The science program is based on the philosophy that guided inquiry is important to understanding scientific phenomena, including how biological, chemical, and physical interactions contribute to our daily lives. Stimulating class discussion and hands-on experimentation help students develop skills to connect scientific principles, collaborate with peers, process and evaluate scientific information, draw conclusions, and communicate their work orally and in writing. Emphasis is placed on data collection and interpretation, critical thinking, inductive and deductive reasoning, problem solving, and the use of evidence to support claims.
Girls in Grades 7 and 8, and Upper School students participating in Independent Research, present their projects to a group of judges at the annual Science and Engineering Fair.
Middle School courses explore topics in ecology, earth science, astronomy, life science, physical science, and engineering.
- Science 5 - Ecology and the Environment
- Science 6 - Geology, Meteorology, and Astronomy
- Science 7 - Life Science
- Science 8 - Physical Science
This course is designed to give students an overview of the natural sciences and prepare students for Biology 9. The first semester begins with a discussion of what science and the scientific method of discovery are. This leads to the discovery of what makes something living or non-living and students will learn about the differences among plant, animal, and bacterial cells. The course then moves to the Linnaean system of classification of living things, and a study of the Domains and Kingdoms. During a study of the Plant Kingdom, students will dissect a flower to study its reproductive system. The course then progresses to the study of viruses, bacteria, and infectious diseases, along with human anatomy. Class time will consist of lectures, group discussion, dissections and other small group work.
Skills that will be emphasized in class include organization, learning how to use a microscope, handling dissection equipment, learning how to write using scientific language, and creating an independent research project for our Science and Engineering Fair using the scientific method. At times during the course of the year, students will design their own laboratory experiments in groups.
This course introduces students to the fundamental principles of physics and chemistry and prepares them for the study of science at the Upper School level. Girls learn about the engineering design process and apply knowledge gained through readings, class discussions, and demonstrations to solve real-life engineering problems. Students use an inquiry-based approach to formulate questions, design experiments, and make predictions about physics and chemistry phenomena. They build, test, and modify a prototype as part of an independent engineering project, which they exhibit at our Science and Engineering Fair. Topics covered in the course include motion, forces, energy, work and machines, matter, and elements and the periodic table.
In the Upper School, the Science Department offers an array of courses: biology, chemistry, physics, environmental science, and anatomy and physiology. Many of these courses are offered at the standard, honors, and Advanced Placement levels. Students also have the opportunity to enroll in Independent Research to pursue scientific research and present their projects at science fairs and competitions.
- Engineering Design
- Advanced Placement Biology
- Honors Chemistry
- Advanced Placement Chemistry
- Honors Physics
- Advanced Placement Physics 1
- Advanced Placement Physics 2
- Environmental Science
- Advanced Placement Environmental Science
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Independent Research in Science
Engineering utilizes principles of mathematics and science to develop practical solutions to needs that exist in the world. This course provides students with a broad education across engineering disciplines while further developing their understanding of and confidence in using the engineering design process. The branches of mechanical, electrical, civil, environmental, chemical, aeronautical, and biomedical engineering are explored. Instruction aims to convey the excitement and possibilities of the profession. Engineering is based on applied science. Skills in this course are attained not only through discussion but also through design, construction, analysis, and testing of solutions to engineering problems. Throughout each semester, students develop analytical reasoning, scientific inquiry, and problem-solving skills, in the context of a variety of projects which highlight and encourage student’s deeper learning and engagement with the content.
In Biology, the study of life, we explore the diverse characteristics of living things, beginning with the tiny atoms and molecules that comprise living organisms and extending to the complexity of functioning of entire organisms and systems. This course is designed to deepen students’ knowledge of the fundamental concepts of biology as well as to develop skills in laboratory techniques, data collection and analysis, experimental design and control, and scientific writing. Topics include the structure of cells and cell energetics, the evolution and diversity of life, the role of DNA and RNA in cell function, the fundamentals of genetics and heredity, and the application of these areas in current research.
This course utilizes the principles of chemistry to help explain the physical world. Students study the basic principles of matter including measurements, atomic theory, bonding, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, acids and bases, solutions, and thermochemistry. Logical reasoning, scientific inquiry, and problem-solving skills are emphasized. The laboratory program challenges students to think analytically, make observations, draw logical conclusions, and communicate in writing. Technology is incorporated throughout the year through virtual laboratories, topic presentations, and a project involving the animation of a chemical reaction.
Honors Chemistry is a challenging course that provides a study of the fundamental principles of structure, behavior, and change of matter. Pacing is rigorous and strong mathematical skills are required. The course aims to develop student skills in critical thinking, inductive and deductive reasoning, scientific inquiry, problem solving, and precision in the use of evidence to support claims. The class uses a guided questioning approach to learning and construction of information. The laboratory program challenges students to think critically, design and carry out experiments, collect and evaluate data, draw conclusions, and communicate in scientific writing. Learning through the use of technology is employed in many ways. In particular, students apply on-line technology to create independent animations of chemical reactions, and use data collection probes and software in laboratory investigations.
This course is a study of the properties of matter and principles governing chemical reactions, commonly covered in a first-year college course in general chemistry. In line with the College Board’s new curriculum framework, this course explores key topics of chemistry in depth. It promotes students’ mastery of the quantitative aspects of chemistry by enhancing their qualitative understanding and visualization of the particulate nature of matter. Students are encouraged to test, evaluate, and refine explanations and predictions of natural phenomena through science practices. These practices include generating representations and models, engaging in guided inquiry in the laboratory, developing strategies for collecting data, and making connections across concepts and domains. Pacing is vigorous and strong mathematical skills are required. Students are prepared to take the AP Chemistry Examination.
Students with strong mathematical skills explore the fundamental nature of the physical universe through practical examples and laboratory experience. Pacing is rapid and coverage is in more depth than in Physics. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are developed and emphasized as students explore the concepts of motion, forces and energy as they relate to the workings of the world around them. Vernier sensors and software are often used in lab activities to record data and to enhance the analysis of relationships and patterns. Topics covered in the course include Kinematics, Newton’s Laws of Motion, Circular Motion, Energy, Work, Power, Momentum, Torque, and Fluid Mechanics.
AP Physics 2 is a broad study of physics that complements the content of AP Physics 1. The course is equivalent to a second semester, non-calculus based college course that emphasizes algebra, geometry, and trigonometry to solve problems. Students develop deeper skills to construct, critique, analyze, and evaluate scientific hypotheses in hands-on experiments and demonstrations. Students apply physics concepts in an increasingly sophisticated manner using experimental evidence, symbolic notation, and proportional reasoning. Topics include RC electric circuits, electromagnetism, geometrical and physical optics, fluids, thermodynamics, and quantum, atomic, and nuclear physics. The prerequisite for this course is completion of AP Physics 1.
Advanced Placement Environmental Science is equivalent to a first-year college course in Environmental Science. Students focus on the interconnectedness of living things and the Earth. Students are introduced to the concepts of ecosystems, natural cycles, resource allocation and usage, and human impact on natural systems. They explore these concepts through case studies, laboratory investigations, fieldwork, and projects. They are encouraged to explore and propose solutions for environmental issues in their home community, their state, their country, and around the world. The course prepares students for the Advanced Placement Exam.
Anatomy is the study of the structure and shape of the body, its constituent parts, and how these parts are related to one another; physiology is the study of how our anatomy functions. In this course, we will explore the human body beginning with small-scale structures (cells, tissues, organs) and build up to organ systems and whole organisms to consider in the structure of the human body. Organ systems that are covered include the integumentary, musculoskeletal, neurological, endocrine, reproductive, cardiovascular, lymphatic, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and renal areas. Pathophysiological states are examined with respect to homeostasis of body system. Health issues that result from malfunctions in the organ systems, along with the pharmaceutical or surgical interventions used to treat them, are also explored. Successful completion of Biology and Chemistry are prerequisites for this course.
This elective course is open to students in all grades who wish to pursue independent laboratory research under the guidance of a science faculty mentor. Students are required to propose a topic, research the proposal, design and execute the experiment, and use statistical tests to analyze data and draw conclusions. Depending on the design of the project, the experimental phase may occur at home, at school, or at a scientific research institute outside of the school community. Students enrolled in Independent Research in Science will present the results of their work at formal scientific forums, including the annual Newton Country Day Science Fair, the Massachusetts State Science and Engineering Fair, and the New England Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.
Through this course, students will improve and expand their skills in planning and conducting research projects, collecting and analyzing data, engaging in scientific writing and public speaking. This course requires a significant time commitment by the student both during and outside of school hours. The ability to work independently and strong organizational and time-management skills are necessary for success in this course.