• Berwick
Berwick Academy Science
Departmental Vision
Grades 5-12

At Berwick Academy, scientific pursuits are about understanding the natural world for both its diversity and unity; valuing curiosity and question making; developing critical inquiry, reasoning, experimentation and communication skills; providing opportunity for problem solving and innovation; and fostering a life-long curiosity about the world.  By engaging with the natural world through hands-on exploration and experimentation, scientific inquiry is valued as a dynamic, creative approach for the development of understanding.

Upper School Philosophy

In order to facilitate the continued development of their scientific literacy and appreciation for the interconnectedness of the natural world, upper school students enroll in three year-long courses: Physics, Chemistry, and then Biology.  A variety of AP and elective courses are also offered for students who would like to explore additional topics and/or pursue advanced coursework.  In each classroom, particular emphasis is placed on designing learning experiences that allow for the development of strong critical thinking and communication skills, and encourage the application of mathematics and technology as a means for modeling scientific hypotheses.   

Classes Offered

List of 20 items.

  • Anatomy and Physiology

    This one year course is a study through lecture, laboratory activities and research of the gross and microscopic structures and functions of the cells, tissues and organ systems of the human body.
  • AP Biology

    Advanced Placement Biology is a second-year course designed to be the equivalent of a college introductory biology course for majors. The AP Biology curriculum is set by the College Board and includes biochemistry, cellular biology, cellular energetics, heredity, molecular genetics, evolutionary biology, diversity of organisms, anatomy and physiology of plants and animals, and ecology.  This curriculum is extensive and the topics will be covered at a rapid pace. Students should expect to work independently; out-of-class work may be extensive and demanding.  Students can expect a summer assignment. They will have outlines and worksheets to guide them through the readings and these assignments will be due at the beginning of the first trimester. Students who take AP Biology are required to take the College Board Advanced Placement exam.
    Students wishing to register for AP Biology must have the permission of the department chair and the
    course instructor. Students who take AP Biology are required to take the College Board Advanced Placement exam.
    Prerequisites: Chemistry and Biology
  • AP Chemistry

    This course is taught as a first-year college chemistry course.  Emphasis is placed on chemical problems and the thought process involved in solving these problems.  A great deal of time is spent on calculations, and the mathematics background required for these calculations is much greater than a regular high school chemistry course.  Laboratory experiments will emphasize refining techniques and incorporating more advanced graphical and quantitative analysis of data.  AP Chemistry is an intense, fast paced course that will require a strong commitment and motivation from its students if they wish to achieve successful completion.  In order to cover the required material, students may have required assignments over summer vacation, winter break, and spring break.  Students who take AP Chemistry are required to take the College Board Advanced Placement exam.  
  • AP Physics 1

     AP Physics I is an algebra-based, introductory college-level physics course that explores topics such as Newtonian mechanics (including rotational motion); work, energy, and power; mechanical waves and sound; and introductory simple circuits.  Through inquiry-based learning, students will develop scientific critical thinking and reasoning skills. The course is fast paced and requires well-developed mathematical skills. A sincere commitment to taking responsibility for one’s own learning is essential for success. Students who take AP Physics I are required to take the College Board Advanced Placement exam.
  • AP Psychology

    This is a year long course designed to introduce students to the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings and other animals.
    Open to Juniors and Seniors with permission of instructor.
  • Biology

    This course is an introductory survey of modern biology.  It covers the fundamental principles of cellular and molecular biology, ecology, evolution, genetics, and organismal biology.  The lab component of the course focuses on experimental investigation of course themes, application of scientific method and development of good laboratory procedure.  Students will also develop skills in clear and organized scientific writing, lab data collection and analysis.
  • Chemistry

    Chemistry is an introductory course designed to cover basic concepts and to prepare the student for success in a first-year college chemistry course.  The course also leads to an understanding of the functions of chemistry in society and equips students to make intelligent decisions based upon the scientific method.  Early work involves familiarization with symbols, formulas, and chemical equations, while the concept of the mole becomes thoroughly understood as the basic measuring unit.  Topics covered include atomic theory, the periodic table, bonding, energy and disorder, equilibrium, and acid-base chemistry.  Labs, an integral part of the course, are used to reinforce concepts learned in the classroom and to teach proper lab technique. 
  • Conceptual Physics

    The study of science is built upon a foundation of universal laws and principles.  Physics is the discipline in which these laws and principles are taught, and it is logical that this course should provide the foundation for the Upper School science curriculum.  The topics covered in the course will include mechanics, the properties of matter, heat, light and sound, electricity, and other topics as time and interest allow.  Hands-on experience is heavily utilized in the presentation of the concepts studied.  The intention of the course is to provide students with an understanding of the fundamental concepts of physics so that they will be better prepared to tackle the material they will encounter in chemistry and biology courses. Mathematics has often been referred to as the language of science.  Physics, in particular, can be approached very quantitatively.  This is not the approach taken in Conceptual Physics.  However, physics does offer an excellent opportunity to apply the mathematical skills that students are acquiring in their math classes. The mathematics used will be adjusted to most appropriately match the students’ mathematics experience. 
  • Global Climate Change

    This course examines the mechanisms by which human activities are impacting climate, the consequences of climate change, and serious thought will be given to appropriate and effective responses.
  • Global Environmental Sustainability

    Humans depend on the services of the earth’s ecosystems to provide us with the basic necessities of life.  As the human footprint grows ever larger, we are approaching limits.  Our planet’s resources are finite, and our current rate of resource use is unsustainable.  We will survey the quality of our air and water, examine the state of the earth’s biodiversity, look at the impact of our increasing consumption, and consider the future of a growing population.
  • Honors Biology

    This is an accelerated course designed for students with a very strong aptitude for science.  The introductory biology syllabus is covered in greater depth, and students are given the opportunity to practice thinking and writing critically, as well as, designing, conducting and analyzing experiments. Discussion during class will be expected so the success of the classroom environment depends on student preparation and participation.  Course and lab work will introduce students to the Advanced Placement Biology curriculum and will prepare the students for the Advanced Placement Biology course.
  • Honors Chemistry

    This course will cover the same general topics as the regular Chemistry course, but the pace of the course will be faster allowing students to go into more breadth and depth of subject matter.  The intent of this course is to allow students a more natural progression into AP Chemistry and better preparation for Chemistry SAT II Exams.  Students entering this course need a 90 average or above in Conceptual Physics and approval of the science department.
  • Introduction to Astronomy

    This course is intended to help students gain an understanding of our home planet’s place in our stellar neighborhood.  The primary focus will be our solar system: the sun, the planets, asteroids, comets, and the dynamics of these assembled parts.  An additional goal of the course will be to make sense of what you see when you look up at the night sky.  Finally, the course will touch on the unifying properties of the diverse population of stars in our home galaxy and beyond.
    Open to Juniors and Seniors
  • Introduction to Entomology

    This course is designed to foster an appreciation for insects; their life cycles, diversity, habitats, function and roles as they relate to humans. Students will collect, pin, identify and sketch insects on a weekly basis. This course will cover insects' external and internal anatomy, metamorphoses and camouflages, their economic impacts and benefits, as well as how insects affect and help sustain our environment.
  • NeuroFit

    Course study will include the brain’s physical structure and function, the ways in which the brain processes information, the impact of emotions on learning and memory, how stress, sleep, nutrition and chemicals affect the brain, mindfulness, and how we enhance our cerebral processing performance. Students will explore and practice methods for improving memory, focus, intellectual sharpness, empathy, and wellness.  
  • Neurological Challenges

    This Science elective is co-taught and must be taken concurrently with the English department elective Literature & Neuroscience II. The science portion will focus on addictions, learning differences, brain injury, and stress. Insights gained from neuroimaging research have broadened our understanding of how the intricate mechanics of the brain play a key role in the development and treatment of addictive behavior. Advances in fMRI research are also uncovering the effects of chronic stress and head injuries on the health and effective functioning of the brain. The English course will examine characters that deal with some of these neurological challenges. For example the following books could be read: Green’s Fault in our Stars (stress), Walls’ Glass Castle (addiction) Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes (ADD and addiction). Like all English courses, the students will be required to read, reflect (in writing), and discuss.
  • Neurological Personality

    This Science elective is co-taught and must be taken concurrently with the English department elective Literature & Neuroscience.  The science portion will cover the brain and examine the science behind personality types that fall under the categories of Myers-Briggs: introvert/extrovert, intuitive/sensing, thinking/feeling, and judging/perceiving. Advanced neuroimaging research targets precise areas in the brain that function differently for an extrovert than for an introvert, for example. Carl Jung’s framework of eight cognitive processes will be explored. The English course will focus on literature through the lens of the Myers-Briggs categories. For example, we could read books such as Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi to explore the character of an extrovert and poetry by Emily Dickinson to explore an introvert. Like all English courses, the students will be required to read, reflect (in writing), and discuss.
  • Scientific Calculus Honors; Advanced Scientific Applications of Calculus

    Calculus methods will be used as the introductory mathematical tools for discussing and designing scientific experiments. Students will be tasked with designing, building, implementing, and presenting experiments in small groups. Varying statistical methods of error analysis will be used at the conclusion of each experiment. Additional approaches and applications will come from Differential Equations and Linear Algebra. Students will be required to assess each other’s' work as well as their own and be expected to give and receive critical feedback from peers. Students should be prepared to dedicate significant time outside of class to building comfort with content and methods.
  • Steam: Pinball Wizard

    This trimester elective explores the history, physics, geometry, art, electronics, and engineering of pinball machines.  Since the 1930s, technological advances and social change have shaped the evolution of pinball.  Appreciating this history will provide students with useful perspective and inspiration as they engage in the process of making their own tabletop pinball machine.  Through this process, students will express their creativity, apply their knowledge of geometry and physics, develop confidence in their ability to design and fabricate, and be asked to regularly reflect on their successes and learn from their failures.  This course will conclude with a community pinball festival where students will share their process and show off their creations. 
  • The American Diet; A Nutritional, Historical & Cultural Perspective

    This course analyzes the American diet by exploring how cultural, political and economic forces have interacted to influence our food choices, health and nutritional status.

Serving Maine, The Seacoast of New Hampshire, and the North Shore of Massachusetts

Berwick Academy is Maine's oldest, independent Pre-K through Post Graduate private school. Our community is dynamic, offering challenging academics, competitive athletics, and creative arts programs. Members of the community operate within a context of caring and respect as we pursue our quest for "useful knowledge" as "one school with three divisions." Students and faculty are encouraged to expand their horizons by balancing academics with athletic, dramatic, and musical options.