Science Department

Canterbury’s science curriculum provides students with a rich array of traditional, advanced, and elective courses in the physical and biological sciences. AP courses are offered in biology, chemistry and physics. The science faculty bring diverse backgrounds and advanced degrees to the classroom, and are passionate about engaging each student with inquiry-based labs and modern applications of science and technology. Using critical thinking skills and experiential learning, students collaborate in the design and interpretation of laboratory experiments.

Field trips are an essential part of the science curriculum. Recent field trips include an Environmental Science class trip to the Aspetuck River to collect data and an AP Biology trip to Long Island Sound. Active engagement with state-of-the-art technology prepares students for science courses in college. Electives to pique student interest range from a course on the Biology of the Brain to a course on the Science of West Africa, taught by a former Peace Corps volunteer. See the Academic Guide for more information on science courses.

DISCOVER

  • Investigate how different wave lengths of light affect growth and oxygen production in aquatic plants in biology.
  • Flame test various salts in chemistry to identify each compound's metal ion.
  • Identify unknowns in chemistry lab by testing and characterizing compounds.


COLLABORATE

  • Work in pairs to solve problems and present solutions to classmates in physics.
  • Create an instructional video tutorial with classmates in physics lab on the mechanical advantage of a system of pulleys.
  • Use an app to create an instructional tutorial for your classmates on drawing Lewis structures in chemistry.

EXPERIENCE

  • Collect specimens from the Aspetuck River as part of an environmental study for the State of Connecticut.
  • Join your AP Biology class on a field trip to Long Island Sound
  • Cultivate and examine bacteria in microbiology.
  • Extract and isolate caffeine from tea in introduction to organic chemistry.

2017 - 18 Course Offerings

Science

Chair: Anne Diamond

The Science Department focuses on the excitement of learning about the natural world. Recent technological innovations are used in the classroom and laboratory to reach a wide range of learners and increase student involvement.

* Indicates a lab fee for the course.

BIOLOGY (LAB)*

This introductory laboratory course explores a molecular approach to the study of living systems by examining evolutionary development, genetic continuity, and biological and ecological diversity. Using actual data from laboratory evidence, the student develops analytic skills consistent with the biological themes of change, diversity, energy, homeostasis and scientific inquiry. In the lab students investigate the molecular and cellular structures of living organisms, proceeding to larger and more inclusive organizational levels. This course provides many of the primary skills and knowledge necessary for success in the study of subsequent science courses.

Primarily For Third Formers

HONORS BIOLOGY (LAB)*

This course includes an in-depth coverage of living systems with extensive laboratory experiences. Students develop analytic skills consistent with the biological themes of change, diversity, energy, homeostasis and scientific inquiry. Students must demonstrate excellent understanding of the molecular and cellular structures of living organisms. In the lab, students investigate the molecular and cellular structures of living organisms, proceeding to larger and more inclusive organizational levels. In inquiry based laboratory experiments students learn to critically analyze and interpret data. Students are prepared to take the SAT subject test in biology at the end of the school year. Enrollment is determined by the department and the Dean of Academics.

Primarily For Third Formers

AP BIOLOGY (LAB) *

Students explore science as a process where new properties emerge at each level in the biological hierarchy. They explore how organisms interact with other organisms and the physical environment, energy transfer and transformation, and the correlation of structure and function at all levels of biological organization. Studying cells as an organism’s basic unit, they proceed to studies of the heritable continuity of life in the form of DNA, the feedback mechanisms that regulate biological systems, and evolution as the overarching theme of biology. A strong emphasis on advanced laboratory analysis is critical for understanding the molecular and chemical functions of living organisms and systems. To enroll in this course students must have successfully completed honors biology and honors chemistry. Students enrolled in this course are required to take the AP Biology exam in May.

For Fifth and Sixth Formers

CHEMISTRY (LAB)*

This introductory laboratory course covers fundamental chemical concepts and helps students develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students learn about matter, physical and chemical properties and changes, chemical composition and nomenclature, reactions and stoichiometry, energy, modern atomic theory and bonding, gases, liquids, solids, solutions, acids and bases, and equilibrium. The course may be blended and include interactive activities and assignments in both traditional and web-based formats. Students practice collaboration and problem solving in the laboratory as well as at the whiteboards. In weekly laboratories, students observe and explore chemical phenomena in inquiry-based labs. Students keep a laboratory notebook and learn to collect, analyze, interpret, and present experimental data. A balance of traditional low-tech equipment and state-of-the-art probe-ware is used.

Minimum prerequisite: Successful completion of one year of algebra is required.

For Fourth and Fifth Formers

HONORS CHEMISTRY (LAB)*

This in-depth laboratory course covers fundamental chemical concepts and helps students develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students learn about matter, physical and chemical properties and changes, chemical composition and nomenclature, reactions and stoichiometry, energy, modern atomic theory and bonding, gases, liquids, solids, solutions, acids and bases, equilibrium, electrochemistry, and nuclear chemistry. The course is blended and includes interactive activities and assignments in both traditional and web-based formats. Students practice collaboration and problem solviing in the laboratory as well as at the whiteboards. In weekly laboratories, students observe and explore chemical phenomena in inquiry-based labs. Students keep a laboratory notebook and learn to collect, analyze, interpret, and present experimental data. A balance of traditional low-tech equipment and state of the art probe-ware is used. Students are encouraged to take the SAT subject test in chemistry at the end of the school year.

Departmental approval is required.

For Fourth and Fifth Formers

AP CHEMISTRY (LAB) *

Students perform advanced chemical calculations (using data acquired) during laboratory experimentation. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are developed as students learn about atomic theory and structure, chemical bonding, nuclear chemistry, gas laws, and kinetic-molecular theory, reaction types, stoichiometry, equilibrium, and thermochemistry. To enroll in this course students must have successfully completed Honors Chemistry and Algebra II. Students enrolled in this course are required to take the AP Chemistry exam in May.

For Fifth and Sixth Formers

PHYSICS (LAB)*

This is an introductory, laboratory-based course that emphasizes a conceptual understanding of physics. Topics covered include kinematics, Newtonian mechanics, momentum, collisions, energy, electricity and magnetism, heat, sound and light. Numerous real-world applications are explored so that students come away from the course understanding the rules of nature and how things work. In the laboratory, students observe and explore physical phenomena and ultimately design experiments in inquiry-based labs. Experimental design methods, laboratory data analysis techniques and error analysis are covered. A balance of traditional low-tech equipment and state-of-the-art probe-ware is used to appeal to a wide variety of learners.

Minimum prerequisite: Algebra II, concurrently.

For Fifth and Sixth Formers

PHYSICS 1 (LAB) *

In this college level course, topics are covered in-depth and the material is cumulative. In the first semester, students study kinematics, Newton’s laws, work, energy and power, as well as momentum and collisions. In the second semester they study circular motion and the universal law of gravitation, simple harmonic motion, introductory circuits, mechanical waves and sound. Additional topics may include optics, thermal physics and modern physics. Collaborative work is promoted in problem solving, laboratory experiments, and presentations. In the laboratory, students observe and explore physical phenomena and ultimately design experiments in inquiry-based labs. Experimental methods and techniques of data collection, interpretation and error analysis are covered. A balance of traditional low-tech equipment and state-of-the-art probe-ware is used. Students are required to take the AP Physics 1 test in May.

Prerequisites: honors chemistry, honors pre-calculus, concurrently. Departmental approval is required.

For Fifth and Sixth Formers

AP PHYSICS C (LAB) *

In this college level course, topics are covered in-depth and the material is cumulative. In the first semester, students study kinematics, Newton’s laws, work, energy, and power, linear momentum and collisions, circular motion and rotations oscillations and the universal law of gravitation. In the second semester they study electrostatics, conductors and dielectrics, circuits, magnetic fields and electromagnetism. Introductory differential and integral calculus is used throughout the course. Collaborative work is promoted in problem solving, In the laboratory, students observe and explore physical phenomena and ultimately design experiments in inquiry-based labs. Experimental methods and techniques of data collection interpretation and error analysis are covered. A balance of traditional low-tech equipment and state-of-the-art probe-ware is used. Students are required to take the AP Physics C Mechanics test and the AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism test in May.

Minimum prerequisites: honors chemistry and calculus, concurrently. Departmental approval is required.

For Fifth and Sixth Formers

AP PSYCHOLOGY

The Advanced Placement Psychology course is designed to introduce students to the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings and other animals. Students are exposed to the psychological facts, principles, and phenomena associated with each of the major subfields within psychology. They also learn about the ethics and methods psychologists use in their science and practice. Students are required to take the AP Psychology exam in May.

Science Electives

Electives offered by the Science Department.

ANIMAL ANATOMY (LAB) * (FALL OR SPRING)

Students in this course study the anatomy of a diverse selection of animal life. They learn the homologous and analogous structures and functions found in invertebrates and vertebrates. Students investigate structures at the cellular level through microscopes; the study of larger animals involves the dissection of preserved specimens. The course will also include how today’s newer classification system reflects a more phylogenetic arrangement and more consistent evolutionary relationships.

Prerequisite: Biology

For Fourth and Fifth Formers

ENGINEERING FUNDAMENTALS (FALL OR SPRING)

This course encourages students to pursue engineering questions and technological solutions that emphasize research and problem solving using mathematical and scientific concepts. Students achieve a more advanced level of skill in engineering design by learning how to conceptualize a problem, develop possible solutions, design and build prototypes or models, and make modifications if necessary. Students will explore engineering design, construction technologies, energy and power technologies including fluid systems, thermal systems, electrical systems, and communication and manufacturing technologies.

For Fifth and Sixth Formers

HONORS INTRODUCTION TO ORGANIC CHEMISTRY (LAB) (FALL)

This one semester course provides students with an introduction to the structure and reactivity of organic compounds. Frequent discussion of current applications and scientific advances emphasizes the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of science today and the vital role chemistry plays. Topics include nomenclature, stereochemistry, reactivity, and conformational analysis. Select organic reactions and their mechanisms will be studied. Synthesis and retro-synthetic analysis will be introduced. Two oral presentations on a contemporary science issue will be required during the semester. In the lab, students study the properties of organic compounds. They learn techniques for handling, separating, isolating, and purifying organic compounds. They also carry out reactions and isolate products. The course is designed to provide students who are interested in physical or biomedical sciences with a thorough introduction to Organic Chemistry, a required course for college science majors. Minimum prerequisites: B grades in chemistry and biology.

For Fifth and Sixth Formers

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE (LAB) * (SPRING)

Using the Canterbury environs as a case study, students explore forest, field, and pond ecosystems, pollution of air, water and soil, toxic waste, carbon footprints, population growth, and environmental activism. Primary reading sources include the Internet, newspapers, and scholarly journal. Students conduct laboratory studies of water quality and the dominant populations of living organisms on the East Aspetuck River in New Milford. In conjunction with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, students collect chemical and biological data and analyze it to determine levels of water quality.

For Third and Fourth Formers

FUNDAMENTALS OF CHEMISTRY (SPRING)

This introductory, one-semester chemistry course offers students a solid foundation in chemical concepts, analytical thinking, and problem solving skills. Students study atomic theory and the periodic table. They learn about ionic and molecular compounds, their properties and nomenclature. They study the states of matter and learn to write and balance chemical reactions. Students learn dimensional analysis with the metric system, density, and again with stoichiometry. The course is blended and includes interactive activities and assignments in both traditional and web-based formats. Problem solving is demonstrated frequently and practiced during collaborative work at white boards. This course is intended to prepare students for regular chemistry. By departmental recommendation.

For Fourth Formers

BIOME ECOLOGY (FALL)

The science of Biome Ecology classifies Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems into major ecological units that are correlated with regional climate types. The course begins with a basic overview of the principles of ecology. Students study Tropical Rainforests, Tropical Dry Forests, Tropical Savannas, Temperate Grasslands, Mediterranean Scrub Forests, Taiga, and Temperate Rain Forests, Deserts, Deciduous Forests, Tundra, and Rivers and Lakes. Students study the human impact on each of the ecosystems. Students must have successfully completed a course in introductory biology.

For Fifth and Sixth Formers.

MICROBIOLOGY (LAB) (FALL) *

Students in this course study the impact that bacteria and viruses have on human populations. We emphasize laboratory experimentation to support a better understanding of the fundamental concepts and their applications to real life. The curriculum covers organization of the microbial world, microbe function, host-parasite relationships, and medical and environmental microbiology. Students must have successfully completed an introductory biology course.

For Fifth and Sixth Formers

ECOLOGY (FALL)

This semester lab course introduces basic concepts in the ecology of individual organisms, their populations, and the biological communities in which they live. Emphasis is on terrestrial plant and animal ecology. The historical, evolutionary, and ecological processes determining the distribution of ecosystems, habitats, and species are introduced. Theories of competition, predation, disease, and mutualism help explain the functioning of biological communities.

For Third and Fourth Formers

BIOLOGY OF THE BRAIN (FALL OR SPRING)

Students are introduced to the complexity of brain chemistry as a major determining force in behavior and motivation. The course is divided into two parts, fall and spring. Students can enroll in either term or take both fall and spring sessions. The fall course content includes scientific methods used in psychology, biological psychology, nature, nurture, and human development and emotions, stress and health. In the spring more focus is placed on social psychology personality, and specific disorders and treatments. Students must have successfully completed introductory biology to enroll in this course.

For Fifth and Sixth Formers

ANATOMY AND INJURY (LAB) (FALL OR SPRING)

Anatomy and Injury instructs the student in the basic structural and functional anatomy of the human body as it relates to the injuries typically treated by a certified athletic trainer. This course is recommended for those interested in majoring in athletic training at the college level. In addition to class instruction and homework assignments, students must complete required observation hours in the training room where they make basic evaluations of injured fellow students.

For Fifth and Sixth Formers

MARINE SCIENCE (SPRING)

Students study the diversity of marine organisms, from the smallest plankton to the largest whales. Investigations of the major marine environments focus on the complexity of living systems and the resultant interactions between organisms. Students learn that global weather patterns, currents, and tides are crucial to marine life. Lecture presentations, interactive discussions, multi-media materials, and laboratory studies are used to stimulate interest and to promote academic success. The class takes a full-day field trip to the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT. The day includes a research trip or excursion on Long Island Sound. Students must have successfully completed an introductory biology course to enroll in this class.

For Fifth & Sixth Formers

GENDER STUDIES (SPRING)

This course offers a multidisciplinary and multicultural introduction to gender’s studies. Students study leadership, both historical and contemporary, that resulted in social change. Issues of race relations, sexual identity, gender equality, socialization practices, and the genesis of sex roles cross-culturally are some of the major topics.

This course does not fulfill graduation requirement in science. For Sixth Formers

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