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Upper School Academic Departments

Science

The program’s goal is to encourage and stimulate each student’s wonder, discovery, amazement, and respect for and knowledge of the natural world. The curriculum and faculty help the student learn to think independently, creatively, analytically, and critically, and to communicate those thoughts effectively. Students develop a willingness to ask and answer questions using the tools and techniques of modern science, and gain a comprehensive grounding in the important theories and models in major areas of modern scientific thought. Because scientific inquiry is at the core of the department’s teaching philosophy, science courses reinforce and build on the independence and skills developed in our eighth grade Principles of Science course. Advanced Placement offerings allow students considering a degree in science to take a year course at a collegiate level. Other senior electives afford all students the opportunity to explore diverse science topics.
  • Physics

    Grade 9 (transfer students in grades 10-12 may enroll in this course)
    Full Year
    1 credit
    This course is for students in the ninth grade. Algebra I forms the basis of the mathematical concepts of this course, but opportunities are presented to apply more advanced mathematics. Students cover the topics of waves and sound, optics, classical mechanics, energy, electricity, and magnetism. This course emphasizes a conceptual understanding of the material and introduces algebra-based problem solving, as appropriate. This course employs regular laboratory exploration, emphasizing basic laboratory skills of measurement, data collection and analysis, and includes computer-based data collection.
  • Chemistry with Algebra Applications

    Grades 10-11
    Full Year
    1 credit
    Prerequisite: Physics
    Students will be placed in the appropriate chemistry course based on their performance in physics, and their math level. The topics in the levels are similar, though the order and emphasis may differ. Students successfully completing chemistry gain an understanding of and proficiency in basic chemical properties, chemical reactions, and major chemical concepts, principles, and theories. Laboratory work is closely coordinated with regular classwork. The chemistry program includes both quantitative and qualitative applications. There is an emphasis on developing problem-solving and higher-level thinking skills. Laboratory reports focus on data organization and analysis. This course provides a solid foundation for students who take Biology in their junior year.

    Note: Honors Chemistry examines topics in more depth, at a faster pace, and, with more advanced mathematical applications. To be considered, students must achieve the qualifying grades in physics and receive department approval.
  • Chemistry with Conceptual Emphasis

    Grades 10-11
    Full Year
    1 credit
    Prerequisite: Physics
    Students will be placed in the appropriate chemistry course based on their performance in physics, and their math level. The topics in the levels are similar, though the order and emphasis may differ. Students successfully completing chemistry gain an understanding of and proficiency in basic chemical properties, chemical reactions, and major chemical concepts, principles, and theories. Laboratory work is closely coordinated with regular classwork. The chemistry program includes both quantitative and qualitative applications. There is an emphasis on developing problem-solving and higher-level thinking skills. Laboratory reports focus on data organization and analysis. This course provides a solid foundation for students who take Biology in their junior year.

    Note: Honors Chemistry examines topics in more depth, at a faster pace, and, with more advanced mathematical applications. To be considered, students must achieve the qualifying grades in physics and receive department approval.
  • Chemistry Honors

    Grades 10-11
    Full Year
    1 credit
    Prerequisite: Minimum grade of A- in Physics and on Physics exam, successful completion of independent assignments, and teacher recommendation
    Students will be placed in the appropriate chemistry course based on their performance in physics, and their math level. The topics in the levels are similar, though the order and emphasis may differ. Students successfully completing chemistry gain an understanding of and proficiency in basic chemical properties, chemical reactions, and major chemical concepts, principles, and theories. Laboratory work is closely coordinated with regular classwork. The chemistry program includes both quantitative and qualitative applications. There is an emphasis on developing problem-solving and higher-level thinking skills. Laboratory reports focus on data organization and analysis. This course provides a solid foundation for students who take Biology in their junior year.

    Note: Honors Chemistry examines topics in more depth, at a faster pace, and, with more advanced mathematical applications. To be considered, students must achieve the qualifying grades in physics and receive department approval.
  • Biology

    Grades 11–12
    Full Year
    1 credit
    Biology Prerequisite: Chemistry
    The goal of this biology course is to give students enough information to interpret the remarkable connection between molecular change, evolution, and their own lives for themselves. During this course, students explore principles of cellular life, inheritance, and evolution. Using these concepts as a foundation, students study the biodiversity of life with a special focus on the specifics of how plants and animals work. Students practice microscope skills, lab techniques (dissections, bacterial culturing, electrophoresis, etc.), and data collection as they perform experiments. Upon completion of this course, students will be armed with the tools necessary to understand and interpret scientific information presented in the media.

    Note: Biology Honors requires deeper exploration of topics based on critical thinking, creative lab design, and problem-solving approaches. Students are pushed to make supportable inferences from experimental data and to tie data to the main concepts of the course. This course pushes students to ask the “why?” questions in the field of biology. Students must achieve the qualifying grade in chemistry, complete an application and placement test, and receive department approval to enroll in the honors section. 
  • Biology Honors

    Grades 11–12
    Full Year
    1 credit
    Biology Honors Prerequisite: Minimum grade of A in Chemistry 439, A- in Chemistry 440, or B+ in Chemistry Honors, earn a Chemistry final assessment score of B+ or better, successful score on the placement test, teacher recommendation, and departmental approval
    The goal of this biology course is to give students enough information to interpret the remarkable connection between molecular change, evolution, and their own lives for themselves. During this course, students explore principles of cellular life, inheritance, and evolution. Using these concepts as a foundation, students study the biodiversity of life with a special focus on the specifics of how plants and animals work. Students practice microscope skills, lab techniques (dissections, bacterial culturing, electrophoresis, etc.), and data collection as they perform experiments. Upon completion of this course, students will be armed with the tools necessary to understand and interpret scientific information presented in the media.

    Note: Biology Honors requires deeper exploration of topics based on critical thinking, creative lab design, and problem-solving approaches. Students are pushed to make supportable inferences from experimental data and to tie data to the main concepts of the course. This course pushes students to ask the “why?” questions in the field of biology. Students must achieve the qualifying grade in chemistry, complete an application and placement test, and receive department approval to enroll in the honors section. 
  • AP Biology

    Full Year
    1 credit
    Prerequisites: Minimum grade of B+ in Biology Honors or A in Biology, a minimum grade of B+ in Chemistry, earn a final assessment score of a B+ or better in Biology Honors or A or better in Biology, successful score on the placement test, and departmental approval
    This course is the equivalent of two semesters of an introductory college biology course taken by biology majors. It is designed to provide the student with the conceptual framework, factual knowledge, and analytic skills necessary to deal with the rapidly changing science of biology. The curriculum pushes students to really “get” the big ideas, and to demonstrate their understanding by making predictions, justifying phenomena or using mathematical processes to explain concepts. Topics include molecular biology, genetics, evolutionary biology, biodiversity, and ecological systems. In addition to preparing students for the AP examination, there is a strong emphasis on independent work, developing research and experimentation skills, practicing effective writing, discussing important unanswered questions, and independent critical analysis. Throughout this course, the student gains a better appreciation and understanding of the variety and complexity of life around us.
  • AP Chemistry

    Full Year
    1 credit
    Prerequisites: Minimum grade of A- in Chemistry 440 or B+ in Chemistry Honors, successful completion of Biology or concurrent enrollment in Biology, and departmental approval
    This course covers many of the topics in the regular course in more depth, and presents additional work to prepare the student for the AP exam. This course requires students to read chapters from a college-level text, answer questions on the material, and work on numerous problems. There is a strong emphasis on independent work, developing experimentation skills, and practicing effective writing on theoretical topics.
  • AP Physics I

    Full Year
    1 credit
    Prerequisites: Minimum final grade of B- in Physics, Pre Calculus or concurrent enrollment in Pre-Calculus, a minimum average in math of B, and departmental approval
    This course prepares students to take the AP Physics I exam, and corresponds to a typical first semester of introductory college physics. Students explore principles of Newtonian mechanics (including rotational motion); work, energy, and power; mechanical waves and sound; and introductory, simple circuits. This course is based on six big ideas, which encompass core scientific principles, theories, and processes that cut across traditional boundaries and provide a broad way of thinking about the physical world. There is a strong emphasis on experimental work. Additional topics including thermodynamics and twentieth-century physics may be covered.
  • AP Physics C (Mechanics and E & M)

    Full Year
    1 credit
    Prerequisites: Minimum grade of B+ in Physics, Calculus or concurrent enrollment in Calculus, a minimum average in math of B, and departmental approval
    This course prepares students to take the AP Physics level C exams (Mechanics and Electricity and Magnetism). Primarily for those planning college level study in physics, engineering, or other sciences, this course is designed both to deepen existing understanding of the physical world, and to introduce mathematical applications of the material at a college level. The use of calculus increases as the course progresses.
  • AP Environmental Science

    Full Year
    1 credit
    Prerequisites: Average grade of B or better in all prior science courses, successful completion of Biology or concurrent enrollment in Biology, and departmental approval
    This course is designed to be the equivalent of a one-semester introductory college course in environmental science but is offered as a full-year course at the high school level. Students study the principles that govern ecosystem function and apply these principles to various environmental problems, both natural and human-made. The relative risks associated with these environmental problems are evaluated and alternative solutions are examined. Topics include human population growth, deforestation, biodiversity, climate change, air and water pollution, and renewable and nonrenewable energy resources. This course includes laboratory and fieldwork in addition to extensive reading.
  • AP Psychology

    Grade 12
    Full Year
    1 credit
    Prerequisites: Average grade of B or better in all prior science courses, successful completion of Biology, and departmental approval
    This course is designed to be the equivalent of an introductory college course in psychology. Students are introduced to the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings and other animals in context. The course of study focuses on topics from the major schools of psychology including psychobiology, sensation and perception, states of consciousness, learning, cognition, motivation and emotion, personality, abnormal psychology, and social psychology. Students learn about major figures in psychology, perspectives, terminology, research findings, and associated psychological phenomenon. Ethics and research methods used in psychological science and practice are emphasized in demonstrations and through the use of articles on historical psychological experiments. This course includes laboratory activities and demonstrations as well as extensive reading.
  • Forensic Science

    Grades 10-12
    One Semester
    ½ credit
    Forensic science is the application of science to solve crimes using evidence that will be admissible in a court of law. As a multidisciplinary subject, the course brings together the fields
    of biology, chemistry, and physics through experiential and analytical work. Topics of study may include fingerprinting, qualitative analysis of substances (hair, metal, soil, glass, and fibers), toxicology, serology, DNA evidence, historical case studies, and current events. Lab experiences, presentations, class discussion, and collaboration are essential components of the course.
  • Introduction to Microbiology

    Grades 11- 12
    One Semester
    ½ credit
    Prerequisites: Chemistry and Biology (Biology
    may be taken concurrently)
    In this one-semester elective, students investigate the roles microorganisms play in the lives of humans. Students will develop a working understanding of, and the skills necessary to, cultivate and study microorganisms. Students will investigate a broad range of microorganisms with a focus on understanding the causes and consequences of infectious diseases caused by viruses and bacteria. Students will explore the foundations of modern microbiology, cell biology, microscopy, clinical microbiology, and bacterial genetics. Laboratory investigations complement classroom instruction. Students will be expected to engage in safe and responsible laboratory practices.
  • Marine Biology

    Grades 10-12
    Single Semester Course
    ½ credit
    Prerequisite: Chemistry (Chemistry may be taken concurrently)
    This is a one semester, lab-based elective where students learn about the living (biotic) and nonliving (abiotic) interdependent 24 characteristics of marine ecosystems. One quarter is devoted to learning about the dynamics of marine invertebrates, sharks and fishes, seabirds, and marine mammals. The second quarter focuses on global distribution of whole ecosystems such as coral reefs, mangroves, and marshes. Field trips to local parks and waterways will give the students several opportunities to measure water quality and capture specimens for observation.
  • Wetlands Biology

    Grades 11-12
    One Semester
    ½ credit
    Prerequisite: Biology (Biology may be taken concurrently)
    Enrollment limited to 10 students and preference is therefore given to seniors.
    Through observation and identification processes, students learn about the characteristic flora and fauna and their interrelationships in the various wetland communities found between the Atlantic Ocean and the Virginia Piedmont. This field-oriented course involves off-campus trips to local wetlands along with one all-day trip to a salt marsh. Classwork includes required readings from a variety of texts and journals, and discussions of the methods used to do field research. 
  • Biological Adaptation

    Grades 11-12
    One Semester
    ½ credit
    Prerequisite: Biology (Biology may be taken concurrently)
    Enrollment is limited to 10 students and preference is therefore given to seniors.
    This course offers a more in-depth look at adaptation and evolution. This course will look at the selective pressures that have shaped adaptations and behaviors of the flora and fauna that we study. Adaptations necessary to survive winter, and plant development from water to land are used to illustrate the evolutionary process. This field-oriented course involves off-campus trips to local habitats along with one all-day trip to the Eastern Shore. Classwork includes required readings from a variety of texts and journals and discussions of the methods used to do field research. 
  • Comparative Anatomy

    Grades 11-12
    Second Semester
    ½ credit
    Prerequisite: Biology (Biology may be taken concurrently)
    Students will have studied the basic principles of evolution in junior year Biology, but without opportunity to delve into comparisons of anatomy and physiology across groups of organisms. This one-semester junior-senior elective offers a more in-depth investigation of structure and function across the major groups of vertebrate animals while including some non-animal organisms, as well. Readings, discussions, projects, and labs will guide students in topics that include: phylogeny; the vertebrate story; organ systems; and adaptations.
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology

    Grades 11-12
    First Semester
    1/2 credit
    Prerequisite: Biology (Biology may be taken concurrently)
    The Anatomy and Physiology class will involve a detailed study of the form and function of all organs of bodily systems, and how those systems work together to maintain homeostasis in the human body. Emphasis will be on macroscopic studies such as muscular mechanics, and histological studies such as microscopic tissue examination. This course will combine class discussion with laboratory activities to explore how the human body works. Animal dissection will be an optional element of the course.
  • Core Concepts in Sustainability and Environmental Entrepreneurship

    Grades 10-12
    Second Semester
    ½ credit
    Prerequisite: Chemistry (Chemistry may be taken concurrently)
    The emphasis of this course will be on anthropogenic/ecological impacts that have affected our environment, both positively and negatively, from the Industrial Revolution onward. Both the freshman and sophomore science experiences will be folded into this course, as students grapple with the physics and engineering of renewable technologies, as well as the chemical interactions and implications of fossil fuel use on our atmosphere and waterways. In addition, this course will explore the history of environmental consciousness and sustainability in our modern world, as well as methods being implemented across the globe to combat the climate crisis – both on the micro and macro scale. The course will combine class discussion with laboratory activities and likely include some off-campus field trip(s) and/or field work.
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology

    Grades 11-12
    One Semester
    1/2 credit
    The Human Anatomy and Physiology class will involve a detailed study of the form and function of all organs of bodily systems, and how those systems work together to maintain homeostasis in the human body. Emphasis will be on macroscopic studies such as muscular mechanics, and histological studies such as microscopic tissue examination. This course will combine class discussion with laboratory activities to explore how the human body works. Animal dissection will be an optional element of the course.
  • Marine Biology

    Five Times a Week: ½ credit
    First and Second Semester
    Prerequisite: B- or above in Biology, departmental approval or concurrent enrollment
    This is a 1 semester lab-based elective where students learn about the living and non-living (abiotic) characteristics of the marine ecosystem. One quarter is devoted to learning about the warm water marine communities such as coral reefs, sea grasses, mudflats and mangroves. Dissections help support the student’s understanding as they learn about the key adaptations that allow keystone species to thrive in those environments. The second quarter focuses on practicing field techniques and specimen collection. Field trips to local parks and waterways will give the students several opportunities to measure water quality and capture specimens for observation.
  • Physical Science

    Physical science is an integrated and comprehensive coverage of physics and chemistry with mathematics through accessible text, inquiry activities, and a variety of hands-on experiences. Through guided laboratory experiments and activities, students will become proficient at using and applying the scientific method and present their conclusions in the appropriate forms using correct scientific vocabulary.  The end goal of the course is to build an in-depth understanding of the big ideas of the physical world. The secondary goal is to build a toolkit of problem solving techniques and lab skills that can be utilized in future science classes. The course is built through modules centering on a common phenomenon that students have observed or seen in their daily lives.
  • Psychology in Film

    Psychology in Film

Department Faculty

  • Photo of Shannon Fusina
    Shannon Fusina
    Science Department Chair
    703-212-2290
    Pennsylvania State University - B.S.
    University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - M.S.Ed.
  • Photo of Sam Chan
    Sam Chan
    Science Teacher
    703-212-2897
    Gordon College, Wenham, MA - BA
    Florida International University, Miami, FL - MS Education
    CorePower Yoga - RYT-200 Yoga Alliance
  • Photo of Tim Dodds
    Tim Dodds
    Science Teacher and Associate Dean of Students
    703-212-2891
    Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT - B.A.
    University of Pennsylvania - M.S.Ed
  • Photo of Debra Garcia
    Debra Garcia
    Science Teacher
    703-212-2754
    Cornell University - B.S.
    Rutgers University - Camden - M.S.
    University of Maryland University College - M.S.
  • Jeanne Hillinck
    Science Teacher
  • Photo of Dionna Jordan
    Dionna Jordan
    Middle School Athletic Director and Science Teacher
    703-212-2866
    Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. - BA
  • Photo of Stephanie Koroma
    Stephanie Koroma
    Director of Athletics
    703-212-2776
    Hamilton College, Clinton, NY - B.A.
  • Photo of Julie Krane
    Julie Krane
    Science Teacher
    703-212-2762
    Smith College, Northampton, MA - BA
    Vermont Law School, South Royalton, VT - MSEL
  • Photo of Michael Mallett
    Michael Mallett
    Director of Upper School
    703-212-2922
    Arizona State University - B.S.
    Oklahoma State University - M.S.
  • Photo of Celeste McDaniels
    Celeste McDaniels
    Associate Director of Upper School
    703-212-2744
    Hampton University - BA
    Johns Hopkins University - Ph.D.
  • Photo of Sarah Oakes
    Sarah Oakes
    Science Teacher
    (703) 212-2910
    Rice University, Houston, TX - B.A.
  • Photo of Elena Tyree
    Elena Tyree
    Science Teacher
    703-212-2928
    Harvard University - A.B.
    Montana State University, Bozeman - M.S.
  • Photo of Jarred Vallozzi
    Jarred Vallozzi
    Science Teacher
    703-212-2941
    Grove City College - B.S.
    Biola University
  • Photo of Theodore Yoder
    Theodore Yoder
    Science Teacher
    (703) 212-2942
    George Mason University, Fairfax, VA - M.A.
    Goshen College, Goshen, IN - B.A.
Age 3-Grade 12 coed Episcopal day school in Alexandria, Virginia

Campuses

List of 3 items.

  • Lower School

    Age 3-Grade 5
    400 Fontaine Street
    Alexandria, Virginia 22302
  • Middle School

    Grades: 6-8
    4401 West Braddock Road
    Alexandria, Virginia 22304
  • Upper School

    Grades: 9-12
    1000 St. Stephen's Road
    Alexandria, Virginia 22304