying data analysis and feedback to inform their engineering designs. Topics covered include forces, electricity, and circuitry, providing a foundation for understanding how these concepts drive engineering innovation.

Prerequisites: Physics Foundations. Open to 9th graders only. Honors level offered only with departmental permission.

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 the evolving concept of what a gene is, DNA structure, function, and replication, and how DNA is used to shed light on evolutionary relationships among organisms. In addition, students will be introduced to laboratory techniques that have driven our understanding of these topics, including DNA extraction, gel electrophoresis, PCR, and bacterial transformation. Emphasis on effective communication of experimental design and findings through primary source research, formal reports and presentations will also be an integral part of this course.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations and Biology Foundations.

Biology Applications - Marine Ecology

Ecology is all about relationships and interconnections. In this course, students will focus on the interdependence of living marine organisms (biotic factors) and their ocean environment (abiotic factors) and how energy flows through Earth’s systems and connects us to all living things. Topics interwoven throughout the course include: biodiversity, food webs, population biology, predation, competition, symbiosis, climate change and human impacts while closely analyzing coral reefs, kelp forests, sharks and whales. We will use collaborative modeling, experimental design, current research, and field experiences to deepen our understanding of ecological concepts. Field trip experiences to places such as New England Aquarium and/or a Whale Watch will help support our learning by exposing students to real world marine research.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations and Biology Foundations.

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 neural anatomy and physiology, synaptic transmission and action potential, neurochemistry, and the impact of substances on the brain. Students have the opportunity to attend the Harvard MEDscience program to participate in the Nervous System patient simulation as part of this course.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations and Biology Foundations.

Chemistry Applications - Biochemistry

Biochemistry explores the fascinating intersections of chemistry and biology This course delves into the molecular processes reactions necessary for life. Students will first review the foundations of chemistry while looking at the connection between photosynthesis and cellular respiration. In this lab based course, students will explore the structure and function of carbohydrates and proteins, molecules with critical biological functions in nutrition and metabolism. Other themes will include natural product extraction, exploration of bioactive molecules, and food chemistry. Students will gain exposure to lab based methodologies such as gel electrophoresis, and protein purification. Students get the chance to do an independent research project to learn about a personal interest. Honors has an expectation to do deeper level content, more autonomous work and self-learning, and application of mathematics to solve problem sets. 

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations and Biology Foundations.

Chemistry Applications - Physical Chemistry

This interdisciplinary course will explore the physical and chemical properties of matter using two main themes: electron structure and thermodynamics. Students will cover in this course the challenging fields of thermodynamics, thermal and chemical equilibrium, and quantum mechanics. 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 spend the last part of the course discussing advanced electron structures using the principles of quantum mechanics. Throughout the course, lab skills and writing will be emphasized in order to practice effective scientific communication and inquiry-based design challenges.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations and Biology Foundations.

Chemistry Applications - Quantitative Analysis

In Quantitative Analysis, students build on the basic chemical concepts and skills learned in the foundations course. The concept of a mole is explored and students learn to predict the products of chemical reactions. In this lab-based course, students will conduct a variety of experiments and use stoichiometry to quantitatively analyze their findings and the efficiency of their experimentation. Finally, students explore solution chemistry, including acids and bases, through both conceptual and quantitative lenses.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations and Biology Foundations.

Physics Applications - Sustainable Energy

This course explores the fundamental principles of thermodynamics, with a focus on understanding climate change and its implications for sustainable energy solutions. This interdisciplinary course will delve into the intricate relationship between energy, environment, and society. Through an interdisciplinary approach, students will analyze Earth’s energy budget and the mechanisms driving climate change, evaluating the scientific evidence behind global warming and its consequences. They will delve into various sustainable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, and biomass energy, investigating the physics principles underlying each source and assessing their environmental impact and scalability. By examining real-world case studies, students will gain insights into the practical applications of sustainable energy systems and the challenges and opportunities associated with transitioning to a low-carbon economy. Through collaborative projects and presentations, students will develop critical thinking skills and propose innovative solutions to enhance energy sustainability and address the impacts of climate change on a local and global scale. 

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations. Open to 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students

Advanced Courses
(open to students who have completed both the prerequisite foundation and applications courses)

Advanced Biology - Anatomy and Physiology (Honors)

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: any Chemistry or Biology Applications course at the Honors level and with departmental permission. Offered at the Honors level only.
***Open ONLY to students who have NOT attended the Harvard HMS Summer simulation program.

Advanced Biology - Molecular Research Techniques (Honors)

This course will provide students an opportunity to learn advanced techniques in molecular biology and their applications in biotechnology. Students will delve deeply into advanced topics such as genetic engineering and synthetic biology and the ways in which they can be used to solve real-world problems in medicine, agriculture, and more. Students will travel to the BioBuilder learning lab at Ginkgo Bioworks for an immersive experience in which students learn the skills and tools of molecular research through an ongoing research project. 

Prerequisites: any Chemistry or Biology Applications course at the Honors level and with departmental permission. Offered at the Honors level only.

Advanced Chemistry – Organic Chemistry (Honors)

Organic molecules are the building blocks of all life on Earth, and the carbon atom is central to the formation of this class of molecules. The importance of chemistry in biological systems will be the focus of the course. Students will investigate the chemistry of key functional groups including alcohols, carboxylic acids, amines and ethers and their role in the behavior of three primary macromolecules: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. There will be a strong emphasis on laboratory work and students will engage in experiments including the oxidation of Vitamin C, organic extraction of caffeine from tea, and the hydrogenation of unsaturated fatty acids.

Prerequisites: Any Chemistry or Biology Applications course at the Honors level. Departmental permission required. Offered at the Honors level only.

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 Applications: Robotics (formerly 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 engineering design challenges. All projects will be teacher guided but studentled with the goal of learning and using the tools and approaches of the engineering 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.

Advanced Physics – Electricity & Magnetism (Honors)

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 in conceptual physics (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: Physics Foundations and Physics Applications: Engineering (previously Conceptual Physics) or equivalent AND departmental permission. Offered at the Honors level only.

Advanced Physics – Mechanics (Honors)

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: Physics Foundations and Physics Applications: Engineering (previously Conceptual Physics) or equivalent AND departmental permission. Offered at the Honors level only.


Astronomy (BVR-X)

In this class, you will explore the Universe from where we are today back to the beginning. As a part of our work, we will grow our knowledge of astronomy done throughout history and from multiple civilizations, use mathematics to calculate the expansion of the universe and the search for extrasolar planets, learn about the biology needed for life on other worlds, and grapple with societal issues from funding to privatization of space exploration. We will start by looking at and exploring the heavens the people have done for thousands of years. This will help us discover why we think things like, “The Earth is spinning at 1000 mph” or “The Earth goes around the Sun” are true. Afterward, we will examine each planetary system in our solar system extensively, including its composition, its moons, and its relationship with the rest of the solar system. Finally, we will discuss and explore outside the Solar System: our star the Sun, other stars, galaxies, black holes, the Big Bang, and the fate of our Universe. 

Open to 11th and 12th graders

Forensic Science - CSI BVR (BVR-X)

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