It permeates every facet of our lives.
Far from an abstract collection of facts, science is way of seeing and understanding and appreciating the natural world. From the DNA twisting inside each cell to the cosmos pinwheeling overhead, science helps us understand our place in the order of things. The Science Department’s fundamental goal is to create analytical thinkers and nimble problem solvers —people armed with the understanding and reasoning skills necessary to provide solutions in a golden age of technology and scientific exploration.
- Engineering: Science By Design
- Forensic Science: Biological Evidence - Crimes, Mysteries, and Genocide
- Marine Ecology & Climate Change
- Sustainable Engineering: Aquaponics
- Astronomy: Nebulae, Galaxies, and Astrophotography
- Intro. to Computer Coding
- Robotics: Automation
Science By Design is a cornerstone course that links the core disciplines of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology and exposes Form III students to a progressive and integrated model of science. Students will develop foundational skills by exploring design and engineering problems through a scientific lens. Through stewardship of the community garden, sugaring of our maple trees, designing shades to reduce nighttime light pollution, exploring renewable energy on campus, and designing an artificial kidney, students in the course will be develop real solutions to real issues, both on campus and beyond. Students will learn and master the skills needed to tackle a new age of science, where problem solving and collaboration are key. This project based, skills driven course is a requirement of all incoming Form III students.
This course will utilize biological evidence in forensic science and the methods of archaeology to discover and analyze various simulated crime scenes around campus. The focus of the course is on hands-on activities, both outside the classroom and inside the lab. The students will learn how to analyze a range of different types of evidence such as serologic evidence, DNA profiling, and blood spatter in the laboratory. Accounts of forensic work in Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, Guatemala and the Italian Alps will highlight how forensic anthropologists have solved mysteries as well as helped convict the perpetrators of genocide. An understanding of the genetic differences in population groups and between the sexes will add context to the investigation of biological evidence. The students will use evidence and deductive reasoning to reconstruct the scenarios of various crime scenes. This course is open to students who have successfully completed Biology core courses.
Studying the smallest of systems can unearth the largest of ecological principles. In this wet and hands-on exploration of marine ecosystems and climate change, join resident researchers at Hurricane Island to explore the changing ecology of the Maine coast and consider the evidence and implications of climate change.
Students will learn the sampling techniques marine researchers employ to assess the health and changes experienced by marine communities, including measures of sea surface temperature, pH, turbidity, and nitrate load, in addition to data collection and observations using quadrats, transects, and stadia rods. Direct measurements and long term data sets can be analyzed to track ocean acidification, temperature change in coastal waters, and shifting population counts of benchmark microscopic and macroscopic fauna. Students will meet copepods and lobsters, explore scallop beds and multi-trophic aquaculture initiatives at Hurricane Island, and explore the economic impact of increased disease agents that make commercially important fish stocks unsuited for market.
Once familiar with Hurricane Island and the tools available for marine research, students will pose a research question and work in small teams to design experiments and collect data. The week will conclude with a marine ecology symposium in which students describe the scope and methodology of their studies and share results. Students will keep a reflection journal and respond to nightly writing prompts. Each student will be assessed based on his/her participation and curiosity, the reflection journal, the quality and depth of the research they initiate and share, and an annotated photo essay of the student’s time at Hurricane Island.
Aquaponics is a methodology for raising fish and growing plants for food within a single, recirculating system. The principle dates back as far as the Aztecs, but growing interest in this methodology by commercial growers, organic gardeners, and survivalists alike arises from its practicality as a sustainable, low cost method of producing vegetables and a high protein food source in a confined area and in locales where fresh produce is hard to come by. In this term long, project-based elective class, students will research, design, and build an aquaponic system: media beds, deep water culture troughs, radial flow filters, and the plumbing connections with their associated fish tank. This broad question will drive our inquiry and work: What is the best way to design and build a small-scale, aquaponic system for Pomfret School’s greenhouse that will suit the School's needs? Students involved in this course will collaborate to understand the project's constraints and “the client’s” needs, research options for viable aquaponic designs, then work to design, purchase materials, and construct the system components. This course is taught using the “one-room schoolhouse model,” where students with different levels of experience work and learn together while tackling a common project. Students complete outside assignments commensurate with their personal experience level in the course - thus, students can take the class for one, two, or several terms and grow their understanding and expertise through every term.
This astronomy course is the second in a series of three, any of which can be taken individually. This term, the class will investigate the beautiful and bizarre objects that exist in the Universe. If you've seen the amazing images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, you know how strange and mysterious these objects can look. In this course, you'll join in an examination of these nebulae, pulsars, globular clusters, black holes, supernovae, and other types of exotic objects. You'll learn about their origins, the ways that astronomers have decoded the light coming from them, and their importance in the continuing evolution of the Universe. During the day, you'll do lab activities using a computer-based virtual observatory, but the true highlight of the class will take place at night. You'll learn how to operate Pomfret's observatory to see these unusual objects firsthand through a variety of instruments. In the end, you'll have a clear picture of these 'stranger than fiction' components of the Universe and the science behind their beauty. Each astronomy elective is a distinct course and can be taken as a one-time experience or as a series of connected classes. Students currently enrolled in the Astronomy I elective will be given enrollment priority when new courses are selected each term.
In this course students explore the science involved in classical computing and the fundamental concepts of quantum computing. Students start the course by learning about the basics of electronics and quickly move to computer logic and programming. Students will use Arduino boards to demonstrate understanding of basic circuits and computer code. By the end of the course students will possess a broad understanding of the sciences behind computers, from power to pixel. Please note: Students will use their own Macbooks in this course, both in class and to complete homework assignments and projects.
Automation is changing the landscape of the modern world we live in. From smart homes to Tesla Gigafactories, automation reigns supreme when it comes to operating efficiently. Students in the course will be exposed to the concepts of automation, the history behind the current ideas and implementation, and how it is affecting our society. In small teams, students will be challenged to automate several different processes using the LEGO Mindstorms platform. This offers students of different abilities and knowledge bases to successfully engage in the challenges posed. While this course is open to all students, those that have an affinity for programming, robotics construction, and group collaboration should apply. This is considered an introductory course in the Robotics elective sequence.
To support our learners, Pomfret employs an Engineering First curriculum and a three-course science sequence (physics, chemistry, biology), buttressed by broadening electives including advanced offerings. Our comprehensive courses support students of all abilities and interests, introduce technology and inquiry as powerful learning tools, and help students develop key problem-solving skills and scientific insight. This sequence, and our coordinated approach to teaching the core disciplines, is a recipe for success at Pomfret School and beyond.
Beyond the core courses, the Science Department offers a wide array of elective offerings. Students can help to build a greenhouse, learn to program robots, examine forensic evidence, and reach for the stars at Pomfret’s exceptional observatory. And they can explore emerging environmental issues through innovative, research-based environmental programming. Graduates become global citizens, and many have found great success matriculating to prominent science, engineering, and medical programs.