The Advanced Placement Chemistry class began with an overview of ﬁrst year chemistry and who did what when. Essential skills such as experimentation, chemical nomenclature and stoichiometry were reviewed and re-enforced with labs and projects such as “how things work”. After a brief review of gas laws, the study of thermo-chemistry included calorimetry labs and the calorie counting project.
Next, students took an in-depth look at atomic structure and quantum theory, including the production and absorption of light. After relating atomic structure to the periodic table, chemical bonding was examined in detail. Some students grew crystals to illustrate how chemical bonds form. They learned that each bond type has unique properties that can be used for identiﬁcation and that the intermolecular forces between particles help to explain the behaviors of gases, liquids and solids. Students were able to put their knowledge and skills to use as they worked more and more independently in the lab. The semester ended with a partial AP exam and modern materials research project.
The class delved into new topics during the second semester, beginning with chemical kinetics. Reaction rates and mechanisms were studied and rate laws were used to calculate various parameters of chemical reactions. The importance of catalysts was reinforced by the reaction rate project. Chemical equilibrium was the most demanding topic of the second semester. It included equilibrium constants, Le Chatelier’s principle, gaseous equilibrium, acid/base equilibrium and solubility equilibrium. Algebraic principles and the RICE system for solving equilibrium problems were heavily utilized throughout the multi-chapter unit. Students developed new knowledge and understanding through challenging labs including the buffer solutions experiment.
Thermodynamics was next with an introduction to Gibb’s free energy and spontaneity. Students researched the efficiency of various energy conversion systems. The electro-chemistry unit was highlighted by the battery project and electro-plating demonstration. Quantitative analysis of the process required some physics review and new units such rounded out the course content. Decay series and half-life problems were practiced for nuclear chemistry along with the identification of different types of nuclear radiation and reactions. Students did contribute functional group projects to the class’s understanding of hydrocarbon derivatives in organic chemistry.
As spring finally arrived, the focus shifted to the AP exam. Throughout the semester students completed multiple choice and free response questions for each topic, culminating in the practice exam the last week in April.
AP Environmental Science students started the year with ecosystems and deﬁning the boundaries of an ecosystem including population and biodiversity. The next unit was public lands where we learned about our nearby national parks, state parks, national forests, rangelands, and wildernesses. Students learned about the formation, rules, and regulations of each type of public land.
Students also learned about agriculture. The next unit was geology to learn how soil is made and general information about rocks. Students learned about diﬀerent mining techniques, materials mined, and their eﬀects on the environment as well as the many things that have been and are currently mined in Virginia. In January and February students learned about mining and how to mine for chocolate chips. Students had to decide whether to leave the cookie intact or to make a lot of money and destroy the cookie and deal with the environmental consequences of their choice. Then we moved into energy production and visited a wind turbine at JMU on a snowy day.
Finally, the weather improved and we studied air pollution at Betsy Bell in Staunton, looking at lichens as an indicator. As we moved into the pollution unit, we visited the Augusta County landfill and the Fishersville wastewater treatment plant. We finished with a healthy stream survey at South River and Christian’s Creek. The students were enthusiastic for all of the labs and field trips even in the cold and really seemed to appreciate the knowledge gleaned from the experiences.
AP Environemental Science Field Work
Frontier Culture Museum
Students learned the difference between invasive, introduced, and native species and how they can affect biodiversity.
Shenandoah National Park/ St. Mary’s Wilderness
Students learned about the formation, rules, and regulations of each type of public land by visiting our nearby national parks, state parks, national forests, rangelands, and wildernesses.
Students visited a working turkey farm and organic dairy farm in Verona and learned about how their farms worked and explained both the financial and agricultural side to their farms.
Old Greenville Rd.
Students learned about formations, identifying rocks, and how geologic maps are made by visiting several sites on Old Greenville Road.
Students observed air pollution that is natural and man-made and to see the effects of setting aside wildlife areas in urban settings.
Augusta County Landfill
Students learned about engineered landfills and recycling, Observed previous landfill sites and understood the restricted land use.
Students learned how a healthy stream survey is done, understand how macro-organisms can be used to determine the health of a stream, compared to two other streams tested for nutrients , determined if a buffer zone is large enough from the road and how it could be improved.
Field Trip – JMU Wind Lab
Students toured JMU’s Wind Lab facilities which includes a “high bay” lab space with demo models and wind measurement equipment and a tour of JMU’s Small Wind Training and Testing Facility.
The Environmental Chemistry class got oﬀ to a good start examining the foundations of chemistry including measurement, calculations and laboratory skills. During the study of atomic theory and the periodic table, students created models of the atom. Following that was a comprehensive unit on nuclear chemistry. Both nuclear energy and nuclear medicine were essential topics. Learning about chemical bonding and nomenclature allowed students to name that compound and to ﬁgure out “what’s in that”.
The next topic included gases and the atmosphere. Ping pong ball launchers were built to demonstrate the students understanding of gas laws. The eﬀect of chloroﬂuorocarbons on the ozone layer and the impact of carbon dioxide, as well as other “greenhouse” gases, on Earth’s climate were examined in detail. The ﬁrst semester concluded with thorough study of chemical reactions, so that students can more fully comprehend and communicate what is happening, and stoichiometry, so that students can better answer the “how much” question.
Second semester began with thermo-chemistry, including both calorimetry and thermodynamics. Students learned to measure and calculate the Calories or Joules absorbed and emitted by various food and processes. They demonstrated their knowledge and understanding by examining the efficiency of various energy sources and systems. The next topic was solutions where concentration, categorization and dilutions were studied. The unique and interesting properties of solutions were examined in the lab as well as the kitchen cabinet.
Continuing with acids and bases, students learned the relationship between concentration and pH, as well as other water quality parameters. The titration lab provided a culminating laboratory experience, and then water samples from the area were tested for pH, conductivity and oxygen content. An introduction to electro-chemistry provided a springboard for the study of hybrid and electric vehicles. Students made batteries from household materials and electro-plated metal objects. The final research project of the year was on the future of transportation, including electric vehicles from bicycles to trains. The final topic of the year was organic chemistry. Students learned the basics of hydrocarbon nomenclature and some of the functional groups before moving on to polymers, pharmaceuticals and nutrition.
Molecular/Microbiology classes began the year by considering the “big ideas” of cell and molecular biology. In the context of the cell as the unit of life, students studied biochemistry in order to promote their understanding of the molecular properties. More recently, we have begun a unit in microbiology. In the context of emerging and re-emerging diseases, students have studied prokaryotic cells and viruses and their interactions with humans, particularly the nature of pathogenesis.
We continued this unit by considering transmission of disease, the immune system, and epidemiology. Laboratory work has focused on basic techniques in microscopy and molecular biology, molecular modeling, and identiﬁcation and puriﬁcation of molecules important in living things. Students will also study established and emerging technologies related to microbiology and disease, including antimicrobial pharmaceuticals and immunotechnology. Laboratory exercises will provide students experience in sterile technique, culture and identiﬁcation of microorganisms, assessment of bacterial sensitivity to antimicrobial agents, and use of ELISA, an immunotechnological application. During the final weeks of the school year, students in Molecular/Microbiology studied molecular genetics and biotechnological applications of the science of DNA structure and function.
In lab, students used gel electrophoresis, a “workhorse” technique of the molecular biology lab, to analyze restriction digests of plasmid DNA and, along with PCR, to detect whether they possess a specific genetic insert on one of their chromosomes. In another laboratory investigation, students used specific techniques to transform E. coli with a gene from a jellyfish that causes the bacteria to glow green when exposed to UV light. Students also performed a simulated microarray to learn how molecular biologists analyze differences in the expression of an organism’s genes under different conditions.
MolBio students showcased their laboratory expertise at our biennial Open House by conducting a demonstration/ workshop on electrophoresis for our visitors.
Students extended their mastery of molecular biology and its potential by attending the annual Biotechnology Conference at Eastern Mennonite School during which they learned about cutting-edge research in tissue regeneration in humans and participated in a lab on detection of genetically modified foods. At the end of the year, students completed projects in which they considered the societal impacts and bioethical issues surrounding recombinant DNA applications, including genetically modified crops and animals and human genetic therapy and enhancement. Through their work on these projects, students demonstrated their understanding of cellular and molecular biology, the resulting biotechnological applications, and the possibilities as well as the ethical issues that these advances have brought about.
Students in SVGS DE Physics recently wrapped up an intense semester of Newtonian Mechanics. Topics included Newton’s Laws of Motion, energy and momentum conservation laws, angular velocity and torque, ﬂuids and pressure, thermal physics, and a brief introduction to special relativity. Students engaged the course concepts through laboratory experiments, WebAssign problem sets, and in-class demonstrations. Occasionally, entire class periods were devoted to solving a single complex real-world problem through synthesis of past material: What angle would you need to launch the cannon to hit this distant target? How fast was a car moving just before it struck a stopped car, producing the skid mark you see here? How can you best construct a device to minimize damage to a raw egg as it is dropped from a signiﬁcant height?
During the spring semester, SVGS Physics students tackled several abstract concepts including electrostatics, circuits, magnetism, waves, sound, optics, and a brief introduction to quantum mechanics. Under– standing of these complex topics was developed through the use of hands-on laboratory experiments, participatory demonstrations, and student-led investigations (including the use of the Doppler Effect to uncover clues surrounding an imaginary crime scene). Throughout the semester, several class discussions revolved around applying some of these concepts as a means of renewable energy, including the pros and cons of current methods of energy production. Students who opted to take this course dual-enrollment through James Madison University earned four college-level credits during the spring semester.
In the first semester of Scientific Research, as a “deep-learning” class for our students, we have been studying the principles and methods of scientific research, basic lab & measurement skills, error analysis and data analysis including descriptive statistics and various inferential statistical tools. Most efforts have been made on students’ independent research projects; under the instructor’s guidance, students have initiated their own research questions based on their curiosity and everyday observation, and developed their own topics and designed the experimental procedures (in the form of research proposals) through a series of activities including brainstorming, literature investigation, inquiring and discussion with experts and SVGS teachers, peer reviewing, and, finally, two rounds of pre-tests. Some of our students have so far finished the preliminary experiments and presentations. Students in Research class devoted the final weeks of the year to refining major pieces of communication of their research findings: a formal research report, a poster, a science fair board, and a PowerPoint presentation. March, students attended the regional Intel-affiliated science fair at JMU. Some students competed in a JMU online physics video contest. In April, students described their research projects to visitors to our Open House in informal poster sessions. Through teacher conferences, class presentations, and peer editing, students refined their research papers and final presentations; ultimately, they gave formal presentations of their research projects during our Research Symposium in May.
Conference – Shenandoah Valley Regional Science Fair & Virginia Junior Academy of Science
Students present their year-long research projects, defend their projects to scientific experts and interact with their academic peers and observe their work.
Shenandoah Valley Regional Science Fair Winners – March 2014
Behavioral & Social Science
Behavioral & Social Science
Energy & Transportation
Medicine, Health Science
Physics & Astronomy
GRAND AWARD WINNER
Ruth Schultz, R.E. Lee
Christian Marshall, SDHS
Julia Watson, WMHS
Alex Maneval, WHS
Abigail Johnson, R.E. Lee
Steven Carter, FDHS
Victoria Prevette, BGHS
Megan Godsey, WMHS
Moriah Veer, SDHS
Abigal Johnson, R.E. Lee
Shenandoah Valley Regional Science Special Awards – March 2014
|U.S. Navy/Marine Corps Senior Award
Virginia Dental Association Merit Award
Society for In Vitro Biology Award
Yale Science and Engineering Award
AMS Material Education Association
American Psychological Association Award
US Stockholm Jr Water Prize
AWWA Outstanding Senior Honorable Mention
AWWA Outstanding Senior 1st Place
|Caitlyn Singleton, WMHS
Steven Carter, FDHS
Mollie Gaines, BGHS
Victoria Prevette, BGHS
Alexander Maneval, WHS
Christian Marshall, SDHS
Abigail Johnson, LHS
Kasey Ball, WMHS
Abigail Johnson, LHS
Conference – Virginia State Science Fair & Intel International Science & Engineering Fair
Students qualify to present their year-long research projects at these invitational state, national and international science & engineering fairs.
Abigail Johnson, 2nd place winner, Environmental Science
INTEL ISEF (International Science and Engineering Fair)
Abigail Johnson – Winner of Drexel University Academic Scholarship