Science and Engineering in the Upper School

The Science and Engineering Program

Science and Engineering at MFSThe three-year graduation requirement for science is satisfied through completion of required and elected major courses. There are two required courses: ninth grade Biology I and tenth grade Chemistry I. In their junior and senior years, students may choose from a variety of science courses. However, students intending to major in science, engineering, or applied science in college should pursue a year of physics, since these programs typically require one year of high school physics in addition to one year each of biology and chemistry.

Many Upper School science courses are differentiated with respect to the matriculation levels of the students: some classrooms are home to both regular and honors students simultaneously, while other classes are made up of honors and AP students. At the end of four weeks of coursework, each student’s performance on in-class assessments determines his or her matriculation status (regular vs. honors, or honors vs. AP). Once matriculation status has been established, assessments, homework, and grading standards are matched to the appropriate level: honors students take tests designed for honors students, while AP students take tests for AP students. Instruction in differentiated classrooms is aimed at the lower level of the two, and students in the higher level must learn some material on their own. The differentiated classrooms give students the opportunity to challenge themselves in areas where they are motivated to learn on their own.

Life Sciences

Biology I / Biology I Honors
Biology I connects some of the major areas of life science — ecology, evolution, molecular and cellular biology of plants and animals — to the sensibility that living organisms can be understood through the scientific method. This sensibility is fostered through lecture, demonstrations, laboratory activities, and field trips. Grades are based upon at-home and in-class work, laboratory reports, tests, and the successful completion of a project for exhibit in the annual science and engineering exposition.

Biology II Honors / AP Biology
This course is designed to be the equivalent of a general, first-year college course. It differs qualitatively from Biology I with respect to the textbook, the number and kinds of topics covered, the emphasis on statistical calculations, and the nature of the laboratory work. Grades are based upon at-home and in-class work, quizzes, projects, laboratory exercises, and tests. Students matriculated as AP will take the AP exam in May.

Environmental Science Honors / AP Environmental Science full year
This course provides students with a learning experience equivalent to that of an introductory, half-year college course in environmental science. Students explore interactions of living systems with each other and their interactions with the environment through public policy and practice in conservation. Observations and measurements of a stream, statistical analysis of online databases, and the field trips deepen student understanding of human-environment relations. Grades are based upon at-home and in-class work, laboratory reports, and tests. Students matriculated as AP will be expected to take the AP exam in May.

Nutrition / Nutrition Honors
This course provides students with a learning experience equivalent to that of an introductory, half-year college nutrition course for non-majors. Fundamental principles of nutrition lay the foundation for an analysis of contemporary controversies, such as fat versus carbohydrates in the diet, vegetarianism, supplement usage, and the epidemic of obesity. Each week students prepare nutritious, seasonable meals in a sustainable manner. Grades are based upon at-home and in-class work, nutrition analysis, tests, and the successful completion of a project for exhibit in the annual science and engineering exposition.

Physical Sciences

Chemistry I / Chemistry I Honors
The material world is the focus of Chemistry I. Students explore the characteristics of matter and transformations of matter through models and problem solving. Laboratory exercises are designed to be environmentally friendly (green chemistry) and to illustrate fundamental principles. Grades are based upon at-home and in-class work, laboratory reports, quiz and tests, and successful completion of a project for exhibit in the annual science and engineering exposition.

Chemistry II Honors / AP Chemistry
Designed to be the equivalent of the general, year-long chemistry course usually studied during the first year of college, this course differs qualitatively and quantitatively from Chemistry I with respect to the kind of textbook used, the number and kinds of topics covered, the depth of coverage, the emphasis on complex and cumulative problem solving, and the kind of laboratory work performed by students. Grades are based upon at-home and in-class work, quizzes, projects, laboratory exercises, and tests. Students matriculated as AP will be expected to take the AP exam in May.

Chemistry III Honors
Designed to be the equivalent of the semester-long organic chemistry course taken by non-majors in college, this course focuses on the sterics and electronics in organic synthesis. To matriculate students must have successfully completed Chemistry II Honors or AP Chemistry. Grades are based on successful completion of daily problem sets and chapter tests.

Physics I 
Physics I focuses on basic mechanics, the interaction of energy and matter (sound waves and waves on water), electrical force and fields, circuits, and geometric optics. Through laboratory exercises, students learn how physics is central to their everyday experience. Grades are based upon at-home and in-class work, quizzes, projects, tests, and successful completion of a project for exhibit in the annual science and engineering exposition.

Physics I Honors / AP Physics

Designed to be the equivalent to a first-semester college course in algebra-based physics, this course differs qualitatively from Physics I with respect to the kind of textbook used, the number and kinds of topics covered, the depth of coverage, the emphasis on complex and cumulative problem solving. Course content includes Newtonian mechanics, work, energy, power, mechanical waves and sound, and an introduction to electric circuits. Grades are based upon at-home and in-class work, quizzes, projects, laboratory exercises, and test as well as a SEE project. Students matriculated as AP will be expected to take the AP exam in May.

Physics II Honors / AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism 

Physics II Honors / AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism is intended for students who plan to major in the physical sciences or engineering. In order to matriculate in Physics C, students must have successfully completed Physics I Honors or AP Physics 1, and students must have completed or be currently enrolled in Calculus AB or BC. This course covers five content areas – electrostatics; conductors, capacitors and dielectrics; electric circuits; magnetic fields; and electromagnetism. Grades are based upon at-home and in-class work, quizzes, projects, laboratory exercises, and tests. Students matriculated as AP will be expected to take the AP exam in May.

Elective Courses

Human Geography Honors / AP Human Geography 

Human Geography Honors / AP Human Geography introduces students to the systematic study of patterns and processes that have shaped human understanding, use, and alteration of Earth’s surface. By employing spatial concepts and landscape analysis to examine human socioeconomic organization and its environmental consequences, students will learn about the methods and tools geographers use in their research and applications. Grades are based upon at-home and in-class work, projects and tests. Students matriculated as AP will be expected to take the AP exam in May.

Examples of Minor Courses

Epidemiology
Do you want to learn how disease detectives work? Epidemiology, the study of the distribution of disease, attempts to identify patterns among a population which serve as a basis for understanding what is causing an illness, and give clues for possible solutions. This course aims to help students to apply statistical tests to numerical data within an epidemiology context, using real data sets. Since most of the common tests are either available in spreadsheet programs or on the web, students may proceed at their own pace, either in the classroom or via distance-learning.

Food Science
Food science explores the production and marketing of foods. Products will be discussed and then consumed.

Forensics
Students will learn about the various procedures and methods a forensic scientist will use in the investigation of a crime. The course will also provide students with information about the various career options for those interested in forensics.

Health Professions Seminar
Perfect for those considering a career in the health sciences, this course will explore the many different aspects of health and medical practices. Students will learn through dissection, hands-on measuring techniques, movies, and guest lecturers. Professionals in medicine, nursing, physical therapy, and psychology will share their life and career experiences in this course. Students will contribute to the creation of a website that chronicles the presentations of the guest speakers.

Neuroscience
Neuroscience is the study of the processes of the human nervous system. Popular books about neuroscience are discussed and applied to everyday life.

Science Olympiad
This course will help students prepare for the various Upper School Science Olympiad Competitions.

Woodland Management
Students will survey existing conditions in the roughly four-acre wooded area owned by MFS just south of our athletic fields. They will document soils, drainage, tree species and age composition, other vegetation, and evidence of wildlife. They will also study applicable regulations that limit activities on the parcel. They will also document current uses.