It is the mission of the Science Department of the Lawrenceville School to introduce students to both the beautiful simplicity and intriguing complexity of the world to foster a life-long curiosity about the world in which they live.
The Science Department will cultivate in students the understanding that scientific knowledge is characterized by empirical criteria, logical argument, and skeptical review. It will prepare all students to use an understanding of scientific concepts and processes for personal decision making, effective participation in civic affairs, and preparation for those who choose advanced study in science beyond Lawrenceville. In order to accomplish the above, students will develop an understanding of:
Important Concepts in Science: Students should understand fundamental theories and unifying concepts in the physical, life, and earth sciences which provide an explanation and view of the natural world around us.
Nature of Scientific Knowledge:Students should understandthat all scientific knowledge is provisional, subject to change and therefore often involves some degree of uncertainty. However, most core ideas in science have much experimental and observational confirmation.
Nature of Scientific Inquiry: Students should understand the procedures, techniques, and methods scientists use to pose questions, plan investigations, gather data, evaluate uncertainty, develop conclusions, and communicate results.
Argument in Science: Students should be able to analyze, evaluate and construct arguments based on scientific reasoning using criteria for what constitutes valid, sufficient, and relevant evidence in science.
Quantitative Reasoning in Science: Students should understand the mathematical and statistical methods scientists use to analyze, interpret, and evaluate data and draw conclusions.
Environmental Studies Program
Students use the campus—700 acres of fields, streams, marshes, forests, and ponds—as an outdoor laboratory for environmental studies. The program, founded in honor of the famous conservationist Aldo Leopold (Class of 1905), includes: outings—hikes and canoe trips led by two veteran experiential educators into the nearby Pinelands wilderness and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area surrounding the Appalachian Trail.
Through an inquiry-based approach, this course explores key principles of physics and the calculus methods related to them. The study of each physics topic requires students to create hypotheses, develop computer models, design experiments, and craft components. Topics of calculus are introduced in support of this process, allowing students to model their understanding mathematically. Among the physics topics included are translational, orbital, and rotational motion, conservation laws, friction, and electrostatics. General and limiting physical behaviors will be explored mathematically and computationally. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; Terms: All; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: MA 407 or MA421 and SC321 or SC325 co-requirement with IN530 **NOTE: Only one IN credit will be granted for the pair.
Pick up a newspaper. Flick on Fox or MSNBC. What do you see? Bioethical dilemmas… everywhere. Should the government quarantine health workers returning home from fighting Ebola? Should we treat infected people with experimental drugs? Should parents vaccinate their children against measles and pertussis? Is it a problem if they decide to opt-out? Then, there are those perennial favorites: Abortion. Death-with-Dignity. Human Enhancement. Even if you try to avoid the news, change your homepage to Facebook, and hide under a virtual rock… you won’t escape bioethics. All you have to do is go to Abbott for lunch. Should you eat that juicy hamburger? Or spare the cow and make a hummus sandwich, instead? What is Right? How do you know? And what should you do about it? This two-term course challenges students to blend science and ethics to develop thoughtful positions on complex issues. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA 2IN/1SC/1RP Cr.; Terms: T2 and T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC321 or SC325 and any 400 or 500 level Religion and Philosophy (RP) course.
In Food Studies, we address the questions "what is the significance and value of food to humans?" and "how do we know that?" All animals need food; humans, however, have elevated this basic biological requirement to a symbol of cultural significance and value. We'll seek answers from history, biology, geography, anthropology, environmental studies, visual art, literature, technology, politics, economics, ethics, and will remain open to other fields of inquiry and discovery. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary 1IN/1SC Cr.; Terms: T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC321 or SC325 or Department Approval
This is a two-term course that grants one interdisciplinary credit. Water and Humanity, a course available to all students within the Eight Schools Association (ESA), examines the dynamic and tenuous relationship between water resources and human development. Looking at water from a multidisciplinary perspective, this course will enable students to think more critically about the central role water has played and must continue to play in the viability and vitality of all civilizations. Students will encounter diverse materials, use holistic approaches, and engage in innovative project planning to consider, understand, and propose solutions to complex water issues. This course uses a “flipped classroom” approach to learning and assessment. You will be involved in student-to-student videoconferencing, guided lessons, and collaboration with other students and teachers in the ESA. The course involves both synchronous and asynchronous online videoconferencing meetings. There will also be necessary field research and a capstone project in the spring term. The course will focus upon the value of water and water issues within the contexts of religious ceremony, the human-water relationship in fine art and architecture, national and imperial infrastructure, and industrial development. This interdisciplinary, project-driven course will also encourage students to think about the place of water in their own local, regional, and global communities, while researching and proposing their own solutions to complex multidisciplinary water issues. It is through collaborative projects with students at the other schools as well as our own that students will enjoy the advantages of this online and interdisciplinary endeavor. A central methodology for the course is to enable students to engage in dialogue and collaboration with other students and faculty from across the Eight Schools Association, with the goal of furthering students’ thinking and conclusions about the central dilemmas this course explores. Grants: Honors, Interdisciplinary 1IN/1SC Cr.; Terms: T2 and T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC321 or SC325
As important as asking, "What do you know?" students in Inquiries in Biological and Environmental Science at Lawrenceville will ask, "How do you know?" With primary emphasis placed on the foundational understandings of Biology, Science in the IInd Form will explore the complexities of the inquiry process scientists employ to generate knowledge. All II form students take Inquiries in Biological and Environmental Sciences, a three-term course. There is no honors or advanced track. Grants: NCAA; Terms: All; Forms: All
Inquiries in Chemical and Physical Sciences is a laboratory science course in which studentsinvestigate the composition of matter and the physical and chemical changes it undergoes. It is the second year of our core science program and prepares students for all higher level science courses. Students study the fundamental structure of atoms, the way atoms combine to form compounds, and the interactions between matter and energy. More importantly, students use science process skills and reliance on empirical evidence to make inquiries into real world problems, ask scientific questions, design relevant experiments, develop models, engage in argument and determine possible solutions. Although there are differences in how mathematics is utilized in chemistry and in physics, this course focuses on quantitative measurement, dimensional units, and experimental variability. Students are expected to expand their capabilities to use a range of tools for tabulation, graphical representation, visualization, and statistical analysis. Being able to read, interpret, and produce scientific and technical text are fundamental practices of this course, as is the ability to communicate clearly and persuasively. All III form students take Inquiries in Chemical and Physical Science, a three-term course. Grants: NCAA; Terms: All; Forms: All Prereqs: SC205
In nature, it's not enough to survive. A species must also reproduce to ensure passing some of its genetics to the next generation. This course uncovers the evolutionary influence on reproduction, both sexual and asexual, with emphasis on how natural selection has shaped human reproductive anatomy and physiology. Studies of comparative anatomy across species and the genetic basis of reproductive behaviors will illuminate the reproduction and survival of the human species. Grants: NCAA; Terms: T2; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC321 or SC325 or Department Approval
This case-based approach to learning human physiology and anatomy examines the evolutionary basis of genetic diseases and their interactions with contagious diseases. Students will develop critical thinking skills as they use differential diagnosis to collect and analyze information about simulated patients afflicted with selected diseases or health problems. Grants: NCAA; Terms: T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC321 or SC325 or Department Approval
This hands-on course will develop a deep understanding human anatomy and physiology. It introduces students to the structure and function of the nervous, circulatory, respiratory, reproductive, excretory, digestive, muscular and skeletal systems in the human body. Class discussions, medical research, and weekly dissection will combine to give students an understanding of the unification and coordination of the organ systems. Grants: NCAA; Terms: T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC321 or SC325 or Department Approval
This laboratory-based course is designed to introduce the student to the scientific aspects of forensic investigation as well as the ethical issues facing the forensic scientist. Topics include a broad range of forensic procedures such as physical and chemical methods for visualizing fingerprints, ballistics including bullet analysis and gunshot residue analysis, blood detection including splatter analysis and characterization, testing of controlled substances, DNA profiling, fiber and hair analysis, and more. Students will experience some of the analytical and instrumental methods used in investigating crimes. Case studies will be evaluated and the course will culminate with the investigation of a crime scene. Grants NCAA; Term: T1; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC321 or SC325 or Department Approval
Students learn physical principles through hands-on investigations, including dropping objects from the football tower and performing collisions. The Hewitt's popular college textbook "Conceptual Physics" provides a less mathematical approach than other physics offerings. Demonstrations and lab investigations involve air tracks, projectiles, and diode lasers. Topics include mechanics, fluids, tides, waves, sound, light, and color. Students may switch to Astronomy SC437 in the spring. Grants: NCAA; Terms: All; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC325 or Department Approval and MA301
This course will introduce students to the scope of the universe - how it began, how it is structured, how stars are born and how they die, how galaxies form and evolve, and how the universe is fated to end. Specific topics will include the big bang, stellar evolution, dark matter, cosmology, neutron stars and black holes. There may be some night classes in the observatory using the telescope. Students may take Astronomy in place of the spring term of SC533 Physics or SC431 Conceptual Physics. Grants: NCAA; Terms: T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC432 or SC532
This course is a comprehensive study of chemistry that will dive deeper into the introductory chemistry concepts covered in Inquiries in Chemical and Physical Sciences while also providing an opportunity to explore new and exciting topics in the world of chemistry. This course will serve as a chemistry option “instead of” the 500 level Honors Chemistry course not “in preparation for” that course. This option will provide students who have a genuine interest in chemistry a year-long experience with the subject matter while working towards successful completion of the SAT Chemistry Subject Test. A highly student driven course, the instructor will focus on both deep learning and skills as the class moves through the curriculum. Laboratory experiences will constitute an important part of this course both to reinforce laboratory skills and enhance students' understanding of the material. Topics include, but are not limited to: measurement, matter and its changes, atomic structure and bonding, the mole, stoichiometry, reactions in aqueous solutions, acids and bases, thermodynamics, equilibrium, and nuclear chemistry. Terms: T1; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC325 or Department Approval
This course is a comprehensive study of Biology that will incorporate chemistry concepts covered in ICPS, develop further concepts from IBES while also providing an opportunity to explore connections and interrelationships in the living world. This course will serve as a biology option “instead of” the 500 level Honors Biology course not “in preparation for” that course. This option will provide students who have a genuine interest in biology, a year-long experience with the subject matter while working towards successful completion of the SAT Chemistry Subject Test. Students will focus on both deep learning and skills as the class moves through the curriculum. Laboratory experiences will constitute an important part of this course both to reinforce laboratory skills and enhance students' understanding of the material. Grants: NCAA; Terms: T1; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC325 or Department Approval
What makes us human? We will explore this question from a biological perspective by tracing the appearance of our earliest ancestors to the emergence of our own species. Evolutionary theory, behavioral ecology, genetics, and functional morphology, in combination with hands-on examination of fossil materials, are used to reconstruct how and why humans evolved. Emphasis is placed on developing a broader biological framework for the study of human adaptation and evolution. Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: T1; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC321 or SC325 or Department Approval
Human behavior is considered in a broad evolutionary context, exploring how behavior can be informed by evolutionary theory and comparative evidence. Behavior is traced from its evolutionary function as adaptation, through its physiological basis and associated psychological mechanisms, to its expression. Students will develop and conduct their own research projects on human behavior. Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: T2; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC321 or SC325 or Department Approval
Students will examine the structure and dynamics of local ecological systems, exploring how organisms interact with their environment. A large portion of class and lab time will be spent in nearby forests, fields, marshes and streams learning to identify and explain patterns observed in nature. Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: T1; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC321 or SC325 or Department Approval
Survey and introduction to the morphology, evolution, and classification of woody plants. We will use the native New Jersey flora as a basis for learning phylogenetic classification and clade-based characteristics. The primary objective of this course is to gain experience in plant identification by studying phylogenetic systematics, plant taxonomy, and creating a plant collection. Major concepts include: Recognize and understand the role of phylogenetics and evolution in the classification of plant diversity. Use collections, literature, and taxonomic resources for documenting plant diversity. Develop a working understanding of terminology of characters used for differentiating major plant lineages. Appreciate New Jersey plant diversity by recognizing and identifying local flora. Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: T1; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC321 or SC325 or Department Approval
This second-year course in biology will grow and mature students' ability to think as a biologist. Over the yearlong course of study, students will develop an understanding of how particular themes in the study of life are expressed within different levels of structural complexity from the subcellular to the biosphere. Terms will be based on important biological themes, such as how biological systems utilize free energy and molecular building blocks to grow, to reproduce and to maintain dynamic homeostasis. Understanding of these biological themes will be discussed and assessed in the context of authentic problems. Students will be able to apply and extend their understanding as a biologist, including the design and performance of experiments, when encountering both familiar and novel problems. If you are planning to take both Honors Chemistry and Honors Biology at Lawrenceville, we suggest that you take Honors Chemistry before Honors Biology but it is not required. Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: All; Forms: IV or V
This is a two-term course in which students must enroll in both terms. In the first term of this course, students will learn to read and discuss primary literature in order to develop understanding of ecological principles and concepts and in order to gain exposure to some of the methodology used to conduct field research in ecology. Field and laboratory experiences will serve to teach students how to identify species, about site selection, sampling, collecting, and measurement methods. The winter term will culminate in a formal research proposal. In the second term, students will work collaboratively through the research process, including how to conduct a literature search to identify and refine a research question, develop testable hypotheses, conduct background research, and implement a rigorous field project. Grants: Honors; Terms: T2 and T3; Forms: IV or V
This course is a comprehensive study of chemistry that begins with the Big Bang and includes topics such as molecular structure, kinetics, equilibrium, thermodynamics, oxidation-reduction reactions, electrochemistry, and nuclear chemistry. Laboratory experiences will constitute an important part of this course both to reinforce laboratory skills and enhance students' understanding of the material. If you are planning to take both Honors Chemistry and Honors Biology at Lawrenceville, we suggest that you take Honors Chemistry before Honors Biology but it is not required. Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: All; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC325 and Department Approval
This is a two-term course where students must enroll in both the fall and winter terms. There are many ways to observe and apply the principles of chemistry and medicine. For example, hot peppers get their heat from a molecule called capsaicin and may have a use as a pain killer for arthritis victims? To do this we will use biosensors, model organisms, and separation techniques to detect such chemicals, which have been shown to be a possible cure for Type I diabetes? Here at Lawrenceville, Research in Applied Chemistry and Medicine students, during the first term on learning research methods, will meet to discuss primary literature papers and research topics. Students will break into small groups and decide on essential questions to research and will create a research proposal. The class will learn all of the biochemical and medical techniques necessary to investigate their project. Topics such as pharmaceuticals, small molecule purification science, chemical effects on model organisms, and phytoremediation of toxins from the environment, will be learned. The direction of the research will determine the specific techniques taught, such as high-performance liquid and gas chromatography, electrophoresis, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). During the second term, students will refine their research proposal and implement their experiments in the lab under the supervision of the teacher. This will culminate with a scientific paper and presentation. This course is open to Forms IV and V with departmental approval, but priority will be given to those who have already taken a 500 level course. Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: T1 and T2; Forms: IV or V Prereqs: SC321 and Department Approval
What makes life possible on the cellular level? Topics covered will include macromolecule structure and function of carbohydrates, proteins and nucleic acids. Special emphasis will be given to gene structure, transcription and translation. Protein structure will be explored as an example of the relationship between form and function including transport mechanisms in the eukaryotic cell. Cellular organization and communication will be studied through theories on evolution of the eukaryotic cell and multicellular organisms. Basic understanding of these topics will be applied toward discussions of pathogenesis and quorum sensing and student chosen research topics. Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: T1; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC321 or SC325 or Department Approval
This course is a year-long introductory physics course for students. Students uncover the basic principles of physics through the study of motion (kinematics, dynamics, and momentum), energy, electricity (statics and circuits), and waves (sound and light). Topics may also include aspects of modern physics, magnetism and optics. The development of quantitative analytical skills through mathematical problem-solving is emphasized. Students who demonstrated strong algebra skills in Math 3 (MA301-303) or in Math 4 (MA404-406) may take Physics with permission. Students may elect to take SC437 Astronomy in place of Physics during the spring term. Grants: NCAA; Terms: All; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: MA407, or as described.
This course is a year-long introductory physics course for students who have previously taken calculus. This course covers largely the same topics as Honors Physics / Mechanics, SC557, but at a pace and level intermediate between Physics, SC531, and Honors Physics / Mechanics, SC557. The development of quantitative analytical skills through problem solving is emphasized; and calculus (MA504, MA507 or MA521) is a prerequisite. Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: All; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: MA504 or MA507 or MA521
An intensive three-term introductory physics course covering classical mechanics (translational and rotational kinematics and dynamics, energy, statics, harmonic motion, and gravitation); relativity; elementary Lagrangian dynamics; aspects of quantum theory, modern physics, and cosmology; and possibly a limited selection of fluid dynamics, thermal physics, nuclear decay and dosimetry, optics, or other topics. The development of quantitative analytical skills through mathematical problem-solving is emphasized; proficiency with algebra, trigonometry, and calculus (MA504, MA507 or MA521) is a prerequisite. Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: All; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: MA504 or MA507 or MA521
From the Internet to self-driving cars, engineering is revolutionizing every aspect of our lives. With many problems in modern society requiring solutions based on engineering, it is becoming increasingly important that responsible citizens understand its foundations. This course introduces students to the principles of engineering, with a focus on electrical engineering. Students will learn the basics of circuitry and coding, and then gain experience in embedded design by programming an Arduino microcontroller to solidify their learning. The Arduino will interface with sensors, simple circuits, and the real world through mini-projects, such as programming a robot to follow a line or making a simple musical instrument. After completing this course, students have the option to further their studies in course SC563. Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: T2; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC321 or SC325 or Department Approval
This course applies the principles learned in SC562. Students will work in small groups to propose a term-long engineering project of their own design, and then spend the majority of the course working to accomplish their goals. The nature of this course focuses on group collaboration and requires self-motivation. Past projects include an EKG machine that vibrates when your pulse falls below a threshold value, an aeroponics system that adjusts its misting schedule based on the temperature in the air, a laser harp that plays different notes when a laser beam is blocked, and a tank that shoots a projectile whenever it sees a target of a certain color. Grants: Honors NCAA; T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC562 or Department Approval
Students will engage in campus-based social justice research, under the mentorship of Lawrenceville faculty and faculty from the Center for the Study of Boys’ and Girls’ Lives at University of Pennsylvania. Students will 1) identify areas of interest to students about the school community; 2) investigate those areas systematically – both quantitatively and qualitatively; 3) report research results to the wider school community and at a conference at University of Pennsylvania; and, 4) using the results of their research, develop strategies to improve student life at Lawrenceville. Grants: Honors Term: T1; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC321 or SC325 or Department Approval
Sustainability seminar will use an integrated approach to explore concepts of sustainable development in association with campus-centered research / projects. Bridging the gap between readings and the complex reality of current issues, we aim to think creatively to solve real world problems that exist on the Lawrenceville campus. Students will work in teams to design, implement and manage various sustainability projects on campus. Grants: Honors; Terms: T1; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC321 or SC325 or Department Approval
This course, run in conjunction with the Seung Kim Laboratory at the Stanford University School of Medicine, will allow students to use cutting edge techniques to create transgenic fruit flies that express targeted short hairpin RNA sequences that can inactivate gene function. It is a two-term course with an optional third term extension. The fall term will consist mainly of classroom work to understand advanced molecular genetic theory and lab technique, while the second term will consist mainly of lab work, in which students will work in small groups to develop their own strain of fruit fly that could potentially be used by other labs world wide. The third term optional extension will allow students to continue their projects in the lab. Grants: Honors; Terms: T1 and T2; Forms: IV or V; Prerequisites: Departmental approval. Preference will go to rising fifth form students who have completed one year of a 500 level science course.
This course is the optional 3rd term extension of the Research in Molecular Genetics run in conjunction with the Seung Kim Laboratory at the Stanford University School of Medicine. This course will allow students to continue their individual projects in a mainly lab-based setting. To sign up of this course, the student must have taken the Research in Molecular Genetics course held in the fall and winter terms. Grants: Honors; Terms: T3; Forms: IV or V; Prerequisites: SC574 or Departmental approval. Preference will go to rising fifth form students who have completed one year of a 500 level science course.
To increase student knowledge of the scientific concepts and skills that can be applied to today's environmental challenges, this course connects a variety of disciplines including biology, geology, chemistry, meteorology, and physics. During the fall term, students focus on the study of the biosphere through units on population, community, and ecosystem dynamics and begin to consider how humans affect ecosystems. In the winter, students learn about earth's physical systems, including the hydrosphere, atmosphere, and lithosphere. In the spring, we connect this foundation in environmental science to the study of anthropogenic impacts on Earth's systems, culminating in an independent research project. Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: All; Forms: IV or V Prereqs: SC321 and Department Approval
Questions this course will address: How do our brains make memories? Why do we forget? What is "inattentional blindness" (or, Why didn't I see the gorilla)? How does sleep influence memory and learning? What is "cognitive overload" and how can I prevent it? Is multitasking a myth and can I be a "supertasker?" Why are most people bad at critical thinking? How does emotion influence the way I think and remember? How are experts made and can I become one? What is the neurophysiology of memory formation and learning? Will there someday be a memory pill? How do my genes influence my learning? What are the best strategies for encoding memories and for studying? How do I learn best? Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: T2; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC321 or SC325 or Department Approval
Students interested in original laboratory research in science should submit a proposal and enlist the support of a science faculty member to apply for this course. Research can be completed on or off campus at a local university or in industry. Students will meet weekly with their faculty mentor and complete an advanced course load (10-12 hours/week). Final oral presentation and defense of the work to at least three science department faculty members is required. Grants: Honors; Terms: All; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC321 or SC325 and Department Approval
Chair of the Science Department
Colby College - B.A. University of Massachusetts - M.Ed.
Through House and Harkness, Lawrenceville challenges a diverse community of promising young people to lead lives of learning, integrity, and high purpose. Our mission is to inspire the best in each to seek the best for all.