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Science

In Chatham Hall science classes, be ready to question, observe, experiment, and evaluate as you study such subjects as physics, chemistry, biology, environmental science, and even robotics as part of a club. Through our dynamic college preparatory curriculum, you’ll learn to inquire purposefully, think critically, and judge wisely. You’ll also get the background needed for further scientific pursuit—which many of our students opt for in college. In fact, a 2000 survey showed that those who attend all-girls schools are seven times more likely to major in math and science in college than those who go to coed schools.

Graduation requirements
3 credits of laboratory science including Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.
  • AP Biology

    Full year; by application and permission of the Science Department and the Academic Dean; 1 credit (prerequisite: B+ average or better in Biology and B+ average or better in Chemistry)

    This course is designed to be the equivalent of an introductory college-level course in both rigor and pacing. The primary goal of this course is to provide students with a solid and thorough background in the biological sciences. The secondary goal is to prepare students to take the AP examination in the spring. All students are required to take this exam, which is written and scored by the College Board. Our focus is to develop a strong understanding of the principles of Biology, and to simultaneously prepare for the standardized exam. The topics covered in the course and on the exam are divided into three topic areas: molecules and cells, heredity and evolution, and organisms and populations. While developing knowledge of the content material, students will also build their analytical, writing, and research skills. The laboratory portion of this course will focus on the twelve required lab exercises of the AP Biology program. The main components of the laboratory experience will include experimental design, technique, and data analysis and reporting.
  • AP Chemistry

    Full year; by application and permission of the Science Department and the Academic Dean; 1 credit (prerequisite: B+ average or better in Biology, B+ average or better in Chemistry and A- average or better in Algebra II)


    Advanced Placement Chemistry at Chatham Hall is designed to be the equivalent of General Chemistry taken in the first year of college.  It emphasizes in greater detail all of the concepts covered in General Chemistry in addition to studying the topics of thermodynamics, acid-base equilibrium, kinetics, and electrochemistry.  Students cover material at a rapid pace and are expected to complete a number of assignments independent of class.  Students work together in and out of class to master challenging advanced analytical and descriptive chemical problems, and predicting chemical reactions.  In addition, they spend at least ninety minutes in the laboratory each week.  The AP curriculum complies with and exceeds the College Board standards.
  • AP Physics

    Full year; by application and permission of the Science Department and the Academic Dean; 1 credit (prerequisite: B+ average or better in Biology, B+ average or better in Chemistry, Physics (recommended with an A- average or better, A- or better in Math courses)

    This course is a continuation of Physics and is designed to be a second year course taught at the introductory college level. The topics in the first year course are revisited in more depth and at a faster pace.  Circular motion and rotation will be introduced.  Labs are performed to reinforce the concepts. Students are required to take the AP Exam upon completion of this course.
  • Astronomy

    Fall semester, .5 credit

    This course introduces students to the Earth as a tiny portion of a vast universe. The universe will be examined from a physical perspective, on distance scales ranging from the very near (the local planets within our solar system) to the cosmological. Important discoveries in Astronomy will be examined from a historical perspective, and our understanding of the universe will be traced from the days of Ptolemy through recent findings. Students will also learn about the life cycles of the planets, stars, and galaxies, and the evolution of our own universe. An emphasis will be placed on understanding both observational astronomy (what we see when we look at the sky) and theoretical astronomy (the physics and chemistry that control what we see).
  • Biology

    Full year; 1 credit

    The course covers key biological concepts (diversity of organisms, relationship between structure and function, adaptation to environments, evolution, key life processes, heredity, biochemistry, and ecology). The two main goals of the course are to develop a deep, enduring understanding of biomolecular interactions, and to provide experience and appreciation of biology through experimentation and inquiry. Students participate in projects and activities to develop skills in writing, critical thinking, research, cooperation, and presentation.  
  • Chemistry

    Full year; 1 credit

    This course is designed to provide students with a detailed understanding of the interaction of matter and energy. This interaction is investigated through the application of demonstrations, laboratory techniques, manipulation of chemical quantities, and problem-solving applications. Scientific methodology is employed in experimental and analytical investigations, and concepts are illustrated with practical applications. Students are encouraged to share their ideas, use the language of chemistry, discuss problem-solving techniques, and communicate effectively. Thus, this course gives the students basic understanding of the subject and its applications in the real world. Interested students then move on to take AP Chemistry to further enhance their knowledge of the subject. The Chemistry curriculum complies with and exceeds Virginia’s Standards of Learning for high school chemistry. These standards have been nationally recognized for their detail and excellence. 
  • Physics

    Full year; 1 credit; required of freshmen or transfer students who have not yet taken physics.

    This course improves the investigation and laboratory skills and increases awareness and interest in science and its applications. This is accomplished through an activity-based curriculum providing an introduction to major topics and principles of physics. Mechanics, wave phenomena, optics, and electricity are examined at both the conceptual and mathematical levels. Laboratory work, date analysis, and applications of phenomena are stressed throughout. The course provides the background material needed or a student’s continuation in the science curriculum.
  • Physics - Honors

    Full year; 1 credit; for physics students capable of moving at a faster pace.

    Physics students explore the topics of mechanics, waves, optics and electricity. Laboratory exercises and demonstrations reinforce and encourage exploration of physical laws.  Collaborative learning is encouraged.  Often students are paired or grouped together for various activities such as problem solving, review sessions, and laboratories. Outside reading and research are required.  
  • Anatomy & Physiology

    Spring semester; .5 credit (prerequisite: Chemistry)

    An
    elective laboratory science course, the focus is on organ systems—the structure and function of organs and the interconnectedness of the animal body. An experiential course, students will perform virtual and/or actual dissections of animal specimens. The class’s efforts in the laboratory will provide materials for study in other life science courses (Biology and AP Biology). The course will enhance students’ understanding of scientific processes, biochemistry, biology, and intercellular communications.
  • Anatomy & Physiology

    An elective laboratory science course, the focus is on organ systems—the structure and function of organs and the interconnectedness of the animal body. An experiential course, students will perform virtual and/or actual dissections of animal specimens. The class’s efforts in the laboratory will provide materials for study in other life science courses (Biology and AP Biology). The course will enhance students’ understanding of scientific processes, biochemistry, biology, and intercellular communications.
    Spring Semester – ½ Credit                                                                                                                 
    Prerequisite: Chemistry
  • Neurobiology

    The course provides students with an introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system at the cellular and systems level. Throughout the semester, the students will focus on the cellular physiology of neurons, the brain, and the nervous system, as well as, sensory and motor systems. The students will investigate what happens when the brain malfunctions. The course will be structured around the aforementioned topics, but in order for the experience to be meaningful to the students, they will have the opportunity to give input on topics and issues they wish to cover, as well as, investigate a topic of their choice. 
    Fall Semester – ½ Credit                                                                                                                      
    Prerequisite: Junior, or Senior
     
  • Sustainability

    This is a semester-long elective laboratory science course. The course provides students with an introduction to sustainability focusing on the world’s population, globalization, and natural resources. The students will focus on facts, statistics, and images of the world’s population and what the world’s population looks like, such as: what they eat, what they have, etc. The students will focus on facts, statistics, and stories of population growth, globalization, and eco footprints and what globalization and industrialization looks like. The students will focus on facts, statistics, trends, and predictions about water, fossil fuels, and garbage, current issues affecting these resources, and solutions for reducing consumption of these resources. The course will be structured around the aforementioned topics, but in order for the experience to be meaningful to the students, they will have the opportunity to give input on topics and issues they wish to cover. 
    Spring Semester – ½ Credit
     

Our Faculty

  • Photo of Kirsten Blaesing
    Kirsten Blaesing
    Science Department Chair; Biology Teacher; Associate Dir. of Res Life for Student Initiatives; Coach
    434-432-5260
    Bio
  • Amelia Kolach
    Chemistry Teacher
    Bio
  • Jake Miller
    Tennis Coach
  • Photo of Molly Thomas
    Molly Thomas
    Physics Teacher; Robotics Mentor
    434-432-2941
    Bio
A girls' boarding and day school in southern Virginia, Chatham Hall prepares girls for college and for productive lives. Our innovative academic program offers advanced courses, global study and travel, as well as project-based learning. We foster the intellect and character of each student and, through our Honor Code, live in a community of trust. Grounded in its Episcopal heritage, the school welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds.
800 Chatham Hall Circle | Chatham, VA 24531 | 434.432.2941 | admission@chathamhall.org