The primary goal of the science department is to engage and challenge our students with the hope of producing thoughtful citizens who have the ability, confidence, and enthusiasm to inquire about the natural world. The science department supports these goals by promoting a durable understanding of the world through the study of chemical, biological, physical, engineering, and computer science principles. Rather than seeing each of these as separate disciplines, we encourage students to grapple with their interaction and mutual influence.

In our classrooms, we emphasize processes of inquiry and thoughtful analysis over rote recitation. We help students learn to question what they observe, to look for evidence for and against a particular viewpoint, and to design tests to collect data to develop increasingly sophisticated models. This emphasis on scientific process and creative problem solving encourages an open-minded and rigorous independence of thought that students then bring to bear on the world around them.

The science department feels strongly that students should have the opportunity to pursue advanced work in the major disciplines. We feel that this is best accomplished by a rich elective program with curricula designed to meet the interests and passions of students.

Requirements

Class of 2021: Two year-long courses, Physics, and Biology, are required for graduation.

Class of 2022 and beyond: Two year-long courses, Core 9 (Physics, Engineering, and Computer Science) and Core 10 (Chemistry and Biology) are required for graduation.

Full Year Courses

Core 9: Physics, Engineering, and Computer Science

Grade 9 • Required for the Classes of 2022 and 2023.

This is the first of two foundational courses in Park’s science program. Using an integrated approach, the course examines a careful selection of topics that govern the physical world such as kinematics and electricity, as well as engineering and computer science concepts that dictate the designed world. Integrations of these disciplines consist of utilizing physics as a context for engineering and computer science projects while incorporating computer and engineering skills and models to better understand physics. These concepts will be grounded in hands-on culminating experiences and projects. Throughout the year, the course provides a substantial foundation in laboratory skills with an emphasis on experimentation, design, modeling, and data analysis. Writing is also central to the course, as students learn to form a cohesive argument using both experimental data and scientific theory as support.

Core 10: Chemistry and Biology

Grade 10 • Required for the Classes of 2022 and 2033. Prerequisite: Core 9

Core 10 is the second of two foundation courses in Park’s science program. This integrated course covers key biological principles, such as ecology, evolution, genetics, and the environment, by grounding them in chemical concepts such as molecular structure and function, solubility, rates of reactions, and equilibrium. The foundational laboratory skills practiced in Core 9 will be expanded upon in Core 10 with an emphasis on original research and statistical significance. The course includes student-driven experimentation both in the lab and outside in Park’s extensive campus. The writing component will include exposure to primary sources of literature to support experimental findings. Throughout the year, this course will offer differentiated levels of challenge; accelerated credit is possible for students who routinely select and achieve the highest level of challenge and rigor.

Biology

Grade 11 - A biology course is required for graduation for the Class of 2021.

This course is designed to take advantage of students’ prior work in Chemistry. Biology will cover much of the same material as Skills in Biology, but with an emphasis on the molecular basis of biological reactions. Students studying Biology can expect a substantial lab component, focused on experimental design and critical thinking. They will learn how to write formal, scientific journal style papers and receive an introduction to primary literature. This course will give students a firm foundation to take the SAT Subject Test in Biology, but complete preparation will require additional independent work.

Prerequisite: Chemistry or Accelerated Chemistry

Biology (Accelerated)

Grade 11 - A biology course is required for graduation for the Class of 2021.

This challenging course is designed to take advantage of students’ prior work in Chemistry. The faster pace of Accelerated Biology will allow the class to cover some additional topics and to emphasize the molecular basis of biological reactions, with an exploration of biochemistry and biophysical chemistry. As in Biology, students can expect a substantial lab component, focused on experimental design and critical thinking. Students who were successful in Chemistry or Accelerated Chemistry, are eager to explore the chemical basis of biological processes, and are willing to challenge themselves with a greater degree of difficulty and independent work should consider this course. This course will give students a firm foundation to take the SAT Subject or Advanced Placement (AP) Test in Biology, but complete preparation will require some additional independent work.

Prerequisites: Chemistry or Accelerated Chemistry and permission of the department.

Engineering for an Equitable Future

Grades 10-12

This is a rigorous, fast-paced, year-long elective for those students considering pursuing engineering after Park, as it provides a fundamental background in many of the topics covered in college-level engineering courses. The majority of time will be spent on five main units of study: modeling, materials, structures, mechanical, and electrical. These units will be punctuated with design projects aimed at assessing these skills. The final unit will synthesize students’ experience throughout the year in a long-term final project bound by pressing societal needs and individual passions. Students will be challenged to rethink historical engineering methods and perspectives, concentrating efforts on not simply minimizing negative consequences, but rather designing for positive impact. This course requires facility with both algebra and trigonometry.

Physics with calculus (accelerated)

Grades 11-12

Physics is the most fundamental of the sciences, allowing one to answer questions everyone asks that are simultaneously simple and profound, such as: “Why, if you jump up right when an elevator begins to stop ascending, do you 'float?'", or “Why does a ball move around unpredictably when you throw a knuckleball?” Physics with Calculus examines questions such as these by studying (mostly) the field of Mechanics—Newton's Laws of Motion, the Conservation of Linear and Angular Momentum, and the Conservation of Energy. Emphasis will be on learning different approaches to solving (often challenging) problems—analytically and experimentally. This course covers a broad range of practical and theoretical material, including the topics needed to take the AP-C Mechanics exam in May.

Prerequisites: Physics or Faster Physics, Calculus (Accelerated), and permission of the department.

Fall Semester Science Courses

Anatomy and Physiology

Grades: 11-12

Interested in the science behind the body’s structure, its movement, how it becomes injured and subsequently recovers? This challenging course applies the principles of anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology to real world scenarios in an attempt to create a more comprehensive vision of form and function as it pertains to the human machine. Specific topics of study include the skeletal, muscular, nervous, respiratory, and circulatory systems as well as pathophysiology, healing, and treatment themes. The format of the course includes lectures, labs, and various assessments and will move quickly at times in order to ensure time enough to explore injuries and other practical applications of the material.

Prerequisites: Biology or Accelerated Biology and permission of the department

BIOLOGY 2: Genetics and biology 2: genetics (accelerated)

Grades: 11-12

No field within biology is changing more quickly than genetics. Starting with a single cell, students will study cell division and learn how genes both control and monitor growth and development. Students will apply their knowledge to lab skills essential to modern day study of cells and development. The second part of this course will expand upon students’ Core 10 understanding of genes and proteins by studying specific genes related to animal and plant health and disease. A complete analysis of the comparative genomics and morphology across a specific species studied by the entire class will entail a detailed study of the mechanisms of gene expression and DNA replication and the execution of molecular biology techniques commonly used in research. Finally, the course will connect the molecular details with organ-level functioning within a body system. The skills this course focus on include dissecting complex systems and using figures to support learning, scientific reading and writing. While experiments will be conducted, there will be less experimental design in this course. The accelerated version of this course will assume more comfort with a faster pace while learning detail-heavy information. It will also be reading and writing intensive. This course, combined with Core 10, will cover approximately 75% of the content on the Biology SAT Subject Area Test - Molecular.

Prerequisite or corequisite: Biology or Core 10. Permission of the department is required to take this for accelerated credit. Students who have already completed a full-year Biology class are not eligible for this class.

Cellular biology research (accelerated)

Grades: 11-12

This course will center on research skills through experimentation and reading scientific literature. Research skills will include documentation, experimental design, troubleshooting, analysis, and presentation of data. Antibiotic disc diffusion, cell culture, tissue engineering, and microscopy are examples of techniques covered. Field trips provide opportunities for first-hand observation of research labs whose literature we read and who are currently using these techniques for their own work. This course provides first-hand, through experience, the patience and perseverance necessary to answer new questions through quantitative research methods. It prepares students to be competitive applicants for summer internships or senior projects working in labs.

Prerequisite or corequisite: Biology or Core 10 and permission of the department

Chemistry 2: reactions and chemistry 2: reactions (accelerated)

Grades: 10-12

Chemical reactions are all around us from the combustion reactions used to power cars to reactions used to clean our wastewater and keep our drinking water safe. In this quantitatively-based course, students will consider questions like: How do we predict the products of a chemical reaction? How can we control how quickly a reaction occurs? Can we stop a reaction from occurring or cause a reaction to occur? Topics covered include stoichiometry, types of reactions, rates of reactions, equilibrium systems, acid-base chemistry, and thermodynamics. This course will be taught in both accelerated and regular versions and has a significant laboratory component in both. The accelerated version of this course will be fast-paced, reading and writing intensive, require algebra facility, and independent lab work; when taken with Chem 2: Matter and Molecules (Acc.), will prepare students for the SAT subject test in Chemistry.

Prerequisite: Core 10. Permission of the department is required to take this class for accelerated credit. Students who have already completed a full-year Chemistry class are not eligible for this class.

climate change

Grades 11-12

In this class we will be exploring climate change globally and locally. Students will be looking for answers to the following questions, and coming with many of their own along the way. What is climate change? What climate change mitigation strategies are effective? What policies have historically existed and which have been the most effective and why? What research is going on around the globe on climate change? What studies are currently being done in Baltimore? What studies do we want to do/start at Park School? This course will start very big (in politics) and end very narrow, in original research. Students: please come with an open mind and willingness to work collaboratively and independently.

Prerequisite or corequisite: Biology or Core 10

health disparities

Grades 11-12

The prevalence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in America is alarming. However, not all groups are affected equally. This biology course will introduce students to the complex array of risk factors and mechanisms of these diseases. Students will consider both social and biological elements and reflect on how this knowledge influences their experiences with a broader community through service learning.

Prerequisite or corequisite: Biology or Core 10

marine biology

Grades 11-12

From oceans to estuaries, from the North Pole to Antartica, this course will explore everything that calls salt water their home. Three quarters of the globe is covered in water and over 300 marine species circumpolar migrate. In addition to the biology of oceans, this course will deep dive into the geology and fluid dynamics of the oceans. It will also explore how humans are altering the physical and biological capacities of earth’s waterways. This course will include work that is reading-, writing-, and lab-intensive. There will be many short field trips to visit Maryland’s nearby estuaries. Opportunities to work in collaboration with local scientists will also be provided.

Prerequisite or corequisite: Biology or Core 10

molecular gastronomy

Grades 11-12

This broadly accessible course will cover the biology and chemistry of food and cooking, from the flavor profiles of spices to the bacteria in cheese to the starch molecules in bread. Students will delve into the science behind why foods behave certain ways—what happens when you knead bread dough or how whipped cream turns into butter? This is not a cooking course; students will not be cooking from recipes, but rather from fundamental principles, and any eating of student products will be for the purposes of scientific observation. This course will be heavily lab-based and may require some cooking to be done outside of class.

Prerequisite: Biology or Core 10

Organic Chemistry (accelerated)

Grades 11-12

This conceptually challenging course will cover the basics of organic chemistry, the chemistry of carbon and living things. Students will study how molecules are built both in nature and synthetically in the lab, with an emphasis on the reaction mechanisms—describing the fundamental principles of how they work—rather than on memorization. This approach to chemistry is more logical than mathematical, viewing the synthesis of molecules as puzzles to be broken down and reassembled. There will be a hands-on lab component, and students will be able to pursue their own interest in applications of organic chemistry, which could include neurotransmitters, chemical weapons, plastics, and the origins of life on Earth.

Prerequisite: Core 10 and permission of the department. This class is offered in alternate years. It will NOT be offered this year, but it will be offered in 2021-2022.

Prerequisite: Chemistry or Accelerated Chemistry and permission of the department

Physics 2: Advanced Mechanics

Grades 10-12

Within the broad category of Newtonian Mechanics, this course picks up where Physics 1 and Core 9 left off. With some review of prior content, this lab-based, problem-solving course will begin with a deeper exploration into kinematics, Newton’s laws (statics, dynamics, and linear momentum), and energy, work, and power. It will then jump into the topic of circular motion, including rolling, torque, and angular momentum. Gravitation, Newton’s breakthrough concept that our direct experience of gravity on Earth extends to the moon, solar system, and universe, will then be uncovered. The course will conclude with a study of waves. It is intended for students interested in Physics or Engineering, and is accessible to all students comfortable with Algebra. Students will walk away with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the physical universe as well as with a solid foundation for university studies in Physics and Engineering. Algebra facility; trigonometry facility; collaborative lab work; medium-paced.

Prerequisite: Physics or Core 9. Students who take this course will not be able to sign up for the Physics with Calculus (Accelerated) course in the future.

robot design and programming

Grades 10-12

How do you analyze a large-scale problem to identify where a robot would be most useful? How do you most efficiently design a robot to accomplish a task? How can we use sensors to make our machines more responsive to their environments? These are the questions students will consider throughout the semester in Robot Design and Programming. They will also enter a robot in the FIRST Tech Challenge robotics competition. Absolutely no previous engineering or programming experience necessary.

Spring Semester Science Courses

Astronomy, optics, and relativity: exploring space and time

Grades: 11-12

This course will take students on an astronomical journey from the big bang though the death of the universe. Students will gain a new perspective, vocabulary, and tool set in their approach to observing, thinking, and talking about Earth’s place in the universe. The course begins with a historical overview of the field of Astronomy, and students will gain confidence in navigating the night sky and its gems. Optics, based on electromagnetic principles, is the focus of the next area of study; students will examine geometric and physical optics, a touch of quantum mechanics, and the technology resulting from this branch of Physics (mirrors, lenses, telescopes, lasers, and fiber optics). Next, the class will dive into relativity, covering such topics as time dilation, length contraction, dark matter, and dark energy. The course will conclude with units on stellar evolution and cosmology. This course is accessible to all students comfortable with Algebra and Trigonometry; the course is much less quantitative than Physics, though there will be lab components to the course, and students will be expected to participate in a couple evening observational outings with the class.

BIOLOGY 2: ECOLOGY AND BIOLOGY 2: ECOLOGY (ACCELERATED)

Grades 10-12

The natural world is all around us but we often don’t have a well-developed appreciation for how natural systems work and function. Ecology is the study of the interactions between organisms and their environment and this course will begin by looking deeply into the underlying ecological processes that drive the natural world. Particular emphasis will be placed on population, community, and ecosystem level processes. Students will be exposed to ecology both in theory and practice, through lectures, readings, discussions, and various field trips and activities both in our woods and other local environments. Additionally, the concept of global change will be a constant thread throughout the course. As the footprint of human activities on ecological systems continues to expand, it is critical to understand how humans have been drivers of ecological change on multiple scales. The skills this course focuses on include field research and lab research, documentation in a lab notebook, and a heavy component of experimental design. In addition, scientific reading and writing will be required. The accelerated version of this course will assume more comfort with a faster pace while learning detail-heavy information. It will also be reading and writing intensive. This course, combined with Core 10, will cover approximately 75% of the content on the Biology SAT Subject Area Test - Ecology.

Prerequisite: Core 10. Permission of the department is required to take this class for accelerated credit. Students who have already completed a full-year Biology class are not eligible for this class.

BIOLOGY 2: GENETICS OF CANCER (ACCELERATED)

Grades 11-12

In the past few decades, molecular genetics has become one of the fastest growing fields in the life sciences. The application of molecular methods has spread to virtually all fields of modern biology, including ecology, conservation, archeology, medicine, and evolution. Starting with a single cell, students will study cell division and learn how genes control and monitor growth and development. Students will apply their knowledge to lab skills essential to modern day study of cancer cells and current developments within the field. They will have the opportunity to learn about the history of cancer while exploring the techniques and applications of cell culture. The second part of this course will expand upon students’ Core 10 understanding of genes and proteins by studying specific genes related to animal and plant cancers. A complete analysis of the comparative genomics and morphology across several species studied by the entire class will entail a detailed study of the mechanisms of gene expression and DNA replication and the execution of molecular biology techniques commonly used in cancer research. Finally, the course will connect the molecular details with organ-level functioning within a targeted body system. There is a heavy experimental component to this course. The accelerated version of this course will assume more comfort with a faster pace while learning detail-heavy information. It will also be reading and writing intensive. This course, combined with Core 10, will cover approximately 75% of the content on the Biology SAT Subject Area Test - Molecular.

Prerequisite: Core 10. Permission of the department is required to take this class for accelerated credit. Students who have already completed a full-year Biology class are not eligible for this class.

CHEMISTRY 2: MATTER AND CHEMISTRY 2: MATTER (ACCELERATED)

Grades 11-12

Why is Kevlar so strong? Why do diamonds last forever? How can water exist as a solid, liquid, and gas at the same time? Why do hot air balloons float? This course will explore the relationships between structure and properties of matter. Students will be asked to make inferences about properties from data and models. Topics covered include atomic structure, molecular structure, intermolecular forces, states of matter, stoichiometry, and electrochemistry. This course will be taught in both accelerated and regular versions. The accelerated version of this course will be fast-paced, reading and writing intensive, require algebra facility, and independent lab work; when taken with Chem 2: Matter and Molecules (Acc.), will prepare students for the SAT subject test in Chemistry.

Prerequisite: Core 10. Permission of the department is required to take this class for accelerated credit. Students who have already completed a full-year Chemistry class are not eligible for this class.

Engineering for the Kinetic Sculpture Race

Grades 10-12

What do a giant pink poodle, an overgrown platypus, and a Viking ship have in common? They were all past entries of the Kinetic Sculpture Race. In this class, students will use the engineering design process to develop a human-powered amphibious vehicle. The team will enter this vehicle in a race hosted by the American Visionary Art Museum in downtown Baltimore. Entrants must propel their mechanized marvels through 15 miles of the city, including sand and mud pits in Patterson Park and a jaunt through the harbor at the Canton waterfront. Students will participate in the race, which is typically held the first Saturday in May. This is considered a broadly accessible elective for those students who are interested in an introduction to engineering topics. This course requires facility with algebra, and an eagerness to think outside of the box and solve problems in a systematic way.

EXPLOSIVE CHEMISTRY

Grades 10-12

In this broadly accessible course, students will explore the chemistry of explosive processes. From elements that react violently with water to a hydrogen bomb, we will consider questions like, “what does it mean to explode?” and “how do we control explosions?” through laboratory investigations, demonstrations, readings, data analysis, and discussion. Along the way, students will be introduced to a variety of chemistry concepts including techniques for measuring the heat generated by a reaction, activation energy, stability and volatility, and nuclear vs. chemical reactions.

Forensic Science

Grades 10-12

This introductory course offers students the opportunity to use principles of physics, chemistry, and biology to solve simulated crimes by analyzing clues and evidence left at the scene. Trace evidence, blood spatter patterns, fingerprinting, tool marks, and DNA analysis are among the topics covered in this course, which make heavy use of labs focused on the techniques used to analyze forensic evidence. It will require strong attention to detail, following procedures, careful use of logic, and thoroughly written explanations.

Integrative Medicine (Accelerated)

Grades 11-12

This course in integrative medicine aims to review current scientific research on practices that work alongside traditional Western medicine. It will build an appreciation for mind-body medicine and reflect key concepts introduced to medical school students. Students will learn the basic anatomy needed to understand the mechanisms of pain, stress, and sleep. Methodologies will include meditation, yoga, aromatherapy, music, tapping, and others. There will be a significant journaling component to the course as well as required volunteering that will generally occur during class time.

Prerequisite or corequisite: Biology or Core 10 and permission of the department

POLLINATORS AND PLANTS

Grades 11-12

This course will focus on evolutionary principles and coevolution specifically. The relationships that exist between bees, bats, butterflies and moths, beetles, other small mammals and the plants they pollinate will be explored through intensive reading, writing, and experimentation. With university partners, Park alumni, and local farms, students will have the opportunity to see a variety of different lab/field research sites and explore the products, so far, of amazing, natural, evolutionary forces at work.

Prerequisite or corequisite: Biology or Core 10