Science

OA graduation: 2 years; UC 2 years lab science

Our goal is for each student to gain a working knowledge of the sciences and to be prepared to eventually take more advanced college-level science courses. We also take advantage of the San Francisco Bay Area’s museums, laboratories, and natural resources to provide our students with outstanding, and in many cases, unparalleled learning experiences.

Orinda Academy’s science program offers the following sequence of classes in the physical and life sciences:

Physical Science (8th)

The 8th grade physical science course is designed to give students the necessary skills for a smooth transition from elementary physical science standards to high school physical science standards. The focus for this 8th grade science course is to provide students with inquiry-based experiences that develop science concepts that will be useful for the rest of their academic career. The purpose is to give all students an overview of common strands in physical science including, but not limited to, the nature of matter, laws of energy, matter, motion and forces, and energy transformations.

Labs/Field Trips

  • SEAPUP/Lab Aides hands-on labs on molecules, chemistry, water pollution and purification, waves, forces, and energy
  • Trip to water treatment center in Contra Costa County
  • Water quality testing in the watershed

Environmental Science (9th grade)

Environmental Science introduces fundamental ecological concepts and explores the interactions within ecosystems. Students learn about the biosphere, major biomes, ecosystems, chemical cycles, and the role of living things in ecosystems. In addition to learning about environmental problems such as pollution, overpopulation, and habitat destruction, students explore practical alternatives for protecting the environment and moving toward a sustainable future.

Labs/Field Trips

  • Ongoing field work with EBMUD, doing seasonal creek restoration
  • Whale watching trip
  • Build your own country (joint project with Geography)
  • Solar Power lab

Biology (10th grade)

Biology is devoted to the study of living things and their processes. Throughout the year this course provides opportunity for students to develop scientific process skills, laboratory techniques, and an understanding of the fundamental principles of living organisms. Students will explore biological science as a process, cell structure and function, genetics and heredity, evolution and classification, diversity of living organisms and their ecological roles, and the body systems of the human being.

Labs/Field Trips

  • Constructing cell models
  • Modeling cell division
  • Heredity lab: Mendel’s work and Making “Babies” Lab
  • Constructing hand models and contest
  • Indiana Jones and the lost skeleton
  • Cancer diagnosis lab
  • Meet a doctor
  • Botany study.. Can you grow a plant from seed?
  • Chuckie D (Darwin) and his Mockingbirds and finches

Chemistry (11th grade)

This goal of this course is to cultivate students’ ability to reason scientifically and engage in scientific inquiry within the content field of chemistry. Chemistry studies the nature of matter and its interaction with energy, but emphasis is placed on logical reasoning and communication of ideas in this class. Our work is comprised of class discussions, small group collaborations, laboratories (“wet” and simulated) and projects. We strive to not only know what the scientists know, but also think like scientists and engineers for ourselves.

Topcs covered:

  • Quarter 1: Scientific method; structure and properties of matter
  • Quarter 2: Bonding, stoichiometry and gases
  • Quarter 3: Chemical Reactions and energy
  • Quarter 4: Acid base chemistry and other topics

Physics (12th grade)

This goal of this course is to cultivate students’ ability to reason scientifically and engage in scientific inquiry within the content field of physics. Physics studies matter and motion, but emphasis is placed on logical reasoning and communication of scientific ideas in this class. Our work is comprised of class discussions, small group collaborative activities, laboratories (hands-on and simulated) and projects. We strive to not only know what the scientists know, but also think like scientists and engineers for ourselves.

Topics covered:

  • Quarter 1: Science of physics; motion and stability; forces and interactions
  • Quarter 2: Energy and work; momentum and collisions; rotation and gravity
  • Quarter 3: Waves and their application; EM radiation; subatomic physics
  • Quarter 4: Electricity and magnetism
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