Day and Boarding; Grades 6-12

Navigation

Calendar

Science

Graduation requirement: Three years of study, including two lab courses (Biology, Chemistry, and/or Physics)

The sequence of study in the Science Department begins with biology in the freshman year and is followed by chemistry and physics with options for study in environmental science, several semester electives, and Advanced Placement courses in biology, chemistry, and physics. Although this is a traditional sequence, coursework stresses the integration of ideas and concepts from each discipline of science as well as the fields of technology, engineering, and mathematics. The coursework also seeks to develop and inspire students to be dedicated to the principles of science, to understand science as a process (a way of knowing), and to apply understanding to real-world concerns. The faculty see science as an ideal platform to teach habits of mind such as discipline of thought, perseverance, and personal accountability.

Students who complete all courses offered in the science curriculum at Pennington, or who demonstrate exceptional ability, may be given permission to enroll in science courses offered at Princeton University.

Biology

Biology; Grade 9

Biology
Grade 9
1 credit
This course is a comprehensive study of a variety of biological concepts, beginning with the ecosystems on earth, moving to the cell, followed by the whole living organism and the role humans play in this ‘web’ of life. Applied science skills are emphasized both in class and in a laboratory setting. Students develop intellectual integrity, critical thinking, problem solving, and skills in observation, collection, interpretation, and analysis of data through the exploration of biological events relevant to their everyday lives.

Biology Honors; Grade 9

Biology Honors*
Grade 9
1 credit
This course is designed for students who have demonstrated a high level of interest and ability in previous science work. Biology Honors equips students to think seriously about science and apply their knowledge in both the classroom and during laboratory work. Students gain knowledge of cell structure and function; the molecular basis of heredity; biological evolution; the interdependence of organisms, matter, energy, and organization in living systems; and the behavior of organisms. Application of science and math skills to problem-solving in real-world situationsis an integral part of this course.
*Prerequisite: Permission of the department

AP Biology; Grades 11-12

AP Biology*
Grades 11–12
1 credit
This college-level course is recommended for students who intend to major in biological sciences such as biochemistry and/or medicine. AP Biology provides students with the conceptual framework, factual knowledge, and analytical skills necessary to handle critically the rapidly changing science of biology. The emphasis of this laboratory course is to develop an understanding of concepts and of science as an applied problem-solving process rather than an accumulation of facts.
*Prerequisites: Biology, Chemistry, and permission of the department

Physical Sciences

Physical Science (Non-Lab); Grade 10

Physical Science (Non-Lab)
Grade 10
1 credit
This yearlong sophomore inquiry-based course offers a solid foundation in the fundamentals of physics and chemistry through studies in matter and energy. Students develop their scientific literacy, as well as scientific habits of mind, through laboratory experiments, research, and peer review.

Chemistry Concepts; Grade 11

Chemistry Concepts*
Grade 11
1 credit
This course offers a full survey of fundamental chemistry concepts. Students will study matter, molecular structure, atomic structure, chemical formulas, bonds, acids, bases, distillation, organic chemistry, solutions, photons, and radiation. Real-world examples and applications of the course’s concepts, combined with extended lab experiments, allow students to develop a strong understanding of chemical processes.
*Prerequisite: Physical Science

Chemistry; Grade 10

Chemistry
Grade 10
1 credit
In this course, the concepts of chemistry are presented to stress their importance in the lives of the students and in society as a whole. In addition to learning the concepts of chemistry, students develop problem-solving techniques and critical-thinking skills to apply their understanding to authentic situations. Weekly laboratory and group activities are integral to the course, and a working knowledge of Algebra I is required. Students are responsible for designing and executing two long-term laboratory based projects involving the integration of multiple chemical topics.

Chemistry Honors; Grade 10

Chemistry Honors*
Grade 10
1 credit
This honors course is designed for students who show a strong aptitude for science. It includes descriptive and theoretical material, with a strong emphasis on problem solving, and covers the basic concepts of chemistry. Students are responsible for researching, designing and executing a quantitative analysis experiment at the end of the first semester of study as well a research project on an environmental issue of their choosing at the conclusion of the course. Demonstrations, critical-thinking activities, and weekly labs are integral parts of the curriculum. Mastery of mathematical skills through Algebra I is required.
*Corequisites: Concurrent placement in Geometry Honors or higher and permission of the department

AP Chemistry; Grades 11-12

AP Chemistry*
Grades 11–12
1 credit
Students who intend to major in science in college may wish to take this course, which covers all the subject matter usually included in the first year of college chemistry. AP Chemistry has a strong emphasis on problem solving and critical thinking and includes both descriptive and theoretical material. Students delve into some of the more complex issues of chemistry with emphasis on the application of concepts to other disciplines of science and topics of interest to society. Demonstrations, group activities, class discussions, and weekly labs are integral parts of the curriculum.
*Prerequisites: Chemistry and permission of the department

Organic Chemistry Honors; Grade 12

Organic Chemistry Honors*
Grade 12
1 credit
This honors course is intended for highly motivated students who have successfully completed Advanced Placement Chemistry. Students work at their own pace and are required to turn in problem sets and tests at the end of each unit. It is the responsibility of the student to schedule meetings with the instructor to discuss course material and complete the required labs. The course covers introductory material usually included in college-level organic chemistry as well as common organic laboratory techniques.
*Prerequisites: AP Chemistry and permission of the department

Physics; Grades 11-12

Physics*
Grades 11–12
1 credit
In this course, students study the concepts of classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and waves and optics. Principles are stressed, and selected areas of contemporary interest are studied to condition students to our ever-changing technological society. Students conduct laboratory experiments to strengthen their understanding of concepts and further develop critical-thinking skills. Students complete at least one major project involving the design and construction of a mechanical device ( e.g. , a catapult or trebuchet). The study of physics, unlike biology and chemistry, places a heavy reliance on mathematical models to explain, predict, and understand physical phenomena.
*Prerequisite: Chemistry
*Corequisite: Concurrent mathematics placement in Precalculus with Function Limits or higher

Physics Honors; Grades 11-12

Physics Honors*
Grades 11–12
1 credit
This course is designed for students with a strong foundation in math and science who plan to continue their studies in a field related to math and science. Mathematical concepts are extensively applied to the physics principles of mechanics, electricity, magnetism, waves, and optics; these principles are then used for complex problem solving. Laboratory investigations are an integral part of this course including student designed experiments. Students will complete at least one major project that involves the design and construction of a mechanical device ( e.g. , a catapult or trebuchet) that applies the concepts covered in class.
*Prerequisite: Chemistry and permission of the department
*Corequisite: Concurrent mathematics placement in Precalculus with Function Limits or higher

AP Physics C; Grades 11-12

AP Physics C*
Grades 11–12
1 credit
AP Physics C is intended to provide a rigorous introductory college-level physics course with laboratory activities. It is recommended for students planning to study a scientific or engineering discipline in college. The course emphasizes the speculative aspects of mathematics and physics and assumes that the students will be able to solve problems and develop laboratory procedures independently. The course expands on topics introduced in Physics Honors and introduces students to selected topics in modern physics.
* Prerequisite: Physics and permission of the department
*Corequisite: Concurrent mathematics placement in Calculus or higher

Science Electives

Environmental Science (Non-Lab); Grades 11-12

Environmental Science (Non-Lab)*
Grades 11–12
1 credit
Environmental Science is a yearlong course designed to introduce students to major ecological concepts, their interrelationships (i.e., how the atmosphere, water, soil, and organisms affect one another), and how human activities impact the environment. Information from the physical sciences (biology, chemistry, geology) and social sciences (geography, economics, sociology, environmental policy) are combined in an interdisciplinary approach throughout the curriculum. Some themes that are explored throughout the course are sustainability, local and global systems, and environmental justice. Class work will be supplemented with fieldwork around the campus and occasional labs (the extent of lab work in this course does not warrant granting of a lab credit). Students should be prepared to undertake a culminating project each semester.
*Prerequisites: Biology and Chemistry

Design Engineering; Grade 11

Design Engineering*
Grade 11
.5 credit
This course will give students multiple experiences applying the Engineering Design Cycle. Using CAD and graphics software, hand tools, a 3D printer, a laser cutter, a CNC mill, and a variety of materials, students will design, build, and test a solution to a given problem. This course will give students opportunities to develop important twenty-first-century skills such as collaborating with one another; identifying and working effectively with experts; honing presentation and writing ability; and learning how to complete a project on time and on budget. Students will document their learning by keeping an engineering notebook.
*Prerequisite: Successful application to the Applied Science Certificate Program
Offered fall and spring semesters

Astronomy (Non-Lab); Grade 12

Astronomy (Non-Lab)*
Grade 12
.5 credit
This course will begin by focusing on our Sun and Moon, and the motion of these bodies with respect to Earth. With an understanding of these bodies, topics will expand to the entirety of our galaxy. An emphasis will be placed on the scale of our solar system and the location of the planets, asteroids, and other important objects. Finally, the course will finish with a discussion of our galaxy, where we fit into the Milky Way, and how it fits into the observable universe.
Offered fall semester
*Corequisite: Precalculus

Marine Biology (Non-Lab); Grade 12

Marine Biology (Non-Lab)
Grade 12
.5 credit
Students will explore the physical and biological aspects of the world’s oceans and the organisms that live there. In addition, this class will focus on the interaction of humans with the marine environment. The course will cover marine ecosystems, including tide pools, coral reefs, the open ocean, and the deep ocean. The course will provide a thorough understanding of marine invertebrates, fish, and mammals.
Offered fall semester

Forensic Science at the Crime Scene (Non-Lab); Grade 12

Forensic Science at the Crime Scene (Non-Lab)
Grade 12
.5 credit
Forensic Science at the Crime Scene draws on the fundamental principles of chemistry, physics, and biology. Students will learn both the theoretical and philosophical understanding of the investigatory process leading to conclusions about both perpetrator and victim within the confines of the crime scene. Students will learn and practice several techniques including crime scene analysis; fingerprinting; collection, preservation, and testing of evidence; modus operandi; use of technology; and types of evidence. Analysis of problems encountered in interviewing, interrogating, and evidence collecting will also be examined as part of this course.
Offered fall semester

Forensic Science in the Laboratory (Non-Lab); Grade 12

Forensic Science in the Laboratory (Non-Lab)
Grade 12
.5 credit
Forensic Science in the Laboratory draws on the fundamental principles of chemistry, physics and biology. Students will explore forensic science from a laboratory perspective through various methodologies and applications used in this discipline. Topics discussed include organic and inorganic chemical analyses of physical evidence, DNA identification, analysis of fresh and decomposed tissue remains, and drug analysis. Students will practice several techniques in the laboratory such as UV-visible spectroscopy, blood-splatter analysis, and DNA analysis using electrophoresis.
Offered spring semester

Biology of Nature and Ecology (Non-Lab); Grade 12

Biology of Nature and Ecology (Non-Lab)
Grade 12
.5 credit

Ecology is the study of interrelationships between organisms and their biotic and abiotic environments. As a basic science, ecology informs us about the processes governing the patterns we observe in nature. From an applied perspective, it is critical that we understand ecology as it provides insights and solutions to many of the environmental issues we are confronted with in our daily lives. Students will be introduced to the types of questions asked by ecologists, the principal concepts and theories that guide ecological inquiry, and the methods that are used to answer ecological questions. Students will learn the major ideas shaping modern ecology such as population regulation, competition, predation, ecosystem energetics, mathematical models, and nutrient cycling.
Offered spring semester

Robotics (Non-Lab); Grade 12

Robotics (Non-Lab)*
Grade 12
.5 credit
In this semester course, students are introduced to robotics and computer programming. A study of the logic and algorithmic processes used by computers to perform tasks will lead to use of the programming language called BASIC. As the students develop confidence and mastery in the use of hardware and programming, they will write their own functions to perform simple tasks. As the semester progresses, students will design more advanced programs, based on individual ability and curiosity.
Offered spring semester
*Prerequisite: Algebra II