Science

Besant Hill School offers a variety of stimulating and challenging courses within the Science Department. Through the use of inquiry-based projects, lab experiments, and real-world applications, our students learn how to “think like a scientist.”

We ask our students to play an investigative role as they learn about the world around us all. In every science class, we offer students are encouraged to never stop questioning the unknown.

The Besant Hill School Science Department requires students to take a total of 3 years of science. Students can choose between several different courses, including Environmental Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and our electives, Astronomy and Advanced Environmental Science. Freshman year students typically start off with Environmental Science.

This course is designed to engage students in problem-based learning investigations of realistic environmental issues, in which they must make recommendations for sustainable uses of resources. Sophomores and juniors usually find themselves in Biology and Chemistry, where they learn about the world at large, as well as the smaller pieces that we are built on. Students taking physics find there is an emphasis on critical thinking skills, requiring them to study the motion of matter through space and time. Astronomy and Advanced Environmental Science are also offered to students as electives. Both classes contain a lab component and build extensively upon all the previous sciences.

Our STEM Education Initiative

It is the goal of the BHS Science and Mathematics Departments to ensure that every student engages in problem-based learning investigations through daily classroom STEM instruction. Through our STEM education initiative, students learn how to think with a critical mind and approach realistic problems with a foundation in scientific and mathematics literacy. We provide learning both inside and outside of the classroom using advanced computer programs and laboratory equipment which allows students to play a necessary and informed role in our modern technological society. Through our STEM initiative, it is our hope to enhance motivation, interest, and achievement among students. This not only motivates and aids our students in pursuing a STEM-related career field but also helps them make informed decisions for a better life.

Course Descriptions

Science

The content of this course will begin at large-scale Earth processes and begin to narrow the scope to smaller-scale topics. The first semester will focus on Plate Tectonic theory, geological processes, and mineralogy. The second semester of will begin with climatology and oceanography and transition into life-science disciplines such as environmental science, ecology, and biology. A benefit of the pacing of this class is that it allows for the interests of the students to drive the class into further detail where appropriate. By the end of this course students will have an exposure to a wide variety of scientific disciplines. As with all our Science Classes, our STEM initiative is included in our daily language, literacy, content, and investigations.

Biology

The goal of this course is to increase the scientific literacy of all students through constant exposure to the main science practices in the context of living things.  The goal of this course is to encourage students to engage in critical thinking and to learn how to assess and apply information in a scientific manner. The curriculum starts small and progresses to larger levels of biological organization as the year progresses.  In the first semester, students explore the four major molecules that make up all living things,  expand to describe the different types of cells that make up living things, and end by exploring the form and function of DNA which carries information that is the code for all living things.  The second semester focuses on more large scale functions and organizations of living things by investigating the evolutionary history of life, the classification of living things and finally how all living things interact with each other and their environment. As with all our Science Classes, our STEM initiative is included in our daily language, literacy, content, and investigations.

AP Biology

The goal of this course is to encourage students to engage in critical thinking and to learn how to assess and apply information in a scientific manner.  Students use biological content to propose scientific experiments, design data collection strategies, analyze scientific data and form conclusions based on scientific data.  Students also relate biological knowledge across four major divisions of biology; biochemistry, genetics, evolution and ecology.  As with all our Science Classes, our STEM initiative is included in our daily language, literacy, content, and investigations.

Chemistry

The goal of this course is to increase the scientific literacy of all students through constant exposure to the main science practices in the context of the composition and interactions of matter.  The goal of this course is to encourage students’ critical thinking skills in the process of learning how to assess and apply information in a scientific manner.  The content of the chemistry curriculum begins with the definition of matter and then progresses from simple to complex explanations of the organization of matter.  In the first semester students explore the composition and interactions of atoms and in the second semester, the focus expands to the compounds or molecules formed by atoms and the interactions of these molecules. As with all our Science Classes, our STEM initiative is included in our daily language, literacy, content, and investigations.

Physics & Astronomy

Physics is the branch of science which studies the relationships between matter and energy.  Topics that are discussed in this course include mechanics, thermodynamics, wave phenomena, optics, electricity, magnetism, atomic structure, relativity, and how these principles affect our society and the world as a whole. Emphasis will be put on understanding the theories at hand and identifying them in everyday life. A laboratory component accompanies the classroom element in the course. Students will be expected to undertake and report on laboratory projects related to the topics in the class. A knowledge and understanding of the principles of physics not only leads to a profound understanding of the physical world, but also supplies you with the insight to develop new and innovative ideas. As with all our Science Classes, our STEM initiative is included in our daily language, literacy, content, and investigations.

AP Economics

The purpose of the AP course in microeconomics and macroeconomics is to give students a thorough understanding of the principles of economics that apply to the functions of individual decision makers, both consumers and producers, within the economic system, as well as providing students with a thorough understanding of the principles of economics that apply to an economic system as a whole. It places primary emphasis on the nature and functions of product markets and includes the study of factor markets and of the role of government in promoting greater efficiency and equity in the economy. In addition, this course places particular emphasis on the study of national income and price-level determination, and also develops students’ familiarity with economic performance measures, the financial sector, stabilization policies, economic growth, and international economics.

AP Environmental Science

AP Environmental Science is the equivalent of a college level survey course designed to convey the multidisciplinary scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required for understanding the interrelated systems interacting to support the natural world around us.  Areas of study for this course include the fields of Geology, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, as well as Environmental Science. Emphasis is placed on the use of science as a unifying process for identifying, analyzing, and interpreting a wide variety of topics and recurring environmental themes, and to evaluate and risk assess environmental issues and concerns that may be either natural or man-made; or both.

Advanced Environmental Studies

AES is an upper division lab course designed to introduce and reinforce an ecological awareness for the natural Earth systems that sustain life.  The course also compares and contrasts the design of Natural systems with the systems that have been designed by humans during the age of “Industrial Growth,” and with the emerging culture of industrial design systems that are considered “Renewable and Sustainable.”

Environmental sustainability education is fundamentally the study of the relationship between all things and the environment in which they are found.  The essential understanding cultivated is that all things are in relationship, or are interconnected within the environment in which they live. To understand the importance of these environmental interrelationships provides a framework for appreciating the intricate systems that sustain our own environment, and life, as we know it, over time.

This course utilizes a systems approach to study the fundamental principles of environmental sustainability by applying them to Natural Life Support Systems, Energy Systems, Water Systems, Food Systems, Waste Systems, and Systems that Support Species Diversity and Wildness.  As with all our Science Classes, our STEM initiative is included in our daily language, literacy, content, and investigations.

Applied Principles of Sustainable Agriculture

This science elective course is designed to use a systems perspective to introduce and explore agricultural approaches designed to utilize ecologically sound practices to improve the environment, local community economies, and quality of life. A significant portion of this course will take place in the BHS Circle Garden and in the adjacent Rio Gozo Community Supported Agriculture Farm. Students will be engaged in the active application of farming principles, as well formal instruction on their foundation and understanding.

Anatomy and Physiology

Anatomy is a branch of natural science dealing with the structural organization of living things. This course will relate structure and function to provide an integrated view of how the human body works. Anatomy is almost inseparable from physiology, which is sometimes called functional anatomy. As one of the basic life sciences, anatomy is closely related to medicine and to other branches of biology.

Our study of Anatomy & Physiology will be a one-semester course. While focusing on functional anatomy, we will also emphasize 7 major systems of the human body and learn the structures of each system along with their functions. Scientific Anatomical terminology will be applied to diagrams, models and each of these systems. Students will research, review and interpret current scientific developments, especially relating to the medical field. As with all our Science Classes, our STEM initiative is included in our daily language, literacy, content, and investigations.