Browse Curriculum

Upper School Science

The goal of the Nichols science program is for students to acquire and use the tools of methodical scientific inquiry and explore the relationships between science, society and the natural world. Students will learn how to identify and ask original scientific questions, and rigorously answer those questions with evidence-based, reasoned conclusions.

In addition, students will gain mastery of foundational scientific concepts. We particularly value the promotion of innovation and curiosity, crossing traditional disciplinary boundaries, and multiple modes of communication.
 
  • Advanced Chemistry


    For Grades 10 and 11

    Chemistry is a broad science. Knowledge and awareness of chemical principles are important in understanding other fields of science and touches on virtually every aspect of life. Chemistry is a subject that explains the fundamental principles involved in the study of matter.

    Topics include: the states of matter; chemical equilibrium; acids and bases; oxidation-reduction reactions; kinetics and thermodynamics; and organic biochemistry. This course establishes a foundation for the understanding of the chemical principles pertaining to the study of biology, the next course in the science sequence at Nichols.

    The advanced section covers similar content at a faster pace with more advanced mathematics and higher levels of abstraction.
  • Anatomy and Physiology


    Science Elective for Grade 12

    Complete with clinical case studies and dissections, anatomy and physiology examines the structure and function of the human organ systems. The anatomy section of the course is interwoven with the physiology section to clarify and highlight the interrelationships between the structure and function of body parts. Emphasizing relevance, each organ system is introduced with a clinical case study pertaining to a pathology of the system. Through lecture and laboratory work, the course explores the skeletal system, the muscular system, the nervous system, the circulatory system, the respiratory system, the digestive system and the renal system. 

    Prerequisite: Completion of the science graduation requirement. 
  • AP Biology


    For Grade 11

    This course follows the Advanced Placement biology curriculum. Over the course of the year, the students receive a detailed introduction into many of the major branches of biological sciences. Unit topics include evolution, cellular biology, metabolism, cell division, genetics, molecular biology, anatomy and ecology. Major themes include the random and directional changes to systems, the flow of information and energy, the cycling of matter and the ability for living systems to communicate and coordinate. Laboratory work is an essential part of the course. 

    Prerequisite: Chemistry and permission of the department. The AP exam is a requirement of the course. 
  • AP Chemistry


    Science Elective for Grade 12

    This course is designed for students who have successfully completed one full year of chemistry and who have demonstrated excellent ability in the area of mathematics. It is the equivalent of a college freshman chemistry course. This course provides preparation for the Advanced Placement chemistry exam and for further scientific study at the college level. Laboratory work is a vital part of AP Chemistry. 

    Prerequisite: Permission of the department. The AP exam is a requirement of the course. 
  • AP Environmental Science


    Science Elective for Grade 12

    This is an ecologically based course of study, although interdisciplinary topics from economics to ethics are considered. The course is equivalent to an introductory Environmental Science course in college with a laboratory component. The goal of the AP Environmental Science course is to provide students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world, to identify and analyze environmental problems both natural and humanmade, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving and/or preventing them. The content of the course follows the AP Environmental Science curriculum and covers topics in earth systems and resources, the living world (ecology), population dynamics, land and water use, energy resources and consumption, pollution, and global change. AP Environmental Science has a large laboratory and field investigation component. 

    Prerequisite: Completion of the science graduation requirement. The AP Exam is a requirement of the course. 
  • AP Physics C


    Science Elective for Grades 11 and 12

    This course involves an advanced mathematical approach to physics. The content of the course follows the calculus-based program of the AP Physics C syllabus. Each year of this course alternates content; the upcoming year will consist of one full year of electricity and magnetism. Permission of the department is required to ensure adequate preparation for the mathematical demands of the course. 

    Prerequisite: Permission of the department. The AP exam is a requirement of the course. 
  • Biology


    For Grade 11

    The main topics covered in Biology are molecular and cellular biology, genetics, animal structure and function with an emphasis on human systems, evolutionary concepts, and  plant structure and function. Laboratory exercises are designed to demonstrate the principles discussed in class. Additionally, labs provide the students with an opportunity to develop laboratory skills and to learn the use/application of scientific instruments. 
  • Chemistry


    For Grades 10 and 11

    Chemistry is a broad science. Knowledge and awareness of chemical principles are important in understanding other fields of science and touches on virtually every aspect of life. Chemistry is a subject that explains the fundamental principles involved in the study of matter.

    Topics include: the states of matter; chemical equilibrium; acids and bases; oxidation-reduction reactions; kinetics and thermodynamics; and organic biochemistry. This course establishes a foundation for the understanding of the chemical principles pertaining to the study of biology, the next course in the science sequence at Nichols.
  • Engineering I


    Science Elective for Grades 11 and 12

    The goal of the Engineering I and II sequence is to teach a variety of engineering skills through the lens of robotics. Students taking this course can expect to learn skills in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer-aided design (CAD), programming, budgeting and economics, and project management. We also work on video production, interview preparation, and community service. Students will learn to design 35 and fabricate custom parts on our 3D printers, UV laser cutter and CNC Router.

    The class culminates in the building of a competitive robot to compete in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) competition. Competitions are in the winter and spring. A significant component of this course is attending outreach events and competitions, typically involving a commitment of one Saturday or Sunday each month. The dates for these events are announced with as much advance notice as possible. This elective is available to both j
    uniors and seniors. Students may take the course twice, focusing on different skill development each time. Participants in the class can apply for specific personal awards and college scholarship money through the FIRST program. 
  • Engineering II


    Science Elective for Grade 12

    The goal of the Engineering I and II sequence is to teach a variety of engineering skills through the lens of robotics. Students taking this course can expect to learn skills in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer-aided design (CAD), programming, budgeting and economics, and project management. We also work on video production, interview preparation, and community service. Students will learn to design 35 and fabricate custom parts on our 3D printers, UV laser cutter and CNC Router. 

    The class culminates in the building of a competitive robot to compete in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) competition. Competitions are in the winter and spring. A significant component of this course is attending outreach events and competitions, typically involving a commitment of one Saturday or Sunday each month. The dates for these events are announced with as much advance notice as possible. This elective is available to both j
    uniors and seniors. Students may take the course twice, focusing on different skill development each time. Participants in the class can apply for specific personal awards and college scholarship money through the FIRST program. 
  • Organic Chemistry


    Science Elective for Grade 12

    Generally stated, organic chemistry is the study of compounds containing carbon. This course integrates and elaborates on topics introduced in physics, chemistry, and biology. Emphasis is placed on the basic structure of organic molecules and their properties, advancing into synthetic organic chemistry concepts such as alkene reactions, stereochemistry, substitution reactions and structure determination. Laboratory techniques are emphasized. This course prepares the student for advanced study in pre-professional sciences. 

    Prerequisite: Completion of the science graduation requirement 
  • Physics


    For Grade 9

    The science department believes that a firm understanding of the natural laws that govern the universe is essential to further studies in science. This is a conceptually and mathematically rigorous course that allows students to understand the principles that govern the phenomena they witness in their everyday lives. Extensive and original laboratory work forms a cornerstone of this course. Students explore the concepts of motion, forces, momentum, energy, static electricity, electric circuits, and magnetism. The advanced section covers similar content at a faster pace with more advanced mathematics and higher levels of abstraction.
     
  • Research Scholar


    Science Elective for Grade 12

    The research scholars program enables senior scientists to work collaboratively with professional researchers on original experiments in Cancer research. After an overview of cancer and of research methods, the students will develop an original research question, test their hypothesis with a statistical analysis of a large database, and prepare a manuscript for publication. This course is reserved for highly motivated, independent students; admission to the course is by application only. 

    Prerequisite: Successful application for admittance to the program 

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Nichols School is a nationally recognized college preparatory coed independent school with a 128-year history.