The Science Department believes that the study of science is vital to the development of intellectual curiosity and analytical thinking. Students learn to see science as a process as well as a body of knowledge about the natural world.
It is the philosophy of the Science Department that students benefit from exposure to each of the three sciences: biology, chemistry, and physics, which is reflected in the graduation requirement. These required course must be taken on the Madeira campus. Summer courses may be used for enrichment and do not fill this requirement.
3-block course; Open to grades 9 and 10
Biology at Madeira is a foundational course that introduces the science skills that students will develop and use throughout high school. Students will study the process of science and will survey the study of life. Laboratory exercises will be performed to reinforce concepts, and current events will be used to supplement discussions of biological issues. Prerequisites: None.
BIO I: Biochemistry, Cells, and Cellular Processes - Topics may include (but are not limited to): the process of science, chemistry, biochemistry, types of cells and cell parts
BIO II: Genetics and Molecular Biology - Topics may include (but are not limited to): cell division, Mendelian genetics, DNA/RNA/protein synthesis, and biotechnology
BIO III: Evolution and Diversity of Life - Topics may include (but are not limited to): Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, modern evolutionary thought, overview of diversity of life, and some ecology.
4-block course; Open to grade 12
AP Biology is a college-level course for students who have a serious interest in biology, who have the ability to learn challenging material on their own, and who wish to take the AP exam. Topics include: biochemistry, cells and cell division, genetics, DNA replication, protein synthesis, evolution, ecology, and plant and animal physiology. Emphasis is on biological statistics, data analysis, and experimental design as we practice AP-style questions and prepare for the exam in May. Workload and expectations in and out of class are comparable to a college course. AP Biology students are required to take the AP Biology exam in May. Prerequisites: Biology with a B (or higher), Chemistry with a B+ (or higher), and department approval. Corequisites: Must be currently taking 3 blocks of physics, if have not already done so.
3-block course; Open to grades 10, 11, and 12
This course is intended to familiarize students with the fundamental concepts of chemistry as a physical science and includes chemical investigation through experimentation. This course requires the student to work with abstract concepts and requires considerable mathematical problem-solving skill. Topics covered in this course include organization of the periodic table, development of atomic theory and atomic structure, chemical bonding, writing and naming chemical compounds, classifying, balancing, and predicting products for chemical reactions, calculations with chemical quantities, intermolecular forces, the behavior of solids, liquids, gases, and solutions, chemical kinetics, chemical equilibrium, acid-base chemistry, and electrochemistry. Prerequisites: Biology. Corequisites: Must be currently taking Advanced Algebra II (or higher).
CHEM I: Introduction to Chemistry - Topics will include atomic structure, elements, the periodic table and trends, bonding, molecular structures, kinetic theory, phases of matter, equilibrium, and writing and balancing reactions.
CHEM II: Quantitative Reactions - Topics will include nomenclature, unit conversions, chemical composition, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, and solutions.
CHEM III: Thermodynamics & Equilibrium - Topics will include Kinetic Molecular Theory, Gas Laws, Acid base properties, pH, kinetics, equilibrium, redox reactions and applications, and atomic chemistry.
3-block course (including CHEM I); Open to grades 11 and 12
Applied Chem expands on the foundation of CHEM I topics by connecting to real-world applications. Questions investigated range from, Why do we need vitamins?, to What is a GMO?, to Is chemical warfare ethical? Each topic is examined through their impact on the chemical industry, society, and the economy in order to develop an appreciation for chemistry in the context of world events. The course will also give opportunities to discover and support ideas through first-hand laboratory experimentation. Students will push themselves to look at controversial topics through the lens of a scientist and develop skills for making compelling presentations. Prerequisites: Biology.
CHEM I: Introduction to Chemistry (required first block)
Applied CHEM: Origins of Industry - Topics covered could include the development of early chemical industry, specifically dyes, drugs and food.
Applied CHEM: Modern Materials - Topics covered could include the development of 20th century materials, specifically plastics, explosives, and electronics-related materials.
Applied CHEM: Global Challenges - Topics covered could include the compounds that contribute to global issues, specifically compounds with significant environmental and/or health impact.
4-block course; Open to grades 11 and 12
AP Chemistry is a college-level, comprehensive study of chemistry for students with advanced mathematical skills, a background in basic biology, chemistry, and physics, and a strong interest in chemistry. This course covers topics introduced in Chemistry with greater depth and sophistication and focuses on the more complex topics of thermodynamics, chemical kinetics, chemical equilibria, electrochemistry, and the behavior of matter at the molecular level. Lectures, class discussions, mathematical problem solving, demonstrations, and laboratory investigations are the primary methods of developing these and other topics. This course is taught at the college level and requires the students to take responsibility for their own learning. The course work includes abstract material, involves complex problem solving, and demands explanations of phenomena rather than simple statements of theories, trends, or observations. AP Chemistry students are required to take the AP Chemistry exam in May. Prerequisites: Biology, A- (or higher) in Chemistry, B+ (or higher) in Physics with Trigonometry, and department approval. Corequisite: Physics with Trigonometry or AP Physics C
3-block course; Open to grades 10, 11, and 12
This project-based course is an introduction to the fundamental ideas of physics including applications to everyday experiences using concepts, mathematical calculations, and frequent hands-on applications. In their study of the physical universe, students will delve into many branches of physics, including matter and its motion, the nature of light, sound phenomena, electricity and magnetism. Mathematical calculations are used to enhance and describe ideas that are initially presented at a conceptual level. This course may be used to meet the Physics requirement for AP Biology but may not be used to meet the Physics requirement for AP Chemistry or AP Physics C. Prerequisites: Biology. Corequisites: Geometry (or higher).
PWG I: Forces and Motion (required first course)
PWG: Waves, Light and Sound
PWG: Electricity and Magnetism
3-block course; Open to grades 11 and 12
The focus of Physics with Trigonometry is to examine, explain, and analyze physical phenomena that occur in the world around us. New concepts are developed primarily through class discussion and laboratory work, and solving problems related to this material refines the understanding of these concepts. Students are expected to take responsibility for their own learning, both by working independently as well as with other students. Students are required to take three of the four modules for course credit. Prerequisites: Biology, Chemistry with a B- or higher. Corequisites: Advanced Precalculus (or higher). If in Precalculus, permission required from Academic Dean and chair of the science department.
PWT: Forces and Motion (required first course): Topics include an introduction to the course and the lab requirements, vectors, linear motion, projectiles, and Newton’s Laws of Motion.
PWT: Circle Motion and Conservation Laws: Topics include the study of uniform circular motion, universal gravitation, conservation of energy and conservation of momentum.
PWT: Harmonic Motions, Waves and Applications: Topics include simple harmonic motion, springs and spring forces, mechanical waves, sound, standing waves, and geometric optics.
PWT: Electricity: Topics include electric forces and fields, circuits, electromagnetism, and magnetism.
3-block course; Open to grades 11 and 12
Designed to prepare students for the AP Physics C exam, this is a calculus-based course in Mechanics intended for those who have already successful completed Physics with Trig: Forces and Motion. We will explore the concepts of kinematics, dynamics, energy, rotational motion, momentum and other applications of calculus to the physical world. New concepts will be developed through class, lab work, and experimental design. Students will work independently and in groups, but are responsible for their own learning. AP Physics C students will be required to take the AP Physics C: Mechanics exam in May. Prerequisites: Biology, Chemistry, B+ (or higher) in Physics with Trigonometry: Forces and Motion, and department approval. Corequisites: Must be taking AP Calculus BC or higher, or department approval.
1-block course; Open to grades 9-12
This course will investigate one or more major scientific challenges facing the world today. Types of topics could include (but are not limited to) climate change, scientific literacy, and education, as well as ethical considerations with emerging technologies. The class is collaborative and project-based culminating in a class-produced product. Prerequisites: None.
1-block course; Open to grades 9-12
Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary field that examines how natural systems function on Earth and how humans affect the environment. The environment is defined as everything, living and nonliving, that surrounds us. Environmental Science incorporates many disciplines: biology (especially ecology), chemistry, physics, politics, sociology, economics, and ethics. Topics covered in this class will include a selection of the following: biodiversity; food, agriculture, and soil; water resource and pollution issues; solid waste disposal; fossil fuels; alternative energy resources; the atmosphere and air pollution; acid deposition; ozone depletion; and climate change. Students will play a role in determining which topics are covered during the module. The coursework will be supported by laboratory and field studies. Students will also have the opportunity to become better acquainted with the natural beauty of Madeira’s campus. Prerequisites: None
1-2 block course; Open to grades 9, 10, 11, and 12
This course is designed to give students the opportunity to learn how scientific principles are applied to fields such as law enforcement and anthropology. From fingerprints to DNA, bite marks to shoe prints, and blood spatter to trace evidence, forensic science requires the knowledge of biology, geology, botany, chemistry, and physics. Using a multidisciplinary and hands-on approach, students will learn the fundamentals of forensic science and develop logical problem-solving skills through the use of both case studies and laboratory experiments. Prerequisites: None.
Forensics: Biological Evidence - Topics may include hair and DNA analysis, blood spatter patterns, bones and bite marks, and toxicology.
Forensics: Physical Evidence - Topics may include crime scene analysis, police line-ups, types of evidence, microscopy, patterns & impressions of evidence, trace evidence, and handwriting analysis.
1-2 block course; Open to grades 10, 11, and 12
In this elective course, students will investigate various human organ systems. Topics may include histology, physiology, gross anatomy, and pathology for the organ systems studied. Prerequisites: Biology
1-block course; Open to grades 9-12
This course introduces students to the principles of computer programming, including the study of object-oriented programming. Topics include the use of functions, loops, lists and variables in coding. Students create text-based projects using Python. In creating these projects, students learn the basic principles, logic, and beauty of programming. Strong logic skills are strongly recommended. Students who are considering studying engineering in college are strongly encouraged to take this course. This course satisfies the coding requirement. Prerequisites: None.
1-block course; Open to grades 9, 10, 11, and 12
This course introduces the fundamental concepts of building robots and learning how to program them. Using robots and the corresponding programming language, we will explore problem solving and program design. This will be a project-based course, requiring a high level of collaboration and incorporating the necessary problem-solving skills along with the school’s core values of resilience, intellectual curiosity, and creativity. Prerequisites: None.
*Special Note: This course satisfies the math department computer programming requirement.
9 blocks of lab sciences (Biology, Physics, Chemistry)
Dr. Boyette began teaching at Madeira in 2007. She earned a bachelor's degree in Chemistry from East Carolina University and her doctorate in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Florida. In addition to teaching in the Science Department, she instructs Karate as an afternoon activity.
Ms. Freeman, a Madeira alumna, began teaching at Madeira in 1993. She earned a bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences from Northwestern University and a master's degree from John's Hopkins University. She is a Master Teacher in the Science Department and serves as advisor to the Jewish students and families affinity group and faculty advisor for JAM (Judaism at Madeira).
Dr. Joel Wallace joined the Science Department in 2014 with 11 years of prior experience teaching in independent schools. Mr. Wallace earned his Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Drew University and his MD from New Jersey Medical School. In his spare time he enjoys traveling and taking advantage of Washington, D.C.’s museums. Dr. Wallace is also an opera enthusiast.
Suzanne Smedberg joined the science department in 2016 to teach physics. She and her family reside on campus, and she serves on the dorm staff. She relocated along with her husband and seven children from Johnstown, PA, where she taught Physics and Mathematics for five years. Suzanne graduated from Juniata College with a B.A. in Physics, History and Education, and a M.S. in Applied Mathematics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Sara Chuang earned her bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering at Columbia University, and her Ph.D. in Chemical and Biological Engineering at Princeton University. Her thesis work involved studying bacteria attachment to surfaces and how attachment influences bacterial virulence. In addition to a passion for science and engineering, she enjoys playing strategic board games.
Nicholas Bower received his B.Sc.in Astrophysics from Brown University and his M.Sc. in Physics from Carnegie Mellon. He spent his first 2 years of research studying biophysics and microfluidics, prior to switching to particle physics. He spent 4 years working with Compact Muon Solenoid experiment, one of the two main particle detectors on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Mr. Bower took a variety of roles within the experiment, from data collection, to SUSY and Dark Matter data analyses. Alongside his research, he spent 2 years teaching college math to inmates at the Rhode Island Men’s Adult Correctional Facility. He is also the JV Volleyball assistant coach.