Science Department

Philosophy

The purpose of the Science Department is to develop students’ respect for the order and beauty of creation, an awareness of the forces that shape our physical and biological world, and a sense of personal responsibility for the direction science and technology will take in the course of their lives. The program empowers students to acquire an organized body of scientific information and skills necessary for critical thinking and responsible decision-making.
 
Provisions are made for students whose interests and abilities support a quantitative approach to science and for those whose success depends on more qualitative development. Because scientific and technological information is pervasive and linked to contemporary value systems, it is important for each student to become as scientifically literate as possible.

Graduation Requirements: Four credits, including Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

A Sampling of Classes Offered at SMCA

List of 5 items.

  • Advanced Chemistry (weighted)

    Credit Earned: 1.0
    The course covers microscopic description of the structure of atoms and molecules, properties of gases, liquids, and solids, chemical equilibrium, thermo-chemistry and thermodynamics, reaction kinetics, and electrochemistry. While preparing for the Advanced  Placement  Examination,  the  primary goals  of the  course are to attain a depth of understanding  of  fundamental  concepts, to develop analytical thinking skills, and to be  competent with  general problems.

    Prerequisites:  Chemistry, Instructor Approval, and Grade Requirement
  • AP Physics C - Calculus-Based

    Credit Earned: 1.0
    Description:  AP Physics C is an equivalent to a one-year college-level engineering physics class. This course is highly recommended for students  interested  in  pursuing a  technical  profession  including  engineering,  natural sciences, health sciences, or medicine. Students will receive the College Board curriculum required for the AP Physics C - Mechanics exam and the AP Physics C - Electricity and Magnetism exam.  Topics studied will build on those introduced in algebra-based physics with more generalized calculus treatment and greater analytical rigor. This course is an excellent preparatory course for advanced math, physics, and engineering courses at the college-level.

    Pre/Co-requisite: AP Physics Algebra-Based and completion of, or co-enrollment in, AP Calculus AB or AP Calculus BC
  • Biology

    Credit Earned: 1.0
    Biology is the study of life in all its manifestations—the origin, structure, foundation, reproduction, growth, and development of organisms. The course enables the student to organize observations of both common and planned experiences into a usable set of concepts.  It also provides a presentation of biological science in individual laboratory experiences. Biology I seeks to integrate themes that are sometimes treated individually-homeostasis, evolution, and ecology.

     
  • Environmental Science

    Sustainability                                                                                                       Credit Earned: 0.5
    Students  will explore  how human interactions with  the  environment have  altered and shaped the  world around us. This course will focus on understanding the science behind current environmental issues and applying that understanding to the development of viable, attainable solutions. This course will feature hands-on environmental work at the St. Michael’s campus including tending the gardens and managing the recycling program. Additionally, there will be class time devoted to student initiated environmental work. Topics for this semester include: principles of sustainability, renewable energy, sustainable food systems, global climate change, waste management, land use/ planning, remote sensing using satellites and drones, and sustainable cities.

    Prerequisites: Chemistry; Juniors and Seniors only
     
    Ecology                                                                                                                 Credit Earned: 0.5
    Students will work to develop critical thinking skills by exploring the dynamics of natural ecological systems. The class will use a systems approach to the analysis of material and energy flows, including both the physical and biological aspects of the environmental systems and their functional interconnections. Much emphasis will be given to modeling and simulating environmental concepts. This course will focus heavily on field work and will utilize both the St. Michael’s campus and Barton Creek watershed areas. Topics for this semester include: land and aquatic ecosystems, energy transfer, urban ecology, biodiversity, natural population dynamics, and nutrient and matter cycling.

    Prerequisites: Chemistry; Juniors and Seniors only
  • Honors Anatomy and Physiology

    Credit Earned: 0.5
    This rigorous college preparatory elective science course includes a detailed study of many human body systems. Homeostatic balance, the relationship between structure and function, and the interrelationships between body systems are the focus throughout the course. This course is recommended for students interested in a health-related career, especially those students who plan to study medicine, nursing, physical therapy, and athletic training. The course may also be helpful for those students who plan to enter education as either a life science or physical education teacher.  Laboratory  activities  will  include  several  dissections  to accompany  the  subject  matter  as  well  as  other activities to investigate the body systems.

    Prerequisites: Biology I and Chemistry I, Juniors and Seniors Only

Science Department Faculty

List of 5 members.

  • Mr. Todd Council 

    Biology Instructor
    University of North Carolina at Wilmington - B.S.
    The University of Texas at Austin - M.A.
  • Ms. Audrey Dwyer 

    Chemistry & Environmental Sciences Instructor
    Texas A&M University - B.S. Environmental Sciences
    Texas A&M University - B.S. Recreation, Park, and Tourism Sciences
    University of Tennessee - Masters of Education
  • Mr. Russell Glenn 

    Physics Teacher
    The College of William & Mary - B.S.
  • Ms. Patti McLain 

    Physics and Engineering Instructor
    Stanford University, MSEE
    Occidental College, AB Physics
  • Dr. Dennis Sheeter 

    Chemistry Instructor
    University of California, San Diego - Ph.D.
    University of California, San Diego - M.S.
    University of California, San Diego - B.S.