Sciences

Astronomy (Fall 2018)

Astronomy (Fall Semester 2018)

We will start the fall with historical astronomy: Stonehenge, the Mayan calendar, Chinese & Egyptian astronomy, Lakota stone medicine wheels, etc. – figuring out what people knew about the sky from just their own observations. We will then move on to focus on what we know now about our own solar system and read Dava Sobel’s book “The Planets.” From there, we will expand our gaze to what we know of the universe today, studying stars, other solar systems, and the universe, including Einstein’s theories of relativity. We will end the fall with some of the current topics in astronomy: dark matter, extra-solar planets, wormholes and the like.
This class will include papers and projects along with readings and several class presentations. Readings will mostly be from current articles and books of essays. We will use some computer-based lab work. Students should also expect to have extra “lab time” in the evenings many weeks, either for telescope work or for viewing science documentaries.

Priority (if needed) for Astronomy will be given to students who cannot take other science courses this year.

Biology

In the fall term biology concentrates on the topics of cell biology and human physiology as an introduction to the fundamentals of the subject. All the systems of the body are discussed and explored, including a detailed section on the brain and nervous system. In the winter term, the focus is on genetics, looking into the workings of DNA and genes, and discussing current issues in genetic technology. In the spring, the main topic is evolution, looked at through the lens of the unique organisms that have evolved in island environments, such as the hotspots of the Galapagos, Hawaii, and Indonesia. All three terms involve weekly labs and several research papers. The spring term includes an independent research project as well, the results of which are presented at the Spring Arts Weekend. Buxton’s extensive campus and greenhouse provide excellent opportunities for many of these labs and projects.

Chemistry

This college-preparatory laboratory science is primarily for juniors and seniors. Topics covered include atomic theory, phase changes, origins and significance of the periodic chart, quantum mechanics, chemical reactions, acid-base relationships, oxidation-reduction principles, and an expanded section on organic chemistry. Whenever possible, discussions are geared to helping students gain an understanding of the principles and mechanics of natural phenomena as well as modern technological advances. The laboratory portion of the course has been designed to illustrate chemical principles and to develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills of the students. This is accomplished by starting with simple questions about chemistry and requiring students to develop the procedure for each laboratory experiment that they perform. As students develop their methods and become familiar with the lab, the questions become progressively more challenging.

 

Health

This class will run for one semester and cover many aspects of personal health. We will study both the physical and mental/emotional sides of sexual health, substances, general wellness (nutrition, exercise, self-care, etc.) as well as social issues surrounding these topics. Through readings, discussion, various media, group activities, projects and field trips (perhaps!) we aim to create an experience that is relatable, relevant, and informative.

Freshman/ Sophomore semester elective – Fall or Spring

Marine Biology

The Marine Biology elective will cover life in the ocean from small algae to the great whales. We will focus on different ecosystems, one at a time, starting in the winter term with the coasts, and then moving on in the spring term to offshore areas such as coral reefs and kelp beds, open ocean, deep ocean, and polar regions. Within each ecosystem, we will discuss the range of organisms to be found there and their adaptations to the characteristics of that zone.

The class is structured as a seminar where students read different articles each week and then distill and present that information to the rest of the group. As a result, it is crucial that every student be highly responsible about their individual readings. The class work will also include three papers and a book to be read independently, partly over spring break and partly during the first four weeks of the spring term. Class time will include a field trip to Cape Cod in the spring and regular evenings of documentary viewing.

Physics

This course is designed to prepare students for college-level physics as well as to let them learn and work with the laws of the world around them. The fall term focuses on the fundamentals of Newtonian mechanics, work, pressure and energy. The winter expands the study of motion into centripetal and rotational analysis. The spring term moves on to the properties of waves, including sound, light and optics and concludes with a survey of modern physics: electro-magnetics, relativity, and quantum mechanics. Weekly labs allow students to make direct connections between theory and practice and to develop experimental procedures. Students also complete several independent or joint projects throughout the year with emphasis on exploration and design; the projects may be presented during Spring Arts Weekend. Due to the importance of mathematical descriptions in the course, Algebra II is a prerequisite for physics.

Geology (Spring 2019)

Geology is the youngest of the major sciences and as such there is still a great deal left to be learned about the world around us. This semester course will delve into both the details and the overall processes of geology, seeking to understand the underpinnings of global issues like oil extraction and glacial melting, as well as more local topics such as Buxton’s surroundings of mountains and marble quarries.
The semester will begin with learning how to identify mineral and rock types during the winter term. Then we will investigate plate tectonics as the driving force behind mountain-building, volcanos and earthquakes. Finally we will look at the effects of wind, water and ice in creating mudslides, sinkholes, carved formations, glaciers, and the unique environments found in the depths of caves.
Regular labs as well as a number of field trips during afternoons and weekends will provide hands-on experience. Our readings will include geological histories, essays and current articles. In addition, the course will involve presentations, papers and a couple of independent projects.

Developmental and Abnormal Psychology

This course will include a brief review/introduction of some of the fundamental aspects of psychology before diving into how people’s brains and cognitive abilities develop over time. First will be a review/introduction on neurobiology. Next we will talk about various theories in psychological development from Piaget, Freud, Erikson, and Kohlberg as we explore the stages of development from early childhood through adulthood, personality, and mental health as well. The remainder of the term will focus on psychological disorders, treatments, and other aspects of abnormal psychology. This class will be open to anybody.

Testimonials

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    Kat Hallowell New Hampshire
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    Cynder Johnson Missouri
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    Roy Malone
    Roy Malone New York, NY
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    Nora Mittleman
    Nora Mittleman New York, NY
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    Ben Nigh
    Ben Nigh Mexico
  • “I felt instantly at home when I stepped on the campus. At Buxton, we are in school 24/7. We learn things in the classroom, but we really learn valuable things outside of the classroom. We learn how to work with others and respect each other’s spaces. Our education surrounds us and we learn new things everyday.”
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    Emily Woodside Albany, NY
  • “I chose Buxton over public school because I think I function better in a smaller environment. You’re able to get to know students and faculty on a deeper level, which is rare.”
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    Charlie Starenko Williamstown, MA
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    Jiayi Cao
    Jiayi Cao China
  • “Living your education means you become an active learner. You are not just learning in the classroom or while you are doing your homework. You live your life learning and taking in the world’s various educations.”
    Lena Meginsky
    Lena Meginsky Northhampton, MA
  • “Buxton has shown me that it is possible to forge close bonds with teachers as well as students. It also gives you the ability to try new things in an environment where there is no judgment.”
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    Kristhal Ayala Puerto Rico
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    Katie McAvoy
    Katie McAvoy Boston, MA
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    Cheyanne Williams Boston, MA
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    Kullan Warner
    Kullan Warner Wilton, CT
  • “Being academic feels important. It really helps forge relationships between students and faculty, which is such an important thing here. It is so important that the faculty live in the dorms and everyone has a faculty advisor. You get to know your teachers outside of school life and having those relationships really strengthens the joy I have in learning.”
    Rose Shuker
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  • “To me, “live your education” means to aim for learning in everything you do - not just in the classes and schoolwork. Every experience in life has educational value, so the more experiences I have the more educated I can be.”
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    Will Harris East Chatham, NY
  • “There are no boundaries between our times for learning and our times for living; this is because of the fact that we have classes at all different times of day, and because all our activities are intermingled with our classes. We live at the place we go to school, so people learn everyday all day even outside of the classroom.”
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    Iona Green Chatham, NY
  • “A sense that everybody matters, that you are in a community where everyone can make a difference and reach their full potential, where you are interdependent and you work together, and most importantly where you understand that you can do whatever you want to do and whatever it is that you do, you have got to make a difference. I think that, more than anything, defines my experience at Buxton.”
    Peter Shumlin
    Peter Shumlin Governor of Vermont, Buxton Alumni

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