Science Faculty

John Burk

John Burk

Mathematics, Science
Brendan Daly

Brendan Daly

Chair, Science Department
Mark Hammond

Mark Hammond

Academic Advisor to VI Form, Science, Swimming
Ashley Hyde

Ashley Hyde

V Form Academic Advisor, Science, STEM Summer Research Coordinator
Harvey Johnson

Harvey Johnson

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

Eric Kemer

Science, Mathematics
David Myers

David Myers

Computer Science, Mathematics, Crew, Soccer
Dan O'Connell

Dan O'Connell

Science, Head Coach, Boys Cross-Country, Mock Trial
Sara O'Connor

Sara O'Connor

Science, Squash, Tennis
Will Rehrig

Will Rehrig

Co-Dean of Residential Life, Science, Cross-Country
Chris Sanchez

Chris Sanchez

III Form Dean, Science, Mathematics, Cross-Country, Swimming

Science

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.

Science Requirement

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


Science Courses

Biology

Biology

Open to III & New IV Form students

As the Science Department’s foundational course, Biology is designed to introduce students to our extraordinary campus while building scientific skills they will use throughout our curriculum. 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 for the natural world. Areas of primary conceptual focus include:

  • introductory evolution;
  • ecology and human impacts on the environment;
  • energy transformation;
  • genetics and the central dogma;
  • and advanced topics in evolution.

Each fall, students will participate in "Pond Day," a weekend-long scientific exploration of our campus, including a overnight component.

Supporting texts: Biology: Exploring Life by Campbell, Williamson, and Heyden

Advanced Study in Biology

Open to VI Form students

requires instructor permission

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

requires instructor permission

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.

Physics

Physics

Open to IV & V Form students

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

requires instructor permission

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

requires instructor permission

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).

Chemistry

Chemistry

Open to V Form students

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

requires instructor permission

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

requires instructor permission

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.

Semester-long Electives

Engineering

open to V & VI Form students, and to IV Form students with instructor permission

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.

Advanced Study in Anatomy & Physiology

open to V & VI Form students

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

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

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.