Department Chair: Stephanie Good, (505) 828-3355
The Academy science curriculum is designed to prepare students to be informed citizens in a world dependent on science and technology – Academy graduates are prepared to ask critical questions, analyze data, and draw conclusions based on sound evidence.
Our science students develop their problem-solving abilities and observational and analytical skills in the laboratory. Their experiences in physical science, life science, and earth science provide opportunities to pose questions about the environment in which they live and think critically about solutions to real-world challenges.
Students are immersed in the process of scientific inquiry, whether they are taking a required life science course, Introduction to Forensic Science, or the Advanced Principles of Engineering elective. Sixth graders build cloud chambers to investigate temperature and pressure differentials, and eighth graders build bottle rockets, conduct test flights, and then improve their design to maximize flight distance. There is hands-on learning in every course – measuring plant growth in biology, modeling plate tectonics with cake and brownies, and identifying an unknown compound in the chemistry lab.
The Academy’s new state-of-the art Fly Lab offers students the opportunity to participate in authentic scientific research. The Advanced Research in Molecular Genetics class is a part of the Stan-X program, a partnership with the fruit fly lab of Professor Seung Kim at Stanford University School of Medicine. Academy students learn current techniques in molecular biology as they use transposons to create transgenic flies and then characterize the genetic modifications with molecular analysis. In addition to developing extensive laboratory skills, students read primary literature and learn techniques in larval fly dissection as well as fluorescence microscopy. The unique fly lines are then cataloged at an international repository and used for research by scientists around the world.
The Desert Oasis Teaching Garden is an on-campus experiential learning garden that allows students to understand and problem solve around issues of soil health, regenerative agriculture, water conservation, and climate adaptability in the desert Southwest. The DOT Garden staff collaborates with Academy faculty to provide hands-on, inquiry-based learning as well as research opportunities for students in all subject areas. Additionally, much of the DOT Garden organic harvest is served in our dining halls.
One of the departmental highlights of the spring is Physics Day, when AP Physics C students visit the sixth grade to present dozens of demonstrations about pressure, rotation, electricity, inertia, and more. Teaching these concepts provides older students with an even deeper understanding of their own knowledge base, and the younger students are inspired what they will learn later in their science courses and by the model of the upper-class students’ passion for science and joy in scientific exploration.