Sciences

The goal of the Science Department is to introduce students to a body of knowledge in each scientific discipline so that they develop scientific literacy, become responsible citizens, and confront issues in today's society. At the same time, it is hoped that students will become more curious, acquire an interest in science, and improve their independent thinking in problem-solving situations. Bolstered by Pingree's recently built state of art science wing, the science department continues its lead role in developing a strong, hands-on education in science.

Science offerings are constantly evaluated and reviewed for content and relevance and have expanded over the past few years. Each of the main courses of study—Biology, Chemistry, and Physics—have honors, accelerated, and regular sections to match every level of student interest, aptitude, and talent. As most students go beyond the required level, the department offers a full complement of elective courses, independent study opportunities, and AP courses in biology, physics, and environmental science. All science courses are lab-based classes. Students who have demonstrated excellent ability and interest in science are allowed to take two science courses in one academic year. Pingree fields a competitive Science Team which competes throughout the year with schools in the region.

Sample Courses


Biology

Biology

This biology course is offered to freshmen and incoming sophomores/juniors who have not previously taken a secondary level biology course. This course will cover the fundamental principles of biology and introduce students to the rigors of a lab inquiry- based course. Students will have the opportunity to work both collaboratively and independently on relevant biological issues and the implications on modern society. Also offered: Accelerated Biology.

AP Biology

AP Biology is a biology course designed for students interested in pursuing college level science courses or programs requiring college biology. This course follows the suggested AP Examination Syllabus and prepares students for that exam. The curriculum is designed around advanced topics in chemistry and biochemistry; cellular metabolism and energetics; cellular reproduction, regulation, and differentiation; genetics; gene expression and regulation; evolution and taxonomy; plant and animal homeostatic mechanisms; and ecology. Graded summer assignments and the first exam in September are used to assess a student’s probable success in the course, providing a student with an opportunity to adjust their course load if needed. Students are expected to take the AP exam upon completion of the course.

Chemistry

Chemistry

Chemistry is an introductory class using a conceptual approach with scientific information to analyze problems and suggest solutions to situations faced by today’s society. It is a goal of the course to present to the student the need and skills to acquire technical knowledge to make intelligent decisions for themselves and for the communities in which they belong. Also offered: Accelerated and Honors Chemistry.

AP Chemistry

AP Chemistry is a course designed for students interested in pursuing college level science courses or programs requiring college chemistry. This course follows the AP Examination Syllabus suggested by the College Board. The curriculum is designed around advanced topics in structure of matter; properties of matter such as characteristics, states, and forces of attraction; chemical reactions; kinetics; thermodynamics; and equilibrium. The curriculum requires completion of summer assignments and assignments over breaks.Additionally, graded summer assignments and the first exam in September are used to assess a student’s probable success in the course and provide an opportunity to adjust their course load. Students are expected to take the AP exam upon completion of the course.

Physics

Physics

An introductory course in physics designed to give students a comprehensive exposure to physical concepts explaining events that are familiar in the everyday environment. The course emphasizes an understanding of the fundamental concepts, answering the “How do we know?” questions, and developing strong reasoning skills. Students understand the exploratory nature of physics as they participate in hands-on labs and observe demonstrations. Any mathematics in this course is primarily at the algebra level and serves as a “guide to thinking.” Also offered: Accelerated Physics.

AP Physics 1

AP Physics 1 is an advanced, algebra based introduction to physics. The core topics of physics will be presented with a high level of complexity, and many of the topics will be extensively enriched. Through discovery labs, lecture, and homework, students will explore principles of Newtonian mechanics (including rotational motion); work, energy, and power; mechanical waves and sound; and direct-current circuits. It is expected that students will be skilled at critical thinking in science, able to communicate scientific ideas using the language of algebra, and capable of significant independent work. Graded summer assignments and the first exam in September are used to assess a student’s probable success in the course, providing a student with an opportunity to adjust their course load if needed. Upon completion of the course students will be required to take the College Board AP Physics 1 examination.

AP Physics 2

AP Physics 2 is a second year course that continues to develop the themes studied in AP Physics 1. Topics include fluids, thermodynamics, electrostatics and RC circuits, electromagnetism, optics, and nuclear and quantum physics. The class will be taught using exploratory labs and activities, lecture, and homework. It is expected that AP Physics 2 students will have successfully completed AP Physics 1, will be enrolled on AP Calculus, and will have shown exceptional ability in scientific and mathematical reasoning. Graded summer assignments and the first exam in September are used to assess a student’s probable success in the course, providing a student with an opportunity to adjust their course load if needed. Upon completion of this course, students will be required to take the College Board AP Physics 2 examination.

Advanced Electives

Ecology

Ecology is a branch of Biology that explores the relationships of organisms to one another and to their environment. This (largely) outdoor field course examines the basic principles of ecological study by closely examining the ecosystems found on Pingree’s campus. Students will learn to keep detailed field journals as they explore organisms’ relationships at the species, community, population, ecosystem, and biome level. Course topics will also include biodiversity, growth and regulation, invasive species, evolution and adaptation. Current environmental issues are highlighted. Prerequisite: Biology.

Marine Biology

This laboratory based course introduces students to the variety of living organisms of our oceans. Students will study the taxonomic classification, structure, and function of marine algae, invertebrates, and vertebrates. An emphasis will be placed on understanding each organism’s ecological role in the ocean community, from primary producers to apex predators. Dissections will be used to further investigate anatomy of some species. This course will also highlight current environmental and anthropogenic threats to marine systems.

Oceanography

This course presents an introduction and overview to principles and concepts of geology, chemistry, physics, climatology and biology of the world’s oceans. Students in this course will explore topics including: seafloor bathymetry and deep-sea exploration, seawater properties and vertical layering, surface circulation, and tides. Emphasis will be placed on the biological and ecological systems that operate within unique ocean zones and under unique oceanic conditions. Topics of current interest will be discussed (global warming and ocean acidification, El Nino weather patterns, marine debris, fisheries, coastal development, etc.). This course is heavily project and presentation oriented and will give students the foundation they need to have intellectual discussions about important and relevant environmental issues surrounding our global oceans and climate.

Human Histology

Histology is the branch of anatomy that deals with the study of the microscopic structure of tissues. This trimester elective course will focus on the study of the four primary tissue types found in the human body (epithelial, connective, muscular, and nervous). This will be a lab focused science elective, with heavy emphasis on the use of microscopes to view and analyze professionally prepared slides of various tissue types. In-class learning will be supplemented with outside homework assignments and extended projects.

Human Physiology

Human Physiology is the branch of anatomy that deals with the normal functions of living organisms and their parts. This trimester elective course will focus on the study of how cells in the primary tissue types found in the human body (epithelial, connective, muscular, and nervous) function. Though the first trimester course—Human Histology—could complement this course, students will not be disadvantaged for having not taken it. Though there will be a lab component to this class, labs will not be the dominant focus of the course. In class learning will be supplemented with outside homework assignments and extended projects.

Gross Anatomy

Gross Anatomy is the branch of anatomy that deals with the structure of organs and tissues that are visible to the naked eye. This third trimester elective course will be, specifically, a dissection-based course. Though the first and second trimester courses—Human Histology and Human physiology—could complement this course, students will not be disadvantaged for having not taken them. Students will study the muscular, digestive, respiratory, circulatory, nervous, and sensory systems of the human body primarily through the dissection of a preserved lab specimen. In class learning will be supplemented with outside homework assignments.

Engineering

Engineering emphasizes collaborative problem solving and design-based project work. The courses provides students with a broad understanding of the branches of engineering and the type of work each involves. The coursework covers general engineering principles and analysis, and takes a more detailed look at civil, environmental, mechanical, and industrial engineering. Students will work individually and on teams to solve open-ended problems that do not have one simple answer. Engineering is offered as a year long course. Trimester 1 introduces the student to the engineering process, and develops a student’s ability to document this process through the design of an organizer for an in-house client. Trimester two’s initial focus is on mechanical engineering, as we redesign the traditional Piot engine driven toy boat. The second trimester will end with an exploration of structural forces as the class moves into civil engineering. During the third trimester, students will redesign a community building. The course ends with a student selected independent project that meets an environmental or social need. Engineering is open to juniors and seniors who have completed or are concurrently taking physics and Math 3.

AP Environmental Science

The AP Environmental Science course is a year-long course and is equivalent to a one-semester college course. The goal of this course is to provide students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world, to identify and analyze environmental problems, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving and/or preventing them. Open to 11th and 12th grade students only. Students are expected to take the AP exam upon completion of the course.

Computers/Technology

Introduction to Computer Programming: Scratch

This course introduces students to computational thinking using the programming language Scratch, developed by the MIT Media Lab. It relies heavily on lab work and individual projects to explore and develop a wide variety of programming concepts and techniques. Projects include designing computer games, developing computational algorithms, and begin working with variables and loops. Students are required to maintain an electronic portfolio of their work.

Introduction to Computer Programming: Python

Python is a popular, general use programming language that emphasizes readability. Students will work primarily in the command line environment and will develop facility with variables, “if loops” and “while loops,” and arrays. Students will also begin exploring data analysis by writing programs that can read from and write to text files. The course will take a hands on, project based approach, and students will be required to keep an online portfolio of their work. Prerequisite is Intro. to Programming with Scratch or instructor’s permission.

Introduction to Computer Programming: Java

Java is a widely used, object oriented programming language. In this course, students will learn to work within an IDE (Integrated Developers Environment) to write Java code. In addition to learning the Java syntax for standard programming concepts such as variables, ifand whilestatements, and arrays, students will learn about classes and objects in Java. The course will employ a variety of hands on projects, and students will be required to keep an online portfolio of their work. Prerequisite is Python Programming or instructor’s permission.

Graphic Design: Intro to 2D Drawing

Students will work with vector-based drawing programs such as Adobe Illustrator and the open source Gimp to learn how to create original computer drawings, some of a technical natures and others from a more creative perspective. Real world application of the skills learned is an important feature of the class. Students will design posters and other promo material for Pingree events, and design a variety of objects to be cut on the laser cutter. Students will complete a variety of tutorials and projects and be required to maintain a digital portfolio of their work throughout the course.

Graphic Design: Intro to 3D Drawing

This course will present an introduction to 3D modeling using Sketchup, then proceed to 3D modeling through coding with OpenScad. Students will work on a variety of tutorials and short tasks culminating in a substantial independent project, and they will maintain a digital portfolio of their work throughout the course. Prerequisite is Intro. to 2D Drawing or instructor’s permission.

Graphic Design: AutoCAD

In this course students will begin working with industry standard 3D software AutoCAD. Students will learn the fundamentals of this program, and work to design precision objects to be produced on both the laser cutter and the 3D printer. Students will maintain a digital portfolio of their work throughout the course. Prerequisite is Intro. to 3D Drawing or instructor’s permission.

H-Programming Arduino Boards

The Arduino board is a small, inexpensive microcontroller that is used for a wide variety of dedicated, open-source hardware and software projects. Students will learn the fundamentals of Arduino programming and then will learn how to integrate a breadboard to create projects that feature inputs and outputs. The course will culminate with a major independent Arduino project of the student’s design.

H-Designing for the Laser Cutter

The laser cutter in the Pingree Makerspace is seeing ever-increasing demand. Students have engraved a wide range of items including phone, tablet and laptop cases. Students, e.g. some science team members, have use it to make parts for projects, and it will even be used in some senior projects this year. To capitalize on this interest, the timing is right to offer this course to train the next generation of laser cutter users.

H-App Inventor

Apps are an increasingly important part of the programming landscape. This course will introduce students to MIT’s App Inventor, where they will learn the fundamentals of programming and computational thinking by building Android apps.