Science Faculty

John Burk

John Burk

Director of Academic Innovation, Mathematics, Science
Brendan Daly

Brendan Daly

Chair, Science Department
Mark Hammond

Mark Hammond

Science, Academic Advisor to VI Form Boys, Swimming
Ashley Hyde

Ashley Hyde

Science, Academic Advisor to V Form Girls, Tennis
Harvey Johnson

Harvey Johnson

Dean of Mathematics & Science, Chair, Mathematics Department, Soccer, Basketball
Eric Kemer

Eric Kemer

Science, Mathematics
Peter McLean

Peter McLean

Biology, Environmental Coordinator, Forestry
David Myers

David Myers

Systems Engineering Associate, Computer Science, Crew, Soccer
Dan O'Connell

Dan O'Connell

Biology, Cross-Country, Mock Trial
Sara O'Connor

Sara O'Connor

Science, Squash
Will Rehrig

Will Rehrig

Science, Cross-Country
Chris Sanchez

Chris Sanchez

Science, Mathematics, Cross-Country, Swimming


Albert Einstein once described science as "the attempt of the human mind to find connections between the world of ideas and the world of phenomena." The St. Andrew's Science Department strives to bring Einstein's definition of science to life in the minds and work of its students. Courses in biology, chemistry and physics expose students to the crucial observations and theories that constitute our fundamental understanding of the natural world. A tandem goals is lead students learn and experience the process by which scientists create, validate, revise and, in some cases, completely restructure this understanding.

Laboratory work is integral to all courses. As we guide our students through experiments that introduce them to new phenomena, demonstrate key concepts and challenge them to solve problems, we seek to demystify scientific inquiry by stimulating curiosity and enabling students to satisfy this curiosity through discovery. Throughout our courses we strive to teach students how to think and act like scientists and to nurture in them an appreciation of the natural world and an inclination to use their abilities in science to solve problems and act responsibly in society.

Teacher-guided discussion forms the basis for our courses, emphasizing careful observation, hypothesizing, questioning and reasoning. Weekly laboratory double periods accompany every major course. Computer technology is integrated into the curriculum, primarily in the form of computer-interfaced measurement probes and data analysis programs. Biology classes make frequent use of Noxontown Pond and the extensive woodlands and marshlands that surround the campus. Field studies are also conducted at nearby natural sites such as the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge.

Dr. Aatish Bhatia Delivers the Crump Physics Lecture

The St. Andrew's community welcomed Dr. Aatish Bhatia to campus for the annual Crump Physics Lecture on Thursday, February 8. Dr. Bhatia, Associate Director of the Council on Science and Technology at Princeton University, spent three days on campus; visiting classes, leading student workshops, and urging the community to be more curious.

Director of Academic Innovation and physics teacher John Burk stated, "To me, the most amazing thing about Aatish's visit was how he was able to make curiosity more contagious than the flu. You could see this in his every interaction with students. They would ask a question, he would offer an incredible response, and then every time, ask the student for his or her name, and later in that day, reference that student in a later conversation."

Burk continued, "Aatish's genuine curiosity about the world around him, about St. Andrew's, and about the people he met and their interests was infectious and left us wanting to look at the world around us with a better sense of wonderment and curiosity. He shared photos of the scientist he worked with to figure out the nature of the water repelling leaves and talked about the inspiration and ideas he draws from being able to take ideas and share questions with scientific experts around the world on Twitter. He even tweeted about Nadia Holcomb '19 and her interest in bugs, in the attempt to connect her to other experts in the field!"

Students were inspired by Dr. Bhatia's workshop, where he taught a group of students how to build an electric piano out of paper and circuits. Participant Heleah Soulati '21 reflected on the lesson by saying, "The word I would use to describe the electric piano workshop would be 'eye-opening'. I never knew about the role of coding in electric circuits and the power of charcoal and led. I am so grateful I got to participate in this amazing activity."

After his visit, Dr. Bhatia reflected on his visit: "One of my favorite moments was our impromptu discussion after my talk where I was blown away by the inquisitiveness, maturity, and earnest enthusiasm that the students demonstrated. St. Andrew's really is a very unique learning community, and I'm glad to have had the chance to spend time there and learn more about it. I came away inspired by the depth of inquiry and learning that I encountered, and by the rich conversations that have given me so many good ideas about what hands-on, inquiry-based learning looks like."

Dr. Bhatia focuses on improving science instruction, developing deeper appreciation and understanding of STEM, and finding connections with other disciplines. He also oversees Princeton's Makerspace Studiolab, which brings together students from all disciplines for some impressive collaborations between STEM, Humanities and the Arts.

Burk noted, "I've followed Aatish on Twitter for the better part of a decade and always found him to be an inspirational and generous thinker. About four years ago, I had my students read his story about the physics of the Archer Fish, and one of my students, Millie Spencer '16, became so inspired that she wrote up a summary with some of her own questions about the Archer Fish on a blog. I shared the post with Aatish on Twitter, and he wrote her back. Then when Aatish visited, he remembered not only that moment but Millie's name. I was flabbergasted."

Science Requirement

Students are required to earn three yearlong course credits in a laboratory science.

Science Courses



Open to III & IV Form students

As the first course in the departmental sequence, Biology is designed to equip students with scientific skills that they will continue to draw upon throughout their education. Particular emphasis is placed upon systematic observation and the formation and testing of scientific hypotheses. Students learn to be skeptical and to construct scientific explanations that are detailed, logical and supported by evidence. The course also seeks to stimulate student appreciation and concern for the natural world. Areas of primary conceptual focus include:

  • energy transformation;
  • genetics;
  • evolution;
  • ecology;
  • human impacts on the environment; and
  • the diversity and characteristics of species.

Each spring, students journey to nearby Lewes, Delaware to review research conducted at the University of Delaware's College of Marine Studies and to tour dune, beach and forest ecosystems at Cape Henlopen State Park. Texts:

  • Hoagland, Dodson and Hauck, Exploring the Way Life Works: The Science of Biology;
  • Johnson and Raven, Biology: Principles and Explorations;
  • Jane Goodall, Through a Window; and
  • Farley Mowat, Never Cry Wolf.

Advanced Study in Biology

Open to VI Form students

Prerequisites: Biology and Chemistry

The aim of this advanced biology course is to more closely examine a range of topics in biology, with a thematic emphasis on the unity of life and life's molecular basis. Topics that recur throughout the year include:

  • evolution;
  • the structure-function relationship;
  • the importance of energy; and
  • the role of information.

In addition to its factual content, the course stresses rigorous scientific analysis and reasoning. Many lab investigations are student-designed and involve long-term, open-ended inquiry. Several labs closely follow the College Board's Advanced Placement recommendations. Text: Campbell, Reece and Mitchell, Biology: Concepts and Connections.

Advanced Study in Environmental Science

Open to VI Form students

Prerequisites: Biology

This college-level course is intended to foster in its students the awareness and appreciation of the natural world and the interdependencies that exist within it. Students explore the natural environment and resources of the School and surrounding areas while becoming acquainted with the principles and methods used to examine environmental issues. Topics include:

  • sustainability;
  • ecosystems;
  • population dynamics;
  • water;
  • energy efficiency:
  • climate change:
  • food resources; and
  • biodiversity.

The course includes visiting speakers, supplemental readings, investigations and labs drawn from college curricula, and a year-long independent project. Students make visits to nearby organizations and locales that provide insight into environmental issues, including a spray irrigation water treatment plant, a local cemetery and an organic farm. An overnight camping trip exposes students to the natural beauty of the Appalachian Mountains; students hike the Appalachian Trail and canoe on Antietam Creek. Students are prepared to sit for the Advanced Placement Environmental Science examination at the end of the year. Texts: Miller, Living in the Environment; McPhee, Encounters with the Archdruid, and supplemental readings.



Open to IV & V Form students

Prerequisite: MAth 1

Chemistry is concerned with discovering the natural laws governing the transformations of matter. It is also concerned with inventing theories to explain these laws in terms of atomic interactions. This rather prosaic summary actually represents a rich and intriguing field of exploration whose findings touch on nearly every aspect of our lives. Chemistry is often called the central science because it connects so many other scientific disciplines and technologies, particularly physics to life and environmental sciences. Success in chemistry depends upon the development and practice of a unique language. This language consists of chemistry definitions, chemistry drawings, chemistry facts and algorithms used to solve chemistry problems. This language, like all languages, can be used to express and manipulate ideas that may be inexpressible otherwise. This language will offer a new perspective on the nature of the universe and our students connection to it. Students will emerge from this course with an enriched view of themselves and the world in which they live. They will see how some of the big ideas of chemistry can be used to reframe and digest some of the biggest problems humanity faces. Text: Russo and Silver, Introductory Chemistry, 2nd ed.

Honors Chemistry

Open to V & VI Form students

Prerequisites: Honors Physics

Honors Chemistry applies the foundation of concepts, computational techniques, and laboratory practices students learn in Honors Physics to support their study of chemistry. The course begins with an introduction to descriptive and analytical chemistry through several weeks of laboratory work. Students here become familiar with important chemical properties and tools for uncovering patterns of chemical behavior and the laws that govern them. Laboratory work remains the central focus of the course as it recreates the empirical lines of evidence and creative reasoning from which modern chemical theory evolved during the 19th and 20th centuries. Students are challenged to construct their knowledge from their own experiments and collaborative discussions that utilize their prior knowledge of physics. Text: Brown et al., Chemistry: The Central Science, 10th ed.

Advanced Study in Chemistry

Open to VI Form students

Prerequisite: Honors Chemistry and Honors Physics

This course offers students an opportunity to continue their study of chemistry at an advanced level by further exploring topics in physical and organic chemistry. The course is laboratory-centered with structured experiments that extend the students' experience with analytical techniques and instrumentation, followed by opened-ended projects that develop students' research skills. Text: Brown et al., Chemistry: The Central Science, 10th ed.



Open to IV, V, VI Form students

Co- or prerequisite: Math 2

In Physics, students discover the fundamental laws that govern nature through the process of inquiry—posing their own questions within an agreed-upon framework and conducting careful experiments to find their own answers. The class is taught using Modeling Instruction pedagogy, a research-based approach developed at Arizona State University. Students organize their knowledge according to a series of physical models which can be used to analyze and explain increasingly complex phenomena. This course also devotes significant time to helping students articulate the methods and results of their experiments to their peers in discussion, in writing, and in the models they create to explain the physical world. Text: Adapted from publically available Modeling Instruction materials.

Honors Physics

Open to IV & V Form students

Corequisite: Honors Math 3

The Honors Physics curriculum is derived from a course developed by the Physical Science Study Committee (PSSC), a group first organized at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the auspices of the National Science Foundation. This rigorous curriculum is coupled with the Modeling Instruction pedagogy used in Physics 1 to create a unique and research-based approach to teaching physics. Its strength resides in its guidance of students through experiments and conceptual constructions that require authentic scientific thinking and practice. Rather than asking students to memorize a catalogue of facts and equations, coursework is organized around a a series of physical models students use to explain and predict the structure and interactions of matter. Each student is called on to develop his or her abilities to analyze, infer, evaluate, synthesize and reason quantitatively from the results of his or her experimental work. Laboratories involve extensive use of computer-interfaced instrumentation. Text: Teacher-authored text inspired by Haber-Schaim et al., PSSC Physics.

Advanced Study in Physics (Calculus-Based)

Open to VI Form students

Prerequisite: Honors Physics

corequisite: AS Calculus BC

This course covers a calculus-based college-level physics curriculum, and includes explorations of mechanics, thermal physics, and electricity and magnetism. This course assumes a deep curiosity about physics and willingness to work on the part of the students. The course approaches the above topics by focusing on matter and its interactions at the atomic scale through students' creation and application of models. Toward this end, students learn V-Python, a powerful object-oriented computer-programming language that they use to model real physical systems. Students are prepared to sit for the Advanced Placement Physics examination, Level C. Text: Chabay and Sherwood, Matter and Interactions (vols. 1-2).

Computer Science

Computer Science 1

open to all forms

semester-long Half-credit course

In this course, students are introduced to object-oriented program design using the Java computer programming language. Platforms for teaching Java may include BlueJ, Eclipse, and Sun’s native Java Development Kit. Through a project-based approach, students are led to a mastery of Java’s syntax, data types, and control structures. Course topics include arrays, lists, two-dimensional graphics, and basic Graphic User Interface (GUI) design.

Computer Science 2

open to IV, V, VI Form students

Prerequisite: Computer Science 1

semester-long Half-credit course

Students extend their knowledge of Java programming learned in Computer Science 1. The course begins with concepts of inheritance and polymorphism and continues through the study of interfaces and abstract classes. Course topics also include recursion, analysis of algorithms, data structures.

Students use case studies to pursue a more in-depth exploration of these concepts. Independent completion of all programming projects is encouraged and supported by student participation in the American Computer Science League.

Computer Science 3

open to IV, V, VI Form students

Prerequisite: Computer Science 2

semester-long Half-credit course

Students in this course explore a multitude of new programming languages and techniques in order to form a foundation on which to work collaboratively as a software development team in the latter part of the course. Students work together to develop a deliverable software package, solving problems as they arise and enhancing its features, using the language skills and programming techniques developed throughout their study of computer science at St. Andrew's.

Science Electives

Advanced Study in Anatomy & Physiology

open to V & VI Form students

Prerequisites: Biology and Chemistry

semester-long Half-credit elective

Anatomy and physiology is the study of the structure and function of human biology. This course will cover the general principles of anatomy and physiology, including cells, tissues and organs, homeostasis and embryology, and we will use readings, lab work and case studies to accomplish learning. The following systems will be studied in detail: respiratory, circulatory, muscular, and nervous. Emphasis will be on interrelationships among systems and regulation of physiological functions. The lab will provide a hands-on learning experience for exploration of human system components and basic physiology, and case studies will provide insight into the pathology of these systems.

Advanced Study in Astronomy

open to V & VI Form students

Prerequisite: Physics

Co- or Prerequisite: Math 3 or Honors Precalculus

semester-long Half-credit Elective

Astronomy students will investigate the solar system's key components and their features and formations; the methods for exoplanet discovery and the search for extraterrestrial life; the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies; the study of the Universe as a whole, including the Big Bang theory, dark matter and dark energy. Each week, students will be working in teams on a research project, based on which they will prepare a poster or presentation. Some of the many, varied, and exciting topics of research will include:

  • the search for habitable exoplanets,
  • solar system missions such as Cassini-Huygens,
  • historical asteroid impacts and their effects,
  • the source of life on Earth,
  • constellations and comets in history and folklore,
  • the mechanics of galaxy collisions, and
  • the evidence for the Big Bang theory.

Advanced Study in Bioengineering

open to V & VI Form students

Co- or Prerequisites: Biology, Chemistry & Physics

Semester-long Half-credit elective

We humans seek solutions to all sorts of questions. However, unsolved problems exist despite dedicated work by teams of highly trained experts. One subset of such experts are the engineers, who seek pragmatic solutions and who utilize highly valuable resources to make progress in their search. Resources include the team's limited time, its domain-specific tools and its aggregate brain power. Throughout our intellectual history, humans have solved problems again and again. Some solutions are invented, whole-cloth, using human ingenuity. Others are on loan from the natural world: consider the piece of fruit that exactly matched an ancestor's daily caloric need. Still other solutions are inspired by the natural world: as George de Mestral was inspired to invent the hook and loop system of velcro after noticing burdock burrs clinging to his socks. Stationary, brainless burdock had solved the problem of being fixed in space. It had learned to attach its genes to moving animals. In Bioengineering, students will study nature-inspired solutions. Students will learn to take the view that evolution through natural selection is primarily an engine of innovation. From the smallest viruses to the largest organisms on earth, we are all problem solvers. And, it is the view of bioengineers that there are many hidden solutions left to find. Our work is to become better collaborators with Nature.


open to IV, V & VI Form students

Co or Pre-requisites: Physics and Math 2

Semester-Long Half-credit elective

The goal of Introduction to Engineering is to provide an introduction to design thinking and a variety of engineering disciplines. The course will be broken into six parts that include: design thinking, experimental design, mechanical advantage, structural engineering concepts, aeronautical concepts, and a culminating independent design project. In each part of the course, students will learn the basic principles associated with the subject and conduct hands on projects using the principles learned. Students will leave the course with a greater appreciation of engineering problems and solutions.