Upper School
US Curriculum

Science

Hackley’s Upper School Science program begins by introducing ninth grade students to physics as a foundational science.
Students then take chemistry in tenth grade and are required to take biology or cell biology before graduation. Electives include a wide array of second-year and AP level courses in ecology, chemistry and physics as well as field biology and marine biology. Graduates of the Hackley science program will have a mastery of the fundamental principles and facts in each of the three major disciplines (physics, chemistry and biology); the ability to collect data properly; the ability to analyze data both collected and presented from textual material; the ability to communicate that understanding with precision and clarity; and, most fundamentally, an appreciation for and sense of wonder about the world around them.

Science Courses

List of 12 items.

  • Physics (Ninth Grade Physics)

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    A student of Physics gains a conceptual introduction to the laws of the physical world. Subjects include graphing, motion analysis, forces, momentum, work, energy, rotational mechanics, waves, sound, light, optics, electricity and magnetism. Problem-solving methods of teaching physics are also used. Students improve their applied quantitative skills by solving physics problems, thereby illustrating knowledge of fundamental physics concepts. The course also stresses development of laboratory skills through regularly scheduled laboratory sessions and students are encouraged to question, observe, collect data, analyze the results and reach conclusions on physical relationships. Independent creative thought and study are encouraged throughout the course.

    eText: McLay, Physics First – A 9th Grade Physics eTextbook
  • Advanced Physics

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits
    Prerequisites: “B” or higher in Adv Alg 2/Trig 303 or “B+” in Alg 2/Trig 365

    Students must pick up a summer self-study assignment before the end of the present school year.

    This is an Algebra/Trigonometry based continuation of Physics 418. The course offers an in-depth study of Fluid Mechanics, Thermal Physics, and Waves. The topics and expectations of the course are comparable to those of a second semester first year college physics course. The course is unique in that significant time is spent exploring the experimental design process, in which students create and present demonstrations and experiments. These reinforce the concepts being studied. In addition, the course features extensive problem solving both conceptually and mathematically. Significant independence and choice is given to the students in their pursuit of applications, demonstrations, and experiments that enhance the course material. Emphasis is placed on public speaking, presenting to peers and teachers alike, in both formal and informal settings.

    Text: Serway and Jewett, Physics for Scientists and Engineers
  • AP Physics “C” (Calculus-based)

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits
    Prerequisites: Recommendation by current science teacher required. Students must also have an “A-“ in Precalculus 304 or a “B+” in Adv. Precalculus 305. Co-requisite: AP Calc AB 328 or AP Calc AB/BC 312, for students who have not yet taken one of these calculus courses).

    Students must pick up a summer self-study assignment before the end of the present school year. Students will be tested on this material during the first week of class.

    This course is open to juniors and seniors and follows the syllabus recommended by the College Board for the Advanced Placement examination in Physics “C”. It is a systematic college-level treatment of the main physical principles for students planning to pursue careers in science or engineering. Students are required to sit for the May AP Physics exam.

    Text: Serway and Jewett, Physics for Scientists and Engineers
  • Chemistry

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    Prerequisite: Physics 418

    This course serves as an introduction to the principles of chemistry, further preparing students for future work in science. Topics covered include chemical formulas and equations, states of matter, atomic structure, bonding, stoichiometry, solutions, and acid-base chemistry. Laboratory work is an integral part of the course as is class participation that focuses on problem-solving.
  • Accelerated Chemistry

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    Prerequisite: Recommendation by current science teacher required, along with an “A-” in Physics 418. Co-requisite: Adv Alg 2/Trig 303 or Alg 2/Trig 365, but 303 strongly recommended.

    This course covers the same units as Chemistry 408 but at a significantly faster pace allowing the students to address supplementary topics within each area of study. Additional quantitatively challenging topics, including thermodynamics, are covered. Laboratory work is an integral part of the course as are nightly homework assignments that focus on problem-solving and data analysis. Recommended for students planning on taking AP Chemistry.

    Text: Brown, LeMay, et. al. Chemistry: The Central Science, 13th ed.
  • AP Chemistry

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    Prerequisites: Recommendation by current science teacher required. Students must also have either an “A-” in Chemistry 408 or a “B” in Accelerated Chemistry 410; and have taken either Adv. Alg 2/Trig 303 or Alg 2/Trig 365.

    Students must pick up a summer self-study assignment before the end of the present school year. Students will be tested on this material during the first week of class.

    This course undertakes a rigorous quantitative study of chemical principles and prepares students for the Advanced Placement examination in chemistry. Topics covered include atomic structure, chemical bonding, states of matter, thermodynamics, equilibria, kinetics, electrochemistry and solutions. Laboratory work is heavily emphasized through weekly exercises. Students must sit for the AP Chemistry examination in May.

    Text: Brown, LeMay, et. al. Chemistry: The Central Science, 13th ed.
  • Organic Chemistry

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    Prerequisites: “B+” in Chemistry 408 or “B” in Accel. Chem. 410. Open to juniors and seniors.

    The chemistry of carbon is studied through lecture and laboratory format. Topics include nomenclature, synthesis and reactions of compounds based on functional groups, namely alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, alkyl halides, alcohols, benzene and substituted benzenes. Spectroscopic methods of structure determination will be covered. Laboratory work covers basic techniques for synthesis, purification and analysis of organic compounds.

    Text: Atkins and Carey, Organic Chemistry 3rd ed.
  • Biology

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    Prerequisite: Chemistry

    Open to juniors and seniors

    This biology class is focused on human biology. Students will study organ systems and learn to appreciate how their bodies work to solve the problems of being and staying alive. Evolution is an overarching theme, which will allow for comparisons to all organisms in the natural world. Students will also focus on sustainability and how human interactions impact the world ecosystem. This class is designed to be a hands-on class with several labs, activities and projects per unit. In addition there will be current event readings. Students will be expected to keep a detailed lab journal in which they document the lab and write their responses to questions.

    Note: This class does not prepare students for the SAT Subject Test in Biology.

    Text: Campbell, Concepts and Connection 7th ed.
  • Cellular Biology

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    Prerequisites: Chemistry 408 or Accelerated Chemistry 410. (NOT recommended for students with a B or lower in Chemistry 408.)

    Open to junior and seniors. Recommended for juniors planning to take AP Biology in senior year.

    We designed this course as an introductory course for the student that is seriously interested in biology and is a motivated learner. The themes of evolution, the relationship between structure and function, and science as a process will frame the course. Students acquire a working knowledge of photosynthesis, respiration, cell-division, reproduction, heredity, biochemistry, molecular genetics and evolution. Reading, writing, lab, and analytical skills will be necessary for success.

    Text: Campbell, Concepts and Connection 7th ed.
  • AP Biology

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    Prerequisites: Recommendation by current science teacher required. Students must also have a “B+” in Chemistry 408 or a “B” in Accelerated Chemistry 410 and a “B” in Cellular Biology 414 or an “A-“ in Biology 404.

    Students must pick up a summer self-study assignment before the end of the present school year and will be tested on this material during the first week of class. Students must also turn in their outline notes of the self-study topics covered during their summer review.

    This is a laboratory-based course that prepares the student for the Advanced Placement examination in Biology. This course will develop students’ deep conceptual understanding of a range of biological topics. It will engage them through an inquiry-based lab experience. There will be an emphasis on integrating application, reasoning, and quantitative skills. The four framing ideas for the course as delineated by the College Board are:
    • The process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life.
    • Biological systems utilize energy and molecular building blocks to grow, reproduce and maintain homeostasis.
    • Living systems retrieve, transmit, and respond to information essential to life processes.
    • Biological systems interact, and these interactions possess complex properties.

    Text: Raven and Johnson, Biology, 9th ed.
  • Advanced Topics in Biology

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    Prerequisites: Biology or Cellular Biology. Open to seniors.

    Advanced Biology is a second year biology class designed for students interested in continuing their exploration of biology. The course will focus on varied topics, such as plants, human evolution, and virology, and course work will be adjusted to reflect current global events in science. Since it is a second-year biology class, there is an expectation that certain topics and concepts are well understood and can be incorporated into class with minimal review. Graded assignments will vary – ranging from longer-term lab assignments, independent research and presentations, as well as more traditional exams. Reading of primary science literature will be an integral part of the course. Critical thinking and thoughtful classroom discussion will be a daily expectation.
  • Advanced Forest Ecology Research

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    Prerequisite: Physics and Chemistry. Open to seniors and juniors.

    This field intensive course will develop students’ analytical and investigative abilities. Students will begin with a focus on the natural history of Hackley, including studies of tree, bird, reptile, amphibian and mammal identification, and bird calls. Students will create a field notebook with approximately 100 organisms, to include pressings of plants and descriptions of organisms such as how to identify, Latin names, where located on campus, and behavior (if animal). A trip to Teatown Nature Reservation will facilitate learning about the flora and fauna of the Hudson Valley. Students will also help Teatown scientists with ongoing research projects.

    One of the major problems facing conservation is lack of biological information. Long-term data collection projects benefit the community by determining how the forest structure is changing and thus how to better manage our land. Students will participate in long-term research projects in Hackley’s field station. Most studies were started in 2009 and continuing research adds important new data. One such project is salamander abundance based on a National Parks study. Another project is a water quality analysis of two vernal pools at our field station. A third is a study of macro invertebrate abundance in the two vernal pools using leaf packs. A fourth major project is a bird abundance study done in conjunction with Cornell’s Project Feeder Watch. During the winter months students will count the total number of birds seen and identify different species visiting our bird feeders for at least 50 minutes a week. Several bluebird nest boxes have been mounted over campus and in the spring students will have the opportunity to work with scientists at other research facilities, such as Lasdon Park and Arboretum.

    One of the major solutions to conversation problems is education. Students will have the opportunity to work/teach the lower grades about forest ecology. If time allows some students will perform a statistical analysis of our data and give a final presentation to members of the faculty. All students will take a spring trip to the Bronx Zoo to take a class on wildlife conservation.

    Text: Williams, Nature Handbook: Guide to Observing the Great Outdoors

Science Seminars

List of 4 items.

  • Astronomy and Meteorology

    • 3 meetings per seven-day cycle/2 credits
    • Open to all juniors and seniors. Limited enrollment. Preference given to seniors.
    This course will combine astronomy and meteorology, allowing the student to study the major aspects of both. In doing so, the more interesting and fascinating aspects of each will be discussed without the need to focus on the minute physical and chemical details. The topics in astronomy will include the history of astronomy, the Earth, the Moon, the solar system, comets and asteroids, stars and stellar evolution, galaxies, and cosmology. The majority of the astronomy part of the course will fall from November to February as the weather at night tends to be clearer and allow for better viewing of stars. As a result a few night labs will be required.
     
    The purpose of the meteorology section is to study the weather both locally and globally. Topics in this course will include temperatures, humidity, barometric pressures, and their effects on daily weather. In addition there will be a focus on specific weather phenomena such as hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning storms, floods, and droughts.

    The class will begin with a study of the basics of what constitutes weather. On a daily basis students will measure the temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, and wind speed, along with the visible weather. By keeping a log of these daily readings, students will begin to see if they can predict upcoming weather events. Finally, a look will be taken at the effects that humans may be having on local and global weather patterns, particularly the possible effects of global climate change on weather.

    Text:
    • McLay, E-text
    • Students will also be required to purchase a Weather Forecasting Card (approximately $15.00) and a Sky Safari App (approximately $3.00).
  • Marine Biology Seminar

    • 3 meetings per seven-day cycle/2 credits
    • Prerequisite: Biology or Cellular Biology
    Students spend one class each week listening to a lecture, and the other in a laboratory exercise. Through this venue, they learn the physical properties of the oceans (waves, tides, and currents) coral reefs, estuaries, and rocky shores before they are exposed to marine ecology. The course concludes with an intensive study of marine invertebrates and vertebrates. Students visit local aquariums and undertake a project near the end of the year.

    Students are exposed to material that is challenging, and therefore need a strong interest in biology. This course requires a minimum enrollment to run.

    Text: Karleskint, Introduction to Marine Biology
  • Environmental Science (Not offered 2018-19)

    • 3 meetings per seven-day cycle/2 credits
    • Pre-requisite: Chemistry. Co-requisite: Biology or Cellular Biology.
    • Open to Juniors and Seniors
    In a world of constant industrialization, increased infrastructure, technology that takes us under water and into space, and wars that make and break nation lines, what is happening to the planet that we live on? This course focuses on the major historical, present, and future environmental issues facing our world today. Global climate change, erosion, deforestation, and decreasing biodiversity are example topics. The course will approach these topics both on the local and international scale, as well as explore how these scientific issues influence and affect politics, economics, development, and health. Research and discussion will be an integral part of the course.
  • Science Olympiad (Not offered 2018-19)

    • 1 meeting per seven-day cycle/0 credits
    • Open to all Upper School students
    • Note: enrollment is capped at 16
    The purpose of this course is to facilitate a Science Olympiad team to participate in the regional and invitational competitions in the surrounding area. The topics will be from all disciplines of science: chemistry, physics, biology, engineering, ecology, meteorology, computer science and inquiry. The class will meet once per cycle, but significant work outside of class is expected. Attendance will be required for the invitational and regional competitions.

    These two competitions occur on Saturdays in January and February, and take all day. In signing up for this course, you commit to participating in these two events. If you are in a winter sport, you must consider the possible conflicts.

    The class will begin with the distribution of the events that are being offered during the competition year. We will divide all events (23 plus some trials) among the class. Ideally each student would be working on 4 to 5 events, using time both in and out of class to research and prepare for the competition. Some events are building events and require a certain amount of time to complete.

    Course Materials: The students will need to purchase a Science Olympiad rules manual (usually under $20).