Biology is a full-year, laboratory-intensive high school course based on the Next Generation Science Standards. Throughout the year, students focus on broad, unifying themes in biology to help them make sense of emerging research. Students develop deep conceptual understandings of four foundational ideas in biology: organismal structure and function, heredity, evolution, and ecology. Students have significant experience with experimental design, scientific writing and argumentation, data analysis and interpretation, and research skills. This is accomplished through student-led research, a digital textbook, collaborative learning teams, primary source materials such as the journal Nature, podcasts such as Radiolab, and TED talks.
Building upon prior coursework in the sciences, students design and carry out most of their own laboratory experiments, argue their results, and write their conclusions in formal lab reports. Students develop skills to prepare them 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, impacts of climate change, intelligent design, and science denialism. Students learn to observe the world through 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. In the spring, 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.
The Upper School science practices have been adopted from 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 Biology 9 will be able to:
- Ask questions (for science) and define problems (for engineering)
- Plan and carry out investigations
- Analyze and interpret data
- Use mathematics and computational thinking
- Develop and use models
- Construct explanations (for science) and design solutions (for engineering)
- Engage in argument from evidence
- Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information