Upper School science practices have been adopted from the National Resource Council’s A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (2012)
and directly build upon the practices from the Lower School. Students who demonstrate success in upper school science courses will be able to:
Ninth graders may choose one of the courses below.
- ask questions (for science) and define problems (for engineering)
- construct explanations (for science) and design solutions (for engineering)
- plan and carry out investigations
- analyze and interpret data
- use mathematics and computational thinking to solve problems
- develop and use models
- participate in evidence-based arguments
- obtain, evaluate, and communicate information
Biology is a full-year, laboratory-intensive high school course based on the Next Generation Science Standards. Students focus on broad themes and develop deep conceptual understanding of foundational ideas in biology, including organismal structure and function, heredity, evolution, and ecology. Through student-led research, digital texts, collaborative learning teams, and exposure to primary sources, students participate in experimental design, scientific writing, data analysis and interpretation, and research. Students develop skills to prepare for future secondary level school work, such as note taking, study strategies, and learning in a digital classroom environment.
Throughout the year, biological concepts and unifying themes come to life as pressing real-world issues are brought into the classroom, such as genetic engineering, stem cell technology, climate change, intelligent design, and science denialism. Students learn to observe the world from a scientific perspective, using scientific methodology to produce reliable data. As they study biochemistry, students learn why organismal structure and function is essential to understanding organismal survival. Cell biology introduces students to the cell as the basic unit of life, and investigations focus on how cell structure enables life processes to occur. Students also study genetics and evolutionary biology, focusing on the mechanisms of inheritance, the process of evolution, and the unity and diversity of life on Earth. Students investigate organismal diversity and how interconnected systems work together to sustain life. To finish the year, students delve into ecology, exploring organismal interactions with the physical environment around Fay.
During the winter term, ninth grade biology students design their own course of study for the term. They work in small groups or alone to plan, iterate, and execute a scientific research project while learning valuable research and project management skills along the way Connections with people in the “field” include scientists, doctors, and designers.
Diagnosing The Modern World (DMW)
Ninth graders in Diagnosing the Modern World (DMW), a team-taught, interdisciplinary science and history course, focus each term on a specific topic or issue of particular importance to the world today and into the future. Students examine these topics from both scientific and historical perspectives and explore the interconnectivity and complexity of the problems that confront the world. Topics are chosen with an eye on current events and typically share a common theme. In the past, the class has covered topics such as disease, energy, food, water, waste, and war. Depending upon the topic, outside experts often join the class to share expertise and guide students through projects. Field trips ensure that learning happens in an optimal setting that offers context and perspective.
As students investigate the topics in DMW, they practice the skills needed to be self-motivated and independent learners: collaboration, informed discussion and debate, and independent research. As they explore a wealth of sources and perspectives, students also develop the skills of critical thinking, creative interpretation, and media literacy.