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The science department at Stratton Mountain School utilizes our laboratory spaces, the expansive landscape surrounding our campus, on-line resources and scientific connections to the school’s athletic endeavors to engage in a detailed exploration of the physical world. Our science course progression seeks to establish and then build on scientific knowledge while exploring and developing new understandings of the physical world in which we exist. Emphasis is placed on processes and examination, as students learn the basics of laboratory investigation during the entry-level courses, and then use these tools for more detailed and academic explorations of the scientific and physical world as they advance through our courses. While four years of lab science are offered, minimum graduation requirements stipulate that at least three years of science are necessary with two courses encompassing lab-based investigations.

Science 7 (Life Science)

The approach of seventh grade Life Sciences is interactive and both lab-intensive and multimedia-intensive, building student understanding of life from the cellular level to the ecosystems level. In the first quarter, students begin observing and learning the fundamentals of cell structure and function. In the second quarter, students study the history and diversity of life on Earth. Students build on their understanding of cells and organisms in the third quarter, with an in-depth study of the human body. In the final quarter, students expand their perspective, exploring the complex interactions of living and non-living things on the level of ecosystems and the environment. Through labs, projects, and an interactive textbook/workbook, students will gain an understanding of and appreciation for the diversity, complexity, and interdependence of life on our planet.

Science 8 (IPS)

Eighth-grade Physical Sciences is designed to be interactive, and both lab-intensive and multimedia-intensive, in order to achieve a strong foundation in specific Chemistry, Physics, and Space Science topics. In the first half of the year, students delve into matter and energy, learning the fundamental structures, functions, and processes of our physical environment. In the third quarter, students continue to explore matter and energy, and as well as sound and light. Students then learn the basics of space science, from our solar system to the universe during the fourth quarter. Students investigate the physical sciences from atoms to the universe, developing a strong sense of scale and the ability to apply their understandings to physical systems of all levels.

Conceptual Physics

Conceptual Physics is a way of teaching physics that stimulates high school students’ higher-level cognitive skills. Unlike the more traditional physics courses that are based on more math than physics, Conceptual Physics uses English to interpret and explain various physical phenomena. Incorporating the VEX robotics hardware throughout the course further excites learning of physics concepts through hands-on, technology-based activities. Students are exposed to such topics as vertical and projectile motion, Newton’s Laws, gravitation, rotational motion, matter, heat and energy, sound and light, and electricity and magnetism.


Chemistry is a core science course that explores the definition of the concepts of matter and discusses the laws which regulate many of our universe’s interactions. The first unit focuses on describing and classifying matter. Atomic structure, the modern periodic table, and the basic rules behind bonding are also introduced. During the second quarter, students focus on ionic, covalent, and metallic bonding. Naming and classifying compounds is also a focus during the winter. The third quarter covers chemical reactions, equations, and equilibrium. The concept of the mole, LeChatlier’s Principle, stoichiometry, enthalpy and entropy are all introduced in this unit. The fourth quarter involves a more in-depth look at atoms and the role of geometric design in chemical interactions. We also investigate fluids, gas laws, solutions, acids, bases, organic chemistry. In the final weeks, we study our body’s chemical reactions, from processing food to attacking infections. Labs play an intricate role in building understanding of chemical interactions. There are at least four laboratory practices per unit with a full lab report of at least two of the lab investigations each quarter.


The two main goals of Biology are to help students develop a conceptual framework for modern biology and to help students gain an appreciation of science as a process. Primary emphasis in this Biology course is on developing an understanding of concepts rather than on memorizing terms and technical details. Essential to this conceptual understanding are the following: a grasp of science as a process rather than as an accumulation of facts; personal experience in scientific inquiry; recognition of unifying themes that integrate the major topics of biology; and application of biological knowledge and critical thinking to environmental and social concerns. Students gain a basic understanding of the following subject matter: classification of living things, representative organisms of the phyla, major sub-cellular organelles and their functions, biochemical reactions (Krebs Cycle and photosynthesis), genetics (DNA, RNA, translation and transcription), and fundamental physiology and anatomy of vertebrates. Students will obtain knowledge of evolution by natural selection and an understanding of the scientific method. In the laboratory portion of the course, the abovementioned topics are reinforced. Additionally, students obtain a fundamental understanding of hypothesis development, design and implementation of controlled experiments, identification of independent and dependent variables, data analysis and how to communicate results.

Environmental Science

This course explores the relationship of humans with the natural world and seeks to understand the impact of humans on the natural landscape by examining case studies and by honing students’ capacities for scientific observation. Throughout the year, this course maintains a focus on the richness of the surrounding natural environment in Southern Vermont, as well as the wealth of local knowledge of the systems that students encounter daily. By taking a systematic, scientific approach to biological and ecological systems, students can better understand and interpret our role in the environment, and how their choices have and will continue to impact their surroundings.

Honors Physics

Honors Physics is taught using the most widely adopted new physics text published in more than thirty years. Based on educational research, this algebra-based physics course aims to develop an understanding of physical phenomena beyond the simple use of equations. Additionally, this course builds problem-solving abilities and confidence, as well as promotes deeper understanding by explicitly addressing students’ preconceptions and misconceptions. Students are exposed to such topics as vertical and projectile motion, Newton’s Laws, gravitation, rotational motion, matter, heat and energy, sound and light, electricity and magnetism, and relativity. This is a lab-oriented course which includes advanced and in-depth study of the following: mechanics, thermodynamics, waves, optics, electricity and magnetism, nuclear and particle physics.

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