Academics
Departments

Science

Experiential Learning

The Science department develops the natural, bold curiosity that is innate in each girl and prepares all students to be scientifically literate global citizens.

Science Department Courses

List of 18 items.

  • Intro Physics: Life in Motion

    In this course, students will explore the concepts of motion and force with a focus on the physics of driving. Topics will include scalar and vector quantities of the metric system, velocity, acceleration, inertia, Newton’s Laws, impulse, momentum, and pressure. These topics will be studied around the concepts of response times, starting and stopping moving objects, seatbelts, airbags, driving on curves, and how to know whether to stop or go at a yellow light. This course is activity based and students should have a minimum math prerequisite of a pre-algebra course.
    Grade Level: 9

    (1/2 credit; first semester)
  • Intro Physics: Robotics

    In this course, students will discover in this course the joys and frustrations of the engineering process through the building and programing of Lego EV3 robots. Tutorials soon become challenges that will require good cooperative skills, problem solving, and perseverance. Part of the charge of this course is to begin to teach these qualities as a life skill. This course is fun and active and encourages students to plan and design programs that will perform the desired task. Some outside reading about robots in our society should be expected.
    Grade Level: 9
    (1/2 credit; second semester)
  • Intro Physics: Energy, Electricity, and Magnetism

    In this course, students will explore the energy needs of a technologically driven society. Topics will include series and parallel circuits, magnetic fields of natural systems, and electromagnetism in nature and its applications to technology. Energy production, transfer, and storage in increasingly green fields will be explored. This projectbased course will include independent discovery of the concepts of electricity and magnetism along with several building projects.
    Grade Level: 9
    (1/2 credit; second semester)
  • Chemistry

    Students taking this year-long course study the topics of chemistry in a way that makes this science real and relevant to their lives. Topics include the study of the history of chemistry, atoms, periodicity, bonding, molecules, energy and forces, chemical reactions, and introductory stoichiometry, chemical kinetics, and equilibrium. Labs are an integral part of this course, and students will gain experience in using the standard equipment of a working chemistry laboratory. Students will partake in multiple projects meant to enrich their learning of the subject. Students taking this course should have successfully completed Algebra I.
    Grade Level: 10
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Chemistry - Honors

    Students taking this year-long course study the topics of chemistry in a way that makes this science real and relevant to their lives. Topics include the study of the history of chemistry, atoms, periodicity, bonding, molecules, energy and forces, chemical reactions, and introductory stoichiometry, chemical kinetics, and equilibrium. Labs are an integral part of this course, and students will gain experience in using the standard equipment of a working chemistry laboratory. Students will partake in multiple projects meant to enrich their learning of the subject. Students taking this course should have successfully completed Algebra I.
    Grade Level: 10
    (1 credit; full year)
  • AP Chemistry

    Advanced Placement Chemistry is the equivalent of a first year college chemistry course and students are expected to demonstrate significant independence and responsibility both in and out of the classroom. In this course students revisit introductory chemistry topics at much greater depth and with significant mathematical analysis, as well as delve into topics not covered in the first year course at Miss Hall's. Laboratory is focused on the guided-inquiry approach in which students investigate one or more chemical systems after participating in an introductory investigation. Designed for those considering a major in chemistry or engineering in college, this class requires students to spend and average of one to two hours on homework, studying, reading, and lab reports for each period spent in class. Students taking AP Chemistry as a junior must complete a biology course as a senior to satisfy graduation requirements. Prerequisite: Completion of the three-year science requirement, strong performance in Algebra II, and permission of the science department chair.
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Analytical Chemistry

    This one-semester, specialized honors chemistry course is designed for the student interested in developing a deeper understanding of the analytical side of chemistry. The student will focus on ascertaining understanding of the chemical composition of unknown samples using quantitative analysis. A critical tool of the career chemist, quantitative analysis is the collection of techniques, methods, and instrumentation involved in determining the amounts and concentrations of constituents in samples. This rigorous course goes beyond the honors level of understanding by more deeply covering a narrower scope of analysis techniques including titration, gravimetric analysis, precipitation reactions, and oxidation-reduction reactions. Note: this is NOT an AP course.
    Prerequisite: C or better in Algebra II and Chemistry Honors and permission of Science Department
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1/2 credit; first semester)
  • Organic Chemistry

    This course is designed to provide a fundamental overview of organic chemistry: a field of exploration involving puzzles focused on carbon based molecules. In their studies students will understand the relationship between the structure and function of molecules, the major classes of reactions, basic reaction mechanisms, and synthesis of organic compounds. Labs will be performed on a weekly or biweekly basis and be split into two types: content driven and skill driven. Learning outcomes include: prediction of bonding and threedimensional structure as well as the reactivity, stability of specific functional groups and simple mechanistic pathways for the synthesis of a given compound. Students will be able to use laboratory techniques such as column packing, thin layer chromatography, liquid-liquid separation, recrystallization, and other vital skills for research. Assessments will be given as laboratory procedures to provide a hands on, research preparatory experience.
    Prerequisite: Chemistry, Algebra II (seniors); open to juniors if also taking a biology course
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1/2 credit; 2nd semester)
  • Biology: Anatomy and Physiology

    This course is designed to provide a fundamental overview of organic chemistry: a field of exploration involving puzzles focused on carbon based molecules. In their studies students will understand the relationship between the structure and function of molecules, the major classes of reactions, basic reaction mechanisms, and synthesis of organic compounds. Labs will be performed on a weekly or biweekly basis and be split into two types: content driven and skill driven. Learning outcomes include: prediction of bonding and threedimensional structure as well as the reactivity, stability of specific functional groups and simple mechanistic pathways for the synthesis of a given compound. Students will be able to use laboratory techniques such as column packing, thin layer chromatography, liquid-liquid separation, recrystallization, and other vital skills for research. Assessments will be given as laboratory procedures to provide a hands on, research preparatory experience.
    Prerequisite: Chemistry, Algebra II (seniors); open to juniors if also taking a biology course
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1/2 credit; 2nd semester)
  • Biology: Animal and Plant Diversity

    This one-semester biology course, which will fulfill 1/2 of the MHS Biology requirement and is designed for students with a basic curiosity about the animals and plants that inhabit our planet. The course will explore the differences and similarities between the animal and kingdoms in cell biology, metabolism, body structure, life cycles, life histories and reproduction. The diversity of the many species of plants and animals on Earth will be explored and categorized. Dissections may be required but digital substitutions are available. Students should expect to be involved in a diverse number of projects.
    Grade Level: 11
    (1/2 credit; first semester)
  • Biology: Evolution and History of Life on Earth

    This one-semester biology course, which will fulfill 1/2 of the MHS Biology requirement, will concentrate on the last 3.5 billion years of life on Earth: the development of organic molecules and cells, and the process of evolution of bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi, plants, and animals. The interactions between living and non-living factors on Earth will be explored in detail. Topics necessary to thoroughly understand these principles will be included as needed, including geography, atmospheric science, genetics, and biochemistry
    Grade Level: 11
    (1/2 credit; second semester)
  • Biology: Ecology and Environmental Science

    This one-semester biology course, which will fulfill 1/2 of the MHS Biology requirement, explores the relationship between living organisms and their environment. This course focuses on the following key principles affecting natural systems: energy flow, evolution, biogeochemical cycles, biodiversity, species interactions, population dynamics, and climate. Students will be expected to critically review and discuss environmental issues faced at the local, national, and global level with particular emphasis on the positive and negative effects humans have had and still have on our planet. A field study of local ponds, rivers, and lakes will be conducted comparing water quality and biodiversity. The analysis of aquatic ecosystems will give students hands-on practical experience in which to reinforce the concepts learned in the classroom and foster an appreciation for the natural capital our planet offers.
    Grade Level: 11
    (1/2 credit; second semester)
  • Biology - Honors

    Students enrolled in this course are introduced to the contemporary and historical concepts that define this discipline. Topics include cellular physiology, molecular genetics, Mendelian, or classical genetics, evolution of biological diversity, ecology, and, comparative plant and animal physiology. Special emphasis is placed on empirical learning through laboratory and field investigation. This course is recommended to students interested in preparing for an AP-level science course, considering an undergraduate major in science or a related field of study, or wanting to experience a more in-depth understanding of biology.
    Grade Level: 11
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Biology - Advanced Placement

    This year-long senior elective follows the standard collegiate biology curriculum in preparation for the AP Biology Exam. Biology and Chemistry are prerequisites. In some cases, outstanding juniors may take this course as an alternative to the standard Biology course. AP Biology meets for an additional class and lab period each week. AP Biology students should be prepared to work during the summer and School vacations, work independently, and study complex materials in great depth. A strong performance in previous science and math courses and permission of the Science Department Chair are required for enrollment. 
    Gr. 11-12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Environmental Science - Advanced Placement

    The AP Environmental Science course is designed to be the equivalent of a one semester, introductory college course. The goal of this course is 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 embraces a wide variety of topics from different areas of study. Yet there are several major unifying constructs, or themes, that cut across the many topics included in the study of environmental science. The following are just a few that provide the foundation of the AP Environmental Science course. First, science is an ongoing process. Second, humans alter the natural systems of our planet, and our health and well-being depends on the continued development of sustainable practices. Third, environmental problems have a profound cultural and social context.
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Physics with Algebra

    Students in this full year, algebra-based physics course will learn to apply the fundamental tools of Classical Physics to analyze physical events in the world of their experience. During the first semester, topics of study include Measurement and Data Representation, Linear and Rotational Kinematics, Newtonian Dynamics, Energy, and Momentum. During second semester, topics of study will include Gravitation, Static Electricity, Circuits, Magnetism, Optics, and Fluids. Students will engage in group work, class presentations, readings, experiment, and projects to generate a wide-range of experiences informing their understanding. Students must have a T-Nspire calculator.
    Pre-Requisites: Completion of Geometry and Chemistry with a C or better.
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Women's Health and Global Issues

    This is a one-semester senior elective course. Students will explore biological, cultural, social, economic, and political issues profoundly affecting girls into adulthood. This interdisciplinary approach recognizes the complexity of the challenges women and girls face today and, further, acknowledges our health and well-being depends on the continued development and restructuring of policies and systems specifically affecting women.
    Prerequisite: science graduation requirements met or concurrent with Biology
    Grade Level: 12
    (1/2 credit; first semester)
  • Forensics

    This one-semester senior elective science course explores the fascinating discipline of criminal investigation. Students are expected to rely heavily on previously learned laboratory skills as they apply to the very specific protocols of forensics, specifically DNA, fiber, and hair analysis. Students will learn how to secure a crime scene, gather and analyze evidence, and present their findings objectively. This course has a hands-on approach, requiring students to work in investigative teams as they solve cases.
    Grade Level: 12
    (1/2 credit; second semester)

Science Department Core Values

News from the Science Department

Miss Hall’s has a three-credit science requirement, and two credits must be Chemistry and Biology. The curriculum is based around the core values of curiosity, self-visualization, scientific literacy, and cross-curricular integration. The MHS Science curriculum follows the Physics First approach, building from the mechanical to the conceptual as girls become academically mature.

Meet the Faculty

List of 5 members.

  • Donna Daigle 

    Science Department Chair
    Central Connecticut State University - B.S.
    Read Bio
  • Virginia Blackmer 

    Science Teacher
    Mount Holyoke College - B.A.
    Read Bio
  • Jennifer  LaForest 

    Science Teacher
    University of Massachusetts Amherst - M.S.
    Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts - B.A.
    Read Bio
  • Susan Lovell 

    Science Teacher
    SUNY at Albany - M.A.
    Russell Sage College - B.A.
    Read Bio
  • Kennedy  Raimer 

    Science Teacher
    Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts - B.S.
492 Holmes Road Pittsfield, MA 01201
Phone: (413) 443-6401

About us

Located in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, Miss Hall's School is a private, college preparatory, boarding and day high school for girls in grades 9-12.
Copyright © 2018 Miss Hall’s School