The Science Program at OES nurtures student curiosity, interest, and excitement about phenomena in the natural world through a multifaceted, inquiry process. They learn to think as scientists and engineers do, asking questions, making hypotheses, and doing hands on investigations with scientific equipment, materials and techniques for designing, measuring, experimenting, and building. In the process, students consider what it means to be scientifically literate citizens who practice informed skepticism and evaluate data responsibly in order to make ethical decisions as members of the local and global community. The Science Department recognizes the need for a basic but thorough science education for students in our increasingly technological world, specifically around five core cross-cutting strands.
- Scientific Process and Engineering Design as Inquiry Models
- Systems of Interconnectedness
- Energy & Matter
- Lab Skills & Safety
- Scientific Ethics and Science in Context
Students in the lower school explore science both as a way of learning, following their own questions and inquiries, and as a way of engaging the natural world that they experience. They encounter science in special modules outside of the self-contained classroom as well as in integrated classroom projects.
As they get older they begin to apply the skills, knowledge, and techniques to more individualized and collaborative projects.
Students in the Middle School take integrated science courses that help students connect their growing understandings to larger themes and practical applications. In each of the 6th through 8th grade classrooms students are exposed to a balance of life and physical science concepts with an emphasis on Earth Systems in the 7th grade. In 8th grade, students put their collaboration and lab skills to use with hands-on investigations and engineering challenges.
By the time students enter into the upper school, they begin to focus on specialized topic areas, such as physics, chemistry, and biology. These core US courses are anchored in inquiry-based approach of doing science rather than just learning about science.
Physics First: The sequence of core US courses acknowledges structure that scientific disciplines have physical concepts at the core of their understanding. For example, understanding energy transfer and electrostatics is foundational for learning chemistry ideas like bonding and mechanisms of chemical reactions.
Chemistry & Biology: A knowledge of chemical concepts is foundational for learning topics in molecular biology, biochemistry which are essential concepts encountered in biology.
Science Research: The US science research curriculum allows students to explore a research question or engineering design project of their choosing while being supported and mentored by a science faculty member who has expertise in relevant areas of research. OES’s dedication to inquiry and research is also evident in the labs and equipment students have access to on campus.
Science Electives: OES offers additional courses that provide opportunities for acceleration and enrichment to students who are very interested in science, and who aspire to careers in science, engineering, or medicine. Independent research, group process, critical thinking, structured problem solving, and clear communication are honed in all science course offerings.