The Upper School science program builds upon the foundation provided in the Lower and Middle Schools. The Upper School student has gained competence in the use of the basic tools of science and is able to employ a variety of scientific methods to answer questions about events in the world around him. Experimental skills developed prior to Form III are used extensively in laboratory investigations. Data analysis skills are expanded in the Upper School to exploit statistical analysis strategies, such as functional regressions and standard deviations. Practical applications of science, such as environmental sustainability, bioethics, engineering projects and alternative fuels, are explored in every course. Following completion of the Upper School science requirement, students should be able to organize and master a large amount of information. They should be able to pose questions as the basis for an investigation, carry out an experiment to confirm or refute their hypothesis, and write a report that presents their findings and suggests avenues for future experimentation and research.
Browning’s membership in the Black Rock Forest Consortium provides an excellent resource for science studies as well as opportunities for interdisciplinary work.
This required Form III laboratory science course is a survey of molecular biology, patterns of inheritance, human genetics and evolution, concluding with a rigorous analysis of invertebrate and vertebrate organisms. Laboratory investigations are used as critical learning tools. The field work component of this class consists of a learning abroad trip to the Island School in the Bahamas where students will study marine tropical ecology and sustainability. They will produce a report and a presentation on their findings to share with Form II in preparation for their trip next year. They will conclude the year learning about the human body systems through the investigations of diseases. Text: Miller and Levine, Biology.
Chemistry IV is an experimental science course providing a robust foundation for the subsequent Advanced Chemistry course. It covers atomic structure and bonding, properties of matter, solutions and solubility, chemical equilibrium, thermodynamics, acids and bases, ionic equilibrium and organic chemistry. It emphasizes a strong integration of algebraic problem- solving skills. Text: Buthelezi, et al., Chemistry
This Form V and VI course is frequently taken as the third laboratory science course for students who want a strong science background. This is a survey course covering mechanics, Newton’s laws, momentum and energy, thermodynamics, waves, optics, electricity and magnetism, using algebra and trigonometry on a regular basis. A strong experimental component weaves through the entire course.
Text: Zitzewitz, Physics: Principles and Problems
This form V and VI course is equivalent of the first semester of an introductory college-level course on algebra-based physics, covering the topics of Newtonian mechanics; work, energy, and power; mechanical waves and sound; and introductory, simple circuits. At the end of this course, students should be able to take the AP Physics 1 test. Outstanding performance in Algebra is a prerequisite.
Science, Technology, and Society
Focusing on one or more topics, this course for students in Forms V and VI examines the complex interaction between science and society. Recent topics have included: politics, education and the media; technology in the U.S. West; and communications technologies and the nature of complex systems. Texts and readings vary depending on the topic.
This college-level course extends the conceptual foundation provided in the introductory course. Advanced chemistry presents more sophisticated analytical laboratory methods as well as delving more deeply into atomic theory, chemical and molecular bonding, states of matter, chemical reactions, thermodynamics, and nuclear chemistry. At the end of this course, students should be able to take the AP Chemistry test. Outstanding performance in Chemistry IV is a prerequisite. Text: Chang, Chemistry
Advanced Physics C
This advanced course extends the depth of mechanics topics studied in introductory courses and broadens the perspective with additional topics selected from thermodynamics, special relativity, and optics. Calculus tools are used periodically and are reviewed as needed. At the end of this course, students should be able to take the AP Physics C test. Outstanding performance in Physics IV or Advanced Physics 1 is a prerequisite, and Calculus is a corequisite. Text: Tipler, Physics: For Scientists and Engineers 6e
Independent Study in Science
Working with an internal or external mentor a student may select an area of science specialization (such as engineering or biomedical research), explore it in depth and conduct independent research. This course often entails independent completion of online courses offered by colleges such as M.I.T. or Stanford University. Approval for an independent study is contingent on student course load, availability of mentors, and demonstrated strength and interest in science.
Forms V and VI: Science Research
This science elective course is offered to students in Forms V and VI. The goal of this course is for students to experience scientific research as scientists do. Students will read and analyze scientific articles, learn the basics of molecular genetics and genomics, and design an original research project. They will also present the results of their work at the DNA Barcoding symposium organized by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and submit their written work for publication.