Science Courses

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Due to the block scheduling (80 minute classes from Tues-Fri), science classes have ample time to conduct experiments.

The Randolph-Macon Academy Science Department strives to help students:
1. to appreciate the process of scientific inquiry and the scientific enterprise,
2. to understand the common themes and basic rules governing all matter, nonliving and living, and
3. to develop scientific habits through practice with observation, critical thinking, problem solving, laboratory experience, and scientific writing.

Biology 

This course covers the major content standards for biology courses outlined by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  Topics include ecology, the cell, photosynthesis and heredity.  Along with traditional scientific pursuits of data gathering, graphing skills, and study skills, students will examine a variety of methods of food production on campus and in the region.  From growing microgreens to building hydroponic systems, students will test hypotheses, run trials, and design experiments to discover new ways to grow sustainable, healthy food for communities.

Chemistry

Chemistry is a lab based physical science course. It includes the use of algebraic concepts to interpret and explain the many phenomena that occur between matter and energy in the physical world. Students in this course learn the basic principles of general chemistry and acquire a solid background in stoichiometry, gas laws, chemical bonding, theorem chemistry, kinetics, and equilibrium.  Additional goals of this course are to develop critical thinking and reading skills, provide an environment in which logical problem-solving skills may be nurtured, and to provide each student with the background necessary to be successful in future physical science based coursework. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Algebra I with minimum grade of B.

Honors Chemistry

Chemistry is a lab based physical science course. It includes the use of algebraic concepts to interpret and explain the many phenomena that occur between matter and energy in the physical world. Students in this course learn the basic principles of general chemistry and acquire a solid background in stoichiometry, gas laws, chemical bonding, theorem chemistry, kinetics, and equilibrium.  Additional goals of this course are to develop critical thinking and reading skills, provide an environment in which logical problem-solving skills may be nurtured, and to provide each student with the background necessary to be successful in future physical science based coursework. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Algebra I with minimum grade of A and successful completion of Biology with minimum grade of B.

Physics in Astronomy

This course provides an engaging introduction to Astronomy by exploring those essential Physics concepts as the basis of the principles which are displayed throughout the universe. A variety of basic Physics concepts are first investigated and then associated to appropriate topics of our solar system, the stars, and galaxies.  These specific topics will both illustrate and explain the foundational concepts in Physics.  The students will understand the processes of science discovery as they learn the key concepts of Physics and apply them to many different levels of astronomy study. Prerequisites: Successful completion of Geometry, Algebra II (or co-enrolled with teacher approval), and Chemistry, with minimum grade of C in each.

Upper School science classes at Randolph-Macon Academy, private boarding school located in Front Royal, Virginia.

Honors Physics

This upper-level course presents a mathematical analysis of the major concepts of classical physics as well as an introduction to some of the more modern aspects of physics.  Students examine topics such as mechanics, fluid and thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, and nuclear physics.  Lab work is designed to complement lectures, group work, and in class problem sessions.  Prerequisites: Successful completion of Geometry, Algebra II, and Chemistry with a grade of A or B with teacher approval in each.

Honors Anatomy and Physiology 

This is an Honors-level course designed for students who are interested in exploring a career in medicine, health, or athletics.  This course develops an appreciation of how the human body is organized and how it is parts function together. Through readings, lectures, demonstrations, labs, and dissections, we will survey the body’s systems and relate them to medicine, health, and athletics. Prerequisite: Completion of Biology and Chemistry with grade of A or a grade of B with teacher approval.

Advanced Placement Biology

This AP Biology course is the equivalent of a solid one-year introductory college course for biology majors at a university. The course is structured around the enduring understandings within the big ideas as described in the AP® Biology Curriculum Framework. To achieve the goal of teaching a modern biology college course, this course leans toward a more biochemical understanding of biology. This approach recognizes that life is driven by molecules, whose physical shapes and characteristics allow them to interact according to the laws of physics and chemistry. This course will be divided into 12 units that will examine nature’s solutions to essential questions that we have about living things. You will see four Big Ideas permeating the course: 

  1. The process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life.
  2. Biological systems utilize free energy and molecular building blocks to grow, to reproduce, and to maintain dynamic homeostasis. 
  3. Living systems store, retrieve, transmit, and respond to information essential to life processes. 
  4. Biological systems interact and these systems and their interactions possess complex properties. 

(This course will be available for school year 2020-2021.) Prerequisite: Completion of Biology and Chemistry with grade of A or a grade of B with teacher approval.

Advanced Placement Chemistry (dual-enrolled as Chemistry 111 with Lord Fairfax Community College)
This course is designed to challenge more advanced students and is taught at an accelerated pace.  The AP chemistry course presents a rigorous treatment of the following concepts:  nature of matter, gas laws, thermodynamics, chemical equilibria, performing laboratory investigations, communicating laboratory findings, and describing the structure of matter and its behavior.  A strong math background in which the student has acquired competence in formula writing and solving equations is essential for success. Prerequisites: Completion of Biology, Chemistry and Algebra II with grade of A or a grade of B with teacher approval.

A successful science project gives a sense of accomplishment, but students learn from failure too. At Randolph-Macon Academy, students are encouraged to think creatively and try new approaches to solve problems.

Advanced Placement Physics Mechanics: C
This class presumes at least an introductory background in physics and is equivalent to a advanced college level calculus based mechanics class. Students examine the standard topics in a mechanics curriculum from the basic kinematics equations through gravitation and rotational dynamics in much greater depth and with the application of the tools of calculus.  Class time will be split among a combination of lectures, interactive demonstrations, problem-solving sessions and group work, and laboratory experiments. Students are expected to spend a significant amount of time outside of class on the course material. Prerequisites: Completion of Physics and Pre-Calculus or equivalent with grade of A, or a grade of B with teacher approval. In addition to this, the student must have either already completed or be currently enrolled in Advanced Placement Calculus.

Advanced Placement Environmental Science (dual-enrolled as Environmental Science 121 with Lord Fairfax Community College)

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 human-made, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving or preventing them. This is a junior/senior level course.  Students also apply their content knowledge and critical thinking to environmental and social concerns.   Students spend a minimum of 25 percent of instructional time engaged in hands-on laboratory work. Prerequisite: Completion of Biology and Chemistry with grade of A or a grade of B with teacher approval.

Geospatial Information Systems (dual-enrolled as GEOG 161 with James Madison University)

Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) teaches the foundational concepts of spatial integration and analysis of geographic information.  It involves a computer-based processing of data, both spatial and geographical, for the purpose of understanding concepts, presenting information, and recommending action on a specific topic of interest.  This is accomplished through learning a broad range of tools and techniques in processing data, to include capturing, storing, manipulating, analyzing, managing, and displaying information that effectively crosses academic boundaries.  The computer software used is ESRI ArcGIS, which is the industry gold standard, making these GIS skills inherently transferable, being utilized in an increasingly broad array of fields and professions in industry.  Individual interests are encouraged as the selection of your GIS projects and are typically associated with current events, personal interest, and school or community focus.  Project presentations allow students to build communication skills and introduce mixed topics of interests to all classmates. Co-requisite: Sudents must be currently enrolled in an Algebra II or higher math course.

Computer Science

This course will introduce students to the field of computer science, the fundamentals of computer programming, and robotics. The course will cover basic object-oriented programming using Java: a high-level, portable, and well-constructed computer programming language. Computer science builds logical problem-solving skills, collaboration, and an understanding of the ever-changing technological world. Computer science also encompasses more than just programing, therefore students will have multiple opportunities to explore hardware, software, and networks through robotics. VEX IQ robotics will build collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity by building teams of students to with design and build a robot to compete with other teams in a game-based engineering challenge. Juniors and Seniors receive priority enrolling.

One year of computer science is a requirement for graduation from R-MA, a military boarding school in Front Royal, VA.