Girls learning, leading, succeeding
Upper School Classes


Given the underrepresentation of women in many science-related careers, a strong high school education in the sciences is especially important for young women. Development of the students’ understanding of the natural world and their role in it, their ability to apply the methodology of science, and their awareness of societal concerns relating to science are fostered in Dana Hall’s science program.
Courses are designed to be challenging and encourage student responsibility, independence, and precision. The sequence of Dana Hall’s courses highlights the interconnectedness of the natural sciences and allows students to apply the knowledge they have gained in previous years.

Science Classes

List of 11 items.

  • Conceptual Physics / Physics 9

    These laboratory courses provide a strong foundation for upper-level science courses. They familiarize students with the tools, skills, and language of the physical sciences as well as the thorough integration of mathematics and science. Through experimentation, class discussion, and projects, students learn the concepts of Newtonian mechanics, work, energy, electricity, and magnetism. Students also gain an understanding of the processes of scientific inquiry, experimental design, and data analysis. Together, the skills and knowledge taught in these courses prepare students for the study of all aspects of natural science. The Science Department assigns students to Conceptual Physics or Physics 9 based on a placement test as well as on the basis of previous mathematics and science background.
  • Chemistry

    Chemistry is a fundamental introductory course that focuses on the conceptual aspects of general chemistry and supports them with basic analytical methods and mathematical calculations. Major topics include atomic structure, chemical bonding, phase changes, solutions, chemical reactions, thermodynamics, kinetics, general equilibrium, and acid-base equilibrium. This course aims to work through a student's conceptual understanding of the material while using problem-solving and critical-thinking skills to support her understanding. Laboratory work is used to reinforce the concepts covered in class and provide exposure to specific laboratory techniques.
  • Mathematical Chemistry

    Mathematical Chemistry is a rigorous introductory course that covers both conceptual and analytical aspects of general chemistry. Major topics include atomic structure, chemical bonding, phase changes, solutions, chemical reactions, thermodynamics, kinetics, general equilibrium, acid-base equilibrium, electrochemistry, and nuclear chemistry. Emphasis is placed on developing problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, particularly in quantitative analysis. Laboratory work is an integral part of the course and is designed to both reinforce the concepts covered in class and provide experience with specific laboratory techniques. This course prepares students for the SAT Subject Test in Chemistry.
  • Chemistry Honors

    Designed for the strong math/science student, this course covers the content of Accelerated Chemistry more rigorously and extensively. It provides a strong foundation for further advanced study in the sciences. In Chemistry Honors, students are expected to work independently on a variety of assignments and accept greater responsibility for their learning. Students should be able to apply skills gained previously to new situations.
  • Biology (Molecular or Ecological)

    These courses present a thorough survey of our living world through scientific inquiry. Major biological topics are presented in this comprehensive program that incorporates projects, field trips, technology-based research, and laboratory activities that enhance individualized learning. Building on the students’ prior knowledge of chemistry, both the Molecular and Ecological Biology courses provide students with a broad and detailed understanding of modern Biology. Molecular Biology stresses molecular and biochemical concepts while Ecological Biology places greater emphasis on ecological and environmental topics.
  • Physics and Engineering

    This course provides students with an opportunity to both immerse themselves in the study of classical physics while also applying these concepts to engineering design challenges. In addition to a traditionally mathematical approach, students are charged with developing their scientific writing, communication, and logical problem-solving skills. There is a heavy focus both on the testing of scientific laws to understand how they function and on the iterative design process followed by engineers. Students are evaluated on their problem-solving skills, performance on long term projects, and traditional written assessments.
  • Astronomy and Natural Science

    This course helps students understand and appreciate the physical phenomena of the everyday world that surrounds them, including constellations in the night sky, moon phases, eclipses, comets, composition of the Earth, glaciers, and tornadoes and hurricanes. The curriculum contains aspects of meteorology, paleontology, oceanography, and physical geography, with the main focus on geology and astronomy. Astronomy and Natural Science is taught in a lab/lecture format.
  • Current Topics in Science: Science and Society

    This course allows students to explore the topics making science headlines through reading, laboratory investigation, case studies, research projects, and student presentations. Scientific argumentation is focused on in the course. Students will propose, support, and evaluate claims; validate or refute them on the basis of scientific reasoning, and craft complex written arguments. Students will practice analyzing and evaluating models and data sets in order to make claims they can back up with evidence. Specific units vary from year to year but may include climate change, infectious disease, forensic science, genetic engineering, marine biology, psychology, and neuroscience. (Open to students who have completed any level of both Biology and Chemistry, or with permission of the Department Head. Full year. 1 credit.)
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Biology

    This course is the equivalent of a general college biology course and is designed to be taken only after successful completion of a year-long introductory high school chemistry course and biology course. It follows the AP Laboratory Curriculum and covers a broad range of subjects taught through the lenses of four concepts: evolution, energetics, information storage, and transmission and systems interactions. These ideas are the unifying threads that run throughout the course, allowing students a variety of contexts to develop deeper conceptual understandings. All students are required to take the AP exam in May. 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Chemistry

    This course is the equivalent of a general college chemistry course and is designed to be taken only after successful completion of a year-long introductory high school chemistry course. A demanding laboratory program is an important part of this course and students must make an additional time commitment to it. All students are required to take the AP exam in May.
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Physics C (Mechanics)

    This course is the equivalent of a semester-long, general college physics course and is designed to be taken only after successful completion of a year-long introductory high school physics course. AP Physics C uses calculus to examine Newtonian Mechanics. Topics include linear kinematics and dynamics, rotational kinematics and dynamics, energy, gravitation, and periodic motion. All students are required to take the AP Physics C (Mechanics) exam in May.

Upper School Classes


List of 8 members.

  • Photo of Angela Macedo

    Angela Macedo 

    US Science Teacher/Director of Community Service Program
  • Photo of Patrick Ahn

    Patrick Ahn 

    US Science Teacher
  • Photo of Gary Fadden

    Gary Fadden 

    US Science Teacher
  • Photo of Mary Frances Hanover

    Mary Frances Hanover 

    US Science Teacher/Sustainability Coordinator
  • Photo of Sarah Jacobs

    Sarah Jacobs 

    US Science Teacher
  • Photo of Tara Jennings

    Tara Jennings 

    Department Head
  • Photo of Joel Sweetser

    Joel Sweetser 

    US Science Teacher
  • Photo of Cynthia Welch

    Cynthia Welch 

    Assistant Director of the Upper School/US Science Teacher/Class Dean

List of 3 items.

  • Area Studies Symposium

    Favorite Assignment
  • Blue Key Club

    Favorite Activity
  • Middle Eastern Studies

    Favorite Class

List of 1 items.

  • Caroline

    "Middle Eastern Studies has been my favorite Dana Hall class because both the teacher and the discussions always kept me engaged and excited to learn more."