The Science Program at BHS includes a year each of Earth Science, Life Science, and Physical Science. All of the science courses investigate the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ behind the concepts we explore. Students work to apply those concepts to real-world examples, and to recognize that an understanding of how the world works on a molecular level can help one to see the patterns and scientific principles at work in the rest of the world and beyond, and vice versa. Students learn and practice the scientific method and precise measurement, design their own experiments and engage with careful inquiry both in and out of the classroom. A weekly science journal encourages students to recognize science in their everyday lives, and larger Science Share Projects ask students to pursue some of their personal interests and questions in greater depth. The science department consults the Next Generation Science Standards in generating curriculum, and works closely with the other departments, especially math, in a manner that reinforces the fundamental interdisciplinary nature of the concepts we study.
The Earth Science course begins with an introduction to the scientific method, measuring, metrics, and states of matter. These skills and concepts are then applied as students move on to study the earth’s systems. Their voyage begins with geology, reading the land for clues as to our past and any indications of what may come in the future. Students then explore how energy cycles through our planet, including the atmosphere and hydrosphere, to influence weather and climate. Once students have gained a solid comprehension of earth’s interconnected spheres, we start to explore the solar system, our place within it, and to apply our knowledge of earth—from tectonics to thunderstorms— to understanding other planets and moons.
The Life Science course explores the mystery of living things. We explore how life is classified, examining organisms on the microscopic level, and discovering the inner workings of cells as well as the principles of genetics that are at the root of the diversity of life we observe on earth today. We then zoom out a bit to investigate one particularly curious organism in greater depth: the species Homo sapiens sapiens. Our study of the human body ranges from investigating current research about the brain, to a forensics unit in which students use their learning about body systems to try and solve a (fictional) cold case. Throughout the course students are encouraged to recognize the connections between living things, as well as their adaptations and interactions with their environment, so the spring brings great opportunities to conduct field (and other habitat!) research.
The Physical Science course combines studies of chemistry and physics. Students come to understand properties of matter: why it interacts and how. They also investigate forces, transfers of energy, and how these relate to matter and doing ‘work.’ These are concepts that we witness on earth, but tie-ins to the larger universe are woven throughout the curriculum in fun and meaningful ways for students. Along with keeping an eye on the ‘cosmos,’ in this class students are also keeping their hands and minds busy, engineering creative models and structures for ‘design challenges.’ Students provide plans and proposals in a style modeled after NASA’s own processes, and develop innovative solutions of their own to accomplish complex tasks. In this way, students can physically witness and apply the concepts they’re learning, and develop their technical, engineering, experimental and critical thinking skills.