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Science

The CATS Academy Science Department has seven teachers, each with years of teaching experience and a wealth of content expertise, including four PhDs. The Science Department uses hands-on laboratory exercises and interactive project-based learning. 

Be your best at:

Critical thinking

Research skills

Problem solving

  • Museum of Science
  • Museum of Science
  • CATS Academy students at a talk by Chemistry PhD students at MIT
  • CATS Academy students at a talk by Chemistry PhD students at MIT

Science electives

ESL General Science

This course covers a broad survey of science topics. Over the course of a year, you will look at three broad units on the fundamental concepts and vocabulary of chemistry, physics, and biology and you will engage in developing the skills of science; including − making observations, forming questions and hypotheses, conducting experiments and research, analyzing results, and presenting conclusions in both written and oral formats. Prerequisite: enrollment in ESL Level 2.

Biology College Prep

College Prep Biology gives a general overview of topics in biology as well as the practice of science in general. Through coursework, you will study classical biology content as well as recent developments in the field. Instructors integrate hands-on activities, seminar-style discussions, group work, and direct instruction. Topics include – inquiry and the scientific method, life fundamentals and biochemistry, cell structure and function, heredity, molecular genetics, the human body and homeostasis, human reproduction and development, evolution, and ecology. Prerequisites: Returning students: recommendation of previous instructor. New students: placement test.

Biology Honors

Honors Biology is one-year course and we take a hands-on, collaborative approach to projects and experiments. Topics include − cellular structure and functions, genetic materials and regulation, ecosystems, energy cycles and habitat conservation, and evolution of organisms and their physiology. By the conclusion of this course you should not only be able to understand processes of biology, but be able to think like a scientist, design experiments, and problem-solve as a group. Prerequisites: ESL level 3 or higher. Returning students: recommendation of previous teacher. New students: placement test.

Chemistry College Prep

This class is an introduction to chemistry and problem-solving and is offered for students with rudimentary English. You will gain a good understanding of the methods and principles of modern chemistry and develop strong analytical problem-solving skills. Course topics include − states of matter, atomic theory, the periodicity of elements, chemical bonding, stoichiometry, intermolecular forces and physical changes in matter, gas laws, thermodynamics, kinetics and equilibrium, acids and bases, and oxidation-reduction. Prerequisites: ESL Level 2 or higher. Returning students: recommendation of previous instructor. New Students: placement test.

Chemistry Honors

Chemistry Honors is a challenging college-preparatory course that studies the physical structure of matter, its interactions through chemical reactions, and the role of energy in these interactions. Classroom discussions, group activities, demonstrations, practice in analytical problem solving, and laboratory investigations are emphasized throughout this course and you will gain a good understanding of the methods and principles of modern chemistry. You will be eligible to take AP Chemistry or Biology and the SAT II subject test in Chemistry. Prerequisites: ESL Level 3 or higher; previous Algebra experience. Returning students: recommendation of previous instructor. New Students: placement test.

Food and Medicine – An Organic Chemistry Approach

This class is designed to familiarize students with the basic chemical principles of food and medicine and how they affect our body and overall health. This class will benefit students who are interested in health-care related fields. Students learn the basic organic chemistry of food and medicine. This includes the production, classification, transformation, preservation, and utilization of food stocks in the US and around the world. The chemistry and production of common medicine and pharmaceuticals is introduced, as well as the discovery of antibiotics, anti-cancer drugs, and other life-saving/changing medicines. This course also looks at the basic principles of pharmacology to show students how medicine interacts with our body. Prerequisites: Previous Chemistry, ESL 3

Organic Chemistry

This class is designed to mimic a college level Organic Chemistry I class with an emphasis on students’ understanding of the basic principles of organic molecules and their reactions, especially those involved in life process. Topics include basic nomenclature, functional groups and chemistry, structural, region- and optical isomerism, and basic organic synthesis and molecules that change our life. This class can also benefit students who want to pursue a career in medicine or health-care related fields. Pre-requisites: Chemistry, ESL 3

Environmental Science College Prep

The goal of the Environmental Science course is to provide you with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world. You focus and work towards identifying and analyzing environmental problems. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the course approaches themes including − energy conversions; earth as one interconnected system; human alterations of natural systems; environmental problems framed in a cultural and social context; and the development of practices aimed at achieving sustainable systems. This is a one-semester course, also a CATS Innovation course. Prerequisites: Returning students: Recommendation of previous instructor. New students: placement test.

Environmental Science Honors

Environmental Science Honors challenges students to investigate and understand the diverse scientific principles that underpin an understanding of all forces that interact to produce physical and biological patterns in the environment. This is a more difficult and intensive investigation than the College Prep course and is intended for strong students. Students work to identify and analyse both natural and anthropogenic environmental challenges and explore strategies to address them. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the course embraces several different themes including energy conversions; Earth as an interconnected system; human-altered natural systems; environmental problems in their social and cultural contexts; and sustainability. Beyond understanding and exploring these concepts, a key goal for the Honors is to propose and devise solutions that may be implemented to tackle environmental challenges facing human societies and Earth’s biosphere as a whole. Prerequisites: Returning Students: Recommendation of previous instructor. New Students: Placement test.  All Students: ESL 3 or Higher, Minimum 2 of 3 of the following science courses (Biology, Chemistry and/or Physics).

Entomology: The Study of Bugs

Insects are everywhere in our modern world and in the history of mankind.  Bees pollinate crops and allow our food to grow while making “the food of the gods”, honey, to sweeten our life. Mosquitoes, flies, and other insects which carry disease have changed the course of human history and have devastated civilizations. Termites bother us as they use our houses to build their own. Caterpillars and butterflies enchant our dreams and our stories. Ants, bees, and termites built their own complex societies millions of years before our earliest ancestors and their ‘cities’ still dominate the environment today. 

In this course, students learn about the structure, biology, physics, and behavior of insects.  Students learn what makes an insect and insect, how insects ‘see’ and interact with the world, the benefits and limits of being small, the amazing superpowers of individual insects, and the world changing power of insect societies.  Students learn a little about each of the 12 major groups of insects and how to identify them.  They learn a little about insects’ cousins, the spiders, crabs, scorpions, and other arthropods, and also look at how insects have both helped and bothered human societies for thousands of years.  There are opportunities to learn how to collect and keep insect specimens. Prerequisites: ESL 2 or above

Genetics Honors

In this honors level course, we introduce students to a more in-depth subfield of Biology and take a comprehensive approach to learn content and cutting edge technology that is often depicted on crime shows such as CSI. Students work together on projects and laboratory experiments to understand topics such as inheritance, DNA and RNA, mutations and disease, forensics, epigenetics and gene regulation, genome sequencing, evolution, bioinformatics, and population genetics. We use a variety of teaching techniques including lecture, discussion, reading primary literature and the textbook, and doing group projects or role playing. By the conclusion of this course, students have a greater understanding of both the general aspects of genetics and the specific skills and problem- solving required of genetic research in a laboratory. Prerequisites: ESL Level 3 or higher. Returning students: recommendation of previous instructor. New Students: placement test

Physics College Prep

This class is an introductory physics course taught at the high school level for students at the Intermediate level of English as a Second Language. Physics College Prep includes kinematics, forces, work, energy, power, circular motion and orbits, momentum, torque, and possibly an introduction to advanced topics as well. By the end of this course, students are able to interpret word problems and real-life situations and make quantitative statements relating physical quantities like location, velocity, acceleration, energy, and force to each other. Students are able to exercise independent thought in carrying out and devising laboratory experiments that confirm these relationships. Skills to be learned include the ability to solve word-based problems involving physical quantities, using techniques from geometry, trigonometry, and algebra and the ability to infer from primary data in laboratory experiments various physical constants and experimental parameters. Students are assigned individual work to be completed outside of class, as well as quizzes and exams. Prerequisites: ESL Level 3 or higher and current enrollment in Algebra II or higher. Returning students: recommendation of previous instructor. New students: placement test

Physics Honors

Honors Physics is a challenging introduction to physical reasoning. In this course, students study concepts including momentum, energy, forces, simple harmonic motion, and waves, along with how these concepts are related to one another. Although these topics overlap with those in College Prep Physics, the Honors class goes at a faster pace and in greater depth, so that students take away a deeper understanding of the material. Students also have an opportunity to research notable scientists who contributed to the development of the field and, time permitting, are introduced to ideas from relativity and quantum physics. In the laboratory component of the class, students learn about experimental design and data analysis while studying physical systems. Prerequisites: ESL Level 3 or higher; current enrollment in Pre-calculus or higher Returning students: recommendation of previous instructor. New students: placement test

Physics II College Prep: Optics, Heat, Electricity

High school students are often exposed to mechanics topics repeatedly - including kinematics, forces, energy, and momentum - but do not often have the opportunity to learn a number of other interesting topics, which specifically also appear on the SAT Physics exam.  This class covers the science of light (optics), heat (thermodynamics), waves, and the fundamentals of electricity and magnetism. This course is recommended for students who are interested in learning about these fascinating topics and/or are interested in preparing for the SAT Physics exam. Prerequisites: Geometry; ESL3 or higher; prior content knowledge of physics that includes forces.

Biomechanics

This Biomechanics course provides valuable information for athletes and animal lovers alike. If you are interested in the way animals and humans use their bodies to move, this course is for you. Topics studied include basic physics, muscles and skeletons, locomotion and exercise as well as how we move blood around our bodies. Students view videos and perform many fun and interesting demonstrations and activities as they learn about these subjects. The course ends with a final project on a Biomechanical challenge from our everyday world. Prerequisites: General Science and ESL 3 or higher

Modern Physics

The purpose of the Modern Physics class is to provide students with an introduction to some of the scientific breakthroughs and discoveries that took place starting at the beginning of the 20th century. Such topics include special and general relativity, the structure of an atom, basic quantum mechanics, astrophysics, and cosmology. The class will not be lab based. Instead, it will focus on class activities and calculations. Students will observe and take part in various visual demonstrations that help define modern physics concepts. They will also practice using mathematical formulas to calculate values such as time dilation and rates of radioactive decay. We will also occasionally discuss how certain ideas are portrayed in fictional works such as books and movies. Students should have already taken a course in honors or AP physics. Prerequisites: Honors or AP Physics

Astronomy: Understanding our Solar System

This first course in Astronomy deals with the objects comprising the Solar System: the sun, planets, comets, moons, and asteroids. The course is structured in three parts. The first part helps students understand the vast scales of distance in the Solar System and the history and importance of astronomy in different societies. In the second part, students examine the formation and characteristics of the objects in our Solar System as well as the exploration of these bodies. The third part covers the necessities for life generally and the search for life in the Solar System. The objective is for students to gain a quantitative and qualitative understanding of Astronomy. Their gained familiarity with mathematical concepts such as Orders of Magnitude, Dimensional Analysis, and the use of ratios to compare quantities can be used in the study of other scientific fields. Pre-requisites: Completed or concurrently enrolled in Algebra 1. ESL 3 or higher.

Advanced Placement electives

AP Biology

AP Biology is a one-year intensive course designed to mirror a college-level introductory biology course. Students learn a wide range of biological concepts, principles, and skills that prepare them for future learning in biology and the sciences in general. Students also prepare to take the AP Biology exam at the end of the year. The AP Biology curriculum is based on four big ideas called “enduring understandings.” These big ideas can be distilled down to evolution, energy flow, genetics and heredity, and interactions and ecology. Throughout the course, these big ideas permeate all topics and serve to connect all concepts. Students spend about 30 per cent of class time performing labs. There are 13 inquiry-based labs that are emphasized for AP Biology. Labs require a large amount of autonomy from students and are student-driven. These labs give students experience with everything from animal behavior to mathematical modelling to advanced biotechnology techniques and help to reinforce the four big ideas of the course. By the end of the year, students are not only equipped to perform well on the AP Biology exam but will have a very solid foundation in their biology and science education as they continue through high school and into college. Prerequisites: ESL Level 3 or higher; A- or higher in CP Biology or Honors Biology at CATS or another American school. Returning students: recommendation of current or previous instructor. New Students: placement test

AP Chemistry

AP Chemistry is the equivalent of a first year college level chemistry class. This course builds on concepts developed in Chemistry or Honors Chemistry by going into greater depth and detail in such areas as chemical reaction mechanisms, chemical equilibrium, reaction rates, acid-base chemistry, and electrochemistry. Class discussions, laboratory investigations, and analytical problem-solving are emphasized throughout the course. The laboratory portion of AP Chemistry introduces students to a variety of analytic chemistry techniques and makes use of the Vernier LabQuest Data collection system for plotting and analyzing data. All students are required to take the AP Chemistry exam in May. Prerequisites: ESL Level 3 or higher; A- or above in CP Chemistry or B+ or higher in Honors Chemistry; concurrent enrollment in Pre-Calculus or above. Returning students: recommendation of previous instructor. New students: placement test

AP Environmental Science

The AP Environmental Science course is designed to be the equivalent of a one-semester, introductory college course in environmental science. Unlike most other introductory science courses, Environmental Science includes geology, biology, environmental studies, chemistry, physics, and geography. AP Environmental is a rigorous science course that stresses scientific principles and analysis and includes a laboratory component.  Topics include Climate Change, Agriculture, Biomes, Weather, and the interaction of humans with our planet. This is an Advanced Placement class, and students are required to take the AP exam at the end of the course. Prerequisites: Biology, ESL Level 4 or higher and permission of the Instructor

 

AP Physics C: Mechanics

AP Physics C: Mechanics is an Advanced Placement course taught at a college level and includes the use of calculus to study topics of physics. The level and use of calculus in this class necessitates that students have already taken a year of physics and either have completed a year of calculus or are taking calculus at the same time as Physics AP C.  This is a laboratory-based course, and students are expected to spend about a quarter of their time on laboratory experiments. Topics that are covered in Physics AP C include kinematics; Newton’s laws of motion; work, energy and power; systems of particles and linear momentum; circular motion and rotation; and oscillations and gravitation. By the conclusion of this course, students are able to solve mathematical, word-based, and real-life problems in physics.  Prerequisites: ESL Level 3 or higher; A- or higher in CP Physics or B+ in Honors Physics at CATS or another American school; previously completed or currently enrolled in Calculus. Returning students: recommendation of previous instructor. New students: placement test

AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism

AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism is an Advanced Placement course taught at a college level and includes the use of calculus to study topics of physics. This course is meant to be the companion and successor course to AP Physics C: Mechanics, covering a similar level of difficulty but with completely new content. The level and use of calculus in this class necessitates that students have already taken a year of advanced level physics and have completed a year of calculus. This is a laboratory-based course, and students are expected to spend about a quarter of their time on laboratory experiments. Topics that are covered in Physics AP C: Electricity and Magnetism include electric fields; electrical potential; flux; Ohm’s Law, current, resistance; Lorentz force resistance and capacitors in circuits; and electromagnetic induction and inductors.  By the conclusion of this course, students are able to solve mathematical, word-based, and real-life problems in physics. Prerequisites: AP Physics C: Mechanics. Exceptions allowed with approval of instructor if students have had calculus and Honors Physics or higher in the past

Faculty

Thomas Coon
Department Head
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Thomas Coon

Department Head

Tom fell in love with teaching many years as an instructor at the Roger Williams Park Zoo. He completed a Bachelor's of Science degree in Insect and Human Society and Thought at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Tom's diverse interests led him to serve as a volunteer in the United States Peace Corps posted in Gyumri, Armenia. Upon his completion of service, Tom completed an M. Ed in International Education focused on educational transition in post-soviet contexts and the impact of zoos in International Education. Just prior to joining CATS Academy Tom had spent a year teaching English in Novosibirsk Russia. Here at CATS, Tom specializes in making science topics accessible to students regardless of language ability through Biology, General Science and CATS Extra Science courses. Tom also serves as advisor for the Model United Nations Club at CATS Academy Boston.

Leila Bradley
Biology Teacher
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Leila Bradley

Biology Teacher

PhD, Developmental Neurobiology, National Institute for Medical Research

Leila Bradley provides instruction in the Biological sciences from College Preparatory through to Advanced Placement as well as teaching highly topical electives such as Genetics and Biotechnology. Prior to joining CATS Academy, Leila taught at the Newman School in Boston. Leila received her PhD in Developmental Neurobiology at the National Institute for Medical Research and performed her postdoctoral training at the Whitehead Institute, MIT. Her academic research culminated in a faculty position at University College London Medical School in 2001.

Jason Feldstein
Science Teacher
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Jason Feldstein

Science Teacher

BA, Physics, Brooklyn College
BA, Film and Television, Tisch School of the Arts
MA, Cinema Studies, New York University

In the past Jason has taught Honors and CP Physics as well as Honors and AP Statistics. He currently teaches Honors Physics and AP Physics C Mechanics as well as running the film club. Before joining CATS Academy Jason Feldstein completed a Bachelor's Degree in Physics at Brooklyn College. He worked for two years as a Physics Tutor at the Brooklyn College Learning Center. Prior to his Physics degree, Jason obtained a Bachelor's degree in Film and Television from the Tisch School of the Arts as well as a Master's degree in Cinema Studies from New York University.

Jonathan Yip
Science Teacher
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Jonathan Yip

Science Teacher

Jonathan Yip teaches four sections of CP Chemistry, introducing our students at CATS to the wonder of Chemistry and equipping them with basic skills and knowledge of atoms, molecules and their reactions. This will enhance their experiences and abilities to explore Chemistry further in college. Dr. Yip also teaches one section of general science to ESL students to prepare them to take individual science classes, such as Biology, Chemistry and Physics next school year. Prior to joining CATS Academy, Jonathan worked as high school science teacher, private tutor, municipal administrator and academic research. He has eight years of experience in teaching high school science and over ten years of academic research. He is licensed and has taught all three sciences, Biology, Chemistry and Physics in addition to science electives. Over the years, Dr. Yip has fine-tuned his classes to meet his students’ abilities and needs. After earning his Bachelor and Master degrees at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Dr. Yip came to US and attended University of Chicago Physical Science Division and received his PhD. His extended knowledge in Chemistry and other science subjects will surely benefit our students at CATS.

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