Science Courses

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

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

The Randolph-Macon Academy Science Department strives to help students:
1. to appreciate the process of scientific inquiry and the scientific enterprise,
2. to understand the common themes and basic rules governing all matter, nonliving and
living, and
3. to develop scientific habits through practice with observation, critical thinking,
problem solving, laboratory experience, and scientific writing.

Biology
This course covers the major content standards for biology courses outlined by the Next
Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Topics include ecology, the cell, photosynthesis and
heredity. Along with traditional scientific pursuits of data gathering, graphing skills, and study
skills, students will examine a variety of methods of food production on campus and in the
region. From growing microgreens to building hydroponic systems, students will test hypotheses,
run trials, and design experiments to discover new ways to grow sustainable, healthy food for
communities.

Chemistry
Chemistry is a lab based physical science course. It includes the use of algebraic concepts to
interpret and explain the many phenomena that occur between matter and energy in the physical
world. 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. Additional goals of this course are to develop critical thinking and reading skills,
provide an environment in which logical problem-solving skills may be nurtured, and to provide
each student with the background necessary to be successful in future physical science based
coursework. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Algebra I with minimum grade of B.

Honors Chemistry
Chemistry is a lab based physical science course. It includes the use of algebraic concepts to
interpret and explain the many phenomena that occur between matter and energy in the physical
world. 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. Additional goals of this course are to develop critical thinking and reading skills,
provide an environment in which logical problem-solving skills may be nurtured, and to provide
each student with the background necessary to be successful in future physical science based
coursework. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Algebra I with minimum grade of A and
successful completion of Biology with minimum grade of B.

Physics in Astronomy
This course provides an engaging introduction to Astronomy by exploring those essential
Physics concepts as the basis of the principles which are displayed throughout the universe. A
variety of basic Physics concepts are first investigated and then associated to appropriate topics
of our solar system, the stars, and galaxies. These specific topics will both illustrate and explain
the foundational concepts in Physics. The students will understand the processes of science
discovery as they learn the key concepts of Physics and apply them to many different levels of
astronomy study. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Geometry, Algebra II (or co-enrolled
with teacher approval), and Chemistry with minimum grade of C in each.

Honors 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. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Geometry, Algebra II, and Chemistry with
minimum grade of B in each.

Honors Anatomy and Physiology
This is an Honors-level course designed for students who are interested in exploring a career in
medicine, health, or athletics. This course develops an appreciation of how the human body is
organized and how it is parts function together. Through readings, lectures, demonstrations, labs,
and dissections, we will survey the body’s systems and relate them to medicine, health, and
athletics. Prerequisite: Completion of Biology and Chemistry with grade of A or a grade of B
with teacher approval.

Advanced Placement Biology
This AP Biology course is the equivalent of a solid one-year introductory college course for
biology majors at a university. The course is structured around the enduring understandings
within the big ideas as described in the AP ® Biology Curriculum Framework. To achieve the goal
of teaching a modern biology college course, this course leans toward a more biochemical
understanding of biology. This approach recognizes that life is driven by molecules, whose
physical shapes and characteristics allow them to interact according to the laws of physics and
chemistry. This course will be divided into 12 units that will examine nature’s solutions to
essential questions that we have about living things. You will see four Big Ideas permeating the
course:
1. the process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life,
2. biological systems utilize free energy and molecular building blocks to grow, to
reproduce, and to maintain dynamic homeostasis,
3. living systems store, retrieve, transmit, and respond to information essential to life
processes, and
4. biological systems interact and these systems and their interactions possess complex
properties.
(This course is not available until School Year 2020- 2021) Prerequisite: Completion of Biology
and Chemistry with grade of A or a grade of B with teacher approval.
Advanced Placement Chemistry (dual-enrolled as Chemistry 111 with Lord Fairfax
Community College)
This course is designed to challenge 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. Prerequisite: Completion of Biology, Chemistry and
Algebra II with grade of A or a grade of B with teacher approval.

Advanced Placement Physics Mechanics: C
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 in much greater depth and with the application of the tools of calculus. Class time will
be split among 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 precalculus 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. Prerequisite: Completion of Physics and Pre-Calculus
or equivalent with grade of A or a grade of B with teacher approval.

Advanced Placement Environmental Science (dual enrolled as Environmental Science 121
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. This is a junior/senior level course. Students also apply their
content knowledge and critical thinking to environmental and social concerns. Students spend a
minimum of 25 percent of instructional time engaged in hands-on laboratory work. Prerequisite:
Completion of Biology and Chemistry with grade of A or a grade of B with teacher approval.

Geospatial Information Systems (dual-enrolled as GEOG 161 with James Madison
University)

Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) teaches the foundational concepts of spatial integration
and analysis of geographic information. It involves 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. This is accomplished through learning a
broad range of tools and techniques in processing data, to include capturing, storing,
manipulating, analyzing, managing, and displaying information that effectively crosses academic
boundaries. The computer software used is ESRI ArcGIS, which is the industry gold standard,
making these GIS skills inherently transferable, being 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. Co-requisite for taking this course is that
students must be currently enrolled in an Algebra II or higher math course.

Computer Science
This course will introduce students to the field of computer science, the fundamentals of
computer programming, and robotics. The course will cover basic object-oriented programming
using Java: a high-level, portable, and well-constructed computer programming language.

Computer science builds logical problem-solving skills, collaboration, and an understanding of
the ever-changing technological world. Computer science also encompasses more than just
programing, therefore students will have multiple opportunities to explore hardware, software,
and networks through robotics. VEX IQ robotics will build collaboration, communication,
critical thinking, and creativity by building teams of students to with design and build a robot to
compete with other teams in a game-based engineering challenge. Juniors and Seniors receive
priority enrolling.