Science

Propel Environmental Stewardship, Develop Engineering Skills, Explore Natural Sciences

 

Observe, Experiment, Analyze

Waring's Science Program provides students with meaningful experiences for understanding the natural sciences and related technologies through rigorous study, observation, and experimentation. The department seeks to foster growth and development of scientific methods, scientific knowledge, and creative problem solving. Waring believes Scientific knowledge encourages students to develop a personal relationship with nature and provides the scaffolding for understanding sustainability and the responsibility of environmental stewardship. This connection to nature supports the student's natural enthusiasm, wonder, and pursuit of knowledge and sets the stage for continuing this pursuit beyond Waring School.

 

Science Goals


Laboratory work in our state-of-the art facilities is an important part of the curriculum. From 
Core (Grades 6 and 7) through Group 5 (Grade 12), science labs emphasize experimentation, collaboration, testing of hypotheses, collecting of data, and interpretation and communication of results.

Our goal for all students is a deep understanding of the major theoretical constructs of each discipline, a rich appreciation of the natural world, and the scientific literacy to be responsible citizens. Students with a passion for science graduate from Waring with the necessary foundation and skills to successfully pursue the study of science in college and beyond. 


Waring Science Courses
  • Core: Physical Science
    Core Physical Science (offered every other year) focuses on three major concepts: motion, forces, and energy. Within each concept we introduce the students to related topics—statics, simple machines, buoyancy, electricity and magnetism, to name a few—through labs, films, demonstrations, and other hands-on activities. Each unit will culminate in a larger project in which the students will have an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the principles we've been studying in a creative way.
  • Core: Biological Science
    Biological Science is offered every other year. While studying selected topics in biology, ecology, and geology, students learn skills such as data collection, microscope observation, graphing and interpretation of data, independent research, lab-report writing, note-taking, test-taking, and experimental design. In addition, students hone their communication skills by presenting their work to the class at frequent intervals. We pay special attention to the biology and basic ecology of Africa (to integrate with the Core Humanities study of Africa) as well as our local environment.
  • Group 1: STEM

    The purpose of Group 1 STEM (one semester) is to allow students to work collaboratively on open-ended projects that use technology-based techniques. These projects allow students to work on collaboration, iteration, documentation and presentation. As the students work on the projects, they learn new technical skills.  Our major project will be the design, construction and testing of balloon powered cars. The Balloon Car project teaches students to use 3D modeling software and 3D printers to design and then print the parts for a car powered by a balloon. Other projects we may take on use molding and casting in silicone, metal wire-work, Arduino programing, and basic electronics. The course is set up to emphasize a design-build process in which small teams create a design, refine it, test elements, redesign and retest iteratively, until the project reaches its final form. The students document this process and present their work to the whole class. Each group creates an ongoing record of their work including pictures, programs, and written reflections on what they did during class, why, and what they plan to do in the next class. These documentation/reflection pieces will be shared in presentations.  Individual evaluation in this class will be based on the quality of documentation, presentations, and products along with a student’s ability to work productively in a group.

  • Group 1: Introduction to Computer Programming
    Waring’s Programming course (one semester) is an introduction to the principles and practices of coding. Students first use Scratch, a visual, block-based language intended for teaching coding to young audiences. Through Scratch, students become acquainted with the  principles of programming structure like loops, conditions, and modules. In addition, they quickly learn the value of naming variables and functions sensibly for future use, as well as healthy and necessary practices like debugging. After programming a game or interactive animation in Scratch, students begin studying Python, a high-level programming language. Students continue the threads of earlier concepts like functions and recursion, and Python offers them more versatility manipulating data like strings and lists. Here too, students will engage in open-ended projects like writing their own algorithms, simulations, and games. Throughout the course, students engage with a partner or in a small group to ask one another questions and share their own breakthroughs, so that they can be responsible for their own creations and participate in the success of others. Their success is gauged both through their finished products and the journey they spent in class working to get there: Their in-class engagement will reflect a healthy give-and-take of brainstorming new ideas and asking for help, and their code will demonstrate their grasp of coding logically, efficiently, and with the spirit of elegance.
  • Group 2: Biology

    This biology course stresses the importance of careful observation and note-taking and the use of scientific principles and techniques in the exploration of the living world. The class uses the text as our backbone, following a path that surveys all of the major topics in Biology. The year begins with an investigation into the fields of ecology and environmental science. Next we delve into learning the basics of chemistry to understand the roles of the major types of biological molecules. We continue the year by studying cells at the same time becoming comfortable with one of the most important tools to a biologist—the microscope. We move from studying the cell to learning about the chemical processes that are important to living things such as cellular respiration, photosynthesis, and protein synthesis. The unit that follows delves into the complexities of genetics. We focus on cancer as a model for understanding many of the mechanisms of genetic control and the effects of genetic mutations on cells and whole organisms. We study the theory of evolution by considering the contributions from a variety of scientific disciplines. We study taxonomy and do a student-driven survey of the six kingdoms with a concentration on the Plant and Animal Kingdoms. The final portion of the class is devoted to human anatomy and physiology. In France during their multi-week homestay, students follow a curriculum designed to further their work in the class while at the same time taking advantage of the local resources available to them in Angers. We incorporate hands-on activities regularly and have one double period every week for extended learning opportunities and labs.

    Credit is based on satisfactory completion of the course and requires completion of readings and homework assignments, satisfactory results on quizzes and tests and active participation in all classroom activities and discussions.

  • Group 3: Chemistry

    Group 3 Science will study basic principles of chemistry. This course will give students a foundational understanding of matter that is essential for other scientific disciplines like physics, human anatomy, and environmental science. We begin with an introduction to data collection techniques and review the math and handling of units needed for problem solving in chemistry. We then delve into the atom and proceed to study electron configuration, chemical bonding, chemical reactions, chemical nomenclature, stoichiometry, solution chemistry, gases, thermochemistry, kinetics, and acid/base chemistry. Data collection and exposure to the chemical concepts through weekly laboratory experiences are a priority. Laboratory skills are introduced and students practice utilizing these skills through their own experiment design, often in follow-up experiments. Whenever possible, connections are made between our coursework and other disciplines and the world around us. In addition to laboratory teams, hands on activities and group work is used in class through project and guided-inquiry activities. 

    Credit in this course requires that students demonstrate proficiency on all written work;  that they participate actively in class discussions and activities; that assignments are complete and submitted on time. Credit at the honors level requires excellence on all problem sets and tests; active participation in class and ownership of the learning that we are doing together; neat, detailed and thoroughly written lab work. All students are expected to come to class on time, be prepared, and remain engaged.  As usual, more than six late or missed assignments per semester are grounds for No Credit.

  • Group 4: Physics

    In Physics we study the most fundamental concepts in our understanding of nature— motion, forces, energy, and matter. The physics course is offered in two sections which take different approaches to the same material.  One course is more mathematically demanding than the other.

    Physics (mathematical approach) has a particular focus on the mathematical relationships between these concepts. We work to develop a conceptual understanding of physical phenomena and describe these in the language of mathematics. As part of this effort we learn to apply mathematical models of physics to solve quantitative problems. Our class involves formal lab experiments, informal activities and demonstrations, lectures and discussions, and steady practice with problem solving. Over the course of the year we study the mechanics of linear and rotating systems, sound and other wave phenomena, electricity and magnetism, and optics.

    To receive Credit in this course, students must maintain at least a 70% average on the credit-level scored problem sets, pass the credit-level tests, perform well on labs, and consistently participate in class.  Students who are working at the Honors level must demonstrate a strong command of the material as well as deep and serious engagement with the class. Students working at the Honors level will be given different, more challenging problems on their scored problem sets and tests.  In the past students have needed to achieve an 85% average on the problem sets to pass the honors offering of the course, however, sometimes this is lowered depending on how the whole class is doing. Besides performing well on the more difficult homework and tests, they must show diligence, thoroughness, and excellence in all their written work, and they must be strong and active participants in class.

    Physics (conceptual approach) – the same fundamental physics concepts are studied in this class.  Students will see that simple principles lie behind a wide range of phenomena that they can explore.  Students will have the opportunity to develop a conceptual understanding of these principles by working with concrete, hands-on activities paired with classroom discussions, demonstrations, and on-line simulations. Students will develop intuitions about the way the world works and correct their mis-intuitions or misconceptions as they attempt to explain and understand what they see. Students will explore and identify the fundamental principles acting in our physical world and learn to model them mathematically. Students will then learn to explain other phenomena in terms of the fundamental physics principles and to test their ideas. Comprehension will be assessed with homework sets, laboratory and project reports, and regular concept tests.

    To receive Credit: satisfactory performance on classroom activities, labs, quizzes and tests; interest and involvement in classroom activities, discussions, labs, and projects are essential to this class.  To receive Credit with Honors: Students must demonstrate a strong command of the material as well as a deep and serious engagement with the class. Credit requirements plus consistently above-average homework, test scores, and lab project summaries with an 85% average are necessary. Students taking the course at the Honors level will generally be asked to take Honors level tests and problem sets.

  • Group 5: Oceanography and Marine Biology

    Oceanography and Marine Biology is the capstone course in the science program that gives students the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of how terrestrial, oceanic, and atmospheric systems interact. We will study oceanography through model systems such as the Gulf of Maine, the Gulf of Maine watershed, the Great Marsh, and the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. Furthermore, Students will develop their personal scientific interests through a research project and a presentation given at the Waring Science Fair at the end of the academic year. Lab work will primarily be conducted in the field and will take place at a variety of locations including Maritime Gloucester and the Great Marsh. Types of data include, but are not limited to, marine debris analysis, plankton studies, water quality analysis, sediment studies, lobster life cycles, and sea level rise. While all projects must be grounded in at least one area of Oceanography and Marine Biology, students who are interested in human impact on the environment and related social, political, and economic issues may develop those interests as well. Throughout the year the class will be based on participatory lectures, field trips, and associated activities. Presentations will be given by visiting research scientists and professionals active in the field. Readings from selected texts and journal articles will be assigned throughout the semester.

    Performance in the class will be evaluated, in part, on the basis of tests, short writing pieces, and the independent research project. Credit in the class requires that students demonstrate proficiency on all written work; that they participate actively in class discussions, lab activities and field trips.

    Credit at the honors level requires excellence on all written work, active participation in class, as well as ownership and leadership of the learning that we are doing together. All students will do a research paper and related presentation at the Waring Science Fair in May.

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A Word with Alumna Coco Young


Q) How did Waring prepare you for college and specifically for the area you have decided to major in?  

A) Waring taught me how to ask questions, and to think about things in multiple different ways, which is crucial to engineering problem solving. In terms of content, I entered both physics and calculus this year with a strong base of understanding and knowledge to draw from. In physics particularly, I felt that my course was solidifying knowledge I already had, rather than adding new knowledge. Also, my time management skills have come in handy.
 
Q) What do you love about science?  
 
A) I love being able to match theory and practice. I love solving a problem in the theoretical and then being able to take the solution and use it to build or predict something real. It's really fascinating to me how the real world can be modeled and predicted using math and theory, and that we can work use the theory to mechanically improve real-world situations.