Science

At Trinity-Pawling, our Science Department strives to immerse our students in authentic scientific work and engage them to think and communicate as scientists. Foundational courses are offered in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology and each course engages our boys through an active curricular approach. Honors level courses are offered in each subject area, and students can further their interest in several elective courses including Ecology, Astronomy, Meteorology, and more. Advanced Placement (AP) courses include AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics 1, AP Physics 2, AP Physics C, and AP Environmental Science. Beyond the classroom, our students enjoy Science Department Research Talks offered throughout the year. Additionally, students with an affinity for scientific work can further their interest in clubs such as the Environmental Club or Vital Signs, our student-produced science magazine. Students are supported in their scientific coursework and endeavors by a vibrant and committed science faculty who bring a breadth of experience and passion to their subject areas. 

Science Courses

First-Year Physics

First-Year Physics is an introductory physics course offered to all freshmen and some incoming sophomores who have not already taken a physics course. The course stresses how physics applies to everyday activities in students' lives. Topics covered include kinematics, energy, wave motion, optics, electricity/magnetism, atomic theory, and radioactivity. The curriculum is project-based with a strong emphasis on discovery learning. Concurrent enrollment in or successful completion of Algebra 1 is required.

First-Year Physics Honors

First-Year Physics is an introductory physics course offered to all freshmen and some incoming sophomores who have not already taken a physics course. The honors section encourages students to express their understanding of each topic in writing and make deeper connections between topics. The course stresses how physics applies to everyday activities in students' lives. Topics covered include kinematics, energy, wave motion, optics, electricity/magnetism, atomic theory, and radioactivity. The curriculum is project-based with a strong emphasis on discovery learning. We also focus on how to represent data graphically and how to interpret such plots. Supplementary material is introduced as appropriate, and students are held to an appropriately higher standard in accordance with the honors designation. Concurrent enrollment in or successful completion of Algebra 1 is required. 

Chemistry

An inquiry-based course at the college-preparatory level, this course is designed to provide students with an understanding of inorganic chemistry, to cultivate their problem solving skills, to teach them to apply chemistry knowledge to their decision-making, and to help them recognize the importance of chemistry in daily life.

Honors Chemistry

Honors Chemistry follows a traditional chemistry curriculum, which introduces material topically. This course is designed for students who anticipate a more vigorous course of study in science at the post-secondary level. Weekly laboratories provide hands-on experience in standard laboratory procedures and require preparing written reports of experimental observations. Students taking this course see themselves taking physical science courses in college. One of the course goals is to expose the student to the topics covered at the post-secondary level so that they will be confident taking college-level chemistry. Students are frequently expected to study new material before class in order to participate in class discussions. Students taking this course should be enrolled in or have taken Algebra 1.

AP Chemistry

AP Chemistry is a course administered by the College Board and intended to be equivalent to an introductory-level college chemistry class. The course elaborates on concepts from introductory chemistry courses, with strong focuses on mathematics, laboratory skills, and analytical problem solving. The course culminates with all students taking the AP Chemistry exam in May.

AP Physics C: Mechanics

AP Physics C: Mechanics is a vigorous, calculus-based introduction to Newtonian mechanics. Core physics knowledge, problem-solving skills, curiosity, and the ability to make connections between physics and other disciplines are fostered throughout the year. Laboratory work is emphasized in order to develop the students' ability to design experiments, collaborate on their execution, and communicate their results. Major topics covered include one and two-dimensional kinematics, Newton's Laws of Motion, work and energy, linear momentum, rotational motion and torque, oscillations and wave motion, and universal gravitation. After the AP exam in May, students have the opportunity to explore additional material, including an introduction to relativity. All enrolled students are required to take the AP exam. Prerequisites include: one physics course, concurrent enrollment in or prior completion of AP AB Calculus, or permission of the instructor.

AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism

AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism is a vigorous, calculus-based introduction to the electric and magnetic forces and their varied applications. Core physics knowledge, problem-solving skills, curiosity, and the ability to make connections between physics and other disciplines are fostered throughout the year. Laboratory work is emphasized in order to develop the students' ability to design experiments, collaborate on their execution, and communicate their results in both written and verbal form. Major topics covered include electrostatics, conductors, capacitors and dielectrics, electric circuits, magnetic fields, and Maxwell's Equations. After the AP exam in May, students have the opportunity to explore additional material, including ray and wave optics. All enrolled students are required to take the AP exam. Prerequisites include: AP Physics C: Mechanics, concurrent enrollment in or prior completion of AP BC Calculus, or permission of the instructor.

Science Research

Science Research is a project-based-learning course which students can take for up to three years starting their sophomore year. Students self-educate on a particular field of scientific research and become accustomed to reading formal scientific literature in that field. They learn about experimental design in that field and correspond with researchers, with the goal of developing and completing their own scientific research project. Strong emphasis is placed on public speaking and on conducting original research. This course is administered by SUNY Albany, and juniors and seniors in the course receive college credit for the course.

AP Physics 1

AP Physics 1 focuses on the big ideas typically included in the first semester of an algebra-based, introductory college-level physics sequence. It also provides students with enduring understandings to support future course work in the sciences. Through inquiry-based learning, students develop critical thinking and reasoning skills. AP Physics 1 includes the following major topics: Newtonian mechanics (including rotation), wave motion and sound, and an introduction to electrostatics and direct current circuits. All enrolled students are required to take the AP exam. Prerequisites include: concurrent enrollment in or prior completion of a precalculus course or permission of the instructor. 

Biology

Biology is a full-year science course designed as an introduction to the study of living organisms, allowing students to further their interest and understanding of the biological world. In order to accomplish these goals, students focus on three main areas of biology. First, they learn about molecules and cells, including biochemistry, a look at cell structure and function and cellular energetics. Second, they discuss heredity and evolution, including molecular genetics, heredity, and evolutionary biology. Finally, the course focuses on organisms and populations, examining diversity of organisms, structure and function of plant and animals, and ecology. Both laboratory work and fieldwork is utilized to support the classroom curriculum as well as provide students an opportunity to practice authentic scientific research. 

Honors Biology

Honors Biology is a course designed to give students an accelerated biology course, allowing students to further their interest and understanding of the biological world. In order to accomplish these goals, students focus on three main areas of biology. First, they learn about molecules and cells, including biochemistry, an in-depth look at cell structure and function and cellular energetics. Second, they discuss heredity and evolution, including molecular genetics, heredity, and evolutionary biology. Finally, the course focuses on organisms and populations, examining diversity of organisms, structure and function of plant and animals, and ecology. Additionally, this course provides students the opportunity to examine several topics that fall under the theme of Science, Technology, and Society. Specifically, students participate in an end of year Aquatic Ecology project that examines local environmental issues and concerns in our watershed. Throughout the year, current issues of major scientific concern such as global warming and stem cell research are discussed to cultivate informed and scientifically literate students. This course also serves as a primer for the Advanced Placement Biology course. Students taking this course are encouraged to further their understanding of the material by taking the AP Biology class the following year. 

AP Biology

AP Biology is a course designed to give students a college-level biology course, allowing students to further their interest and understanding of the biological world. This course prepares students to sit for the Advanced Placement exam in biology. In order to accomplish these goals, students focus on four main “Big Ideas” in biology. The four "Big Ideas" are: the process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life; biological systems utilize free energy and molecular building blocks to grow to reproduce and maintain dynamic homeostasis; living systems store, retrieve, transmit, and respond to information essential to life processes; and biological systems interact and these systems and their interactions possess complex properties. The course devotes approximately 25% of the class time to work on laboratory investigations.

Astronomy

This is a one-term introductory college-level survey course in astronomy. This course covers the history of astronomical thought and discovery, the tools of the astronomer, the Earth-moon system, the solar system, and stellar populations and evolution.

Meteorology

This class is a one-term introductory college-level survey course in meteorology. It covers the basics of the atmosphere, including atmospheric chemistry, weather systems, pollution, and the well-publicized topic of global climate change.

Geology

Geology is the study of the Earth as well as other planets. Physical Geology focuses mainly on the processes that operate at or near the surface of the Earth, as well as within the Earth. As this is only a one-term course, students cover a portion of these processes, looking at the geologic time scale, the structure of the Earth, plate tectonics, minerals, and rocks.

Physics

Physics is a course designated for upperclassmen students. The class meets graduation requirements for the breadth of science classwork. Undertaking a study of basic physics concepts helps students understand and interpret the world around them. Concepts are presented through brief lecture and explored using activities and labs to further elucidate each topic. In order to accomplish our goals, students focus on different areas within physics. In the fall, students learn about Newton’s Laws, motion, energy, and gravity. Waves, sound, light, color, and temperature and heat will be investigated during the winter term. Finally, in the spring, thermodynamics, electricity, and states of matter are the major areas of focus. Additionally, this course provides students the opportunity to examine several topics that fall under the theme of Science, Technology, and Society. Throughout the year, current issues of major scientific concern are discussed in order to cultivate informed and scientifically literate students. 

Ecology

Ecology is a fall term science course. It is a biological science focused on the study of the relationship between organisms and their natural environment. This ecology course takes a non-traditional approach to include alternatives for ecosystem protection and management. Students also look at the impacts of the human population on the health and structure of these systems. Students utilize our “Pond House” as an outdoor laboratory to supplement activities and lectures in the classroom.

The Environment Today

This course is designed to alert and teach students about the ongoing environmental issues covered in the news today. It is driven primarily by student choice in topics covered. Students are required to conduct their own research using scientific journals, periodicals, newspaper articles, and web based sources to address ongoing issues or "new" issues that arise during the course. Topics covered in this class may include global warming and climate change, industrialized food processing, deforestation in the tropics, organic farming, fisheries management, population growth, and alternative energy. A significant amount of student work focuses on debate, as there are many political, ethical, and scientific opinions on these issues. This is a one-term course.

AP Environmental Science

The AP Environmental Science course is designed to be the equivalent of a one-semester, introductory college course in environmental science. This course focuses on developing the appropriate scientific background and skills so students develop an understanding of the problems in the world around them. APES emphasizes scientific principles and analysis of a variety of topics from ecology and human population to natural resource consumption, food production, water and air pollution, and conservation. Science is at the heart of these concepts. A complete understanding of issues and problem solving requires students to grasp connections between anthropogenic and natural systems, as well as the importance of cultural, political, and economic influences. Students taking this class must make participation and involvement a priority. Each member’s investment is required in order to collaborate, share ideas, and problem solve. Students taking this class should have successfully completed Algebra 2. Completion of biology and chemistry courses is also highly recommended.

Environmental Chemistry

Environmental Chemistry meets in the spring term with a focus on spending as much time as possible outside in the environment. The class covers pH and chemical makeup of soil and water, testing various ponds on campus, and soil testing in the Gamage Gardens. Students also locate invasive plants on campus and use them to make paper and ink. The class utilizes the Pond House on campus for testing and research.

Anatomy and Physiology

Anatomy and Physiology is the study of the structure and function of the human body. Students learn basic anatomical terms and directions and study the twelve body systems. Students work on collaborative projects, write research papers, learn about the innate differences between boys and girls and how that relates to learning and education, and touch upon issues regarding medical ethics. Memorization skills are refined, as well as the development of oral and visual presentation skills. Prerequisite: Biology.

Psychology

This is an introductory course in psychology. In the fall term, the courses focuses on examining the history of psychology including the major perspectives that have influenced research and psychology since psychology’s birth in 1879, various career options within the realm of psychology, scientific research techniques including the differences between basic and applied research, and the influences of nature and nurture as they relate to the development of intelligence, behavior, and personality. An exam concludes this term. In the winter term, students examine the brain’s components and functions, nervous and endocrine systems, the causes and effects of stress, and the promotion of physical and mental wellness. The spring term offers an opportunity for the class to choose topics to cover. Projects are undertaken during the year. Academic skills emphasized throughout each term are critical reading, written expression, note-taking, collaborative learning, listening, and discussion skills. Homework, tests, and quizzes are given throughout each term. This is a year-long course.

Science Research Program

In partnership with SUNY Albany, Trinity-Pawling is part of the University in the High School Science Research Program (UHS). As part of UHS, Trinity-Pawling students can enroll in our Science Research class, a three-year program where they conduct and present novel research under the direction of one of our faculty members and a mentor. Students receive college credit upon completion of this program. Leveraging our close proximity to New York City, several of our students are also able to participate in the Columbia University Science Honors Program. 

I teach very matter-of-factly. I believe boys want to be able to ask a question and get a truthful answer. My goal is to have a classroom setting in which every student is comfortable to speak his mind.

Emily Tucci,
Science Teacher


Meet the Science Department

Katheryn Berlandi

Dean of Counseling, Psychology Teacher

Josh Collins ’95

Dean of Students, Science Teacher

Annie Keel

Science Department Chair

Dutch Keel

Dean of Residential Life, Science Teacher

Jay Kellogg

Athletics, Science Teacher

Chris Murphy '13

Service Program Director, Mathematics and Science Teacher

Emily Tucci

Athletics, Science Teacher

Michael Webber

Science Teacher