Science

Science education at Sewickley Academy is informed by the Next Generation Science Standards. Instruction is framed around enduring understandings, essential questions, and active learning. All students learn and practice observing, taking accurate notes, asking questions, probing, analyzing, developing hypotheses, testing, and drawing conclusions from data.

[Click on a Grade below to read the description]

List of 13 items.

  • Early Childhood (PK-K)

    In Pre-K and Kindergarten, the focus is on observing, comparing, sorting, organizing, wondering, predicting, hypothesizing, experimenting, exploring, and beginning to infer and draw conclusions. The Early Childhood Science program builds on the natural curiosity and wonder of young children. Students are provided with opportunities to experience the outdoors as an extension of the classroom.
  • Grade 1

    In the early grades, children begin to make graphs and create models using collected data. The emphasis is on creating balance with curiosity, open-minded questioning, and the importance of observation and data collection. Children are encouraged to think like scientists and to value and respect different explanations for a phenomenon for which there may not be one clear answer. Children experience and practice scientific process skills including observing, classifying, comparing, measuring, estimating, collecting data, making graphs, predicting, and creating models.
  • Grade 2

    In Grade 2, children are able to raise questions about the world around them and seek answers by observing, collecting data, and noting accurate observations in journals. They experience and appreciate science through hands-on, guided discovery, which explores and extends classroom thematic units of study through inquiry investigations, group discussion, field trips, and nature walks. The program fosters independent thinking skills through questioning as students conduct and summarize investigations. Typical topics include fossils and dinosaurs, bats and trees, nutrition, chemical tests, properties of lights, natural resources, soil science, and birds.
  • Grade 3

    Inquiry and curiosity, observation, data collection, and accurate recording skills continue to be key. Children become more refined in the ways they frame questions and analyze observations and data. Students begin to understand the importance of records, especially when new observations seem to contradict earlier notations. Children also begin to grasp that competing or conflicting explanations may not be easily resolved. They begin to offer reasons for their conclusions and consider the explanations of others. Topics are drawn from the plant and animal worlds, weather, matter, force and motion, and length/capacity.
  • Grade 4

    The discovery-based program enhances students’ natural curiosity through hands-on projects that allow for student exploration. The focus includes life science (human body and plant cells), physical science (electricity), and earth science (rocks and minerals) that emphasize the model of the scientific process. Inquiry-based learning is enhanced through the use of non-fiction literature from which students learn to use textual features (headings, subheadings, tables of contents, and captions) to assist in forming hypotheses and drawing conclusions. Synthesizing textual materials, lab-based experiments, and life experiences help to build the foundation to construct meaning from the natural world.
  • Grade 5

    Grade 5 Science begins with a study of the universe on a broad spectrum and works its way back to the human person. Children study types of galaxies, life cycles of stars, Earth’s solar system as well as Earth and its moon. As a culminating activity, students participate in a live teleconference with the Challenger Learning Center, where they work in teams to rescue a lost space shuttle.
     
    Also in Grade 5, students study Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and their features, environments, and solar energy. The units culminate in a visit to the Sunship Study Station at McKeever Environmental Center, where they learn how to be effective "passengers" aboard Sunship Earth.
  • Grades 6

    Essential questions guide the students in Grade 6 science as they apply scientific principles to build their skills of investigating and questioning. While studying ecology and population students are tasked to answer, “Where have all the creatures gone?” Application of basic chemistry is demonstrated when answering, “How can I smell from a distance?” The question, “What can individuals, communities, and countries do to respond to environmental challenges?” guides the students to think critically about the impact of human population on the Earth’s systems. Students conduct experiments and engage in collaborative activities in order to make claims, produce evidence to support their claims, and report their findings. Student-claims evolve and change as new evidence is observed or concepts are learned. Teachers work collaboratively to support students in tapping into their creativity, research, and presentation skills to prepare for their culminating activity, the Science Bazaar. 
  • Grade 7

    Investigating & Questioning our World through Science & Technology (IQWST) inspires the Grade 7 science curriculum.  Grade 7 science is designed to nurture the creation of meaning through knowledge as opposed to rote memorization. Chemical reactions and conservation of matter are explored as students answer the question, “How can I make new stuff from old stuff?” Inquiry-based learning allows students to bring prior knowledge and experiences from a variety of backgrounds to enhance the learning environment. Transformation and conservation of energy can be understood better when students explain why some things stop while others keep going. “What’s going on inside me?” becomes a critical question in the discovery of body systems and the cellular process. Throughout the year, students engage in scientific practices as they experience and investigate these scientific phenomena, critical concepts and connect the curriculum to themselves and their world. Establishing authentic relationships for learning, recognizing cultural differences, commonalities, and acknowledging a variety of approaches to learning become critical to supporting students’ success in the classroom.
  • Grade 8

    Grade 8 students in science are in search of evidence to support scientific principles allowing them to better understand their world. Students study plate tectonics and force as they grapple with the question, “how is the earth changing?” The periodic table and understanding chemical reactions are central to student’s recognizing how chemistry is used in everyday life. In an effort to explore heredity and genetics students focus on explaining why organisms look the way they do.  Grade 8 science is about doing science; experimenting, thinking, discussing, and discovering evidence to support an idea along with the development of skills such as measurement, graphing, and equipment usage. Sharpening their ability to think critically, problem-solve independently, run experiments, and collect and analyze data, students work individually and with their peers in order to develop solid scientific conclusions that will relate to observations throughout their life.
  • Grade 9

    The Senior School Science program demonstrates an openness to multiple ways of making sense of the natural world while helping students develop a broadly skeptical frame of mind, one that weighs evidence and applies a critical, questioning attitude to a variety of epistemic challenges.

    In grade 9, most students start their exploration of life science at the molecular level and conclude at the ecological level. Topics include biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, evolution, and ecology. Through the application of hands-on, inquiry-based lab work, students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. 
  • Grade 10

    Grade 10 students study Chemistry, a survey course that introduces the structure and composition of matter and the processes by which matter undergoes change.
     
    Using a combination of laboratory work, class discussion, and problem-solving, students learn chemical concepts and how they apply to our world. In addition to chemical concepts, students also learn chemical and laboratory techniques for investigating properties and chemical behavior for various kinds of substances. Topics include atomic structure and electronic structure, chemical bonding, intermolecular forces, gases and gas properties, chemical reactions and solutions, thermochemistry, and if time permits, kinetics and/or equilibrium.
     
    An advanced, honors-level course is available to students who have demonstrated success and serious interest in science as well as a solid foundation in math. Students will participate in argument-driven laboratory investigations. The Honors Chemistry course covers the topics noted above in more depth and also covers acid-base chemistry, equilibrium, kinetics, and reduction-oxidation reactions.
  • Grade 11

    Grade 11 students typically study Physics, a full-year, guided inquiry, Physics course that introduces topics in classical mechanics including kinematics, dynamics, energy, and momentum.

    Physics also introduces major topics in electricity including electrostatics, electric forces and fields, and direct-current circuits. An advanced, honors-level course is available to students who have demonstrated success in previous courses and display a serious interest in science. In addition to the topics noted above, the Honors Physics course also covers topics in wave phenomena, light, and magnetism.  

    Some students choose to take electives in addition to or in place of Physics.  Electives are updated each year based on student interest and contemporary science.  Current offerings include Geoscience, Ocean and Atmospheric Science, and Climate Change and Social Justice.
  • Grade 12

    Grade 12 students who have successfully completed the core courses in biology, chemistry, and physics may elect Advanced Placement Biology, Advanced Placement Chemistry, Advanced Placement Environmental Science, or Advanced Placement Physics. Grade 12 students may also take the electives which are updated each year based on student interest and contemporary science.  Current offerings include Geoscience, Ocean and Atmospheric Science, and Climate Change and Social Justice.

List of 8 members.

  • Photo of Mary-Jo Shine

    Mary-Jo Shine 

    Senior School Science Teacher
    University of Virginia - B.A.
    University of Wisconsin, Madison - M.S.
    Slippery Rock University - M.Ed.
  • Photo of Mary Brayer

    Mary Brayer 

    Senior School Science Teacher
    University of Pittsburgh - B.A.
    University of Pittsburgh - B.S.
  • Photo of Lisa Heberling

    Lisa Heberling 

    Middle School Science Teacher
    Penn State University - B.S.
  • Photo of Ronald Kinser

    Ronald Kinser 

    Senior School Science Teacher
    Rutgers University - B.A.
    Dartmouth College - Ph.D.
  • Photo of Jonathan Riddle

    Jonathan Riddle 

    Middle School Science Teacher
    University of Pittsburgh - B.S.
  • Lori Sherry 

    Middle School Science Teacher
    Geneva College - B.S.
  • Photo of Benjamin Spicer

    Benjamin Spicer 

    Senior School Science and Robotics Teacher, Science Department Chair
    California University of PA - B.S./B.A./B.S.Ed.
    University of Virginia - M.A.
    Montana State University - M.S.
  • Photo of Tracy Wazenegger

    Tracy Wazenegger 

    Senior School Science Teacher
    Indiana University of PA - B.S.
    University of Pittsburgh - M.S.

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