The Science Department works to ensure that each student achieves functional level of scientific and technological literacy, and that, through his knowledge of science, each student be awakened, challenged and, ultimately, rewarded by better understanding, appreciating, and respecting himself, others, and the universe.
In the science curriculum, each student becomes familiar with a basic set of fundamental facts, a body of knowledge to be used as a resource in solving or analyzing life problems. Beyond these specific facts are the values and attitudes that guide the application of acquired skills. As such, in-depth discussions of moral and ethical issues related to science receive serious attention throughout the curriculum. Students come to appreciate more fully both the positive and negative potential of science in an increasingly complex and technical world.
Even in a rigorous learning environment, care and support play a fundamental role. The science classroom is therefore a dynamic place where participation and academic risk-taking are encouraged, where confidence is built and maintained, and where the learning experience is shared. Teachers attempt to provide a positive example of excitement and openness to science as students develop their ability to analyze complex situations logically and rationally.
All Middle School students participate in a hands-on, two-year integrated general science course, which introduces astronomy and marine science in addition to laboratory topics in biology, chemistry, and physics. The science sequence in the Upper School begins in the ninth grade with Biology and progresses through additional laboratory courses in Chemistry and Physics. Honors and standard level courses are available in the Upper School. A second year of study at the AP level is available in each discipline for students who exhibit appropriate motivation and aptitude. Though students are required to take Biology and one other laboratory science prior to graduation, most students pursue at least three years of laboratory science in the Upper School.
- General Science
- Biology I
- Physics I
- AP Biology
- AP Chemistry
- AP Physics AB
- AP Physics C
- Anatomy & Physiology Honors
General Science is a 2-year course for students in grades 7 and 8 in which they learn about the world around them in lab based units including The Nature of Science, Astronomy, Heat, and Marine Biology in grade 7; and Physics and Chemistry in grade 8. Process is emphasized, as students are encouraged to use the scientific method, employ proper laboratory and study techniques, and think clearly and logically. Systematic development of scientific knowledge occurs through class work, labs, demonstrations, projects, fieldwork and related readings. Understanding is enhanced using Internet resources, and all students learn how to use Vernier Sensors, Excel and PowerPoint programs. In all units environmental concerns are addressed and good stewardship of the earth is encouraged.
Freshmen at St. Sebastian’s take an introductory course in Biology at either the college prep or honors level. This laboratory based course examines life through the study of chemistry, cells, energetics, cellular reproduction, genetics, biotechnology, evolution, ecology, as well as anatomy and physiology. The students are engaged in lectures, class discussion, projects, and labs, including computer-based labs and a DNA fingerprinting lab using gel electrophoresis.
This is a survey course that covers the basic principles of chemistry. Major topics include atomic theory and atomic structure, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, ionic and covalent bonding, states of matter, elements, classification of matter, periodicity, chemical structure, electrolytes, acids and bases, gases, pH, entropy and enthalpy. This class is complemented by a full battery of lab activities that allow the student to acquire and apply knowledge in a hands-on environment. Special attention is paid to laboratory safety and the development of proper technique.
This introductory physics course emphasizes the application of fundamental principles to explain and understand everyday occurrences. The syllabus covers a traditional sequence of topics, including Newtonian mechanics, electricity, and magnetism. Extensive laboratory work, numerous demonstrations, and outside projects are integral components of the course. This course can be taken at the college prep level or the honors level. At the college prep level, a working knowledge of algebra is expected. At the honors level, advanced problem solving is an integral part of the course, and students should concurrently be enrolled in Algebra II or higher.
This course focuses on developing understanding of essential concepts through inquiry-based learning and honing advanced inquiry and reasoning skills—such as designing plans for collecting data, analyzing data, applying mathematics, and connecting topics across content areas. The four content areas covered are Evolution, Cellular Processes (Energy and Communication), Genetics and Information Transfer, and Interactions. Previous or concurrent study of chemistry is required. A strong mathematics foundation is recommended. Students are required to take the AP Biology exam in May. This course is equivalent to a two-semester college introductory biology course.
The advanced placement chemistry course is equivalent to a college introductory chemistry course. The course differs from first year chemistry in its emphasis on chemical calculations and mathematical formulations and concepts. Topics covered include atomic structures, oxidation/reduction reactions, solution chemistry, thermo chemistry, chemical kinetics, equilibrium, acids and bases, electrochemistry, and an introduction to organic chemistry. Appropriate laboratory investigation accompanies class activity. First year chemistry is a prerequisite and all participants are required to take the AP chemistry exam in May.
This is a second year laboratory course in which more advanced topics are introduced, including fluids, optics, thermodynamics, and nuclear and quantum physics. Emphasis is on the development of conceptual understanding and problem-solving ability using algebra and trigonometry, but rarely calculus. This course is relevant for students considering further study of the fundamental sciences at the college level, as well as those students considering future work in the life sciences, premedicine, and some applied sciences. All students are prepared for and are required to take the AP Physics 2 exam in May.
This course ordinarily forms the first part of the college sequence that serves as the foundation for students majoring in the physical sciences or engineering. The sequence is parallel to or proceeded by mathematics courses that include calculus. Methods of calculus are used wherever appropriate in formulating physical principles and in applying them to physical problems. The sequence is more intensive and analytic than that in the 2 course. Strong emphasis is placed on solving a variety of challenging problems, many requiring calculus. The subject matter of the C course is principally mechanics and electricity and magnetism, with approximately equal emphasis on these two areas. All students are prepared for and are required to take the AP Physics C exam in May.
This is an elective, honors level lab course designed for seniors who have successfully completed coursework in biology, chemistry and physics. The course will examine both gross and microscopic anatomy of the human systems and the function of these systems. It will also cover biomechanics and biochemistry, particularly of the skeletal, muscular and cardiovascular systems. Disease and nutrition will be addressed, as will their effects on homeostasis and health. This lab-based course will include traditional labs in biology and chemistry but will also include computer-based labs, particularly in the realm of biomechanics.