Science & Technical Subjects

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Over the course of the year in Neuroscience, we explore the following essential questions: How do scientists go about solving problems related to the brain? How do we process data to extract meaning? How does the brain store and retrieve memories? How does the brain detect and respond to changes in the environment? How do attention, emotion, memory, and the senses impact one another?

A User's Guide to the Brain by John Ratey
The Emotional Brain by Joseph LeDoux
Glencoe Understanding Psychology by Richard A. Kasschau
Psychology: Principles in Practice (High School) by Spencer A. Rathus
Adam, Frank. Drug Addiction – A (Forgotten) Memory? The Journal of Young Investigators. 22.3 (2011).
Verster, Joris C, et. Al. Alcohol Hangover Effects on Memory Functioning and Vigilance Performance after an Evening of Binge Drinking. Neuropsychopharmacology. (2003) 28, 740-746.
Assorted journal articles (selected by students) and other scientific sources (texts, online sources, etc)

Students explore the nature of science through primary literature, using a variety of tools to guide themselves through their analysis of journal articles. Students are expected to access and interpret background information, decipher figures and interpret findings in order to gain deeper understanding of a topic in neuroscience or psychology shaped by their own interests. After conducting in-depth research using academic databases and reading extensive material related to their topic, students design controlled experiments to test it. During this process, students write an Introduction and References that emulates professional manuscripts. In this writing, students are expected to describe the prior knowledge that led to their investigation and hypothesis and provide background information to highlight the importance of their study. While completing their investigation, students write the Methods, Results and Discussion components of their paper.

Media Used: 
New York Public Library (
Google Scholar
Interim Assessments: 

IA1: Student (group)-designed question and experiment, individual Background Research Organizer and Methods (first draft)

IA2: Lab report (complete final draft - Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, References)

IA3: Original experiment design, individual Background Research Organizer and Methods (first draft)

IA4: Exhibition and Lab report (complete final draft - Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, References) to fulfill graduation requirement in science

Significant Assignments: 

CREATE Method - concept mapping Introductions, cartooning Methods, and completing Figure Analysis Templates from primary journal articles

Background Research Organizer

Introduction Outline

Peer Reviews & Reflections (during question/topic development, methods development, and analysis of data)

Data Test Run Response

Sample PBATs: 
The effect of noise pollution on Stroop task performance
The effect of mirror reflection of ones limb on perception of sensation on non-stimulated and stimulated limb
Behavioral and electrophysiological effects of caffeine and taurine in South American Cockroaches
The effect of self-esteem on perception of individuals who disclose negative and positive emotions online
The effect of color on taste perception
The effect of music genre on emotion and concentration


Students may think of microbes -- sometimes called germs -- as something they want to wash off carefully or just avoid completely. But some microbes feed us, recycle our trash, or even keep us healthy! In this class students grow microbes on purpose, and conduct experiments about our tiniest living neighbors. Required background research and lab reports are important parts of this course.

Alcamo, I. E., Alcamo, I. E., Elson, L. M., & Elson, L. M. (1996). The microbiology coloring book. New York, NY: HarperCollins College Publishers. oli and the new science of life. New York: Pantheon Books.
Alexander, S. K., & Strete, D. (2001). Microbiology: a photographic atlas for the laboratory. San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings. Benson, H. J. (1967). Microbiological applications: a laboratory manual in general microbiology.. Dubuque: Wm. C. Brown. Black, J. G. (2004). Microbiology: principles and explorations (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley. Byrd, J. J., & Powledge, T. M. (2006). The complete idiot's guide to microbiology. New York: Alpha Books. DeSalle, R. (1999). Epidemic!: the world of infectious diseases. New York: The New Press :. Dixon, B. (1994). Power unseen: how microbes rule the world. Oxford: W.H. Freeman. Harold, F. M. (2001). The way of the cell: molecules, organisms, and the order of life. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hudson, B. K., & Sherwood, L. (1997). Explorations in microbiology. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall. Johnson, T. R., & Case, C. L. (1995). Laboratory experiments in microbiology (Brief ed., 4th ed.). Redwood City, Calif.: Benjamin/Cummings. Karlen, A. (1995). Man and microbes: disease and plagues in history and modern times. New York: Putnam. Karlen, A. (2000). Biography of a germ. New York: Pantheon Books. Koneman, E. W. (2002). The other end of the microscope: the bacteria tell their own story : a fantasy. Washington, D.C.: ASM Press. Krasner, R. I. (2002). The microbial challenge: human-microbe interactions. Washington, D.C.: ASM Press. Kruif, P. H. (1927). Microbe hunters. London: Jonathan Cape. Madigan, M. T., Martinko, J. M., & Parker, J. (2000). Brock biology of microorganisms (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Margulis, L., Schwartz, K. V., & Dolan, M. (1994). The illustrated five kingdoms: a guide to the diversity of life on Earth. New York: HarperCollinsCollege. Needham, C. (2000). Intimate strangers: unseen life on earth. Washington, D.C.: ASM Press. Nester, E. W. (1973). Microbiology: molecules, microbes, and man. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Nester, E. W., & Anderson, D. G. (2005). Microbiology: a human perspective (5th ed.). Boston, Mass.: McGraw-Hill. Pelczar, M. J., & Chan, E. C. (1972). Laboratory exercises in microbiology (3d ed.). New York, etc.: McGraw-Hill Book Co.. Sachs, J. S. (2007). Good germs, bad germs: health and survival in a bacterial world. New York: Hill and Wang. Stanier, R. Y., Doudoroff, M., & Adelberg, E. A. (1970). The microbial world (3d ed.). Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. Tierno, P. M. (2001). The secret life of germs: observations and lessons from a microbe hunter. New York: Pocket Books. Tortora, G. J., Funke, B. R., & Case, C. L. (2005). Microbiology: an introduction (Brief ed.). San Francisco, CA: Benjamins Cummings. Zimmer, C. (2008). Microcosm

see above

Interim Assessments: 

Presentations are the most important interim assessment. Both the presenter and the respondents are expected to participate at high levels of cognitive engagement. This gives a very clear diagnostic of student thinking about microbes, texts, and experimental research.

Other assessments include early drafts of lab report sections, the first entire lab report, and other written assignments including the class notebook. Students are expected to take notes on what they do and learn in every class period. This is largely a laboratory notebook, but also records their thinking on broader issues.

Significant Assignments: 

See above.

Significant Activities or Projects: 

See above.

Sample PBATs: 
How does ultraviolet light affect the survival of pigmented bacteria collected from the classroom environment??
How does the type of hot sauce affect the diameter of the zone of inhibition in Staphylococcus epidermidis
How does calcium propionate affect the colony diameter of Penicillium roqueforti grown on a bread-agar medium?

Mix it Up!

Is whipped cream a solid, a liquid, or a gas? What about jam or jello? Oil and water don't mix, right, so how is it possible that mayonnaise is mostly oil and water? How come sugar sinks to the bottom of your iced tea but seems to disappear if the tea is hot? In this hands-on science class, students investigate the chemistry of kitchen mixtures like these. They develop their own experimental questions, conduct experiments, do background reading, and write up their findings.

Cobb, Vicki, and Peter J. Lippman. Science experiments you can eat. [1st ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1972. Print.
McGee, Harold. On food and cooking: the science and lore of the kitchen. Completely rev. and updated ed. New York: Scribner, 2004. Print.
Figoni, Paula. How baking works: exploring the fundamentals of baking science. 2nd ed. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2008. Print.
Simon, Seymour, and Betty Fraser. Chemistry in the kitchen. New York: Viking Press, 1971. Print.
Simon, S., & Fraser, B. (1971). Chemistry in the kitchen. New York: Viking Press.
Wolke, R. L., & Parrish, M. (2002). What Einstein told his cook: kitchen science explained. New York: W.W. Norton & Co..
Amico, J., Drummond, K. E., & Walsh, T. (1995). The science chef: 100 fun food experiments and recipes for kids. New York: J. Wiley.
Potter, J. (2010). Cooking for Geeks Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food.. Sebastopol: O'Reilly Media, Inc..
Nichols, H. L. (1971). Cooking with understanding. Greenwich, Conn.: North Castle Books.
Ruhlman, M. (2009). Ratio: the simple codes behind the craft of everyday cooking. New York, NY: Scribner.
Hillman, H. (2003). The new kitchen science a guide to knowing the hows and whys for fun and success in the kitchen. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Barham, P. (2001). The science of cooking. Berlin: Springer.
Ettlinger, S. (2007). Twinkie, deconstructed: my journey to discover how the ingredients found in processed foods are grown, mined (yes, mined), and manipulated into what America eats. New York, NY: Hudson Street Press.
Parsons, R. (2001). How to read a french fry: and other stories of intriguing kitchen science. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Corriher, S. O. (1997). Cookwise: the hows and whys of successful cooking. New York: William Morrow.
Corriher, S. O. (2008). BakeWise: the hows and whys of successful baking with over 200 magnificent recipes. New York: Scribner.
Brown, A. (2004). I'm just here for more food: food x mixing + heat = baking. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang.
This, H. (2006). Molecular gastronomy: exploring the science of flavor. New York: Columbia University Press.
Rombauer, I. v., Becker, M. R., Becker, E., & Guarnaschelli, M. (1997). Joy of cooking. New York: Scribner.
Field, S. (2012). Culinary reactions: the everyday chemistry of cooking. Chicago, Ill.: Chicago Review Press.
Kamozawa, A., & Talbot, H. A. (2010). Ideas in food: great recipes and why they work. New York: Clarkson Potter

Starting with the question: What is the best way to make exactly one cup of simple syrup, if you have to use one part sugar to one part water?, the students begin their study of dissolution and the properties of different kitchen solutes, solvents, and solutions, including colligative properties. Next we examine crystalline versus amorphous structure in solids, usually through an experiment involving rock candy. Finally we examine colloids, beginning with vinaigrette and then mayonnaise. Final projects vary but always involve student-developed experiments on the chemistry of kitchen mixtures.

Media Used: 
Exploratorium -- Science of Cooking (
Sarah Phillips -- Baking 9-1-1 (
Interim Assessments: 

The first lab report functions as the first interim assessment. Depending on the semester, the topic may be solutions or crystalline and amorphous structure in solids. This may be done class-wide, in small groups, or individually.

The final lab report functions as Interim Assessment 4. Each student develops an individual experiment based on background research about a topic related to kitchen colloids. Students present their work to the class and lead a short discussion.

Significant Assignments: 

Research culminating in a literature-inspired experimental question, an introduction presenting relevant background information, and a hypothesis that addresses the literature. (This is assigned at least two different times each semester).

Individual or small-group presentations. These take place at different stages of the process of developing and conducting an experiment. Students are expected to share what they know, identify areas that need more work, and then respond to feedback and suggestions from the class.

Experimental designs. Students must develop procedures for testing specific hypotheses.

Analysis. Students must analyze the results of their experiments. They also critique the experimental design, and suggest possible follow-up investigations.

Sample PBATs: 
How does the amount of brown sugar affect the spread and height of cookies?
How does the amount of egg white affect the rise of angel food cake?
How does changing the order of the ingredients make or break the aioli?
How does the size of salt crystals in brine affect the time it takes to make ice cream with the double-bag method?

Bodies: Anatomy and Physiology

Essex Street Academy

Consortium school

This course will be an introductory anatomy and physiology course for 11th and 12th graders. Students will explore the topic of homeostasis and study the organ systems of the human body such as the digestive, circulatory, respiratory, and nervous systems, and their roles in maintaining homeostasis. In addition to conducting dissections, students will be using the scientific method and their laboratory skills to investigate factors that affect heart rate recovery, reaction time, and the vital capacity of the lungs.

BSCS (Biological Sciences Curriculum Study): Biology, A Human Approach
Holt: Biology
The Human Body Book by Steve Parker
Human by DK Smithsonian Institution

Students will research various body mechanisms and organ systems that contribute to the maintenance of homeostasis, including: enzymes, metabolism, and the organ systems (respiratory, digestive, nervous, and circulatory). Students will also research the diseases that affect these organ systems and how these diseases result in the loss of homeostasis. For their experiments, students will also research various indicators of organ systems that doctors and scientists use, such as pulse, heart recovery rate, lung capacity, and reaction time.

Media Used: 
TeensHealth (
PBS: The Mysterious Human Heart
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (
Osmosis Jones (Homeostasis)
Interim Assessments: 

Design your own lab #1: Factors affecting catalase enzyme reaction rate. After observing catalase reactions (enzymes found in living cells that break down hydrogen peroxide), students will design their own lab to investigate a possible factor that could affect the rate of the catalase reaction.

Design your own lab #2: Exercise and muscle fatigue. Students will study how the circulatory system works to deliver essential materials to the muscles. Then students will design a lab to see the effects of exercise on muscle performance.

Lab #3: The effect of height on lung capacity. Students will practice essential lab skills, such as controlling for variables and representing data on graphs, through this experiment on lung capacity, an indicator of the respiratory system.

Significant Assignments: 

Hospital Triage - role-playing as ER doctors; ranking 7 patients based on vital signs, identification of stressors and disrupted systems, recommendation of treatments that would restore homeostasis to disrupted systems

Constructing a map of the digestive system; creating models of neuron

Tour of the respiratory system from the perspective of an oxygen molecule

Significant Activities or Projects: 

Project: Overview of organ systems. Students will be given a choice of assessments through which they will demonstrate their knowledge of the organ systems. They will choose one of the following: 1) a travel itinerary/guidebook of 3 organ systems; 2) a letter to Superintendent arguing the importance of science classes, learning about the human body, and the relevance of this topic to daily lives; 3) production of fliers for a health clinic about 3 diseases and the organ systems they affect.

Homeostasis Project - in-depth analysis of a stressor/response situation and the feedback mechanism that occurs in the body to produce the response

Frog and Pig Dissections

Field trip to Bodies: The Exhibition

In-class demonstrations of organ systems using models

Sample PBATs: 
The effects of sleep deprivation on reaction time
How does body mass index affect heart rate recovery?
The effects of secondhand smoke on lung capacity
How do different types of music affect visual reaction time?
How does athleticism affect resting pulse rate?


This course is specially designed to meet the needs of high school English Language Learners (ELLs). This is a descriptive and hands-on course that covers physical, organic and biological chemistry. Emphasis is placed on basic chemistry concepts, giving the student a strong background on a variety of topics in order to appreciate the role of science and particularly chemistry in modern-day life.

George I. Sackheim, An Introduction to Chemistry for Biology Students
R. Thomas Myers et al , Holt Chemistry Visualizing Matter
David V. Frank, et al, Chemical Building Blocks
David V. Frank, et al, Chemical Interactions
Glencoe Science Chemistry Matter and Change The Physical Setting
ChemMatters Magazinie
What Einstein Told His Cook

Conduct research about the following topics related to the lab: Solubility, Titration, Calorimetry
Research about Elements
Research about Experiments done by other students

Media Used: 
DVD - Standard Deviants Chemistry Tutorials 1, 2 and 3
Online clips, Videos and Podcasts
Interim Assessments: 

Students write lab reports for the work conducted in this course. They also critique their peers' lab reports.

Writing a Position Paper about Ethanol

Significant Assignments: 

Writing a formal lab reports
Reading "Chemicals in the Kitchen"
Reading " Fat of the Land"
Science Project Proposal
Layered Organic Assignments

Conducting an Oral Defense about the Project
PowerPoint Presentation about the project "Chemistry of What?"

Significant Activities or Projects: 

Conducting an Oral Presentation about "Chemistry of What?"
Designing a Periodic Table of What?
Constructing Models of Organic Compounds

Sample PBATs: 
Experimental inquiries into solubility

Evolution and Genetics

Beacon High School

Consortium school

To discover the history of life on earth: that is, (1) to determine the ancestor-descendant relationships among all species that have ever lived—their phylogeny; (2) to determine the origin of and course of change in their characteristics.

Arms, Karen and Camp, Pamela S. ed. 1995. Biology 4th Edition. New York, Harcourt Brace College Publishers
Begun, David R. July 14, 2003. Planet of the Apes From Scientific American
Boorstin, Daniel, 1983 The Discoverers:A History of Man's Search to Know His World and Himself, New York, Random House Publishing Group.
Bryson, Bill. 2003. A Short History of Nearly Everything. New York, Broadway Books.
Carroll, Sean B. 2005. Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo. New York, W.W. Norton Company
Coyne, Jerry A. Why Evolution is True
Darwin, Charles. 1979 (1859). On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. New York, Random House.
Dawkins, Richard. 2009 The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
Mathez, Edmond A. and Webster, James D. 2004 The Earth Machine: The Science of a Dynamic Planet
Niemark, Jill. Mayy 2011. Meet the New Human Family. Discover magazine
Ridley, Matt. 1999. Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters. New York, HarperCollins Publishers
Weiner, Jonathan. 1995. The Beak of the Finch. New York, Vintage Press.
Zimmer, Carl. 2002. Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea. New York, Harper Collins Publishers.

Research wild origins of domestic breeds; research variation within populations; research populations and community diversity; research species and type distributions; research population growth trends; research methods of classification; research "reading Earth's history"; research themes in scientific thought; research origin and evolution of species, with a focus on primates; research the cell; research the growth of understanding genetics; research the structure and function of DNA; research the genetic basis of classification; research common misconceptions about evolution in the public arena.

Media Used: 
Several DVD and video sources, including, but not limitted to: NOVA Evolution series; Cracking the Code; Origins; Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey
Domestication and variation:
Plant domestication: : list of useful plants from north and south america : paper on the centers of plant domestication : information on the genetic t : native plant uses and sources
Clip on Linne/classification:
New species:
History of Science/evolutionary thought:
On line paleontological study:
Cells to organisms, current article:
Fossils and relative dating:
Primate family tree research:
Hominid profiles/fossils:
Interviews with paleontologists:
DNA basics:
DNA comparisons:
Interim Assessments: 

Students research wild varieties of domestic breeds and create charts showing their geographic origins, native adaptations, and current status of both wild and domestic varieties.

Students group and classify organisms at different hierarchical levels, based on different levels of information and detail. Information regarding fossils and extinct relatives is added in order to mimic the paleontological concepts.

Students research cladistics and primates and create a kinetic art piece of a cladogram of extant primate species. The "artist statement" is used to assess direct content knowledge/interpretation of data.

Students use NCBI blast program to create cladograms of several select organisms and interpret the relation of genetic evidence as it relates to evidence from the fossil record.

Significant Assignments: 

See above. Also: readings on the growth of scientific thought; stratigraphy and rock formations; relative dating and fossils; population growth; embryological development and its importance/misinterpretation; interpreting graphic representation of data; basic vertebrate anatomy; skull modeling; cell microscopy/anatomy; DNA extraction; reading DNA; using NCBI for comparative genomics.

Significant Activities or Projects: 

See above.

Sample PBATs: 
Addressing misconceptions: Eugenics and Darwin
Evolution and society: Rapid Evolution of HIV

Advanced Biology

In this class students build upon what they learned in general biology in order to study advanced concepts. Students study the following:
• Atoms and Molecules
• Cells and Cell Division
• Genetics and DNA
• Reproduction and Meiosis
• History of Earth and Evolution
• Mitochondrial DNA Analysis
• An Introduction to Bacteria
• Genetic Engineering (Genetic Transformation of Bacteria)
• Forensic Science and Gel Electrophoresis
• Neuroscience
• Disease (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbant Assay)

Biology, Glencoe-McGraw Hill, 2010
DNA Science, Cold Spring Harbor Press
Online News Articles from websites such as and

Reading and Research Projects:
- How has the atomic bomb affected people?
- How do macromolecules affect us?
- What are the different type of cells and their affect on the human body?
- How does knowledge of DNA influence our lives?

Individual Research Projects:
- Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution (including Literature Review)
- What is bacterial transformation and its affect on people (including Literature Review)

Media Used: 
Information Gathering: Brainpop, Utah Genetics Animation, Cold Spring Harbor Animation
Films: Mitochondrial Eve, PBS Evolution, Xenotransplantation
Recordings of articles that students listen to
Interim Assessments: 

Experiment Assessments:
- How does temperature affect the rate of molecular movement?
- How do different factors affect yeast respiration?
- Which fruits have more DNA per gram?

Significant Assignments: 

Experiments and lab reports
Science literacy reading (reading articles and constructing opinions)

Significant Activities or Projects: 

Interdisciplinary project (mitochondrial DNA and its connection to history, language, and mathematics)

Sample PBATs: 
Comparing Mitochondrial DNA with Students from Different Countries


Humanities Preparatory Academy

Consortium school

Physics is the study of forces and motion. In this course we will use equations to describe the motion of objects, from the sudden stop of an express A-train to the arc of a home run. We will begin by describing (mathematically and graphically) the motion of objects moving in only one dimension, and then discuss the fundamental concepts of force, energy, and torque.

Conceptual Physics - Paul Hewitt

PBAT Design & Research Guide
For your PBAT experiment, you will make a series of modifications to your race car and measure the effect these modifications have on your race car’s performance. This guide will help you design your experiment and begin to write the first key sections of your PBAT.

In your experiment, you can either measure the effect of one modification, or compare the effect of two different modifications. The following are some examples of possible modifications:
Increase / decrease mass
Change length of lever arm
Increase / decrease wheel size
Increase traction on wheels
Move location of mousetrap
Change wheel design
Change wheel mass
Change wheel to axle ratio

You can choose from any the modifications listed above, or another modification you propose. Your modification must be incremental (you can gradually increase the modification) and reversible (you can undo the modification). For example, if you modify the length of the lever arm, you must perform tests using a series of different lengths, and you must be able to go back to your original length. All modifications must be approved by Paul.

Research & Hypothesis:
The research section of your paper will serve two functions. First, you will describe how your unmodified racecar (your Control) works, including any relevant physics. You will then describe the physics concepts behind your modification(s). The concepts will depend on your chosen modification(s), but will likely include: Newton’s Laws, rotational motion, torque, friction, etc. Once you have chosen your modifications, you should read the relevant chapters in the textbook. Your research section should be ~2 pages in length.
After you have presented your research, you will present your hypothesis. Your hypothesis will be a specific prediction about the outcome of your experiment that is grounded in your research. Your prediction must be specific as possible so that you can determine the accuracy of your data. Your research should give you some idea of how great the effect of your modification will be --you may not simply say that your car will go faster or farther, your prediction must be quantitative. Example: Because of the relationship between wheel diameter and velocity, we predict that, by doubling the radius of the drive wheels, the final velocity of the car will double.

Your procedure should be a detailed description of how you will perform the experiment. You must identify the controls and variables and describe the significance of each. You must also include a complete step-by-step set of instructions for performing your experiment, describing how you collect data for each trial. What quantities will you measure? How many data points will you take? How many trials will you run? You must also identify potential sources of error and describe how your procedure will minimize the effect of these errors.
Rule of thumb: Someone outside of your group should be able to repeat your experiment using your procedure and get similar results. This means that your procedure should contain all the relevant instructions and details needed to successfully perform your experiment.
Your procedure should be ~2 pages in length.

Data Collection:
For this proposal you should include the data table you plan on using for your experiment. Although you will not need to include a blank data table in your final PBAT, this will help you as you write your procedure.

Media Used:
Significant Assignments: 

Students must submit a proposal for the experiment they wish to perform using their race-car.

Sample PBATs: 
How does the length of the mousetrap lever-arm affect the acceleration of the race car?
How does the traction of the wheels affect the speed of the race car?
How does the size of the axle affect the speed of the race car?
What is the relationship between the mass of the drive wheels and the final speed of the race car?

Paleontology: Death, Destruction and Dinosaurs

In this course students develop a strong foundation in the skills and background knowledge needed to participate in paleontological research. Topics include the formation of sedimentary rocks, erosion and deposition, identification of paleoenvironments using the rock record and fossil identification and formation. Finally, students learn the skill of fossil cleaning and preparation using authentic 150 million year old dinosaur fossils.

Exline, Joseph D. Earth's Changing Surface. Needham, MA: Prentice Hall, 2000. Print.
Springer, Dale A., and Judith G. Scotchmoor. "Unearthing the Past." Dinosaurs: the Science behind the Stories. Ed. Judith G. Scotchmoor, Dale SA Springer, Brent H. Breithaupt, and Anthony R. Fiorello. Alexandria, VA: American Geological Institute, 2002. 3-6. Print.
Parker, Steve, and Raymond Louis Bernor. The Practical Paleontologist. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990. Print.
Selden, Paul, and John R. Nudds. Evolution of Fossil Ecosystems. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2004. Print.
Walker, Cyril Alexander., David J. Ward, and Colin Keates. Fossils. New York: DK, 2002. Print.

Students learn and study sedimentary rock identification, principles of sedimentology, fossil identification and formation, paleogeography, dinosaur habitats and habits, mass extinctions, and current climate in Wyoming (where the fossil was quarried).

Media Used: 
All web resources are listed and linked on our class webpage.
Interim Assessments: 

Using authentic, 150-million year old dinosaur fossils, students are required to determine the kind of environment the bone was deposited and then compare that environment to the environment where the bone was quarried. This task is accomplished through the systematic observation and testing of the size and characteristic properties of the matrix rock surrounding the fossil. Students make inferences about the paleoenvironment of the fossil deposition and compare this with the environment of the fossil quarry. In addition to their research on the fossils, students clean, repair and restore the fossils as a service to the organization that has allowed us to use the materials.

An honors extension of this class is participation in a non-fiction literature circle that uses the book "Under a Green Sky" to focus on the "Big Five" mass extinctions in Earth's history and understanding the leading hypotheses about the causes of each.

Significant Assignments: 

All classwork and labs are included in the three class journals. These labs include a rock identification lab, river flow model lab, fossil identification lab, a series of labs concerning foraminifera, and finally a lab creating a to-scale model of geologic time.

Sample PBATs: 
In what environment was this dinosaur bone deposited and how does this environment compare to the environment where the dinosaur bone was quarried?
Are the Morrison Formation's sediments biogenic or abiogenic?
How can fossils be used to determine how environments have changed over time?

Science of DaVinci

Leonardo Da Vinci exemplified the Renaissance Man. He was an "anatomist, botanist, geometer, physicist, architect, mechanical engineer, hydraulic engineer, civil engineer and even aeronautical engineer. Oh, and he also painted a little. Much of his success was due to his incredible skills of observation and his devotion to collecting and analyzing data. In a time when many scientists tried to "see" what they had been told was true, he found truth in what he actually saw.

Excerpts from Gelb, M. (2000) How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci Bantam Books
Excerpts from Anderson, M. (2006) Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions You Can Build Yourself. Nomad Press
Excerpts from MacCurdy, E. (ed) (2003) The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci. Konecky, William S. Associates, Inc.
Excerpts from Zitzewitz, P (2001) Physics : Principles and Problems. McGraw-Hill

The students study force and drag created by air resistance in order to make predictions about the fall of the parachutes. We go on to look at floating and buoyancy. For the final project, the topics covered vary. Students have looked at people's responses to rectangles drawn using the golden ratio, how blue shading affects the perception of depth, the effect of shape on acoustics, mirror-writing and mirror-reading, as well as more motion-based topics involving trebuchets and crossbows.

Media Used: 
DVD - Genius - Leonardo Da Vinci
Nasa - Shape Effects on Drag (
Interim Assessments: 

The first lab report fills the requirements of the first interim assessment. Students make predictions about how the size and shape of a parachute would affect the speed of its fall. The whole class has to then agree on a method of dropping the parachutes and collecting data. Each student has to analyze the class data and write his/her own report.

The third lab report fulfills the requirements for Interim Assessment 4. Each student develops an individual experiment based on background research about a topic suggested by Leonardo's work. Students are required to perform a descriptive statistical analysis of their data using a standard deviation. Each student has to present his or her work to the class and lead a short discussion of the work.

Significant Assignments: 

Three laboratory reports. The experiments all come from a subject suggested by Leonardo's work. The first on a full-class parachute project. The second on a small-group assignment on the development of, science behind, and testing of water shoes. The third laboratory report based on an individual project of the student's choosing.

Sample PBATs: 
How does the ratio between the sides of a parachute with a rectangular profile affect the time and drift of its fall?
How does the level of blue in an image affect the perception of depth?
How does the type of scoop affect a trebuchet?
How does the stopping point of the arm affect a trebuchet?
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