Housed in a new state-of-the-art facility, the science program consists of three distinct disciplines: physics, chemistry, and biology. However, there are certain skills that cross academic borders. Faculty members help students master fundamental principles of scientific method, approach, and research. Students work in small, problem-solving groups to execute labs, complete assigned projects, and present reports. Technology is incorporated directly into the curriculum. Emphasis is placed on the thoughtful use of data as a reasoning tool rather than on the superficial memorization of facts. Frequent experiments are performed because they excite curiosity as they amplify and solidify the concepts. These experiments also develop the students' powers of observation, classification, and analysis. The applications of scientific principles to new situations, decision-making, and value judgments are directly addressed. In addition to the standard survey courses, honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes are also available. The main purpose of all science courses at Suffield Academy is to engender curiosity, enthusiasm, and skills, so that students will wish to learn more and have the confidence to try new pursuits.
Suffield’s science curriculum teaches students to:
Approach life with a sense of curiosity and engagement
Appreciate the world, with a particular concern for the environment
Work toward objectives in a cooperative group setting
Apply acquired skills to scientific and nonscientific pursuits
Work independently to analyze and solve problems through scientific method

Course Descriptions

List of 16 frequently asked questions.

  • + Conceptual Physics

    Term: Full year
    Conceptual Physics is a full year survey course in physics based on an inquiry approach. In Conceptual Physics
    the emphasis is on insuring a qualitative understanding of the concepts of physics. Algebraic manipulations and detailed numerical analyses are avoided in favor of a more descriptive approach, and quantitative and process skills are developed at a pace consistent with the abilities of the students.
  • + Physics

    Term: Full year
    This course is designed to give students an understanding of their physical world through laboratory experiences, language, activity modules, and graphs. While mathematical problem-solving is not emphasized, algebra skills are incorporated alongside the Algebra I curriculum. Many topics of classical physics are covered, ranging from discussion of motion, energy, and momentum, to electricity and magnetism. Every topic is related to everyday life; laboratories and activity modules are designed to provide practice in relating scientific concepts, representations, and models to real world phenomena. The goal of this course is to give students an appreciation for nature and technology as well as lay the foundation for future science courses through the development of scientific reasoning skills and laboratory procedures.
  • + Physics Honors

    Term: Full year
    This challenging, fast-paced course is designed for students who have successfully completed a rigorous college prepatory high school algebra I and geometry class. It covers the same basic curriculum as the standard physics course, in more depth and with more intensity. Additionally, the course is math based and includes aspects of trigonometry. Prerequisite: Successful completion or concurrent enrollment in honors algebra II.
  • + Physics 10 & 11

    Term: Full year
    Intended for students entering Suffield as sophomores or juniors, this course has the same goals, philosophy, and methodology as Foundations of Physics 9. However, since the students will have already completed Algebra I, the course makes greater use of mathematical problem-solving and abstract reasoning.
  • + Conceptual Chemistry

    Term: Full year
    This course is a full survey course in chemistry, supported by regular laboratory activities. Topics include the nature of matter and the particles that make it up, the vocabulary of chemistry, and chemical reactions. In addition, the periodic table is studied as well as patterns of chemical activity. A major goal of the course is to develop an appreciation of the role chemists play in the world and why it is important to learn about chemistry. We will relate our topical studies to the big picture of scientific knowledge. This course moves at a slower pace and covers topics in less depth than chemistry.
  • + Chemistry

    Term: Full year
    Laboratory experiments in this course provide the basis for understanding the fundamental principles of chemistry. This approach is based on the philosophy that the laboratory should be a place where students make and record careful observations, seek a pattern in what is observed, and then explore why the pattern exists. Students are encouraged to discover for themselves ideas that will lead to the basic understandings involved in chemistry. This experimental emphasis is used to develop such major concepts as chemical equilibrium, rates and mechanisms of reactions, bonding, properties based on the geometry of molecules, and chemical systems defined in terms of the periodic table. Prerequisite: Physics, or permission of the department chair.
  • + Biology

    Term: Full year
    This course is taken after physics and chemistry. Students begin by mastering the tools of biological study, such as the use of microscopes, cell cultures, electrophoresis, and dissections. Topics studied include cellular and molecular biology, genetics, evolution, classification, zoology, botany, human anatomy and physiology, and ecology. Exposure to these topics is introductory; an in-depth study is devoted to cell biology as the basic unit of life. Students are also asked to consider the application of these topics to their lives and to the world around them. The course stresses the acquisition of study skills to be used within and beyond the study of biology. Students use a textbook, magazines and other library resources, watch videos, and utilize laser disks and computers to engage their studies. Laboratory work involves investigations that support class lectures and other work. Prerequisite: Previous courses in lab-based physics and chemistry.
  • + Biology Honors

    Term: Full year
    This course is taken after physics and chemistry. Students wishing to take this more intensive, honors-level course should have exhibited a strong interest in the study of science. The course will be a thorough introduction to biology with a greater focus on the molecular biochemistry of organisms, genetics, evolution, and human anatomy and physiology. These topics will be supported with laboratory exercises, videos, and current events literature. Students are also asked to consider the application of these topics to their lives and to the world around them. The course stresses the acquisition of study skills to be used within and beyond the study of biology. Students will be expected to take the SAT Subject Test in biology. Prerequisite: Successful completion of the introductory science sequence (physics, chemistry, biology), and permission of the department chair.
  • + Physics II

    Term: Full year
    Physics II starts where core physics ends. Since the 1900s, physics has reinvented the way we think about the world. While classical physics still forms the foundation of our thinking, it has been replaced almost entirely by modern physics. This course will focus on modern physics.

    » Fall term topics include: rotational motion, momentum and energy-conservation in more than one dimension, wave mechanics and the electromagnetic spectrum, as well as science’s understanding of the atom, pre-1900. The winter term will introduce more of the topics of modern physics. We will begin with the foundations of post-classical physics, investigating the experimental and theoretical crises that eventually led to the development of quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity. Subjects include special relativity, quantum mechanics, nuclear physics and the atom, lasers, particle physics and uni ed eld theory. We will explore events and ideas such as the ultraviolet catastrophe, the Manhattan project, the creation of Cern (the LHC), and the dawn of computers.
    » Spring term focuses on aspects of modern astronomy. These include cosmology and the big bang. The term will end with a project that explores in depth one of the specific concepts we covered over the two terms. Students will produce a research paper on a topic of their choosing and present it to the class. Nightly homework will be assigned and will mainly consist of reading selected articles, solving simple problem sets, and responding to readings on a blog. Assessments will include, quizzes, tests, papers, and presentations. The course focuses on the theories
    being presented, but solid mathematical understanding at the level of precalculus and algebra II is necessary. This is not a calculus based advanced physics class.
  • + AP Biology

    Term: Full year
    Students should have a strong interest in pursuing biology in college. AP Biology is designed to develop a deep understanding of broad topics in biology. The approach places a greater emphasis on the biochemistry of living organisms, supported by a strong laboratory component. One of the requirements for the AP exam is that students be familiar with twelve specific laboratory topics. Throughout the year, students will complete these laboratory exercises as they correlate to the topics being studied. AP Biology uses a college text in order to best prepare the students for the AP exam. To complete the course, every student is required to take the AP exam. Prerequisite: Successful completion of the introductory science sequence (physics, chemistry), and permission of the department chair.
  • + AP Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism

    Term: Full year
    This is a full year calculus based course that follows the physics curriculum as prescribed by the College Board. To complete the course, every student is required to take the AP exam. (This course is offered every other year.) Prerequisite: Successful completion of the introductory science sequence (physics, chemistry, biology), successful completion of an introductory calculus course, APPhysics I, and permission of the department chair.
  • + AP Physics C: Mechanics

    Term: Full year
    This is a full year calculus based course that follows the physics curriculum as prescribed by the College Board. One half of the curriculum is classical mechanics; the other half is electricity and magnetism. It is designed to help students successfully complete the AP exam in May. The program mirrors a typical first year, college-level physics course taken as part of a physical science or engineering major. A student considering enrolling should have a strong background in mathematics and be interested in science. To complete the course, every student is required to take the AP exam. Prerequisite: Successful completion of the introductory science sequence (physics, chemistry, biology), successful completion or concurrent enrollment in AP Calculus, and permission of the department chair.
  • + Foundations in Biology

    Term: Full year
    Foundations in Biology is designed to introduce and expandupon the basic principles of biology through a project-based learning curriculum. The course begins by studying and expanding on the scientific method and developing the skills necessary for studying science at a higher level. These skills will be used to learn about the major themes, which begin at the microbiology level and increase in scale as the course develops to the organismal then the ecosystem level. The microbiology unit will focus on cell structure and function, cellular reproduction, and genetics. The organismal unit will expand on evolution, reproduction, anatomy, and health and diet. The ecosystem unit will focus on populations, communities, and their interactions and will also expand on the biosphere. Prerequisite: Chemistry.
  • + Chemistry Honors

    Term: Full year
    Particularly ambitious and well-qualified students may elect the honors section, which covers more topics than the regular chemistry course and in greater depth. This would be an appropriate preparation for any student hoping to major in a scientific or technological area in college. Prerequisite: Permission of the department chair.
  • + Environmental Science Honors

    Term: Full year
    This course is designed to provide students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world, to identify and analyze environmental problems both natural and human-made, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving or preventing them. Environmental science is interdisciplinary; it includes chemistry, earth science, and biology, as well as history, economics, and politics in making decisions about the environment. As such, the course will explore the following main themes: the environment and society, human population growth and its consequences, renewable and nonrenewable natural resources and energy, waste management, and sustainable solutions. The course emphasizes an understanding of systems and processes, and making connections between various topics, rather than short-term memorization of facts. Students will be asked to integrate information from a number of contexts into a reasoned analysis, analogous to a scientist’s approach of devising and implementing solutions to real-world problems. Laboratory and field investigations will support class and guest lectures, and discussion. Prerequisite: Successful completion of the introductory science sequence (physics, chemistry, biology), and permission of the department chair.
  • + AP Chemistry

    Term: Full year
    The material covered in this course is equivalent to an introductory college chemistry course in which concepts, principles, theories, and problem-solving are studied in depth. To complete the course, every student is required to take the AP exam. Prerequisite: Successful completion of the introductory science sequence (physics, chemistry, biology), and permission of the department chair.

Upper Level Electives

Upper level electives are available for those students who have already completed their science graduation requirement. Although electives vary from year-to-year, course availability is subject to student interest. Below are the courses.

List of 4 frequently asked questions.

  • + Biotechnology Honors

    Term: Fall
    This investigative course explores the application of genetic manipulation to the fields of medicine and agriculture. Students will explore how the cell accesses, uses, and maintains genetic information and how these mechanisms can be altered for commercial purposes. This is a hands-on course in which students will work collaboratively to become proficient in the laboratory techniques necessary for DNA extraction and analysis, gel electrophoresis, transformation, chromatography, PCR (polymerase chain reaction), and cloning. Through labs and discussions, topics will include cloning, forensic investigation, nanotechnology, DNA barcoding, cancer genetics, gene therapy, genetically modified organisms, DNA fingerprinting, “jumping genes”, RNAi, microRNA, and the recently discovered CRISPR technology. Prerequisite: Chemistry, Biology.
  • + Advanced Anatomy & Physiology

    Term: Winter and Spring
    This course examines the structure and function of human body systems, including the integumentary, skeletal, muscular, nervous, hormonal, circulatory, lymphatic, respiratory, digestive, reproductive, and urinary systems. Topics in pathology and sports medicine will be addressed to further understand the relationship between structure and function of these systems when things go awry as well as methods we can use to help the human body function optimally. Additionally, we will examine how the body is constantly regulating its internal environment; the ceaseless process of homeostasis will be the theme that weaves through the entire course. The cooperation of the individual organ systems that compose the human body will be discussed to understand how cooperation is crucial to maintain the health of the body as a whole. Finally, we will learn the basic vocabulary that allows us to speak about the body in a way that is understood by scientists and those involved in all aspects of health-care. All aspects of the course will be reinforced by laboratory work. As this is a hands on course, laboratory work includes dissections, modeling of specific physiological function, classical histology, ELISA diagnostics, and cell culture. Prerequisite: Chemistry, Biology.
  • + Research Methods Honors

    Term: Full year
    The purpose of Research Methods is to introduce students to scientific research. Combining statistics, experimental design, and scientific writing, Research Methods will prepare students for scientific research as a career. The first term of the course will explore experimental design as students learn how to conduct meaningful studies. Through the use of class studies we will look at placebo effects, double blind studies, and control groups. The second term of the course will focus on writing scientific papers and using statistics as a method of proof. Students will be expected to use their learning from the first two terms in the course to carry out their own research projects in the third term. Each team of students will conduct research, receive biweekly feedback from the rest of the class with presentations, and write a final scientific publication on their research.
  • + Engineering Problem Solving

    Term: Full year
    This course is designed to introduce students to the real-world applications of engineering, and the problem-solving techniques used by engineers in the field. It is divided into three separate sections, covering a wide variety of engineering disciplines.

    Computational Problem Solving: Students will learn various data-presentation and interpretation techniques, and learn how to use Microsoft Excel’s built-in programming language to solve engineering problems. Laboratory Measurements: Through hands-on laboratory activities, students will be introduced to real-world systems, and the measurements taken by engineers to analyze them.

    Field Measurements: Students will be exposed to large-scale eld measurements, and get the opportunity to experience real engineering field work. This course will give students a head start if they are thinking about pursuing an engineering degree. They will end the year with a great understanding of engineering systems, measurement techniques, and data acquisition and presentation. 
    Prerequisite: Precalculus

Science Department

List of 11 members.

  • Volker Krasemann 

    Chair, Science Department
    Ernst-Moritz-Arndt Univeritat - B.A., M.S.
    Montana State University - M.S.
    Read Bio
  • Noah Bakker 

    Science Department
    Middlebury College - B.A.
    Read Bio
  • Amy Bauchiero 

    Lawrence University - B.A.
    University of Rhode Island - Ph.D. *
    Read Bio
  • Aphra Benitz '13 

    Science Department
    University of British Columbia - B.S.
    Read Bio
  • Paul Caginalp 

    Science Department
    Binghamton University - M.S.
    Colgate University - B.S.
    Read Bio
  • Andrew DesBois 

    Science Department
    Middlebury College - B.A.
    Read Bio
  • Steve Goodwin 

    Science Department
    College of Wooster - B.A.
    Read Bio
  • Gregory Lynch 

    Dean of Students & Campus Life; Director of the Summer Academy
    Colby College - B.A.
    Read Bio
  • Amy  Norris 

    Science Department
    Roger Williams University - B.A.
    Sonoma State University - M.A.
    Read Bio
  • Rebecca  Pouy 

    Bryn Mawr College - A.B.
    Read Bio
  • Leslie Reed 

    Science Department
    Guilford College - B.S.
    Read Bio
Suffield Academy   185 North Main Street   Suffield, Connecticut 06078   Phone 860.386.4400  |  Fax 860.386.4411