Cate Hibbitt, Department Head

A graduate of Lincoln School is expected to have a strong background in the major branches of science: Physics, Chemistry, and Biology, as well as the ability to use technology effectively. The courses offered place a special emphasis on logical reasoning, problem-solving, and critical thinking, as well as laboratory competency.

Please Note: Students considering pursuing Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, or Physics at the college level should speak to the chair of the Science Department and the director of College Counseling about course sequence.

Physics/Physics Honors

Yearlong—Required in Grade 9

The Physics First program helps students build a strong foundation for their scientific career at Lincoln School and beyond. In this course, students examine how matter behaves and interacts with its surroundings, answering such questions as “how do objects move?” and “how does electricity work?” The topics covered in the course are applicable to, and directly evident in, everyday life: motion, energy, momentum, electricity and magnetism, sound, and optics. Students will investigate these topics through project-based units that will include laboratory experiments, demonstrations, independent design challenges, interactive computer simulations, and discussions involving applicable current events. Throughout the course, students will enhance their algebra, problem solving, and scientific reasoning skills. The concepts and skills learned in this course lay the critical groundwork for applications in future science courses. Honors Physics will move at a faster pace and will also have a greater emphasis on the quantitative nature of physics. Prerequisite: none; recommendation of the department is necessary for Honors

Chemistry/ Chemistry Honors

Yearlong—Required in Grade 10

The study of Chemistry allows us to understand the nature of matter on both observable and atomic levels. Through labs, lectures, projects, and class discussions we explore the conceptual and mathematical components of atomic interactions. These basic theories are then applied in a quantitative examination of thermochemistry, equilibrium, introductory kinetics, solutions, acid-base chemistry, and electrochemistry. Through the course of the year students come to understand how atomic interactions lead to observable phenomena while developing their laboratory, critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Honors Chemistry will move at a faster pace and go into equilibrium, acids and bases and electrochemistry in more detail. This course will also have a great emphasis on the quantitative nature of chemistry.

Prerequisite: none; recommendation of the department is necessary for Honors


Yearlong—Required in Grade 11 or 12

Understanding Biology unlocks the wonders of life on earth ranging from the delicate intricacies of genetic coding to the enormous powers of environmental interactions. In this course we will examine cell structure, function and reproduction, biological energy requirements, genetics, the five kingdoms of life, evolution, and the ecological interactions between living organisms and nonliving factors. As students explore these biological principles, emphasis is placed on developing laboratory skills and the scientific thought process. Topics will be investigated through the use of laboratory experiments, case studies, activities, discussion, and current events.

Advanced Biology

Yearlong—Open to Grades 11 and 12

This course may be taken as an alternative to Grade 11 Biology, or as an elective second-year biology course. This class offers an advanced, intensive examination of the structures and functions of living organisms, with emphasis on evolution and diversity, biological energetics, biological transmission of information, and interactions of biological systems. Concepts are addressed through laboratory, lecture, reading, problem-based case studies, projects, and discussion. Emphasis is placed on integration of biological principles with significant independent work and student-directed experimental design. Students taking this course should expect a preparatory summer assignment and should be ready for significant independent work throughout the school year.

Prerequisite: successful completion of Physics and Chemistry, with the recommendation of the department

Advanced Physics: Physical Applications of Calculus

Yearlong—Open to Grades 11 and 12

Physical applications of calculus will cover the key topics in college-level mechanics courses, with an added emphasis on how calculus can be used to analyze and understand physics. Key mechanics material will include kinematics, Newton’s laws, momentum, energy, and rotational dynamics. Beyond this standard material, the course will review calculus techniques as they apply to physics, including derivatives, integrals, vectors, and optimization problems. Occasionally, we will draw connections between calculus and areas of physics outside mechanics, such as relativity, optics, and waves. Students taking this course should expect a preparatory summer assignment and should be ready for significant independent work throughout the school year.

Prerequisite: successful completion of Grade 9 Physics and Introductory Calculus with the recommendation of the department

Advanced Chemistry

Yearlong—Open to Grades 11 and 12

Advanced Chemistry is a quantitative chemistry course covering topics typically covered in second year high school chemistry. The course will be an in-depth exploration of reaction and solubility equilibria, acids and bases, thermodynamics, reaction kinetics, electrochemistry, nuclear chemistry, and organic chemistry. Emphasis will be placed on learning complex chemical concepts through work in the lab, application, mathematical analysis, projects, and independent research. Students taking this course should expect a preparatory summer assignment and should be ready for significant independent work throughout the school year.

Prerequisite: successful completion of Physics and Chemistry, strong foundation in algebra, with the recommendation of the department

Comparative Anatomy and Physiology

Fall Semester—Open to Grades 10–12

This upper level elective explores mammalian anatomy (structure) and physiology (function). Study of the human body will be emphasized along with the examination of comparative vertebrate structure and function as a reflection of evolutionary adaptation. We will study body systems in health and disease through lecture, projects, dissections, “you are the doctor” case studies, and other activities.

Prerequisite: none

Introduction to Science Writing

Spring Semester—Open to Grades 10–12

The phenomena of science have profound influences on the human experience. Whether you are a lab scientist, a reporter, a politician, or a poet, you will be reading and understanding science as part of experiencing, interpreting, and making thoughtful decisions in this complex world. This course focuses on reading and writing in the sciences, including formal writing (such as journal articles and posters), news journalism (both print and electronic), nonfiction essays, biography, and others. Students will have numerous opportunities to conceive, draft, revise, critique, and complete writing projects tailored to various audiences, as well as to read a wide variety of work by published authors.

Prerequisite: none

Marine Science: Field Ecology

Fall Semester—Open to Grades 10–12

Enrollment maximum 14 students

Rhode Island, the “Ocean State,” contains marine ecosystems ranging from brackish rivers to salt marshes, rocky intertidal zones, beaches, bays, and open ocean. In this course we will use field techniques and tools such as: using plankton nets and quadrants, assessing water quality, measuring beach profiles, and core sampling. These skills will then be used in multiple field trips to local marine ecosystems around our state to collect data. Students will complete labs and projects using the data collected as well as comparing the physical, chemical, geological, and ecological aspects of these different ecosystems.

Prerequisite: none

Marine Science: Marine Biology

Spring Semester—Open to Grades 10–12

This semester class provides a comparative examination of the evolution, morphology, physiology, and natural history of biology of the marine environment. The underlying themes of the class are the behavioral and functional adaptations of organisms that allow for survival in marine habitats. Specific topics will include: marine plants, invertebrates, fishes, and marine reptiles, birds, and mammals. Students will also be introduced to the natural and human-induced challenges imposed on these organisms.

Prerequisite: none

Environmental Science: Ecology, Sustainability, and the Future

Fall Semester—Open to Grades 10–12

The population of the Earth is nearing its carrying capacity. As human population increases, the present and future uses of our natural resources have become incredibly important topics. This course provides students with a thorough understanding of ecological principles, biodiversity, human resources and consumption, agricultural practices, industrialization and economic development, energy use, conservation, and the ethical questions that surround these topics. Topics will be investigated through the use of laboratory experiments, case studies, activities, discussion, and current events.

Prerequisite: none

Environmental Science: Climatology (Semester II)

Spring Semester—Open to Grades 10–12

Temperature records are broken constantly and storms are becoming more frequent and stronger. Global climate change is a pressing topic in today’s conversations; but what does this mean and why is it happening? In this course, we will learn about Earth’s general climate and why it allows for life, while also focusing in on some more localized climates. Students will study the global climate record, learn how scientists study, and analyze change throughout Earth’s history. Natural and anthropogenic climatic effects will be researched. Weather and changes in both local and global weather patterns will be explored. The course will be project-based, focusing on research methods, data analysis, and drawing conclusions from available data.

Prerequisite: none

Further Topics in Physics: Waves, Sound, and Light

Fall SemesterOpen to Grades 10–12

What is light, where does it come from, and how does it tell us the universe is expanding? Understanding waves lets us answer questions such as these. This course builds off of Grade 9 physics allowing students develop a more comprehensive understanding of diverse topics in physics. Familiarity with algebra, geometry, and trigonometry (but not calculus) will be necessary for exploring these topics. By the end of the course, students will appreciate the ubiquity of waves in nature, and will understand how fundamental wave properties give rise to many of the complex phenomena in science.

Prerequisite: Physics

Corequisite: Algebra 2

Physics of Machines

Spring Semester—Open to Grades 10–12

From laptops to levers: this course is about how things work. We will explore the physics principles that lie behind the workings of devices in modern life. The course will be lab- and activity-based, but will also require solving concrete problems using algebra-based math. Each unit will focus on understanding a different machine or device, including both hands-on experiments and discussions about the underlying physics. By the end of the course, students should be able to answer questions like: “Describe what happens when you take a picture with your phone and text it to a friend.”

Prerequisite: Physics

The Art of Scientific Experimentation: Research Techniques

Fall Semester—Open to Grades 11 and 12

This course will encourage real-world scientific inquiry by allowing students to find a general topic that interests them within the sciences, choose a specific focus, and develop a hypothesis that will be tested and analyzed throughout the course. Students will learn how to conduct scientific research and develop a sound hypothesis and experimental setup. Students will also learn the benefits of negative data and understand data that does not agree with the hypothesis can also lead to important scientific discovery. They will optimize/refine their ideas and techniques by collaborating with classmates, giving small informal presentations, acquiring the necessary data, and analyzing the data using basic statistics. They will prepare to communicate their findings with a comprehensive final paper and culminating capstone presentation to the Lincoln community.

Prerequisite: none

Philosophy of Science

Spring Semester—Open to Grades 11 and 12

Can science answer every question? If not, where do its limitations begin, and why? This course is about the relationship between science and philosophy, probing into questions about how science can and can’t answer the universe’s deepest mysteries. The course will be reading and writing based, focused more on discussions than on math. By the end of the course, students will have tackled some of the hardest questions imaginable: What does it mean for something to be “real”? Can all of existence be explained by math and science? What does it mean to “know” something, and can we use science to “know” about things that can’t be seen?

Prerequisite: none

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