Upper School


The Upper School science program gives students a solid foundation in science by connecting scientific concepts with real-world situations. Our goal is to foster science competency in all students through collaborative, inquiry-based, hands-on scientific investigations.

The structure of the science curriculum is very deliberate in the Upper School. Having elected to pursue a Physics First program, we have designed our courses to reflect not only the best practices in our individual disciplines, but also to provide robust connections as students complete their course of study.  By starting students in a physics course as freshmen, at Ellis, we are able to introduce them to topics such as energy, charge, and waves, all of which are then built upon in their sophomore chemistry course. That experience as sophomores allows them to pursue a deeper and more analytical view of biological systems as juniors; they are able to view biological processes from a more modern and more rigorous biochemical vantage.

Science Curriculum

List of 7 items.

  • Concepts of Physics

    Required Course | Grade 9

    This fundamental course builds a framework of physics concepts and illustrates their impact upon everyone’s life and daily experiences. The course emphasizes construction of concepts and development of skills from laboratory experiments and collaborative efforts in problem solving. Topics include kinematics, forces, energy, electricity, and optics.
  • Chemistry

    Required Course | Grade 10

    This course is designed to be an introductory level chemistry course. A foundation is developed through the study of fundamental topics such as measurement, matter, energy, structure of the atom, stoichiometry, and more. Laboratory activities are important components of the course that offer the opportunity to explore, observe, and confirm chemistry concepts.
  • Biology

    Required Course | Grade 11

    This course is designed to be an introductory level biology course. Students develop biological literacy through the exploration of fundamental concepts such as evolution, ecology, biochemistry, cells, respiration and photosynthesis, and genetics. Lab activities serve to reinforce understanding of concepts as well as to promote the development of application skills.
  • AP Chemistry

    Elective Course | Grades 11-12

    This course is designed to be the equivalent of an introductory college level chemistry course. Topics covered include atomic theory, chemical reactions, chemical bonding and molecular structures, thermodynamics, equilibrium, and kinetics. The lab part of the course is rigorous and follows topics suggested by the College Board. Full lab reports are required and students occasionally have the opportunity to inquire by designing their own experiments.

    Prerequisites: Concepts of Physics, Chemistry; Algebra II
  • AP Biology

    Elective Course | Grades 11-12

    This course is designed around the Advanced Placement Biology Curriculum framework that focuses on the major concepts in biology and their connections: Evolution, Energy, Information, and Interaction. Additionally, this course provides a basis for students to develop a deep conceptual understanding as well as opportunities to integrate biological knowledge and the science practices through inquiry-based activities and laboratory investigations.

    Prerequisite: Concepts of Physics, Chemistry, Biology
  • AP Physics

    Elective Course | Grades 11-12

    AP Physics is designed to be the equivalent of a college introductory physics course. This course provides a systematic introduction to several of the main principles of physics with a focus on mechanics, waves, and electricity. Instruction in the course will be differentiated, with students in their first year of calculus preparing for the AP Physics 1 exam and students in their second year of calculus preparing for the AP Physics C exam. This course will provide a foundation in physics for students considering futures involving the hard sciences, medicine, or engineering, as well as other fields not directly related to science.

    Prerequisite: Concepts of Physics
    Co-requisite: Calculus
  • Introduction to Anatomy and Organic Chemistry

    Elective Course | Grades 11-12 

    This non-AP introductory course will include two trimesters of Human Anatomy and Physiology and one trimester of Organic Chemistry. The Anatomy portion takes a systems-based approach to the structures of the human body. By integrating the structure and its interdependence on function, students learn about the regulation and control of the human body. The Organic Chemistry portion focuses on structure, naming, and 3D stereochemistry of organic molecules and their functional groups, which are essential to biological processes! This serves as a foundation for both anatomy and organic chemistry courses at the college level, or a chance to explore a topic of interest. Preference for scheduling will be given to seniors.

    Prerequisite: Concepts of Physics, Chemistry
    Co-requisite: Biology