Science at Avon Old Farms School
When boys can roll up their sleeves, witness a chemical reaction, or explore their subject matter on a class trip in the woods, learning becomes inspirational.
Each student has ample opportunity to formulate questions and engage with their coursework through regular demonstrations and laboratory experiments. This hands-on approach – coupled with reading and group discussions – helps students gain a better appreciation of science.
The science curriculum has two main objectives: to promote and sustain natural curiosity in the many areas of science; and, to develop the student's ability to explore, discover, and investigate the fundamental truths of nature.
- Living Systems
- Living Systems Honors
- Introduction to Engineering Design
- General Chemistry
- Chemistry Honors
- Physics Honors
- Environmental Science
- Principles of Engineering
- Aerospace Engineering
- AP Biology
- AP Chemistry
- AP Environmental Science
- AP Physics C: Mechanics
- Engineering Design and Development
Living Systems is the study of our living world beginning with the interconnectedness and interdependence of all living things on each other and on the nonliving world of matter and energy. This framework provides context for the subsequent study of cells, reproduction, and evolution. This course will also investigate human disruptions to those living systems (biodiversity, energy flows, and nutrient cycles) that all living organisms require and that we require for healthy economies. Laboratory experiments, class demonstrations and outdoor explorations re-enforce lecture concepts and activities
Living Systems Honors
This is an intensive study of living systems for the scholarly ninth and tenth grade students. It is a more thorough and faster pace treatment of the general living systems curriculum emphasizing independent reading and laboratory investigations. Students will acquire a firm foundation in the general principles of biology and can proceed to other honors and advanced placement science classes. This course is designed to prepare students to progress to AP Biology.
Introduction to Engineering Design
This introductory course is open typically to 9th and 10th-grade students who have not completed geometry.
Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) is a foundation course in the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Engineering Program. In IED, students will work both individually and in teams to design solutions to a variety of problems using a 3D modeling software and following the standards of an engineering design process. Utilizing the activity-project-problem-based teaching and learning pedagogy, students will progress from completing structured activities to solving open-ended projects and problems that require them to develop planning, documentation, communication and other professional skills.
Chemistry is the study of matter and its composition. In addition, chemistry is the science that deals with changes which matter undergoes and the energy that accompanies these changes . This course is designed to enable students to learn chemistry through experimentation and observation. More than one third of class time is devoted to solving word problems and eighteen lab experiments supplement classroom work. The primary goals of this course are for students to develop an understanding of the basic principles of inorganic and organic molecules and the processes they are involved in, both physical and chemical , and to acquire an appreciation of science as a process of questions and answers. Factor labeling or dimensional analysis is introduced as the method of choice for problem solving. The laboratory experiments are intended to familiarize students with the scientific method and the use of computer programs in data recording and analysis.
This rigorous and fast paced introduction to chemistry is intended for highly motivated students who possess strong mathematical abilities. The goals of this course are for students to develop an understanding of the basic principles of inorganic molecules and their reactions, and to acquire an appreciation of science as a process of questions and answers while covering the key chemical concepts typically found in a first-year course. While the topics studied are similar to Avon’s general chemistry course, the material is covered in greater depth and with more mathematical rigor. Labs are designed to familiarize students with experimental techniques and enhance students’ understanding of the material studied. Experiments include both scripted and inquiry based activities.
This course examines fundamental principles and laws of the physical world through scientific exploration. The class will interpret media sources, observe demonstration, conduct student laboratory investigations, perform conceptual and mathematical reasoning, and build hands-on projects. Students will be required to conduct prescribed and self-generated experiments. Following each lab, students will write a laboratory report. The course also shows how physics is related to the other sciences and includes some aspects of the history and philosophy of science. Topics include motion, states of matter, waves, sound and light, optics, heat, electricity and electrical circuits.
This honors physics course is organized around five big ideas that bring together the fundamental scientific principles and theories of general physics. These big ideas are intended to encourage students to think about physics concepts as interconnected pieces of a puzzle. The solution to the puzzle is how the real world around them actually works. Students will participate in inquiry-based explorations of these topics to gain a more conceptual understanding of these physics concepts. The course utilizes guided inquiry and student-centered learning to foster the development of critical thinking skills. Concurrent enrollment in Precalculus, or department approval or higher is required for this course.
The Forensics course is a junior and senior level elective which provides an overview of frequently used laboratory techniques, instrumentation, and strategies used by forensic scientists when collecting and analyzing physical evidence. Topics will range from crime scene evaluation to collection and analyses of specific types of evidence. This course includes numerous hands on laboratory activities. Although a science course, the nature of this class is multidisciplinary in nature, touching on the study of actual court trials and the legal system while also exploring forensics in fiction and mass media.
Geology is the science of the Earth. Geologists study the materials that make up the Earth, and the processes that happen to them or have happened to them in the past. Much of geology is highly practical: finding oil, clean water, metals, and other valuable aspects in the Earth; warning people of geological hazards such as severe weather patterns, landslides, wildfires, earthquakes and volcanoes. Geologists are helping in writing the “operator’s manual for the Earth” to help us and the Earth live in harmony in the future. Some of geology is just plain fun—learning about the dinosaurs, for example. Much of geology is fundamental, and contributes to all of these. This course is designed to open up the minds of the students to relate all that happens in geology to social aspects, economies, politics and everyday life. Like the Domino effect, all are connected.
Environmental Science immerses students in the study of the complexity of today's global environmental issues. Concepts and vocabulary from the natural, physical, and social sciences are integrated into the study of critical systems that support life on the planet and man-made threats to those systems. The course is structured to develop students' scientific literacy and capacity for critical, informed thinking through an examination of scientific methods and through the assimilation of scientific information. Laboratory exercises are conducted on the Avon Old Farms School property and include an ecological stream study.
Principles of Engineering
Pre-requisites: geometry and completion of or concurrent enrollment in physics
Principles of Engineering is a foundation course of high school engineering that surveys some of the major concepts of postsecondary engineering. Through exploring problems that engage and challenge, students will encounter a broad range of engineering topics, including mechanisms, the strength of materials and structures, automation, and kinematics. The course applies and concurrently develops secondary level knowledge and skills in mathematics, science, and technology.
Students will have the opportunity to develop skills and understanding of course concepts through activity-, project-, and problem-based learning. They will continually hone their interpersonal skills, creative abilities, and problem solving skills by solving rigorous and relevant design problems using concepts within a collaborative learning environment. The class will also learn how to document their work and communicate their solutions to their peers and members of the professional community.
This course propels students’ learning in the fundamentals of atmospheric and space flight. As they explore the physics of flight, students bring the concepts to life by designing an airfoil, propulsion system, and rockets. They learn basic orbital mechanics using industry-standard software. They also explore robot systems through projects such as remotely operated vehicles.
Pre-Requisites: Living Systems or Biology and Chemistry
Open only to Juniors and Seniors
Biotechnology is a laboratory-based course investigating real- world situations related to concepts learned in biology, chemistry and environmental sciences. Detailed overviews and background information including theories and molecular biology techniques will be presented in class lectures; however, the emphasis will be on hands-on experiments. Topics explored include molecular and cellular biology, genomics, genetics, immunology and proteomics. Each laboratory will culminate with an organized and well-written lab report or PowerPoint class presentation.
This course is equivalent to a two semester college introductory biology course and follows the recommendations of the Advanced Placement Board so that students are prepared to take the May Advanced Placement exam. Lectures focus on molecular and cellular biology; heredity, genetics and biotechnology; evolution and diversity; organisms and populations; and lastly, anatomy and physiology. Experimental exercises supplement student’s learning by developing advanced inquiry and deductive reasoning using the scientific method as well as laboratory skills through setting up and performing the testing protocols. First-year courses in Living Systems or biology, chemistry and physics as well as the recommendation of the academic dean and science department chair are prerequisites.
This course is designed to prepare students for the AP chemistry exam through an exploration of topics equivalent to the ones covered in a traditional college freshman general chemistry class . The class meticulously covers the entire AP syllabus as prescribed and assessments mirror the form and content of the AP exam to better prepare students. A total of 20 experiments will be performed throughout the year and these laboratory experiments serve as an integral part of the topics covered during the course. The approach taken in this class will allow the students to memorize less but spend more time on inquiry-based learning of essential concepts that will enable them to develop analytical skills necessary to understand science practices used in the study of chemistry. The topics covered will include classification of matter, types of chemical reactions, different classes of organic compounds , stoichiometry , acids and bases , analytical chemistry, chemical equilibrium, thermodynamics, electrochemistry Lewis formulas and molecular models, solutions , types of intermolecular forces, nuclear chemistry, redox, trends in the periodic table and gases. Prerequisites include a strong mathematics background (Algebra II Honors or higher), chemistry and Living Systems or Biology, and recommendation of the Academic Dean and the science department chairperson.
AP Environmental Science
AP Environmental Science is a rigorous, fast-paced course that immerses students in the complexity of today’s global environmental issues and their many identifiable causes. Concepts and vocabulary from the natural, physical, and social sciences are integrated in the study of critical systems that support life on the planet and the anthropogenic threats to those systems. Preparation for the Advanced Placement exam is one of the primary intentions of the course, but the course also aims to further develop students’ scientific literacy and their capacity for critical, informed thinking. The course moves quickly through a score of major topics, so the course is only appropriate for students capable of learning a significant portion of the material through reading assignments and exercises. The blended approach to learning includes in-class discussions, concept presentation, Planet Earth series segments, TED talks, segments from the Habitable Planet video series that highlights the work of environmental scientists, and other relevant and contemporary video segments found on YouTube. Laboratory exercises are conducted on the Avon Old Farms School property and focus largely on stream ecology, forest ecology, and soil. Prerequisites include chemistry and Living Systems or biology courses, and the recommendation of the academic dean and science department chair.
AP Physics C: Mechanics
This course provides an intensive investigation of the main principles of mechanics and is representative of an introductory college course typically required for engineering and science majors. Specifically, the following six content areas will be covered: kinematics; Newton’s laws of motion; work, energy, and power, systems of particles and linear momentum; circular motion and rotation; and oscillations and gravitation. The course utilizes guided inquiry and student-centered learning to foster the development of critical thinking skills and uses introductory differential and integral calculus throughout the course. Because the analysis of physical principles is carried out using calculus, students should be concurrently enrolled in Honors Pre-calculus or higher.
Engineering Design and Development
In this course, students will identify a real-world challenge and then research, design, and test a solution, ultimately presenting their unique solutions to a panel of engineers. This is considered a capstone engineering project offered to junior and seniors only.