Science

According to leading scientists there will be over 9 billion people on the planet in 2050 and we will need to drastically improve our agriculture and food distribution systems in order to feed everyone. This must be accomplished in an economically just manner without destroying the planet’s ecosystems or exacerbating climate change. What is the way forward? In this course we will investigate how the food system can be simultaneously productive, sustainable, and equitable. Through hands on experiments, field work in the community, riveting guest speakers, and research that takes us back in time and across the globe, we will construct an understanding of the complex interactions between plants, animals, humans, and the environment in food systems. In culmination, we will create our own proposals for a sustainable food future and communicate these recommendations to relevant decision-makers.

In Biology, students will examine the living world around them and its structures and processes. They will delve into scientific research and ask ‘How can I read and interpret scientific findings for myself?’ They will learn laboratory skills and create their own investigations. Students study a variety of topics that include: structures and functions of cells and viruses; growth and development of organisms; cells, tissues, and organs; nucleic acids and genetics; biological evolution; taxonomy; metabolism and energy transfers in living organisms; living systems; and homeostasis. Students will identify how the processes of biology are interrelated and its significance to our daily lives.

In Chemistry, students conduct field and laboratory investigations, use scientific methods during investigations, and make informed decisions using critical thinking and scientific problem solving. Students study a variety of topics that include: characteristics of matter; energy transformations during physical and chemical changes; atomic structure; periodic table of elements; behavior of gases; bonding; nuclear fusion and nuclear fission; oxidation-reduction reactions; chemical equations; solutes; properties of solutions; acids and bases; and chemical reactions. Students will investigate how chemistry is an integral part of our daily lives.

The Darrow campus and its surroundings serve as classroom and laboratory for students in Environmental Science. Students conduct field and laboratory investigations, use scientific methods during investigations, and make informed decisions using critical thinking and scientific problem solving. Students study a variety of topics that include: biotic and abiotic factors in habitats; ecosystems and biomes; interrelationships among resources and an environmental system; sources and flow of energy through an environmental system; relationship between carrying capacity and changes in populations and ecosystems; and changes in environments.

Students in Experimental Chemistry will have the opportunity to further explore chemical reactions, natural chemical phenomena, and develop strong laboratory skills through hands on experimentation. Students must have satisfactorily completed a course in Chemistry in order to enroll in Experimental Chemistry. Experimentation will start with a brief review of the basic techniques of volume and mass measurement, along with a focus on laboratory hygiene. Experiments will cover the topics of conservation of mass, acid-base titrations, determination of unknown compounds through solubility and physical properties, specific heat determination, redox chemistry and homemade batteries, among others. A significant portion of the course will be devoted to organic chemistry, and students will have the opportunity to synthesize compounds, purify reactions using chromatographic techniques, extract and crystallize caffeine from tea, and gain skills in the methods modern chemists use in the laboratory. Students will be assigned laboratory partners and will learn to work collaboratively on experiments. Students will primarily be assessed through written laboratory reports that detail experimental procedures as well as discuss the methods used and sources of error that may have occurred during experimentation. Students will also be required to maintain a laboratory notebook that details their experiments and serves as their main resource in preparation of laboratory reports.

Students will identify plant life on campus, learn to forage and harvest plants, learn techniques for preservation and medicinal use of the plants. This course focuses on sense of place as well as Darrow’s Shaker history. Students will gain lab experience and will examine the ways in which modern techniques differ from those the Shakers used. Students will also grow and harvest their own plants for use. Time will be spent outside, researching techniques, and creating actual balms, salves, tinctures, etc. from the gathered plants. We will also explore more complicated chemical processes, like extracting essential oils. All levels of science experience welcome.

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to play a sport on the moon? Or have you wanted to design a roller coaster ride? Physics allows you to understand how matter and energy interact so that you can meaningfully engage in exploring these questions and more. This class will be organized around a series of design challenges that will be based upon your growing knowledge of mechanics, acoustics, optics, heat, electricity, magnetism and other aspects of this science called physics. We will investigate these concepts of physics together and apply engineering practices to meet the goals of each challenge.

A robot is an embedded configuration of software and hardware designed to interact with its surroundings autonomously and or via human input. This includes everything from a vending machine to the Mars Exploration Rover. Robotics is a hands-on introduction to the concepts and applications of robots. Students develop computer programming logic and reasoning skills as they design, build and program robots within an engineering context. Students work in teams to build a variety of fixed and mobile devices focused upon meeting the criteria of design challenges such as simulating a fire rescue or making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This class is open to all levels of experience.