Course Search 2022-2023

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Upper School Science Curriculum

Mission Statement: Science education prepares students for a future that includes college, career, civic responsibility, and global stewardship. Students will be inspired by the wonders of science and engaged by experiential learning as they progress towards deep understanding. Students will develop critical and innovative thinking, while acquiring quantitative and qualitative analytical skills so that they can make responsible, informed decisions as empathetic world citizens. We provide our students with the background that they will need to tackle the rigors of science and engineering courses in college if they choose to pursue them.

The science curriculum includes a three-year sequence of courses designed to introduce students to the broad, basic areas and elements of science. They are offered in different versions in order to enhance opportunities for student success (see course descriptions below). In addition to the core subjects of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology, all students are encouraged to take Environmental Science, and qualified students may take science electives, Advanced Placement, and Advanced Studies courses.

Incoming students entering MBS in grades 10, 11 or 12, who have pursued core upper school science classes in an alternate order to that offered at MBS, should contact the science department chair to discuss their placement.

Earned Honors in Science Courses
Students in Chemistry, Biology, and Environmental Science may work to achieve Honors credit for the course by meeting a set of clearly defined criteria. Click here for a full description of the process.


Physics

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Students in grade 10 must have permission of the department chair

Open to students in the following grades: 9

Full Year Course

This investigation-based course introduces basic physics concepts and gives a foundation for further science courses. The major goals are to develop physical intuition, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills. Activities, demonstrations, laboratory experiences, and projects are integral parts of the course, helping students develop skills in organization, observation, data collection, reporting, and analysis. Topics may include straight-line motion, projectile and circular motion, work and energy, waves, sound, light and color, and electricity and magnetism, along with possible special topics.

Mathematical Physics Honors

Instructor: Science Department Staff

Prerequisites: Departmental Recommendation
Co-requisite: Integrated Math 3 Honors

Required

Open to students in the following grades: 9

Full Year Course

Mathematical Physics Honors is geared towards students with very strong algebra skills and who are intent on pursuing further advanced science courses at Morristown-Beard during their upperclassmen years. The course covers the same general areas as the “standard” Physics course offered in freshman year, namely electricity, waves and mechanics, while tackling concepts with greater mathematical sophistication and expanding content coverage to a broader range of material, with a specific focus on topics of interest to students who may eventually pursue an engineering degree or other scientific majors in college. Areas of emphasis related to electricity may include semiconductors, capacitors, diodes, and transistors, while an expanded discussion of waves may include properties of light, such as refraction, reflection, and polarization. The extended study of mechanics may include an introduction to drag (fluid dynamics), rotational motion and statics. The course will emphasize student-driven research and design, while aiming to use physics to solve real-world problems. Throughout the course, scientific rigor and quantitative analysis will be required.

Chemistry

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Physics (or permission of the department chair)

Open to students in the following grades: 10

Full Year Course

Chemistry and Quantitative Chemistry introduce students to the fundamental ideas of chemistry. Topics may include atomic theory, the Periodic Table/ periodicity, chemical bonding, structure/ property relationships, energy transformations, gas laws, equilibrium, acid/ base chemistry, electrochemistry and kinetics. Experiments and problems requiring independent decision-making are integral to the course. Chemistry is an Earned Honors class.

Quantitative Chemistry Honors

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Physics (or permission of department chair)

Open to students in the following grades: 10

Full Year Course

Quantitative Chemistry Honors addresses the same material as Chemistry with a greater emphasis on the mathematical aspects of chemistry.

Biology

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Physics and Chemistry or Quantitative Chemistry (or permission of the department chair)

Open to students in the following grades: 11

Full Year Course

This course touches on all areas of life science, from molecular interactions to interactions between organisms and the environment. Labs are a regular and important part of the course integrating the use of common tools and techniques, both classical (microscope) and modern (electronic), allowing students to study the form and function of living things. Lab work fosters critical thinking and problem solving. This is an Earned Honors course.

Experimental Biology Honors

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Physics and Chemistry or Quantitative Chemistry (or permission of department chair)

Open to students in the following grades: 11

Full Year Course

Experimental Biology covers the same areas of knowledge as Biology, but places greater emphasis on the design, execution and interpretation of lab experiments, applying and synthesizing lab data and course concepts.

Environmental Science

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Physics, Chemistry or Quantitative Chemistry and Biology or Experimental Biology (which may be taken concurrently)

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Full Year Course

Human society faces a number of pressing challenges related to the environment, including global climate change, the use of renewable and non-renewable resources, and water and air pollution. The policy and political decisions required in response to these issues depend intimately on our understanding of complex physical processes and systems. In this course we will investigate the interactions between human society and the Earth System. The focus of the course will be on case studies involving the formulation of policies in response to various pressures and threats that arise between societal and natural systems. Examples are: climate change and energy policy; coastal flooding and the implications for land use policy; volcanic and earthquake hazards and disaster response preparations; extreme weather events and the spread of suburbia to ever more remote regions. Environmental Science is an Earned Honors course.

Advanced Courses and Full-Year Electives

Note on Advanced Placement and Advanced Studies courses: Traditional AP as well as faculty-designed Advanced Studies courses are equivalent in rigor and commitment to a course usually taken during the first year of college. Students may be expected to complete pre-course summer work, and should expect additional time commitments throughout the year. All AP students are required to take the Advanced Placement exam in May; no standardized test is required of Advanced Studies courses. Enrollment in all Advanced courses requires permission of the department chair.

Advanced Studies: Organic Chemistry

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Chemistry or Quantitative Chemistry and Department recommendation

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Full Year Course

Organic chemistry, the study of carbon-based compounds, forms the basis for a deep conceptual understanding of the nature of the materials that comprise our world, including us as a carbon-based life forms. In this year-long advanced course, students will study the structural details of prominent organic structural classes, explore the common chemical reactions of each group, closely analyze the step-by-step mechanisms of their chemical transformation, and engage in retro-synthetic analysis to devise methods for preparing compounds of practical interest. An examination of the spectroscopic methods of infrared and nuclear magnetic resonance will be undertaken as a means to elucidate molecular structure, and laboratory work will focus on advanced techniques such as thin layer and column chromatography, liquid-liquid extraction, recrystallization and synthesis. Students who have demonstrated strong conceptual problem-solving skills and independent learning are well suited to the course.

AP Biology

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Chemistry or Quantitative Chemistry and Biology or Experimental Biology and permission of the instructor

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Full Year Course

AP Biology is designed to be the equivalent of the general biology course usually taken during the first year of college. It covers the major topics of classification, evolution, genetics, cytology, molecular biology, biochemistry, ecology, cell physiology and plant and animal structure, developmental biology and physiology. Major experiments in genetics, cell and molecular biology, and animal and plant physiology are done throughout the year. This is a very demanding course, where students must have the ability and motivation to work independently. Students with strong skills in the areas of conceptual problem-solving, abstract reasoning and data analysis who have mastered the topics of their first Biology course are well suited to the course.

AP Chemistry

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Chemistry or Quantitative Chemistry and permission of the instructor

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Full Year Course

AP Chemistry is designed to be the equivalent of the general chemistry course usually taken during the first year of college. Students with strong conceptual and quantitative problem-solving skills who have mastered the topics of their first Chemistry course are well suited to the course. Students must be capable of independent learning and laboratory work. Topics covered include: atomic structure, chemical bonding, intermolecular forces, material properties, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, thermochemistry, kinetics, equilibrium, acid/base chemistry, thermodynamics and electrochemistry. Laboratory experiments are typically inquiry based, with emphasis placed on experimental design, data analysis and evidence-based argumentation.

Semester Electives

These electives are normally reserved for Seniors and Juniors. Not all electives are offered every year. Students are asked to check whether an elective they wish to take will be offered in a given year.

Advanced Physics (H)

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Integrated Math 3 (or equivalent)
Students must have department permission

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Offered in the Fall and in the Spring

Students who have taken ninth-grade physics may pursue an additional, more in-depth study of physics in this algebra-based honors-level course. Fall semester topics may include one-dimensional and two-dimensional kinematics, forces, energy and special relativity. Spring semester topics may include electricity, magnetism, optics and modern physics. There is an emphasis on making connections to other disciplines (including some engineering-related material, for example) as well as connections outside science. The course consists of two one-semester classes, each at the honors level, and while it is generally recommended to take both, the content covered is distinct enough that a student may enroll in either semester separately. Both semesters include laboratory work and may include additional topics according to student interest if time allows. Students who have demonstrated strong conceptual and quantitative problem-solving skills and independent learning are well suited to the course.

Anatomy and Physiology (H)

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Chemistry or Quantitative Chemistry and Biology or Experimental Biology. Students in grade 11 must have department permission.

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Offered in the Fall and in the Spring

This Honors-level course includes coverage of medical terminology, basic biochemistry, cell and tissue structure and the 11 systems of the human body (integumentary, skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine, circulatory, lymphatic, digestive, respiratory, urinary and reproductive). This course is recommended for students interested in a profession such as medicine, nursing, physical therapy, pharmacy, physical education or public health. Laboratory activities will include microscopic analysis of tissue specimens as well as several dissections to accompany the subject matter.

Drone Engineering

Instructor: Department Staff

Enrollment limited to: 10

Prerequisites: Department permission and instructor interview

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12, as well as exceptional students in grades 9, 10

Offered in the Fall and in the Spring

In this project-based science and engineering elective, you will design, build, and test drones. Working both individually and in teams, you will combine science theory and hands-on engineering practice, gaining an introduction to the engineering design process, the rudiments of programming, and operational piloting skills via simulators and in the air. Students will be asked to understand complex functions, engineering, and physics, breaking systems down into understandable parts; they will also be asked to synthesize solutions in a complete and flyable design. Previous drone experience is not required, and you don’t have to have aced physics, but interest, time, and willingness to try new things, even if they fail, will be key for success in the course.

Forensic Science

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Chemistry or Quantitative Chemistry and Biology or Experimental Biology (which may be taken concurrently)

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Spring Semester

This course is for students interested in experiencing the thrills and tribulations of detective work. It will touch on many of the different aspects of forensic science, starting with the laws that regulate it, followed by an overview of the types of evidence and the procedures carried out at a crime scene. In this heavily lab-based course, students will gather data, and employ critical thinking to determine "Who committed the crime?" and "How did they do it?" The emphasis of this course will be on problem solving and the use of scientific methods to solve a crime. Concepts from chemistry, zoology, anatomy, genetics, physics, medicine, mathematics and statistics, sociology, psychology, communication, and law will be included.

Genetics and Biotechnology (H)

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Chemistry or Quantitative Chemistry and Biology or Experimental Biology. Students in grade 11 must have department permission.

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Fall Semester

The science of genetics has an incredibly important role in health, medicine, agriculture, and the environment. The aim of this Honors level course is to provide students with an overview of genetics and to allow them to learn and apply some of the basic laboratory techniques that are an essential part of this field. Biotechnologies such as cloning, genetic engineering, stem-cell research, DNA fingerprinting, genetic testing, in-vitro fertilization, DNA sequencing and amplification will be explored both in theory and with laboratory work. Emphasis, in this demanding course, will be given to hands-on investigations and experimentation, and students should be prepared to be actively involved in collecting data, making inferences, and performing in-depth quantitative analysis.

Oceanography

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 10

Fall Semester

This course offers an introduction to the physical processes in the oceans and atmosphere, collectively the hydrosphere, which is an important part of the global climate system due to the immense amount of heat, moisture, and momentum transferred within it. The goal of the course is to present science in a social context and to give students the foundation needed to be intelligent participants in important societal discussions that involve environmental issues touching on oceans, weather, climate and coastal zones. Class discussions will be centered around datasets available on the Science on a Sphere and students will become proficient in using the sphere.

Sports Medicine (also listed under Wellness)

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Offered in the Fall and in the Spring

This course is designed for juniors and seniors who want to pursue a career in sports medicine or for students who have a general interest in the field of sports medicine. Topics such as basic anatomy, physiology, etiology of athletic injuries, treatment and rehabilitation options will be studied.