Science Courses

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Upper School science classes at Randolph-Macon Academy. A private boarding school located in Front Royal, Virginia.

Biology

Students study the basic similarities and differences of the structure and function of all living things.  This laboratory course provides an in-depth study of cells and a survey of microbes, plants, and invertebrates.  An emphasis is placed on the ecological interactions of all living things. 

Chemistry

Students in this course learn the basic principles of general chemistry and acquire a solid background in stoichiometry, gas laws, chemical bonding, theorem chemistry, kinetics, and equilibrium.  Concepts studied are strongly reinforced by laboratory experiments.  The understanding of concepts and the ability to solve problems are emphasized.  Algebra I proficiency is a requirement.

Physics

This upper-level course presents a mathematical analysis of the major concepts of classical physics as well as an introduction to some of the more modern aspects of physics.  Students examine topics such as mechanics, fluid and thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, and nuclear physics.  Lab work is designed to complement lectures, group work, and in-class problem sessions.  The minimum prerequisites are Algebra I, Geometry, and Chemistry with a grade of C or better in each class.  Students must also have completed Algebra II or be co-enrolled in the course.

Honors Anatomy and Physiology

This is an honors-level course designed for students who may pursue a career in medicine, health, or athletics.  An overview of all the systems of the human body provides the foundation for laboratory investigations that include approximately four dissections, 30 labs and some forensics.  Prerequisites:  Biology and Chemistry.  Permission from the instructor is required to sign up for this course.

Advanced Placement Biology

This course provides students with the conceptual skills necessary to deal critically with the rapidly changing science of biology at the college level. Students develop a conceptual framework that emphasizes an understanding of science as a process, integrates general topics of biology through the eight major themes specified in the AP Course description.  They understand evolution as a foundation model of modern biology and thought. Students also apply their content knowledge and critical thinking skills to environmental and social concerns. Students spend a minimum of 25 percent of instructional time engaged in hands-on laboratory work.  The pre-requisites are a grade of B or higher in Biology and Chemistry.

Advanced Placement Chemistry

AP Chemistry is an upper-level course designed for those students who plan to major in the fields of science, medicine, engineering, or other technical fields.  This course is designed to challenge the more advanced students and is taught at an accelerated pace.  The AP chemistry course presents a rigorous treatment of the following concepts:  nature of matter, gas laws, thermodynamics, chemical equilibria, performing laboratory investigations, communicating laboratory findings, and describing the structure of matter and its behavior.  A strong math background in which the student has acquired competence in formula writing and solving equations is essential for success. Prerequisites for the course are a grade of “B” or higher in Chemistry and Algebra II.

Advanced Placement Physics

This class presumes at least an introductory background in physics and is equivalent to an advanced college-level calculus-based mechanics class.  Students examine the standard topics in a mechanics curriculum from the basic kinematics equations through gravitation and rotational dynamics and with the application of the tools of calculus.  Class time will be split amongst a combination of lectures, interactive demonstrations, problem-solving sessions and group work, and laboratory experiments.  Students are expected to spend a significant amount of time outside of class on the course material.  The student must have completed math classes through pre-calculus and one year of high school physics (or have an equivalent background as approved by the instructor).  In addition to this, the student must have either already completed or be currently enrolled in Advanced Placement Calculus. Student must be approved for enrollment by the instructor.

Engineering Fundamentals

This course is designed to introduce students to the work of an engineering career.   The designing, planning and construction processes of projects for this class are modeled after what engineers do every day.  This course will also introduce students to the world of computer programming using Java software.

Anatomy and Physiology  

This is an honors-level course designed for students who may pursue a career in medicine, health, or athletics.  An overview of all the systems of the human body provides the foundation for laboratory investigations that include approximately four dissections, 30 labs and some forensics.  Prerequisites:  Biology and Chemistry.  

Advanced Placement Environmental Science 

This is a dual enrollment course with Lord Fairfax Community College. The goal of the AP Environmental Science 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 both natural and human-made, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving or preventing them. 
Environmental science is interdisciplinary; it embraces a wide variety of topics from different areas of study. Yet there are several major unifying constructs, or themes, that cut across the many topics included in the study of environmental science. 
The following themes provide a foundation for the structure of the AP Environmental Science course. 
1. Science is a process. 
     • Science is a method of learning more about the world. 
     • Science constantly changes the way we understand the world. 
2. Energy conversions underlie all ecological processes. 
     • Energy cannot be created; it must come from somewhere. 
     • As energy flows through systems, at each step more of it becomes unusable. 
3. The Earth itself is one interconnected system. 
     • Natural systems change over time and space. 
     • Biogeochemical systems vary in ability to recover from disturbances. 
4. Humans alter natural systems. 
     • Humans have had an impact on the environment for millions of years. 
     • Technology and population growth have enabled humans to increase both the rate and scale of their impact on the environment. 
5. Environmental problems have a cultural and social context. 
     • Understanding the role of cultural, social, and economic factors is vital to the development of solutions. 
6. Human survival depends on developing practices that will achieve sustainable systems. 
     • A suitable combination of conservation and development is required. 
     • Management of common resources is essential.
 Prerequisites:  Biology and Chemistry. 

Geospatial Science 

This is a dual enrollment course with James Madison University. This course teaches the basics of Geospatial Information Systems (GIS), which is a computer-based processing of data, both spatial and geographical, for the purpose of understanding concepts, presenting information, and recommending action on a specific topic of interest.  Processing includes capturing, storing, manipulating, analyzing, managing, and displaying information that effectively crosses academic boundaries.  GIS skills are inherently transferable, utilized in an increasingly broad array of fields and professions in industry.  Individual interests are encouraged as the selection of your GIS projects and are typically associated with current events, personal interest, and school or community focus.  Project presentations allow students to build communication skills and introduce mixed topics of interests to all classmates.  Below is a sample snapshot of one students project result.
Prerequisites:  Biology and Chemistry. 

Introduction to Plant Science and Technology  

This is another dual enrollment course with Lord Fairfax Community College. A tremendous portion of this course will revolve around our newly implemented school garden.  This immersive course, with the text and garden as our foundation, is designed to help students understand the crop-based sources of their food and fiber, how the food production system works, and how we are each impacted by the interconnectedness of food and a variety of agricultural systems.  We will also learn about the nutritional value of our foods through food chemistry studies and the history of our consumption patterns.  Sustainability will be a major underlying theme as we study how the food we eat gets on our plates and how these topics relate to our everyday lives.  
Prerequisites:  Biology and Chemistry. 

Biotechnology (New Course!)

This course introduces current topics in the life science technologies through lecture and laboratory exercises. Topics include advances in genetic engineering, the hierarchy of life, and the rise of infectious diseases. Lab will explore modern techniques used in biological and biomedical research. Dual enrollment through James Madison University is pending! Only 11th and 12th graders may sign up for dual-enrollment.