Science and Engineering Courses

Physical Science  

Physical science introduces students to many of the fundamental concepts of physics and some chemistry through a lab-based, in-depth exploration of everyday phenomena in the world around us. Students work in cooperative groups while conducting a variety of experiments and activities to discover and reinforce the critical relationships and concepts necessary to more fully understand the physical world they live in. For example, while studying motion, students experiment with ramps and photo gates to collect, graph, and analyze motion data. This analysis positions students to think about the relationship being graphed and communicate this thinking using the language of science and math. Similar instructional methods that integrate the use of technology and cooperative problems solving are used while studying forces and motions, work and machines, and electricity to name few. All students are expected to be able to present their findings.  Offered at honors and college prep levels

Biology

A basic knowledge of biology is critical to understanding and participating in many of the important debates and controversies of our current time. Genetic modification of our food sources, environmental sustainability in a changing climate, medical advances in cancer and stem cell research, and genetic privacy rights are just a few of the issues requiring a working knowledge of biology to be understood. This course provides an opportunity to learn key concepts in the areas of cell biology, genetics, ecology, and basic human physiology and to develop student capacity to effectively communicate their understanding. Whether observing living cells under a microscope, working with peers on an enzyme activity investigation,  preparing and presenting research on viral disease, or viewing and discussing a video about genetic privacy, students will strive to gain an appreciation for their own complexity while developing a capacity to critically analyze and discuss common biological controversies.  Offered at honors and college prep levels

Chemistry

Chemistry is the study of the properties, structure, and behavior of matter. By gaining knowledge about the structure of atoms and the ways in which they interact, students can build a conceptual understanding of the primary principles of chemistry. Once introduced to the theoretical framework informing chemical structure and properties, students are presented through lectures, demonstrations, and problem-solving sessions with the knowledge and skills needed to discover patterns among atoms, molecules, and compounds and to analyze chemical systems for the purpose of making predictions about the outcomes of different chemical interactions. In the laboratory, teams of students are instructed in basic lab safety while employing standard laboratory equipment to investigate various types of chemical reactions and to develop basic laboratory skills and techniques. Whether calculating percent yields of reaction products or measuring rates of reactions under different conditions, students critically analyze collected data to formulate and communicate conclusions and inferences. Throughout the course, attention is drawn to the industrial, commercial, and household applications of the chemical processes and techniques being presented.  Offered at honors and college prep levels.

Physics

The study of physics offers students a different way to view the world in which they live. By learning and applying the laws of motion and other physical laws, students can explain the behavior of matter and energy and reliably predict the outcome of manipulating variables influencing a physical system. Students work in teams during computer interfacing laboratories using standard physics models and equipment (ramps, pendulums, etc.) to both discover and confirm theoretical concepts learned during class instruction related to forces and motion, light and electromagnetic energy, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, and sound. For example, after orchestrating various collisions between lab bench carts of different masses and velocities, students collect and graph the motion data in search of patterns and trends consistent with the physics laws discussed during classes. Students are expected to employ the tools and language of mathematics when resolving and communicating solutions to physics problems. Increasing student capacity to critically analyze and relate phenomena of the physical world in terms of the fundamental laws of physics is the underlying objective of this course.  Offered at honors and college prep 1 levels

Environmental Science

This project-based course offers students an opportunity to investigate and explore the fundamental
principles of environmental science and the numerous related issues caused by human activity. A central component of this course is a five-month, team-oriented field study of a specific local environment in which data for both abiotic and biotic factors is recorded and analyzed. In addition to studying fundamental ecological concepts and relationships, students will research and critically examine current environmental concerns and controversies including human population size and its impact on the environment, issues concerning air, water, soil and biological resources, energy use and conservation, land use and waste management, and sustainability practices. Throughout the course, the application of environmental science in students’ lives is explored through lectures, demonstrations, and laboratory activities, work in the sustainable garden and other field work, and shared research projects and reports. All levels are combined in the same class with specific expectations for each level clearly stated at the beginning of the course. This course may be taken in addition to Biology but not in place of it.  Offered at honors and college prep levels. 

Anatomy and Physiology

This course offers a systematic exploration of each of the major systems of the human body including both its structure (anatomy) and function (physiology). Using microscopes to view cells and tissue samples, anatomical models and preserved specimens to study organs and organ systems, and specimen dissection to investigate a whole organism, students collaborate in small groups as well work independently to better comprehend human structure and function. A combination of teacher presentations and online resources are used to learn about the digestive, nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, excretory, and other body systems. Once the proper function of these systems is understood, students critically analyze medical case studies in order to better understand the possible consequences of anatomical or physiological malfunction or disease.  ALL students are required to complete the animal dissection lab that is an integral part of this elective course.  Offered at honors and college prep 1 levels 

Oceanography / Marine Biology

Andover High School students live within an hour of the Atlantic Ocean, a body of water that impacts their lives in a multitude of different ways. This course offers students the opportunity to explore elements of oceanography, the study of the physical elements of oceans and marine biology, the study of living things inhabiting marine environments. Students work both independently and in collaboration while developing a variety of skills such as studying marine geography and geology by learning to interpret and navigate with nautical charts and identify seafloor features, and modeling lunar position in order to comprehend tide dynamics. Students critically examine the role oceans play in global climate change and imagine its possible consequences to both coastal and global environments. Equal attention is paid to the organisms that inhabit the ocean environment from the tiniest plankton to the largest whales. Through individual and team projects, students express their knowledge of marine life and gain an increased awareness of how human activity is impacting marine ecosystems.  Offered at honors and college prep 1 levels.

Marine Studies

In Marine Sciences, students are introduced to many of the significant concepts and skills needed to gain a more complete appreciation for the ocean domain of our planet and an understanding of important environmental issues involving oceans. Students are presented with information and data intended to convey the importance of ocean study and exploration and of the knowledge gained from this research. Numerous class activities, simulations, and lab investigations are conducted to build investigation skills. Ocean navigation is taught using nautical charts and navigation instruments. Marine ecosystems are explored through projects, presentations, internet-based resources, and study of preserved marine specimens. A central goal of this course is to increase the capacity of students to critically analyze marine issues and to formulate and communicate informed positions on these issues. Offered at college prep 2 level.


Forensic Science

Forensic science is a multi-disciplinary applied science most widely known for its application in law
enforcement to gather data at crime scenes and building legal cases. Teams of forensic investigators
specializing in a range of scientific fields work together to gather and process crime scene evidence needed to solve crimes and support criminal prosecutions. The field of forensic science utilizes knowledge and methods from a range of other fields including biology, biotechnology, entomology, chemistry, physics, psychology, computer science, law, and others.

The course is designed to model the work of forensic scientists and to introduce the knowledge and
laboratory techniques used by forensic scientists in their analysis of crimes and in the role of forensic
evidence in criminal and civil proceedings. Investigative procedures including crime scene processing and reconstruction, fingerprinting, evaluation of injuries and cause of death, ballistics, trajectory analysis, DNA analysis and other techniques are taught and practiced. Ethical issues and case studies of actual crimes are discussed. Solving forensic mysteries requires creativity and collaboration - students work in teams while processing and analyzing data in order to draw conclusions and to communicate findings that could stand up in court proceedings. Students are regularly presented with case studies to examine and will be expected to contribute case studies drawn from media sources. . Offered at college prep levels

Introduction to Biotechnology

Rarely a day passes without an amazing new discovery generated in the world of biotechnology. This is a lab-based course trains students on basic skills and techniques used by technicians and researchers as they study and manipulate DNA, proteins, and other important biological molecules. This is a very hands-on course in which students will learn by doing as they practice extracting and manipulating DNA, cloning genes and transforming bacteria, conducting gel electrophoresis and PCR (polymerase chain reactions), and learning numerous other basic techniques commonly used in the biotech industry. Emphasis is on “doing” in this course – students spend most of the course time collaborating with lab partners while conducting the various investigations and procedures, critically analyzing experimental results, reviewing and troubleshooting protocols, and maintaining a lab notebook to professional standards. When finished with this course, successful students will process the basic skills needed to work in a biotechnology lab setting.

Bioethics

With every development or discovery in the field of biology, biotechnology, and medicine, new ethical
questions emerge about the application of new knowledge or technologies with respect to their social, political, or religious implications. In this introductory course about bioethics, students are introduced to different ethical contexts for examining these questions as well as strategies for composing and critiquing arguments supporting different position on bioethical questions. Examples of issues addressed include contemporary bioethical issues such as genetic information privacy, human cell cloning, and xenotransplantation (tissue transplant among species) and historical bioethical issues such as meaning of doctor’s Hippocratic Oath and history of human experimentation leading to the principle of informed consent. This course is mostly conducted in a seminar format featuring student presentations and student-led discussions during which the scientific knowledge needed to understand an ethical question is taught prior to the presentation of arguments for and against particular positions on a given question. Emphasis is placed on the critical analysis of arguments made for or against particular ethical positions and the effective communication of arguments related to the ethical debates.  Offered at honors and college prep 1 levels

Environmental Sustainability Internship Course

This course combines classroom instruction and an off-campus internship as an opportunity to explore and actively engage in environmental sustainability issues in the Andover community and beyond. Elements of this class will include: professional guest speakers from the environmental industry, job skills training, independent internship work, and collaboration with community mentors.   Students enrolled in this course will need to meet high expectations for personal maturity, independent motivation, academic commitment, and collaborative behavior.  Enrollment is limited to 12th grade students.

Advanced Placement Biology

The Advanced Placement Biology Course is designed to cover the equivalent of a first year college course for Biology majors. Parents and prospective students should be aware that this course will require students to work on a conceptual level far above that of a regular biology course. Only students who are reading at the college level and motivated to do college work that requires self-advocacy and independent motivation should consider this course. Biological principles are studied in depth within biochemical, molecular, evolutionary, botanical and systemic themes. Twelve open-ended AP laboratory experiments are performed, as well as other supplementary lab work. Additional required readings from scientific publications are an essential part of the course and are used as enrichment, discussion and assessment tools. In order to cover the scope of this course, additional work is done during the summer, on weekends and during vacations.  Enrolled students are expected to sit for the AP Biology exam in May. 

Advanced Placement Chemistry

The Advanced Placement Chemistry course is designed to be the equivalent of the general Chemistry course usually taken during the first year of college. Parents and prospective students should be aware that this course would require students to work on a mathematical and conceptual level far above that of a regular Chemistry course. Only students who are willing to work at the college level should consider this course. The summer assignment should serve as a guide as to whether the student is ready to do this work. Topics such as structure of matter, kinetic theory of gases, chemical equilibrium, and chemical kinetics will be covered in depth. College Board recommended laboratory experiments will be performed and all enrolled students are expected to sit for the AP Chemistry exam in May.

Advanced Placement Environmental Science

This class is equivalent to a first year college level course that incorporates both physical and ecological sciences in the study of the environment. Topics include the interdependence of Earth’s systems; human population dynamics; renewable and nonrenewable resources; environmental quality; global and local environmental changes and their consequences; energy; the environment and society; and choices for the future. The course will include quantitative analysis of data and a laboratory and field investigation component. All enrolled students are expected to pick-up a textbook and summer assignments and to join the course website before leaving in June. Enrolled students are expected to sit for the AP Environmental Science exam in May. 


Advanced Placement Physics 1

The AP Physics 1 course is the equivalent to a first-semester college course in algebra-based physics. The curriculum will require students to comprehend and apply the fundamentals of Newtonian mechanics (including rotational dynamics and angular momentum); work, energy, and power; mechanical waves and sound; and introductory simple electrical circuits. At least 25% of class time will be spent collaborating as a member of an investigative team conducting hands-on, inquiry-based investigations that provide the opportunity to apply concepts learned in this course. Emphasis is placed on creatively applying fundamental physics concepts to solve problems and on deepening one’s understanding and appreciation for the universal laws and principles of physics that govern the physical world.  Enrolled students are expected to sit for the AP Physics 1 Course in May.

Advanced Placement Physics C

The AP Physics C course is the equivalent to a first-semester college course in calculus-based physics
intended for physics and engineering majors. The course will focus on concepts preparing students for the AP Physics C - Mechanics exam and will be infused with engineering and design projects to which students will apply their knowledge and skills. All enrolled students are expected to pick up a textbook and the summer assignments before leaving in June. Enrolled students will take the AP Physics - Mechanics exam in May.


Exploring Engineering

This is a project and research exploration into multiple types of engineering (such as robotics, mechanical, materials, electrical, civil, software) as well as understanding of the engineering process. Students will be encouraged to brainstorm, plan, execute, test and redesign in every project, in the same manner of the Engineering Design process. Students may be introduced to CAD, project software, and robotic programming. Projects may include the construction of a Rube-Goldberg device, robotic challenges, and bridge design & construction. Collaboration with local engineering companies and universities would include speakers of different engineering disciplines each month. Students are expected to be able to conduct independent research and present their projects, as well as work successfully in teams.  Offered at honors and college prep levels 

Exploring Engineering of Robotics

This is a project and research exploration into robotics engineering. This class focuses on understanding the engineering process, mechanical engineering, and software engineering as they pertain to robotics, as well as the fundamentals of robotics. Students will be encouraged to brainstorm, plan, execute, test and redesign in every project, as well as program robots they have created. Students are expected to be able to conduct independent research, present their projects, and work successfully in teams.  Offered at honors and college prep levels.

Engineering Externship

This course combines classroom instruction and a real-world project mentored by industry representatives.  Students will develop a project that they will complete within the course’s duration under the guidance of a mentor. Mentors will direct students toward discipline specific resources as their project develops, emulating the team approach for the engineering design process.
● Instruction and speakers for focused engineering disciplines.
● Utilization of engineering design process including project management, documentation,
communication/presentation and modeling.
● Training in project definition, research techniques, communication and presentations.
Students are expected to be mature, able to work both independently and collaboratively, as well as both within the school and externally with engineering professionals.  Enrollment is limited to 12th grade students.