Science

CSW’s Science Department introduces students to best practices of scientific study through hands-on experiences in laboratory-based classes, with regular opportunities for in-depth research projects.

After completing required coursework in the 9th and 10th grade years, students are afforded curricular choice seen only at the college level, with program tracks in physics, biology, and chemistry that cover a diverse array of topics and material.

Students in Marine Biology get the opportunity to travel to Hurricane Island in Penobscot Bay, Maine to study marine life with the Hurricane Island Foundation. 

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GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS

  • Biology
  • STEAM
  • 3 Blocks Beyond STEAM

Sample Courses

List of 8 items.

  • 20th Century Physics

    This class will venture to the extremes of the universe, beyond the scope of human experience, to explore physical phenomena that many people may never have thought possible. Starting with Quantum Mechanics, we will explore the land of the tiny, where a particle may be everywhere and nowhere at once. We will then travel to the land of the fast, where the speed of light is king, and where Relativity suggests that a meter and a second are actually the same thing. We shall then confront a central problem in modern physics: the incompatibility of Quantum Mechanics and Relativity. And from there, we will dive into the abyss of cutting‑edge physics and try to answer questions such as: why are there only three spatial dimensions? What would it mean if there were two time dimensions? Why does time appear to flow? And when and how will it switch direction? And finally, what are the implications of modern physics for free will and religion?
  • Animal Behavior

    Why do some animals live in groups, and others singly? Why are some animals monogamous while others have multiple mates? Who cares for the young? Why do birds sing and wolves howl? In this course, we will begin to answer these questions. We will read a text that provides an introduction to all areas of animal behavior, as well as selected articles. Our focus will be on social behaviors. Using films, we will observe the social behaviors of animals as diverse as termites and wolves. We will use fieldwork to study the role of society in the foraging behavior of honeybees. Students will be required to write a research paper on a topic of their choice.
  • BioConnections: Cells, Organisms, and Society

    In this required course, students will examine the structures and processes of the cell and human body. The course will investigate body functions from the micro to the macro level, examining how the activity of genes leads to cell specialization in organs and body systems. Our major themes, sickle cell anemia and diabetes, will provide depth and context to our work, emphasizing connections between biology and issues of social justice and equity. Students will experience the process and practice of scientific research through an in‑depth, self-directed research project, which will culminate in a public poster symposium. Skills in dissection and microscopy will be a component of this course. Students will demonstrate their learning through activities such as structured experiments, modeling, a poster symposium, and other summative assessments in various forms. This course will expand on the content of BioChemistry to consider nested levels of organization and complexity in biology. Students will leave with the ability to anticipate the interplay between biology and the larger social context. This course awards credit toward the social justice requirement.
  • Love: Chemistry or Culture?

    In this class we will consider the role of culture and chemistry in love from a variety of perspectives. We will discuss the biological basis of love and the role of nature and evolution through an examination of the physiology and neurology behind ideas like attraction and maternal instinct and a comparative analysis of breeding and mating patterns in a variety of animals, including humans. We will also address the role of culture in considering issues of beauty, sexuality, and gender identity. For their final project, students will design and implement a research study in which they examine a topic of their choice.
  • Marine Biology

    The goal of this class is to give students a field research experience in which they come to understand how to work as a team to conduct experimental studies in marine science. Students will be off campus on Hurricane Island off the coast of Maine, where they will be involved in a variety of new and ongoing projects. They will study the structure of intertidal communities, develop hypotheses, and then implement a research study that will provide baseline data for future work in the area. The students will also study lobster biology and the historic management of the fishery so they can start to look critically at the current state of the Maine lobster industry. In the larval settlement project, students will study organisms that recruit on docks and in the intertidal of Penobscot Bay, and consider the role of invasive species and climate change in affecting biodiversity. Finally, they will learn about the efforts on Hurricane Island to design a sustainable campus and to reduce the carbon footprint. They will help monitor energy use and also learn about various innovative solutions to the problem of living “off the grid.” There is a charge for the off‑campus portion of the course. This course awards credit toward the social justice requirement.
  • Physics 1: Mechanics

    This course covers the material contained in the first half of a basic college‑preparatory course: study of the natural laws relating space, time, matter, and energy. Topics include measurement, motion, forces, energy, momentum, and rotation. We want students to understand the behavior of matter, and to become aware of the importance of the physical laws of nature. The approach to the material is highly mathematical. Students will use spreadsheets and graphing programs to analyze laboratory data. Students with a strong interest in science should take some precalculus and chemistry before Physics 1.
  • STEAM: From Virtual to Reality

    In this class students will be learning to use the technological tools of programming or graphic communication (CAD) to help them create tangible solutions to real life problems. Students will create, design, build, discover, and engage in hands-on projects that require applying these technological skills using failure-based learning, where failure is seen as part of the natural process to solve problems. Students will also work collaboratively as “specialists” in groups, where each student is responsible for different skills and roles. Whether they solve their problems by writing a program, creating structures through 3D modeling in CAD and printing, or building and programming robots to accomplish a task, students will be given the opportunity to exercise the technological tools they have developed.
  • The Chemistry of Cooking

    In this course, students will learn about various aspects of food science and how it relates to chemistry. When should you use baking soda, as opposed to baking powder? What ratio of ingredients will yield the perfect chocolate chip cookie? How does applying heat to a mixture cause it to transform? When are polymers good to eat, and when are they not? All of these questions have answers grounded in the application of chemical reactions and molecular interactions. Students will be expected to keep a lab journal about edible food demos and experiments. The final project will be a food challenge based on an assigned theme. Students working in groups will have to prepare the food, and explain the chemistry involved to a panel of food tasters.

Science Faculty

List of 5 members.

  • Photo of Claire Bagnani

    Claire Bagnani 

    Science Faculty
    Education & Degrees
  • Photo of Marilyn Del Donno

    Marilyn Del Donno 

    Science Faculty
    781-642-8683
  • Photo of Liz Nee

    Liz Nee 

    Mathematics Faculty and Science Faculty
    781-398-8336
  • Photo of Eline Rosenthal

    Eline Rosenthal 

    Science Faculty and Residential Faculty
  • Photo of Kevin Smith

    Kevin Smith 

    Science Department Chair and Wilderness Trip Guide

The Cambridge School of Weston is a progressive high school for day and boarding students in grades 9–12 and PG. CSW's mission is to provide a progressive education that emphasizes deep learning, meaningful relationships, and a dynamic program that inspires students to discover who they are and what their contribution is to their school, their community and the world.