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.

Botany

This course provides an introduction to the classification, relationships, structure, and function of plants. Topics include reproduction and development of seed-bearing and non seed-bearing plants, levels of organization, form and function of systems, and a survey of major taxa. This course also prepares students to produce greenhouse/nursery plants and to maintain plant growth and propagation structures. Students study soil media, native and introduced plant identification, integrated pest management techniques, plant pathology, and advanced techniques in sustainable agriculture. The course is largely project-based and emphasizes the application of knowledge and skills. A significant percent of class time is spent in the field or gardens on campus.

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.

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.

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.

AP Physics C

AP Physics C is taught in two parts – Physics C: Mechanics, and Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism.  Each part corresponds to a semester of college work.  The Physics C: Mechanics portion of the course provides instruction in each of the following six content areas: kinematics; Newton’s laws of motion; work; energy and power; systems of particles and linear motion; circular motion and rotation; and oscillations and gravitation.  The Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism portion of the course provides instruction in the following five content areas: electrostatics; conductors; capacitors and dielectrics; electric circuits; magnetic fields; and electromagnetism.  Introductory differential and integral calculus is used throughout the course, and 20% of instructional time is devoted to hands-on inquiry-based laboratory work.