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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 class work. 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 class work. 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: 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 class work. 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
    Honors Biology Prerequisite: Minimum grade of A in Chemistry 439 or B+ in Chemistry 440, Successful score on placement test and teacher recommendation
    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 complete an application and receive department approval to enroll in the honors section.
  • Biology Honors

    Grades 11–12
    Full Year
    1 credit
    Biology Prerequisite: Chemistry
    Honors Biology Prerequisite: Minimum grade of A in Chemistry 439 or B+ in Chemistry 440, Successful score on placement test and teacher recommendation
    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 complete an application and receive department approval to enroll in the honors section.
  • AP Biology

    Full Year
    1 credit
    Prerequisites: A grade of B+ or better in Biology and Chemistry or 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: One year of Chemistry 440 with a grade of B or better or 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 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: One year of Physics, Pre-Calculus, or concurrent enrollment; or departmental approval
    This course prepares students to take the AP Physics-1 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: One year of Physics, Calculus, or concurrent enrollment; or 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: A grade of B or better in Chemistry, a grade of B or better or concurrent enrollment in Biology, or 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 on 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

    Course 473
    Grade 12
    Full Year
    1 credit
    Prerequisite: Biology and a grade of B or better in previous science courses
    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.
  • Wetlands Biology

    One Semester
    ½ credit
    Prerequisite: Biology or concurrent
    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.
  • Oceanography

    Grades 11-12
    One Semester
    ½ credit
    Oceanography is a semester-long interdisciplinary science course which investigates the fundamental concepts of ocean processes and their interrelationships. The course emphasizes the seven essential principles of ocean literacy, and incorporates the fields of geography, geology, chemistry, physics, and biology. Topics covered include ocean exploration, plate tectonics, sea water chemistry, air-sea interactions, waves and tides, ocean circulation, diversity of marine ecosystems, and human impact on ocean systems. Whenever possible, the course will make connections with outside experts in the many fields of oceanography.
  • Astronomy - Our Solar System

    Grades 10-12
    One Semester
    ½ credit
    Prerequisite: One year of Physics
    This course is a general introduction to astronomy with a specific focus on our solar system. Students learn about the planets and other significant objects orbiting our sun. They study the night sky and the motions of Earth, and learn how the planets were formed and how they have changed over time. Students also look at how Earth became such a hospitable planet and why it is probably the only one in our solar system where complex life can survive. They learn about the possibility that some form of life either existed or still exists on worlds besides Earth, such as Mars, Europa, Enceladus, and Titan, and also look at planets orbiting around other stars, discussing the possibility of intelligent life existing elsewhere in the universe. This course emphasizes how scientists come to know about the solar system, and students use many techniques that are employed by professional astronomers. Students will visit a planetarium to spend a night viewing the stars and planets through telescopes. Students complete lab work, write research papers, and craft short stories incorporating their knowledge. This course can be taken by itself or with Astronomy - Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology for a more complete introduction to astronomy.
  • Biological Adaptation

    Grades 10-12
    One Semester
    ½ credit
    Prerequisite: Biology or concurrent
    Enrollment 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.
  • Forensic Science

    Grades 10-12
    One Semester
    ½ credit
    Forensics is the application of science to solve crimes using evidence that will be admissible in a court of law. Topics may include fingerprinting, qualitative analysis of substances (hair, metal, soil, glass, and fibers), toxicology, serology, inorganic analysis, and DNA fingerprinting. As a multidisciplinary course, we will explore how biological and chemical systems are affected and influenced through experiential and analytical work. Lab experiences, audio-visual presentations, class discussion, and collaboration are an integral part of the course.
  • Astronomy - Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology

    Grades 10-12
    One Semester
    ½ credit
    Prerequisite: One year of Physics
    This course is a general introduction to astronomy with a specific focus on stars, galaxies, and cosmology. Students learn how stars are formed, how they live out their lives, and what happens when they finally run out of nuclear fuel, examining the differences among different types of stars. Students also discover how they are connected to stars and how almost all the matter on Earth was created in the cores of ancient stars. They consider the creation of the universe, and what will happen in the very distant future. They also engage in a discussion of how prevalent intelligent life is in the universe, attempting to calculate how many intelligent civilizations currently exist in our galaxy. This course emphasizes how scientists came to know about the universe, and students learn many techniques that are employed by professional astronomers. The class also visits a planetarium to spend a night viewing the stars and planets through telescopes. Students complete lab work, write research papers, and craft short stories incorporating their knowledge. This course can be taken a stand-alone course or combined with Astronomy - Our Solar System for a more complete picture of the universe.
  • The Science of Art - The Intersection of Materials and Practice

    Grades 10-12
    One Semester
    ½ credit
    This course will focus on scientific inquiry into materials used in artmaking. In-class experiences will address the basic scientific composition and biogenic origins of art materials, and the artistic application of our handmade materials in three disciplines, drawing, painting, and pottery. Course content will bridge a series of lab investigations with studio practice. This course will culminate in a capstone project demonstrating students’ full appreciation of how the science behind the materials impacts our personal expression and final work.
  • Bioethics

    Grades 10-12
    One Semester
    ½ credit
    In this discussion-based seminar, students consider medical, scientific, and technological factors that result in troubling dilemmas for individuals and societies. Through background reading and discussion, students learn the science behind new biomedical and biochemical technologies and discoveries. Through consideration of case studies and current events, students discuss and debate the dilemmas posed by those technologies. Throughout the course, students develop and hone their analytical and critical thinking skills. Topics may include health care issues, human/animal experimentation, reproductive technologies (RU-486, in vitro fertilization, cloning), or genetics (human genome project, gene therapy, genetic engineering). There is time and flexibility built into the course to allow students to pursue individual interests and current events that deal with bioethical topics.

Department Faculty

  • Photo of Shannon Fusina

    Shannon Fusina

    Science Department Chair and Upper School Science Teacher
    703-212-2290
    Pennsylvania State University - Bachelor of Science
    University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - Masters of Science of Education
    University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - Masters of Science of Education
    Pennsylvania State University - Bachelor of Science
  • Photo of Sam Chan

    Sam Chan

    Upper School Science Teacher
    703-212-2897
    Gordon College, Wenham, MA - BA
    Florida International University, Miami, FL - MS Education
    CorePower Yoga - Power Yoga Certification
  • Photo of Tim Dodds

    Tim Dodds

    Upper School 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

    Upper School Science Teacher
    703-212-2754
    Cornell University - B.S.
    Rutgers University - Camden - M.S.
    University of Maryland University College - M.S.
  • Photo of Dionna Jordan

    Dionna Jordan

    Middle School Athletic Director; Admin Asst for Athletics, Upper School Science Teacher
    703-212-2866
    Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. - BA
  • Photo of Stephanie Koroma

    Stephanie Koroma

    Athletic Director for Girls, CAA; Upper School Science Teacher
    7032122776
    Hamilton College, Clinton, NY - B.A.
  • Photo of Julie Krane

    Julie Krane

    Upper School 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 and Science Teacher
    703-212-2922
    Arizona State University - B.S. Biology
    Oklahoma State University - M.S. Zoology
  • Photo of Sarah Oakes

    Sarah Oakes

    Upper School Science Teacher
    (703) 212-2910
    Rice University, Houston, TX - BA
  • Photo of Michelangelo Romano

    Michelangelo Romano

    Upper School Physics Teacher
    703-212-2941
    The Catholic University of America - B.S. Physics
    University of Maryland, College Park - M.S. Materials Science
  • Photo of Elena Tyree

    Elena Tyree

    Upper School Science Teacher
    703-212-2928
    Harvard University, Cambridge, MA - A.B.
    Montana State University, Bozeman, MT - M.S.
  • Photo of Theodore Yoder

    Theodore Yoder

    Upper School 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