Science and Technology

Course Offerings

Science Course Flowchart (PDF)

BI320: Accelerated Biology

Term: Year

This yearlong laboratory course will cover topics common and fundamental to both AP Environmental Science and AP Biology. As a natural and logical progression from general chemistry, students will investigate topics starting with the chemistry of life: the molecules of which cells are comprised, including DNA replication and synthesis. Moving from a survey of microbiology to macrobiology, the course will examine cellular reproduction, evolution of cells, organelles and tissues, animal and plant systems. Further topics that include modes of inheritance, systematics, natural selection and evolution, population genetics, botany, cycling of nutrients, biomes and ecology all will be investigated. The course will include a strong laboratory component and students will be expected to polish and improve their data collection and analysis skills. A student who successfully completes this course will be conditionally prepared to take the SAT 2 Subject Test in Biology (E or M) given that this student also completes extracurricular assignments and attends additional preparatory classes given by teachers of this course scheduled throughout the Spring semester.

BI533: Pox and Pestilence

Term: Semester 1

This yearlong laboratory course will cover topics common and fundamental to both AP Environmental Science and AP Biology. As a natural and logical progression from general chemistry, students will investigate topics starting with the chemistry of life: the molecules of which cells are comprised, including DNA replication and synthesis. Moving from a survey of microbiology to macrobiology, the course will examine cellular reproduction, evolution of cells, organelles and tissues, animal and plant systems. Further topics that include modes of inheritance, systematics, natural selection and evolution, population genetics, botany, cycling of nutrients, biomes and ecology all will be investigated. The course will include a strong laboratory component and students will be expected to polish and improve their data collection and analysis skills. A student who successfully completes this course will be conditionally prepared to take the SAT 2 Subject Test in Biology (E or M) given that this student also completes extracurricular assignments and attends additional preparatory classes given by teachers of this course scheduled throughout the Spring semester.

BI591: Independent Tutorial in Biology

Term: Semester 1

BI592: Independent Tutorial in Biology

Term: Semester 2

BI830: AP Biology

Term: Year

Advanced Placement Biology is a rigorous survey course providing an in-depth coverage of topic areas designed to prepare the student for future scientific study and the Advanced Placement Biology Examination. Students will be encouraged to actively engage in the process of learning by developing individual and group projects for class presentation requiring clear, purposeful and focused research and expression. The completion of AP Biology will not only effectively prepare students for the AP examination, but also allow for study in areas not prescribed in the Advanced Placement curriculum. AP Biology places a strong emphasis on laboratory data collection, analysis and reporting, which includes using the latest technologies available for the study of simple and complex biological systems. BI830 is open to students who have successfully completed BI320, CH220, or CH230. All must have departmental approval.

BI931: Post-AP Biology

Term: Semester 1

This course is a capstone research experience for biology students at Taft. Students will be guided through hands-on research in a small group format. The majority of class time will be spent actively engaged in laboratory exercises. The first semester will be devoted to molecular genetics and microbiology, while the second term will focus on cell biology, ecology and animal and plant physiology. Specific topics of research will be determined by group interest and faculty expertise. The culmination of each semester will be student presentations of independent research projects that are open to the school. Students may elect to take just the fall or the spring semester, or they may take the full year course.

BI932: Post-AP Biology

Term: Semester 2

This course is a capstone research experience for biology students at Taft. Students will be guided through hands-on research in a small group format. The majority of class time will be spent actively engaged in laboratory exercises. The first semester will be devoted to molecular genetics and microbiology, while the second term will focus on cell biology, ecology and animal and plant physiology. Specific topics of research will be determined by group interest and faculty expertise. The culmination of each semester will be student presentations of independent research projects that are open to the school. Students may elect to take just the fall or the spring semester, or they may take the full year course.

BI991: Honors Independent Tutorial in Biology

Term: Semester 1

This is an opportunity for an individual or a small group of students to work with a member of the department on a project in which they share a common interest. Open with permission of the Department Chair and the Dean of Academic Affairs.

BI992: Honors Independent Tutorial in Biology

Term: Semester 2

This is an opportunity for an individual or a small group of students to work with a member of the department on a project in which they share a common interest. Open with permission of the Department Chair and the Dean of Academic Affairs.

CH210: Chemistry

Term: Year

This introductory course offers the student the fundamentals of chemistry and an opportunity to analyze modern environmental and biological problems from a chemical perspective. A conceptual understanding of chemistry is taught through lectures, demonstrations, laboratory experiments, and seminar discussions. A diversified study format includes problem-solving sessions, small group presentations, and small-scale research projects. This course will be considered for students who have completed PH110. All must have departmental approval.

CH220: Accelerated Chemistry

Term: Year

This introductory chemistry course integrates a conceptual understanding with a mathematical approach to chemistry. Topics covered will include safety in the laboratory, matter, nomenclature, chemical reactions and composition, energy, atomic theory, chemical quantities, solids, liquids and gases, acids and bases, and equilibrium. This chemistry course is taught through lectures, demonstrations and laboratory experiments. Review sessions are offered several times a week. This course will be considered for students who have completed PH120 or PH130. All must have departmental approval.

CH230: Honors Chemistry

Term: Year

This course is similar in scope to CH220 but will cover that material in greater depth and use a more mathematical approach. Middlers and Upper Middlers who have completed PH120 or PH130 and are advanced in mathematics will be considered for this course. All must have departmental approval.

CH591: Honors Independent Tutorial in Chemistry

Term: Semester 1

CH592: Honors Independent Tutorial in Chemistry

Term: Semester 2

CH830: AP Chemistry

Term: Year

Chemistry is "the central science" that provides an explanation of much of what occurs in our universe. It is fundamental to work in other sciences. As a continually developing science itself, significant applications of chemistry have inspired progress in biology, physics, medicine, geology, astronomy, environmental science, and other areas of science. After a quick review of topics from the first-year chemistry course, the first semester will examine the factors that influence the speed and extent of chemical reactions. Topics included will be solutions; kinetics; equilibria; thermodynamics; environmental chemistry; and electrochemistry. The second semester will center on a survey of nuclear chemistry; the chemistry of non-metals and metals; and organic chemistry and biochemistry. After completion of these topics, students will enjoy a thorough and intensive review of topics in preparation for the AP Chemistry examination. The classroom emphasis of the course centers on active student involvement in learning key concepts which are then immediately applied to problem solving. An extensive laboratory program will support and extend student learning. Students will learn required lab technologies and techniques and participate in the design of new lab activities. Laboratory reports in a variety of formats will allow students to develop skills in presentation as they work both independently and collaboratively to complete projects. Students should be prepared to use free periods to complete extended laboratory exercises. CH830 is open to Upper Middlers and Seniors who have completed a one-year Physics course (PH120 or PH130) and/or a one-year Chemistry course (CH220 or CH230). All must have mathematics through Algebra II and departmental approval.

CH843: Post-AP Chemistry I

Term: Semester 1

The Post-AP Chemistry courses are designed to explore various aspects of chemical and physical sciences that follow the Advanced Placement Chemistry curriculum and to follow some of the newest developments in the central science. The first semester course, CH843 Post-AP Chemistry I, will start with a study of the complexities of organic chemistry, including the structure and nomenclature of aliphatic and aromatic compounds. The course will then look at the way that organic compounds react, including a study of functional groups. We will complete a microscale laboratory program that emphasizes organic chemistry reactions and qualitative relationships. We will then look at biochemistry and the important types of macromolecules. The second semester course, CH844 Post-AP Chemistry II, will focus on physical chemistry. An in-depth review of thermodynamics will lead us to an introduction to the topics of materials science and nanotechnology. At the end of the course we will dissect chemical situations in works of popular fiction. In each semester, students will work independently to read and review titles from applications of chemistry and the history of chemistry. Pre-requisite: CH830 at Taft or an AP Chemistry course elsewhere.

CH844: Post-AP Chemistry II

CH991: Honors Independent Tutorial in Chemistry

Term: Semester 1

This is an opportunity for an individual or a small group of students to work with a member of the department on a project in which they share a common interest. Open with permission of the Department Chair and the Dean of Academic Affairs.

CH992: Honors Independent Tutorial in Chemistry

Term: Semester 2

This is an opportunity for an individual or a small group of students to work with a member of the department on a project in which they share a common interest. Open with permission of the Department Chair and the Dean of Academic Affairs.

PH110: Physics

Term: Year

This is an introductory course in physics that emphasizes conceptual understanding and laboratory experience. Topics covered will include motion, Newton’s laws of mechanics, energy and momentum, thermodynamics and the description of gases, electricity and magnetism, waves and optics, and quantum phenomena. While conceptual understanding is emphasized, students will also be introduced to a precise, quantitative description of nature with a problem solving approach that uses elementary math skills. All new Lower Middlers and Middlers who will be enrolled in Algebra I at Taft should sign up for this course.

PH120: Accelerated Physics

Term: Year

This is an introductory course that integrates conceptual understanding with a rigorous mathematical approach to physics. Topics covered will include motion, Newton’s laws of mechanics, energy and momentum, thermodynamics and the description of gases, electricity and magnetism, waves and optics, and quantum phenomena. Laboratory work will be frequent and students will learn how precise observations are analyzed and interpreted. Quantitative problem solving using Algebra I skills will be emphasized. This course is open to new Lower Middlers and Middlers who have finished an Algebra I course and will be enrolled in Geometry or a higher math level at Taft.

PH130: Honors Physics

Term: Year

Honors Physics introduces students to many of the major fields of physics. Topics include Newtonian mechanics, Newtonian gravity, electricity and magnetism, waves, quantum phenomena, and thermodynamics. It is assumed that students are comfortable with basic algebraic manipulations and elementary trigonometric concepts are introduced within the course work. Emphasis is placed on both quantitative applications of the basic laws of physics and a conceptual understanding of these laws. Lab work is frequent and extensive, and is an important component of the course. After completing the course students are encouraged to take the SAT 2 Physics subject matter test in early June.

PH591: Independent Tutorial in Physics

Term: Semester 1

PH592: Independent Tutorial in Physics

Term: Semester 2

PH740: AP Physics 2

Term: Year

AP Physics 2 is a second-year physics course for students in the upper school who have already successfully completed AP Physics 1 or have completed and earned an honors grade in PH120. AP Physics 2 is equivalent to a second semester college course in algebra-based physics. Topics to be covered include forces and energy (review of first year topics), fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, electricity, magnetism, optics, and modern physics (quantum, atomic, and nuclear physics). Deep conceptual understanding is expected to be gained through in-depth, student-led inquiry. Students will learn important methods in practicing science, including principles of scientific inquiry and reasoning. Upon completion of AP Physics 2, students will be expected to sit for the AP Physics 2 exam. Precalculus is a co/prerequisite.

PH840: AP Physics C

Term: Year

The AP Physics C course is designed for students with an intense interest in the inner workings of the physical world and a desire to be challenged both conceptually and mathematically. The curriculum has been developed by the participating college physics departments to cover the material of a first-year college physics course for those students focused on careers in the technical fields. Specifically, the course consists of a one-semester study of mechanics and one semester of electricity and magnetism. The topics in mechanics include the description of motion, the analysis of motion using Newton's laws, and the application of the three major conservation laws to a wide range of systems. Familiarity with differential calculus is assumed from the beginning, and all of the topics studied will make some use of this level of math. Topics involving the use of integral calculus arise in the first semester, but these are developed slowly with an eye to the second semester when this aspect of calculus will be embedded in much of what is studied. The second semester consists of a study of the laws of electricity and magnetism. Beginning with Coulomb's law, electrostatics is introduced. Gauss's law, electric potential, and capacitance are examined in detail. Steady state DC circuits and the transients of RC circuits finish the electricity section. About one-third of the second semester is spent studying magnetism. The nature and effects of the magnetic force as well as the origins of magnetic fields in electric currents are examined. Students learn to apply Ampere's law to current distributions to determine the field created. The semester concludes with a study of electromagnetic induction. Faraday's law is developed and applied to a variety of physical systems including inductive circuits. The focus of the course is on the quantitative application of the basic laws to the analysis of a wide range of systems. In practice this means problem solving, and each chapter includes a lengthy assignment of problems from the book. Optional "extra credit" problems are also frequently assigned. These explore the concepts and math at a somewhat higher level than required by the AP syllabus. Laboratory work is done regularly, and it is important that students remain familiar with the basic apparatus available as well as with data collection and analysis. Students must also become familiar with the simulation program Interactive Physics. There are several major computer projects that involve independent design and analysis by each student. The AP Physics C course has two separate AP tests, one for mechanics, the other for electricity and magnetism. Thus students will have two grades reported to the colleges they choose. AP Physics C can be elected with consent of the Department by Seniors who have completed PH 130 or a one-year course in physics and CH220 or CH230. Students must also have completed a course in calculus or be concurrently taking the BC level AP calculus course.

PH991: Independent Tutorial in Physics

Term: Semester 1

This is an opportunity for an individual or a small group of students to work with a member of the department on a project in which they share a common interest. Open with permission of the Department Chair and the Dean of Academic Affairs.

PH992: Independent Tutorial in Physics

Term: Semester 2

This is an opportunity for an individual or a small group of students to work with a member of the department on a project in which they share a common interest. Open with permission of the Department Chair and the Dean of Academic Affairs.

SC502: Scientific Ethics

Term: Semester 2

In preparing to become leaders in a global community, one cannot avoid considering the many consequences of the advances in science and technology. This class will study important figures in scientific ethics from Kant to Caplan. Combining historic cases and current events, the approach will be case-study based, using many forms of media that may include journals, magazines, newspapers, novels, and even movies. Possible topics include pharmaceutical research and marketing, environmental law, regulation of chemical use in everyday products, and testing of nuclear bombs. The goal of the class is to provide students with a framework to analyze difficult situations in science, using their own moral compasses and theories in ethics as guides. Open to Seniors and Upper Middlers with permission of the Department.

SC504: Forensic Science

Term: Semester 2

This course introduces students to the principles and practices found in the field of forensic science, which draws from the biological and physical sciences. The course begins by examining the theories and concepts necessary to effectively examine, analyze, and reconstruct a major crime scene. Specifically, the legal issues related to the search and seizure of physical evidence, crime scene documentation techniques, and basic crime scene reconstruction methods will be studied. Students will also study trace evidence and how it is analyzed, compared, interpreted, and used in criminal investigations. Types of trace evidence to be discussed will include glass, paint, hair, fiber, and fingerprints. Case studies of actual crimes and trials will be discussed to illustrate how the science and techniques may be used in the real world. This course is taught through lectures, laboratory work, and student presentations. Open to Upper Middlers and Seniors with permission of the Department.

SC513: Oceanography

Term: Semester 1

This course offers a holistic view of the basic principles of ocean science. It is designed to focus on both physical and geological characteristics (oceanography) as well as the chemical and biological characteristics (oceanology) of the ocean. Topics include the formation of oceans, ocean floor and sediments, chemistry and physical properties of seawater, weather and climate, waves, tides and currents, origin of life in oceans, habitats, marine biology, fisheries, maritime cultures and heritage, and current issues related to the interactions of science and technology. It is a lab-based course, and it will deploy a variety of teaching styles including lectures, readings, activities, and labs. The course has the potential to include a variety of field trips to areas such as Woods Hole, MA. Open to Seniors and Upper Middlers with permission of the Department.

SC523: Adolescent Psychology

Term: Semester 1

What is adolescence? Why is the study of adolescence important? These are two of the many questions which inspire our search for understanding of this particular life stage. This course is a basic introduction to the field of psychology, with a focus on adolescence. The course examines the many ways in which adolescence has been defined and analyzes the way that adolescence is currently portrayed. The course exposes students to psychological, biological, sociocultural, and ethical perspectives regarding adolescent development. The course also provides a forum for discussion of issues such as experimental strategies, education, the nature vs. nurture debate, puberty, identity development, teenage drug abuse, stress and coping, and social networking, as well as Hollywood portrayals of adolescence. Evaluation is based on class participation, homework assignments, short critical reflection papers, tests, an oral presentation of current research, and final project. Open to Seniors and Upper Middlers with permission of the Department.

SC541: Introduction to Engineering and Design

Term: Semester 1

This one-term introductory course is designed to provide students with an overview of major engineering principles and applications, as well as an opportunity to implement those principles through experimentation, design-based projects, and presentations. The course will take an interdisciplinary approach that draws upon and develops skills from math, science, technology and art. Students will use technology such as computer aided design software and 3D printing to learn how real-world systems are designed, modeled, and fabricated.

SC542: Introduction to Engineering and Design

Term: Semester 2

This one-term introductory course is designed to provide students with an overview of major engineering principles and applications, as well as an opportunity to implement those principles through experimentation, design-based projects, and presentations. The course will take an interdisciplinary approach that draws upon and develops skills from math, science, technology and art. Students will use technology such as computer aided design software and 3D printing to learn how real-world systems are designed, modeled, and fabricated.

SC591: Independent Tutorial in Science

Term: Semester 1

SC592: Independent Tutorial in Science

Term: Semester 2

SC720: AP Psychology

Term: Year

This course introduces students to the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings. Students will leave the course with an understanding of psychological facts, principles, and phenomena associated with distinct paradigms (such as: biological, behavioral, cognitive, humanistic, psychodynamic, and sociocultural). The course will promote student awareness of and respect for the psychological diversity of human beings with reference to biological, social, and cultural influences. Students' learning experience will be equivalent to that obtained in most college introductory psychology courses. In addition to the mastery of the historical and fundamental concepts of psychology, students will explore the manifestations of psychology in research designs, methods, statistics, clinical practice and scientific ethics. The culminating assessment for the course is the Advanced Placement Psychology exam in May. Open to Seniors with permission of the department.

SC730: AP Environmental Science

Term: Year

The challenge of understanding and maintaining a sustainable environment may be the single most pressing scientific issue that will confront students throughout their lives. Today, environmental science is not only relevant to students' personal experience, but it is also vital to the future of the entire biosphere and human civilization. As humans continue to alter the Earth's land, water, and atmosphere at local, regional and global levels, the resulting environmental dilemmas can seem overwhelming. Educated properly, students may confront these problems and contribute to their ultimate solution in the future. This course will equip students with a fundamental understanding of our environment from which the solutions to these problems may spring. An initial goal of this course is to instill an understanding and appreciation of the complexity and precise functioning of the natural ecosystems that form our biosphere. Therefore, this course will begin with a close examination of the basic ecological principles that govern the natural world followed by the many ways that humans affect that world through the investigation of the topics of human population growth, energy production and consumption, natural resource depletion, and agricultural and industrial pollution, among others. While exploring these issues, students will integrate knowledge from the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, history, political science, geology and demography. In addition to class discussion, lecture, reading, and field investigations of various ecosystems, the study of industrial and agricultural processes and methods of transportation will be accomplished. This course will prepare students for the AP Environmental Science examination in May. Open with permission of the department to Seniors and the occasional Upper Middler who have successfully (85 or above) completed one year of physics (PH120 or PH130) and one year of chemistry (CH220 or CH230)and also acquired the permission of the Taft science department.

SC991: Honors Independent Tutorial in Science

Term: Semester 1

This is an opportunity for an individual or a small group of students to work with a member of the department on a project in which they share a common interest. Open with permission of the Department Chair and the Dean of Academic Affairs.

SC992: Honors Independent Tutorial in Science

Term: Semester 2

This is an opportunity for an individual or a small group of students to work with a member of the department on a project in which they share a common interest. Open with permission of the Department Chair and the Dean of Academic Affairs.