Upper School Curriculum

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Science

Three years of coordinated science are required for graduation. As students’ laboratory and mathematics skills build through the years, topics are studied with increasing depth in each discipline. Advanced courses and electives are offered to 9th–12th-grade students. (Eight science electives are open to 12th graders; two science electives are open to 11th graders; one science elective is open to 10th graders; and one science elective is open to 9th graders. Advanced and elective courses are dependent upon faculty expertise; thus, the following course descriptions are subject to change and variation.
  • Grade 9 Coordinated Science: (Chemistry I and Physics I)

    In Grades 9 through 11, students engage in a three-year course of study that focuses on two coordinated sciences per year. This coordinated approach allows students to understand the core principles behind each science and the many connections between them. The coordinated science program also integrates thoughtfully with the mathematics curriculum.
     
    Chemistry and physics are taught concurrently in 9th grade; chemistry and biology are taught concurrently in 10th grade; and physics and biology are taught concurrently in 11th grade. Cross-curricular concepts, laboratory skills, and the scientific method are emphasized in the classroom routines—which include group work, laboratory experiments, and field trips.

    In chemistry, students pursue an understanding of matter, chemical bonding, limiting reagents, thermochemistry, acids and bases, gas laws, and organic chemistry. Physics students learn about kinematics, forces, waves, optics, electrostatics, torque, motion (projectile, circular, and periodic), vectors, and quantum theory. In biology, students explore cell structure and energetics, endocrinology, embryology, evolution, medical physiology, genetics, cancer, and the international AIDS crisis. As the curriculum progresses from 9th through 11th grade, building-block topics are reconsidered in greater depth, as new concepts are introduced.

    After the students complete three years of the coordinated science program, they can enroll in a variety of college-level electives.
  • Grade 10 Coordinated Science (Chemistry II and Biology I)

    In Grades 9 through 11, students engage in a three-year course of study that focuses on two coordinated sciences per year. This coordinated approach allows students to understand the core principles behind each science and the many connections between them. The coordinated science program also integrates thoughtfully with the mathematics curriculum.
     
    Chemistry and physics are taught concurrently in 9th grade; chemistry and biology are taught concurrently in 10th grade; and physics and biology are taught concurrently in 11th grade. Cross-curricular concepts, laboratory skills, and the scientific method are emphasized in the classroom routines—which include group work, laboratory experiments, and field trips.

    In chemistry, students pursue an understanding of matter, chemical bonding, limiting reagents, thermochemistry, acids and bases, gas laws, and organic chemistry. Physics students learn about kinematics, forces, waves, optics, electrostatics, torque, motion (projectile, circular, and periodic), vectors, and quantum theory. In biology, students explore cell structure and energetics, endocrinology, embryology, evolution, medical physiology, genetics, cancer, and the international AIDS crisis. As the curriculum progresses from 9th through 11th grade, building-block topics are reconsidered in greater depth, as new concepts are introduced.

    After the students complete three years of the coordinated science program, they can enroll in a variety of college-level electives.
  • Grade 11 Coordinated Science (Biology II and Physics II)

    In Grades 9 through 11, students engage in a three-year course of study that focuses on two coordinated sciences per year. This coordinated approach allows students to understand the core principles behind each science and the many connections between them. The coordinated science program also integrates thoughtfully with the mathematics curriculum.
     
    Chemistry and physics are taught concurrently in 9th grade; chemistry and biology are taught concurrently in 10th grade; and physics and biology are taught concurrently in 11th grade. Cross-curricular concepts, laboratory skills, and the scientific method are emphasized in the classroom routines—which include group work, laboratory experiments, and field trips.

    In chemistry, students pursue an understanding of matter, chemical bonding, limiting reagents, thermochemistry, acids and bases, gas laws, and organic chemistry. Physics students learn about kinematics, forces, waves, optics, electrostatics, torque, motion (projectile, circular, and periodic), vectors, and quantum theory. In biology, students explore cell structure and energetics, endocrinology, embryology, evolution, medical physiology, genetics, cancer, and the international AIDS crisis. As the curriculum progresses from 9th through 11th grade, building-block topics are reconsidered in greater depth, as new concepts are introduced.

    After the students complete three years of the coordinated science program, they can enroll in a variety of college-level electives.
  • Principles of Ecology and Evolution

    Prerequisite: department approval.

    It must be taken in addition to a student’s regular coordinated science classes. This course presents the principles of evolution and ecology for students beginning their study of biology and the environment. It discusses principles of evolution at the molecular, organismal, and population levels. If you are curious about how the interactions between individual organisms and their environments scale up to global ecosystems, this course will provide you with a good introduction to the nested complexity of the natural world.
  • Environmental Science & Policy

    Prerequisite: department approval. It must be taken in addition to a student’s regular coordinated science classes.

    From the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring to the passage of laws protecting the environment in the 1970s, ideas on the environment have continually evolved and led to the emergence of environmental science as a discipline. Confronting environmental challenges requires the implementation of policies and laws that lead to effective solutions; law, policy, and economics are, therefore, an integral part of understanding how to deal with environmental challenges. This class begins with a look at the major world habitats, and quickly moves into the significant environmental issues confronting us today: waste management/recycling, acid rain, ozone depletion, agriculture, air/water/soil quality, sustainability, etc. Climate change/global warming is a central theme. A common question throughout the class is: How are different world economies (USA, the EU, Asian, African, and South American countries) dealing with the challenges presented by climate change and global warming? Furthermore, we’ll look extensively at the challenges and opportunities facing New York City, with a focus on urban ecology and sustainable development. This is intended to be a broad survey course, with a focus on research projects, field work and written, oral, or interactive presentations—instead of traditional concept memorization and testing. In addition, the students’ interests will lead part of the material covered in the class. It is expected that students will take a leadership role in the school’s environmental and sustainability initiatives through the environmental club.
  • Advanced Topics in Chemistry

    Prerequisite: department approval.

    This course must be taken in addition to a student’s regular coordinated science class. This is an 11th-grade advanced chemistry elective that will explore in more depth several topics covered in introductory chemistry such as acid/base chemistry, kinetics and thermodynamics. It will also introduce other new topics that are typically taught in a college level chemistry class. These include equilibrium, molecular geometry, and molecular orbital theory.
  • Problems in Science

    This course must be taken in addition to a student’s regular coordinated science class.

    Would you like to analyze art forgery, solve a medical emergency, predict the course of a hurricane, or save the panther?! This might be the class for you. Students are presented with realistic problems in various areas of science: meteorology, genetics, chemistry, physiology, ecology, bacteriology, etc. Through research (literature and online), role-playing, andlab investigations, students formulate a response to various issues. Emphasis is on the quality and depth of research as well as the organization and logic of the student’s approach to the solution. A willingness and capacity for independent work is essential.
  • Advanced Biology: Marine Biology

    Prerequisite: department approval.

    It is said that over 95% of the ocean is unexplored and we still do not know how many species exist within our waters. New species are being discovered with surprising regularity in the marine environment, which accounts for the majority of Earth’s biosphere. This course begins with an understanding of how scientists organize life by looking at the classification system, how it works, and why it changes. Students learn to identify all life in the sea and begin to understand their significance in discussing ecological relationships and their role along the evolutionary timeline. Following this, in collaboration with scientists around the world, students examine organisms on a deeper level. In the second portion of the course, students go through the process of planning, contemplating ethics, carrying out, and communicating the outcomes of a field expedition. Students simultaneously define their own research questions to investigate for the remainder of the year. The international expedition provides students with an opportunity to observe how anthropogenic factors can influence the abundance and behavior of intrinsically important species (e.g., elasmobranchs) within a variety of marine habitats surrounding the island. This experiential learning opportunity allows students to take an active role in real scientific projects that work toward protecting threatened marine resources. This course is designed for students who wish to enhance their ocean literacy, participate in cutting-edge field research, and investigate human impacts (both positive and negative) on the ocean ecosystem.
  • Advanced Biology: Neuroscience

    Prerequisite: department approval.

    Every human experience is centered in the brain. This course offers students a deep dive into the inner workings of the most complex object in the universe: the human brain. The course begins with an in-depth examination of brain structure and function, and then moves on to the cutting edge of modern neuroscience research. In collaboration with brain scientists from NYU, students learn about experiments that are expanding our understanding of the brain. Then, with a firm grasp of the fundamentals of modern neuroscience in place, students study their own brains, using state-of-the-art techniques and equipment. In particular, students have the opportunity to examine brain waves using EEG, and visit a laboratory that performs brain scans using fMRI and MEG. Following this crash course in experimental neuroscience, students define their own original research question to investigate for the remainder of the year. This course is designed for students with a strong interest in biology, who are excited by the prospect of a challenging, in-depth course.
  • Advanced Chemistry: Molecular Concepts & Theory

    Prerequisite: department approval; those who have taken Advanced Topics are not eligible.

    This advanced course will explore in more depth several topics introduced in Chemistry I and Chemistry II, such as acid/base chemistry, kinetics and thermodynamics, and what’s really going on at the molecular level (equilibrium, molecular geometry, and molecular orbital theory). Experiment with reactions that run backwards and forwards at the same time. Learn what governs the shape of molecules and controls the rate of a reaction. Understand how animals and ecosystems counteract changes in pH. Study these and other topics that are normally only taught at the college level.
  • Advanced Chemistry: Organic

    Prerequisite: department approval; completion of Advanced Topics preferred but not required.

    This advanced senior course will introduce organic chemistry - carbon chemistry. Carbon is the central component to proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and virtually every biologically important molecule. By introducing the nomenclature and structures as well as discussing hybrid orbitals, spectroscopic methods, curved arrow diagrams and named reactions, this course will demystify one of the most challenging courses in science. One which is often a gateway to professional careers.
  • Advanced Physics

    Prerequisite: department approval, a corequisite in calculus, and permission of the instructor.

    This is a mathematically and conceptually rigorous course in advanced physics topics. The first part of the course focuses on engines that use ideal gases as the working fluid, building on thermodynamics introduced in 11th-grade chemistry. A major part of this unit is a project in which students design and maximize the efficiency of a heat engine, leading up to a discussion of the maximum possible efficiency of a heat engine, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and entropy. The next part of the course is the theoretical exploration of electricity and magnetism, including Maxwell’s Equations of Electromagnetism. The third unit focuses on differential equations applied to physical systems, especially circuits. The year culminates with experimental projects applying some aspects of the theories developed during the year, especially circuits and Faraday’s Law of Induction.
  • Applied Science in Engineering: The Process of Design

    This course is a hands-on exploration of various engineering principles and the design process, exploring a broad range of engineering and STEM topics, including mechanisms, the strength of structures and materials, circuits, 3D printing, and automation. Students will learn how to analyze a problem and execute research, development, physical building, testing, and improving a solution. We will also learn to accurately document each step of the design process, with an emphasis placed on sketching and formal drawings. Many projects will be explained in a design brief, which outlines the criteria and constraints of the problem. Actual projects will vary depending upon the interests of the students in the class, but example projects could include building trebuchets, energy turbines, electronics, robotics, gliders, and bridges. Hopefully we’ll even find a way to build something that hasn’t even been invented yet!
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

    The study of celestial phenomena has been a central universal human activity throughout all history and across all cultures. This course gives students an introduction to the subject through the development of conceptual and physics-based principles, hands on labs and modeling exercises, research, and direct observation. Our explorations range far and wide, from our local neighborhood (earth and the solar system), to the farthest reaches of the observable universe, covering a span of nearly 14 billion years. Key topics include the historical development of astronomy, motion of celestial objects, seasonal changes on earth, lunar cycles, local and extrasolar planets, life cycles of stars, and cosmology. Along the way, we see how ancient cultures around the globe practiced astronomy; model motions of the earth-moon-sun system; and recreate the groundbreaking work of scientists such as Johannes Kepler and Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin. We also (hypothetically!) dive into a black hole.
  • Environmental Science & Policy (12th Grade Elective)

    This senior elective will look at the causes and science behind the biggest environmental concerns of our day and then look at how science based public policy could address these issues. This will be a project-based class in which students look in depth at specific scientific components of environmental issues and then propose policy solutions that consider the standpoint of various stakeholders. This class begins with a look at the major world habitats, and quickly moves into the central environmental issues confronting us today: waste management/recycling, acid rain, ozone depletion, agriculture, air/water/soil quality, etc. Climate change/ global warming is a central theme. We look extensively at the challenges and opportunities facing New York City, with a focus on urban ecology and sustainable development.
  • Epidemiology: Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases

    Since the spring of 2020 our world has been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019 there were more than 1000 cases of measles reported around the NYC area, beating any record since the disease was officially “eradicated” in the USA. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there were approximately 36.9 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide in 2017.Of these, 1.8 million were children under the age of 15. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2017 an estimated 219 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide and 435,000 people died, mostly children in the African Continent. How are these statistics compiled, and how are they used to combat these diseases? What are the most common emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases? Why are some diseases that were almost eradicated in the past re-emerging? What are the key differences between bacteria, viruses, parasites and other infectious agents? Oh!...and everything you wanted to know about COVID-19, but were afraid to ask. These are some of the topics the course will explore. The class will also discuss environmental, socio-economic and political factors that influence the emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases.

Faculty

  • Photo of Jeffrey Tam
    Jeffrey Tam
    Upper School, Science Teacher and Advisor, Science Department Chair
    Bio
  • Photo of Megan Henry
    Megan Henry
    Upper School, Science Teacher and Advisor
    (212) 426-2548
    Bio
  • Photo of James McClintock
    James McClintock
    Upper School, Science Teacher and Advisor
    (212) 426-3392
    Bio
  • Photo of Esteban Monserrate
    Esteban Monserrate
    Upper School, Science Teacher
    Bio
  • Photo of Benjamin Raisher
    Benjamin Raisher
    Physics Teacher
    Bio
  • Photo of Jim Roche
    Jim Roche
    Upper School, Science Teacher
    Bio
  • Photo of Robert Stoll
    Robert Stoll
    Upper School, Science Teacher - Leave Replacement
    Bio
  • Photo of Leann Winn
    Leann Winn
    Upper School, Science Teacher & Advisor
    Bio
Ambitious academics.  Engaged students.  Balanced lives.

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