Our dedicated science faculty brings a range of experiences to the department including scientific and educational research, professional publications, and collective years of teaching experience totaling more than five decades. The science educators pride themselves on not only being inspiring teachers but also passionate scientists with the desire to nurture the natural sense of inquiry in all students.
In keeping with the RHP mission, our hands-on, experiential approach is closely aligned with the four pillars. To support our students' development of Sound Character, all science courses incorporate many collaborative activities which not only foster an appreciation of differences, but build the ability to work effectively as part of a team. Our program nurtures the development of independent and creative problem solvers through scientific inquiry. Building a strong foundation in the principles of science provides the knowledge all individuals need to be informed, active, and socially responsible global citizens.
Through the study of physics, chemistry, biology, and anatomy, students learn critical principles to understand the development and maintenance of Healthy Bodies. In physics, for example, students model the impact of a crash on the skull such as could be experienced in a bicycling accident and then actively demonstrate the protection provided by wearing a helmet. In chemistry, students learn about normal chemical interactions within their bodies and the detrimental influence of other chemicals. Biology and anatomy naturally lend themselves to the study and appreciation of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
One of the beauties of an RHP education is the ability to be creative. This is strongly emphasized in the sciences as students are offered multiple avenues through which to develop their Creative Spirit. Assimilating scientific concepts and building scientific awareness entails hands-on labs, active research, and reading, listening, and engaging in conversations about science. Our students are encouraged to express their ideas and beliefs in ways that support their individual learning styles.
A cornerstone to science education is the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills. These are the foundation of Disciplined Minds. Labs and hands-on investigations support these skills as well as building inquiry and research skills. Through scientific dialogue, our students develop comprehension, analytical reasoning, and the synthesis of new knowledge.
Middle School Science
Middle school children are naturally inquisitive and come to school with a desire to learn. Our science program is designed to grow that desire by giving these students new tools and perspectives with which to frame their questions about the world around them. Classroom learning is active and engaging. Campus based experiences are fully supported with field trips including the annual Outdoor Education trips which integrate topics particular to each grade level through the experience. For example, the 6th grade trip to Catalina provides authentic interactions with the marine biology introduced in class. The 6th grade curriculum starts with the broad view of a study of our solar system then gradually narrows the focus to life on Earth with a concluding introduction of human anatomy. The 7th grade trip to science camp incorporates both the principles of physics studied in the classroom as well as an overview of life sciences. The 8th grade trip down the Colorado River is a great way to support concepts of hydrology and the very real concern of increasing water shortages in our part of the country.
Upper School Science
At RHP, we have a "Physics First" curriculum. By offering Conceptual Physics to all 9th graders, we are providing the intellectual foundation students will need for their subsequent studies in chemistry, biology, and more advanced physics. Students begin their high school career by developing an understanding of foundational physics concepts in the context of investigating real world phenomena. The final engineering project in physics requires students to apply the principles they have studied throughout the year in solving a challenge within the context of buoyancy.
Our 10th grade curriculum encompasses the study of chemistry with the option of taking an honors level chemistry for those students who are qualified. This lab based course studies chemistry from the level of subatomic particles to chemical reactions. Students develop many of the principles of physics they have learned in the study of the behavior of gases, nuclear reactions, energy, and molecular interactions. Honors chemistry takes a more quantitative approach to these topics and involves more data collection and analysis in order to support or reject scientific hypotheses.
In their junior year, students traditionally take biology or honors biology. Biology is centered on the study of life but heavily built upon a foundation of both physics and chemistry. Concepts in this course emphasize the importance of both physical and chemical principles to the study of life. At the 11th and 12th grade level, some students may choose to take one of our offerings of AP courses which include AP Physics, AP Biology, and AP Chemistry. These courses are fully approved by the College Board and meet the requirements to prepare participating students for the appropriate AP exam.
Electives available in the 12th grade are Honors Anatomy and Physiology or Robotics. The lab-based anatomy and physiology course explores the systems that support our bodies from both a structural and functional approach. As a senior level course, many of the topics are taught from a research perspective and ongoing collaboration on projects is encouraged through the use of Internet based work-spaces.
Physics Applications, Robotics has become an annual tradition. In 2009, nearly half of the senior class participated in the FIRST competition held at the Long Beach Arena. This year's environmentally friendly robot was built largely of bamboo, a sustainable resource. The RHP team competed against 70 schools from across the globe, made the quarter finals, and came in 15th overall. It was a crowning success for nearly a year of hard work.
Our graduates leave RHP with a comprehensive background in the major sciences and are fully prepared for new challenges as they progress in their educations and careers. The science program is not specifically designed to produce scientists, but rather it strives to produce scientifically literate thinkers.
For a small school, we are fortunate to have such a talented and creative team within the science department. These teachers are able to offer a truly challenging and thoroughly engaging program at the college-prep level and the students love it.
Science Department Chair