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Science Courses

Science Course Offerings

Year-Long Core Courses and Advanced Placement Courses

Biology (Regular and Honors)

Grade level – 9 or 10

Prerequisites: enrollment in the Honor’s section requires honors grades in previous courses and teacher recommendation.

Biology introduces the basic concepts of life science with an emphasis on how they relate to daily life. Topics include ecology, biological diversity, the chemistry of life, cellular structure and function, genetics, evolution, and human systems. Critical thinking activities, laboratory exercises, and classroom discussions about biology in our everyday lives reinforce this knowledge. Field trips utilize the natural resources of the Adirondack Mountains to apply the concepts to local ecology. Students also gain experience by dissection, solving practical problems, and analyzing experimental data.

Chemistry

Grade level – 10 or 11

Prerequisites: biology and must be enrolled in Algebra II

Chemistry develops a foundational understanding of major concepts in the field such as atomic theory, periodic law, chemical bonding, and stoichiometry. Critical thinking activities, laboratory exercises, and classroom discussions about chemistry in our everyday lives reinforce this knowledge. Students also gain experience writing lab reports, solving practical problems, and analyzing experimental data.

Honors Chemistry

Grade level – 10 or 11

Prerequisites: honors grades in biology and math, enrolled in Honors Algebra II, and teacher recommendation

Honors Chemistry introduces the basic concepts of chemistry. The course provides extensive laboratory experience to develop students’ experimental and problem-solving skills and prepares students for college chemistry courses by covering topics in more detail. Topics covered include matter, atomic theory, electrons, chemical bonding, nomenclature, mole concepts, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, gas laws, molecular structures, solutions, equilibrium, acid-base reactions, redox, and nuclear chemistry.

Geology

Grade level – 9, 10, 11 or 12

Geology investigates the structure of the earth with a focus on local landscapes. Topics include the Earth’s formation, mineralogy, plate tectonics, weathering/erosion, mountain building, and surface geomorphology. Labs and field trips are essential components of the course. Local topographic features, including rocks in the High Peaks and Ausable River, will be studied in the field, mostly during the spring trimester.

Physics

Grade level – 11 or 12

Prerequisites: biology, chemistry, and must be enrolled in Pre-calculus.

Physics develops the student’s observational and analytical problem-solving skills. Theoretical concept development is emphasized along with problem-solving and laboratory skills. A background in algebra is assumed, and trigonometric concepts are required components of our study. The course covers classical mechanics including kinematics (the description of motion in one and two dimensions), dynamics (the causes of motion, Newton’s laws of motion), and the conservation laws (energy and momentum). In addition, we study topics selected from statics, waves, sound, and light. Several projects through the year integrate physics principles with elements of engineering and technology.

Honors Physics

Grade level – 11 or 12

Prerequisites: honors grades in math and chemistry, enrolled in Honors Pre-calculus, and teacher recommendation.

The course moves at a faster pace than physics and covers the following material in depth: classical mechanics including kinematics (the description of motion in one and two dimensions), dynamics (the causes of motion, Newton’s laws of motion), and the conservation laws (energy and momentum). In addition, we study topics selected from statics, waves, sound, and light. Several projects through the year integrate the physics principles studied with engineering and technology to achieve a deeper understanding of the topics.

Environmental Science

Grade level – 11 or 12

Prerequisites: two lab sciences including biology.

Environmental Science is a broad scientific survey course designed to garner a holistic perspective and improve the student's ecological literacy. The goal is to ignite systems thinking and develop the skill set needed to discover answers and analyze options, and to utilize ecological systems as a successful model to help us deal with environmental issues. Ultimately, this perspective and the accompanying skills help build a framework for decision making for use throughout life.

Human Biology

Grade level – 11 or 12

Prerequisites: biology and one other lab science.

Human Biology takes a hands-on approach to learning the structure and function of human body systems. The course aims to expand the student’s current knowledge of how the human body works, starting with the molecules of life and continuing through all major body systems. During the comprehensive study of the systems, students will understand more fully how their daily activities affect their health now and in the future. Students will also relate how disease leads to loss of functioning in the systems. Labs include dissections of a number of major animal organs. Students will also have the opportunity to get American Red Cross First Aid and CPR certified upon successful completion of the First Aid unit.

AP Biology

Grade level – 11 or 12

Prerequisites: honors grades in biology and chemistry, and teacher recommendation.

Offered to qualified students who have successfully completed biology and chemistry with a record of high achievement in the sciences. AP Biology is a challenging full-year college-level introduction to the study of biology. The course is laboratory-based, examining life from the molecular and cellular levels through organisms, genetics, and evolution. Throughout the year, students will develop advanced inquiry and reasoning skills, such as designing a plan for collecting data, analyzing data, applying mathematical solutions, and connecting concepts in and across areas of study. All students must take the national AP Exam in May.

AP Environmental Science

Grade level – 11 or 12

Prerequisites: honors grades in biology and chemistry, and teacher recommendation.

The AP Environmental Science course is the equivalent of a one semester, introductory college course in environmental science; it includes geology, biology, ecology, chemistry, economics, sociology, politics, and geography. Classes include lectures, hands-on activities, student presentations, labs, fieldwork, class discussions, group projects, films and guest speakers. The key themes of the course are co-evolution and energy flow through systems. The first trimester explores how these themes play out in ecosystems while the second and third trimesters investigate how humans have impacted these ecosystems as well as efforts to mitigate the negative impacts of humanity. While designed to prepare students for the AP exam, the course fundamentally creates systems thinkers and holistic problem solvers.

Innovation, Engineering, & Entrepreneurial Studies Offerings

Northwood School Robotics Courses

This curriculum offers beginner and advanced sections and is intended to introduce students to hands-on, project-based applications of the engineering process. Students design, build, test and program robots, utilizing the programming languages and logic skills covered in the course curriculum. Students will develop logic skills, gain proficiency in appropriate programming languages and will develop an intimate understanding of the engineering design process and the mechanical, electrical, and software components of robotics. Students in both courses will have the opportunity to compete on one of the Northwood robotics teams at national/international high school robotics competitions. Integration of 3D printing design and modeling is intended to support skill development in all areas of this course.

Introduction to Robotics and Computer Programming

Trimester elective; Open to all levels.

This course will focus on basic skill development and requires no programming experience. Students will be members of the Northwood VEX EDR robotics team (Team #12946), designing and building robots for the VEX Robotics Competition (during the winter trimester). Students will face game specific engineering challenges and will be required to develop the necessary skills to build effective robots. A thorough introduction to robot programming using Robot C will help students develop fundamental programming-based logic skills. Grading in this course is based on successful completion of projects and level of proficiency in skill areas.

Applied Robotics

Honors-level year-long course.

This course is designed to be an intermediate/advanced level course and students are expected to have a basic knowledge or experience with logic and computer programming. Students will be members of the Northwood FIRST FRC robotics team (Team #6300). Students will design and build industrial robots from scratch – mastering the fundamental concepts in the process. Mechanical assembly, drive train design, electrical wiring, Java programming, mechanical engineering and robot command, and control are skills students will develop in this process. This course will employ advanced 3D printing tools and develop skills for 3D model and part design. Grading in this course is based on successful completion of projects and level of proficiency in skill areas.

Introduction to 3D Modeling and Fabrication

Trimester elective; Open to all levels.

This course introduces modern 3D design, modeling and fabrication skills. Students learn basic CAD drawing and assembly skills to create software-based models. Spatial resolution, dimensioning and part integration skills are developed through a series of design projects. Students develop an understanding of CAD software and file management in the creation of 3D parts. 3D printing, CNC (computer numeric control) routing and laser cutting/engraving machines are utilized to bring CAD designs to life. Students are trained in the use of these machines and develop an understanding of the design and prototyping process from start to finish. Finally, model evaluation, fabrication troubleshooting, and quality control techniques give students who complete the course the ability to design, draw and create their own high-end products.

Innovation with Design Thinking

Trimester elective; Open to all levels.

Where do great ideas come from and how are the physically realized? The Innovation and Design Thinking course grows creative thinking and supports the “building” of projects through a wide range of tools and materials. Projects and prototypes will be built from kernels of an idea generated in brainstorming, that are brought to life in sketches and plans, then transformed into actual builds using multiple iterations and modeling. Students will learn to use both digital and hands-on tools including Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, hand tools, power tools, the C & C machine, the laser cutter, 3-D printers and more. Students will also learn and practice effective communication skills by sharing and proposing solutions, working with teams of collaborators, and marketing and presenting their work. This course is for anyone who wants to be creative, sees him or herself as a dreamer or maker, or anyone who would like to become one.

Science Elective Offerings

Rocket Science

Spring and Fall trimester elective.

In this hands-on course, the design process will be emphasized as students incorporate science, computer modeling, engineering, and math to design, build, and launch their model rockets. Teamwork and problem solving will also be important skills developed over the course of the trimester.

The Physics of Winter Olympic Sports

Winter trimester elective.

What is the science behind the sports in the Winter Olympics? This course offers an introduction to physics (dynamics) through the study of the Winter Olympic sports of bobsled, biathlon, curling, figure skating, hockey, luge, and skiing. Through hands-on discovery, demonstrations, videos, and articles, students will learn about the concepts and fundamental laws connected to Winter Olympic sports.

An Introduction to First Aid and CPR

Spring trimester elective; Grade level – 11 or 12 (or by special request).

The course will begin with an introduction to basic anatomy. Students will then learn topics including preventing disease transmission, patient assessment and movement, scene assessment, cardiac emergencies including CPR and AED training, choking, sudden illness, traumatic injury, and environmental injuries. The course will include hands-on training, simulations, and possible dissections. Students taking this class need to be able to handle graphic images and videos showing real-world events. At the successful completion of the course, students will receive American Red Cross First Aid and CPR certification.

Independent study in Sports Medicine

Year-long, pass/fail course.

This class meets two times per week to discuss the different anatomical systems. The students work together to create a presentation on each body part examined. Areas of study include general anatomy, physical evaluation, evaluation of concussions, injuries, treatments, and therapeutic exercise. Body parts covered throughout the year include the ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, hand, and wrist. At the end of the course, the students present each body part to a panel of teachers and students. Various field trips are taken throughout the year, including Lake Placid Sports Medicine, the Olympic Training Center, and Adirondack Medical Surgical Unit.

Health

1 trimester pass/fail course (not counted in the student’s course load).

By law, all students in NY State must earn a high school health credit to graduate. Health presents students material needed to understand how to establish and maintain a healthy lifestyle. This pass/fail class includes discussion on major health concerns and provides each student the skills necessary to weigh options, make responsible decisions, and develop behaviors that promote a healthy lifestyle.

Unique Academic Programs