The CHRHS Science Department believes that our program of course offerings and instructional approaches encourages students of all abilities and interests to take as many science courses as possible. Science courses are designed to instill an appreciation for the world around us and its interconnectedness. Students are encouraged to discover how science is relevant to their own lives, career aspirations are sparked, and individual growth and responsibility are fostered.
Science is both a body of knowledge and a set of processes by which new knowledge is gained and evaluated. Delivering scientific knowledge effectively requires using a variety of instructional approaches. Inquiry plays a central but non-exclusive role among those approaches, especially in developing the essential skills of critical thinking, problem-solving, and scientific creativity. Inquiry also provides opportunities for learning science by doing science: designing questions, collecting and analyzing data, using appropriate technology, and communicating effectively.
Meeting the needs and interests of a diverse population of students requires diversity both within and among our course offerings. We believe that teachers, like students, are diverse and that diversity plays an important role in curriculum, instruction and grouping. Teachers who teach to their individual strengths and share their personal scientific passions engender a love of science and of learning within their students. Sections of the same course taught by different personnel and/or to different students must provide the same core content but will vary slightly to reflect the needs, abilities and interests of all participants.
The Science Department consists of nine full time teachers, one of whom also serves as department head. The staff has a broad range of educational and work backgrounds, holding bachelors degrees in biology, chemistry, forestry management, health/physical education, environmental science, and secondary science, and masters degrees in chemistry, secondary science education, gifted & talented education, educational leadership, teaching and learning, exercise physiology, and marine biology resources. Three teachers are National Board Certified, and three have won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Secondary Science. This diversity of knowledge and skills is combined with a strong tradition of blending teacher independence and cooperation, focused on commitment to students. The result is a deep, flexible foundation for building a variety of courses to meet the needs and interests of students and the communities where they will live and work.
CHRHS requires a minimum of three credits in science for high school graduation (1.0 in Earth/ Space Science, 1.0 in Life Science, 0.5 in Chemistry & 0.5 in Physics), and strongly recommends a minimum of two lab courses for students entering four year colleges or universities. [Note that “lab” courses are worth 1.5 credits and meet for 300 minutes/week, rather than the 200 min/week of 1.0 credit courses.]
The Science Department offers both leveled and unleveled (heterogeneous) classes. Core courses in earth/space science, life science, chemistry, and physics are leveled to allow all students to be appropriately challenged and supported. Students often move between levels over their four years, guided by prerequisites and science teacher approval with the advise of counselors, special education teachers and parents. The department also offers unleveled semester long electives, which mix together students of all abilities to study specific topics. The department offers two intensive field-based research courses: Advanced marinee Ecology located in Down East Maine and Tropical Marine Ecology in Cape Eleuthra, Bahamas. The department offers three AP courses: AP Biology, AP Environmental Science and AP Physics C: Mechanics. Students may also get science department credit for two MSCT courses: Medical Science (as an elective) and Principles of Engineering (physics).
The Science Department facilities include nine lab-classrooms. Eight of the labs are paired together with shared prep rooms; the ninth has its own prep room. Three lab-classrooms have additional attached spaces for project-based learning and long-term student investigations. Outside, there is a 600 sq. foot greenhouse, school garden, orchard and an outdoor classroom (dedicated to a former teacher) open to all classes in the school. Classes also make use of outdoor spaces on the grounds short distances from the school. The science department took the lead on reducing CHRHS' carbon footprint by installing large scale renewable energy projects including a 100 kW wind turbine, a 150 kW solar array, and on-site composting.
The science department is committed to building upon students’ understanding of science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and cross-cutting concepts from earlier grades, as defined by Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). We fully support and are working towards implementation of NGSS and relevant Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics, with emphasis on the following:
•Students will achieve basic scientific literacy, comprised of scientific knowledge (life, physical, earth/space and engineering disciplinary core ideas), critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and creativity.
•Students will integrate science into their knowledge base: this involves understanding the cross-cutting concepts within the sciences and with other disciplines.
•Students will demonstrate the ability to ask scientific questions and define engineering problems.
•Students will demonstrate the ability to generate and test new knowledge and models through experimentation, analysis of data, and scientific argumentation.
•Students will demonstrate the ability to locate information, validate it, and incorporate it into what they already know.
•Students will demonstrate the ability to communicate their knowledge effectively, using appropriate technology and models.
•Students will graduate with a science and engineering foundation necessary for college, career, and citizenship.
In the modern changing world all people need basic knowledge of core scientific concepts in order to be informed and engaged citizens, employees and consumers. Knowledge of scientific processes is important if students are to handle change and be flexible self-directed life-long learners. The skills of critical thinking, problem-solving and scientific creativity will guide students in evaluating and incorporating the impact of new science and technology within their personal lives and their communities.
Scientific knowledge and skills offer other benefits to students. Our course offerings purposefully integrate content and skills from other disciplines, helping students improve their competencies in those disciplines. Studying the variety in the natural world helps foster an appreciation for diversity in all aspects of students’ lives. Finally, our program provides students with the foundation for post-secondary readiness in whatever field of endeavor they wish to pursue.