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The science department fosters enthusiasm and confidence in the sciences, prepares students for a college-level science curriculum and graduates scientifically literate women. Its ultimate goal is to provide a strong foundation in the three core sciences: physics (freshman year), biology (sophomore year), and chemistry (junior year), with interesting electives in senior year.

Our curriculum is designed to follow the students’ progression in mathematics, and each girl is expected to explain scientific phenomena in both written essays and discussions. We also encourage the application of creativity through project-based assessments. Whether or not she chooses science as her ultimate career path, we believe that every girl can “do science.” We strive to foster an atmosphere of respect, confidence, and leadership through classroom discussions, group assignments, and laboratory work.

Our core sequence provides:

  • progression of difficulty of material
  • scaffolded independence in learning

Laboratory based core courses provide:

  • hands-on science
  • application to class lectures
  • proficiency in problem-solving

Student-teacher interactions provide:

  • the opportunity for students to ask questions
  • connections of course content to daily experiences

Senior electives provide:

  • experience in college-level material
  • more specificity of interesting topics
  • opportunities to expand upon science skills learned in the core sequence

Departmental Requirement: 3 years of a lab science and a fourth year in either math or science.

Science Department Chair
Joanie Wienckowski

Course Descriptions

Each of the core courses are heavily laboratory-based, where topics currently being covered in the class are applied in hands-on experiments. Students gain key laboratory skills necessary to perform more advanced college-level labs in the future.

The Honors-level Biology and Chemistry courses are designed so that students will be prepared to take the SAT II subject tests in those topics at the end of the year. The topics in Honors-level courses are covered in greater detail, and students are expected to do more analytical work in both the classroom and lab. Additionally, the Honors-level courses are more writing intensive. Note: Honors-level courses are not prerequisites for AP science courses.


Including current electives, though not all elective courses are offered each year or trimester. Electives can be mixed and taken one trimester at a time.

Students may also enroll in additional electives and AP's offered through SEM's membership in the Online School for Girls.


These trimester courses involve the anatomy and physiology of specific body systems, including the disorders that occur when the body is not functioning properly.


These trimester courses include topics encompassing our own solar system, as well as the wider universe.