Sciences


Our students engage in authentic, skills-driven, inquiry-based and hands-on learning. The campus is our classroom and science students approach learning from a place of curiosity. Beginning in 5th grade, students develop a strong foundation in the skills of scientific argumentation, inquiry and literacy. Our science curriculum dedicates 80% of class time to laboratory investigations where young scientists can delve into important lessons.
 
High school students can challenge themselves in several levels of Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Additionally, elective offerings include Astronomy, Environmental Science and Food Science. The sciences at Forest Ridge graduate young women who can reason critically based on evidence, approach complex problems with confidence and make choices based on a deep respect for our natural world.


Middle School: 5th-8th Grade

Grade Five

The fifth-grade curriculum revolves around the nature of science, and students learn content using scientific skills. Students begin to develop skills in three major categories: scientific argumentation, scientific inquiry and scientific literacy. The goal for every student is to engage with content in a variety of learning experiences that align with the National Science Teachers’ Association recommendations for middle school science, including use of “hands-on, minds-on” inquiry-based science instruction in which at least eighty percent of instructional time is spent on laboratory investigations.

Within the nature of science content, students learn to create models, support claims with evidence, formulate testable questions, test predictions, analyze data and draw conclusions. Units preview content from the next three grade levels, including life, earth and physical science. Prentice Hall®'s Interactive Science series is a student resource for the class.

Grade Six

The sixth-grade curriculum revolves around the theme of life science, and students learn content using scientific skills. Students continue developing skills in four major categories: scientific argumentation, scientific inquiry, engineering design and scientific literacy. The goal for every student is to engage with content in a variety of learning experiences that align with the National Science Teachers’ Association recommendations for middle school science, including using “hands-on, minds-on” inquiry- based science instruction in which at least eighty percent of instructional time is spent on laboratory investigations.

Within the life science content, units of study include the nature of science, cells, plants, ecology, genetics and evolution. Prentice Hall's Interactive Science series is a student resource for the class. Health units are also incorporated throughout the year. Units include CPR, brain science, puberty and the reproductive system, and public health.

Grade Seven

The seventh-grade curriculum revolves around the theme of earth science, and students learn content using scientific skills. Students develop proficiency in four major categories: scientific argumentation, scientific inquiry, engineering design and scientific literacy. The goal for every student is to engage with content in a variety of learning experiences, which align with the National Science Teachers’ Association recommendations for middle school science including using “hands-on, minds-on” inquiry-based science instruction and where at least eighty percent of instructional time is spent on laboratory investigations.

Units of study include the rock cycle, plate tectonics, earth’s natural disasters and geologic time scale, as well as some astronomy. In the spring, the class will also continue the human development unit begun in sixth grade. This includes a review of the human reproductive systems, sexually-transmitted infections, and an examination of the stages of pregnancy and fetal development. Student resources include the Prentice Hall Interactive Science series, FOSS Earth History and Planetary Science, as well as additional online resources.

Grade Eight

The eighth-grade science course plays an integral part in the ongoing curriculum to prepare students for high school, building on skills and concepts previously introduced. The curriculum revolves around the theme of physical science, and students learn content using scientific skills. Students demonstrate proficiency in four major categories: scientific communication, scientific inquiry, engineering design and scientific literacy. The goal for every student is to engage with content in a variety of learning experiences that align with the National Science Teachers’ Association recommendations for middle school science, including using “hands-on, minds-on” inquiry-based science instruction in which at least eighty percent of instructional time is spent on laboratory investigations.

Within the physical science content, units of study include energy, physical and chemical properties of matter, motion, force, electricity and magnetism. The health unit for the year revolves around neuroscience and its application towards decision making and learning. Prentice Hall's Interactive Science series is a student resource for the class.

High School: 9th-12th Grade

Graduation Requirement: 3.0 credits (6 Semesters)

Physics

Physics I
Year-long/Required

This required course is a project-based class that uses inquiry and hands-on laboratory experiences to understand physics. Students are presented with 2-3 project challenges over the course of the year. The first semester project focuses on waves and optics. The second semester project covers basic electricity and thermal physics. The main emphasis is on an introduction to classical physics. Other topics are covered as time permits. The course uses a variety of labs, lectures, demonstrations and problem solving to learn the basic concepts. The labs utilize real time data acquisition probes and sensors.

Prerequisite: None
Grade level: 9
Credit earned: 1.0 Science

 

Physics II
Year-long
Physics II is offered in alternate years. It will not be offered in 2019-20. It will be offered again in 2020-21.
 

Physics II is a rigorous, algebra-based physics class. The five main areas of study are Newtonian mechanics, thermodynamics, optics and wave theory, electricity and magnetism and “modern physics.” While the course content includes all the areas mentioned, the main emphasis is on Newtonian mechanics, wave theory, electricity and magnetism. Other advanced topics are covered as time permits. The course uses hands-on inquiry labs, lectures, demonstrations and problem solving to study the concepts of physics. The labs utilize real time data acquisition probes and sensors. A culminating, individual investigation will be carried out by each student in the spring.

Prerequisite: Physics I and recommendation of the Science Department
Grade level: 10, 11, 12
Credit earned: 1.0 Science

Chemistry

Chemistry I
Year-long/Required

This required course covers the basics of chemistry. The students’ investigations include, but not be limited to, the structure of atoms, how they come together to bond, what reactions they undergo and how to measure quantities in those reactions. The class involves inquiry lessons, laboratory experiments, readings and homework assignments from the text and computer simulations. This course is designed to build on the knowledge the students acquired in their physics course and prepare them for their study of biology.

Prerequisite: Physics I
Grade level: 10, 11
Credit earned: 1.0 Science

 

Chemistry II
Year-long

Chemistry II is offered in alternate years. It will be offered in the 2019-20 school year.

Chemistry II extends and deepens the students’ knowledge and understanding of chemistry. Students investigate topics including, but not limited to, thermochemistry, kinetics, equilibrium, acids and bases, and oxidation-reduction reactions. This class involves direct instruction, inquiry-based lessons, laboratory experiments, independent work from the text and computer simulations. A culminating, individual investigation is carried out by each student in the spring.

Prerequisites: Chemistry I and recommendation of the Science Department
Grade level: 11, 12
Credit earned: 1.0 Science

Biology

Biology I
Year-long/Required

This inquiry-based biology course introduces students to major themes in biology, including homeostasis, evolution, inheritance, and the interdependence of living systems, with an emphasis on real-world connections that are relevant to the students’ lives. Classes consist primarily of hands-on labs and activities, case studies, and discussions. In addition to learning the fundamental concepts of biology, students develop problem-solving and critical-thinking skills through planning and carrying out inquiry-driven investigations, analyzing data and constructing explanations.

Prerequisites: Physics I and Chemistry I
Grade level: 11, 12
Credit earned: 1.0 Science
 
Biology II
Year-long

Biology II is a second level course that is designed to provide students who have a high level of interest in the biological sciences. Students gain an advanced understanding of the fundamental concepts in biology and the skills necessary to be successful in their college science courses. This fast-paced, lab-based class uses experiments, case studies and hands-on activities to teach key biological concepts with a focus on biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology and genetics. A culminating, individual investigation is carried out by each student in the spring.

Prerequisites: Biology 1 and recommendation of the Science Department
Grade level: 12
Credit earned: 1.0 Science

Environmental Science

One Semester

Environmental science focuses on the natural state of the environment as well as the impacts of human populations and activities on the natural world. Many of these topics are socially and politically controversial. The goal of this course is to give students the ability to understand the issues facing our species and to think critically and intelligently about the issues involved. Earth is a dynamic, changing planet, and this course challenges students to think about global change as it impacts environments, economies and societies. Topics include human population growth, climate change, water resources and pollution. Class time is primarily spent doing hands-on activities, performing experiments and discussing current events.

Prerequisite: None
Grade level: 10, 11, 12
Credit earned: 0.5 Science

Astronomy

Astronomy: Solar System and Extra-Solar Planets
One Semester

In this course, students study the night sky, constellations, the planets and their moons, as well as asteroids and comets. They continue their journey outward to study extra-solar planets and learn what is necessary for life on these planets. Some historical background is covered. Hands-on activities, which include projects and in-class labs, are also part of the course.

Prerequisite: None
Grade level: 10, 11, 12
Credit earned: 0.5 Science

 

Astronomy: Stars, Galaxies and the Universe
One Semester

In this course, students start their study with learning about the electromagnetic spectrum and how astronomers use this information to discern what they know about the universe. Their journey then takes students to the Sun and the solar neighborhood, therein learning about stellar properties, structure and evolution. Students then wrap up their journey outward by looking at galaxies and how they help us understand the fate of our universe. Hands-on activities, which include projects and in-class labs, are also part the course.

Prerequisite: None
Grade level: 10, 11, 12
Credit earned: 0.5 Science

Food Matters

One Semester

You are what you eat, right? At a molecular level, this is absolutely true! So, how do the ingredients you put into your foods transform into delicious meals that eventually become part of your skin, bones, blood and muscles?

In this course, students apply what they’ve learned in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics as they select recipes and prepare some of their favorite foods. Working in both the kitchen and science lab, students investigate the physical and chemical changes that occur to foods when they are whipped, brined, boiled and baked. Additionally, they trace how nutrients in food are absorbed and used by our bodies for energy, development, structure and disease prevention. Finally, they’ll investigate how their food choices affect the environment and how nurturing a healthy environment ensures a sustainable food system for generations to come.

Prerequisite: None
Grade level: 11, 12
Credit earned: 0.5 Science

*Course offerings are based on student interest and minimum enrollment requirements; therefore, some classes listed may not be offered every school year.