Science

Science at Fountain Valley School instills curiosity and equips students with the habits needed to ask and answer questions employing the scientific method. Set on 1,100 acres of rolling prairie, the campus itself is a learning landscape and laboratory for many science classes. 

Classes are dynamic and hands-on with an exciting array of offerings. Choose from courses in engineering, robotics, life science, anatomy, physiology, the human brain and more. The program strives to strengthen students’ understanding of the workings of their own bodies, the intricacies of the physical and biological world, the universe around them, and their place as stewards within it. Open-ended problem solving and experiential learning gives you opportunities to put scientific information to practical use and see yourself as an active participant in the scientific process. 
 

List of 17 items.

  • Advanced Environmental Science

    Prerequisites: Grade of B+ or higher in Biology, A‑ or higher in Chemistry, or B+ or higher in Honors Chemistry and departmental recommendation.
    This course aims to develop citizens who can make informed, knowledgeable decisions concerning environmental issues. By nature, environmental science is interdisciplinary and includes topics in ecology, population dynamics, atmospheric science, environmental quality, resource allocation and the economic and ethical impacts of environmental issues. Hands‑on activities include field investigations of local ecosystems as well as traditional labs and independent projects. In addition, we will take field trips to explore local resources. This AP level class is designed so that a student will be prepared to take the AP Environmental Science exam. The AP exam will not serve as the final for the class.
  • AP Biology

    Prerequisites: Grade of B+ or higher in Biology, A‑ or higher in Chemistry, or B+ or higher in Honors Chemistry and/or departmental recommendation.
    Students enrolled in an AP course are required to take the corresponding AP exam in May. This course is a rigorous, college‑level survey of major biological concepts including biochemistry, cell structure and function, genetics, evolution, ecology, kingdoms of organisms and animal physiology. Students should expect extensive reading, lab work and independent projects in preparation for the Advanced Placement examination.
  • AP Chemistry

    Prerequisites: Grade of B+ in Honors Chemistry and/or departmental recommendation, with concurrent enrollment in Algebra II or above.
    Students enrolled in an AP course are required to take the corresponding AP exam in May. AP Chemistry is a college level chemistry course designed to meet the requirements of the advanced placement curriculum as defined by the College Board. The course seeks to meet these curriculum requirements within a laboratory framework. Emphasis will be placed on developing experimental techniques and real world applications of chemistry. This college level course focuses on topics such as: thermodynamics, thermochemistry, physical behavior of gases, states and structures of matter, chemical equilibrium and kinetics, and various chemical reactions. Challenging, regular laboratory exercises, requiring quantitative, rather than merely qualitative analysis, will be emphasized in this course.
  • AP Computer Science A

    Students enrolled in an AP course are required to take the corresponding AP exam in May. Knowledge of programming and programming techniques has become a crucial 21st century skill in a myriad of fields such as medicine and health, engineering, business, finance, science, and of course technology. The use of computers to simulate real-world events increases each year, and the complexity of computer algorithms likewise increases to provide better information each year. The AP Computer Science A course provides an introduction to computer science and programming assuming basic proficiencies in computers or programming. Students will learn the basics of creating programs to solve various problems and continue to learn more advanced techniques to contend with more difficult problems as the year progresses. Java, a popular object-oriented programming language, will provide students with the opportunity to learn how to program and then develop more complex solutions to problems as the year progresses.
  • AP Physics C: Mechanics

    Prerequisites: Grade of A‑ or higher in Chemistry, B+ or higher in Physics or Honors Chemistry, and departmental recommendation with concurrent enrollment in Advanced Calculus AB or above.
    Students enrolled in an AP course are required to take the corresponding AP exam in May. This course provides an intensive investigation of the main principles of mechanics and is representative of an introductory college course typically required for engineering and science majors. Specifically, the following six content areas will be covered: kinematics; Newton’s laws of motion; work, energy, and power systems of particles and linear momentum; circular motion and rotation; and oscillations and gravitation. The course utilizes guided inquiry and student‑centered learning to foster the development of critical thinking skills and uses introductory differential and integral calculus throughout the course.
  • Astronomy

    Astronomy will cover the history of astronomical discoveries, the motion of our solar system, stellar evolution and the life cycle of stars, telescopes and their function, optics and methods of experimentation, relative celestial motion, constellations, galaxies and the universe. Traditional coursework will be supplemented with online simulations, hands‑on labs and modeling, observations of the night sky, and field trips to the Phipps Observatory at Colorado College. (This class is offered every other year.)
  • Biology

    From ecosystems and evolution to heredity and human physiology, this course focuses on human interactions with the biosphere. The course provides a thoughtful and complete inquiry into basic concepts in ecology, human genetics, evolution, life origins, and the relationship between humans and the living world. Laboratory and field experiences are featured throughout the year. Biology is a required course for graduation and is usually taken in the freshman year.
  • Biomedical Science: Crossroads of Science and Medicine

    Prerequisite: One year of high school Biology and one year of high school Chemistry
    The field of biomedical science is at the crossroads of scientific discoveries and their applications in medical science with the goal of understanding and solving the 21 st century’s greatest threats to human health such as fighting cancer with nanotechnology. By interrelating the foundations of biology, chemistry, and physiology this class will explore the foundations of how human cells and body systems function and how they can dysfunction, mechanisms of drug actions, modes of disease, modern research techniques, and current issues and ethical dilemmas in the fields of science and medicine with hands‑on, real world, problem solving strategies. We will work though relevant case studies and play the role of biomedical professionals setting out to solve medical mysteries. We will also undertake an investigation of how a strong understanding of biomedical science can lead to careers in human and veterinary medicine and other health professions, scientific research, biotechnology and bioengineering, pharmacology and drug development, scientific writing, and even law and business.
  • Chemistry

    This course covers fundamental chemistry topics exposing students to organic and biochemistry as well as environmental and industrial chemistry. The course is 50% laboratory‑based with fully integrated lab activities. Decision‑making activities are utilized to give students practice in applying their chemistry knowledge in various problem‑solving situations. This course addresses the fundamental concepts and principles of chemistry and will prepare students for electives in the science department, but not necessarily AP science courses (see Honors Chemistry).
  • Colorado Ecology: Reading Landscape Through the Poet and Naturalist Lens

    Note: this class may count as a half credit for Science or English
    A scientist and a writer must both sharpen their powers of observation and hone their ability to share their insights. While learning about the local environment, its flora and fauna, students will read poetry and prose about wilderness in general and Colorado in particular. Butterflies, stink bugs, and Northern Flickers will mix with haikus, sonnets, and essays as we explore the relationship between the individual and the landscape. Students will write various types of essays, from the personal to the objective, as well as poetry. Students will also make a collection of bugs from our local prairie ecosystem and learn the typical bird residents of our campus. A two‑day backpack trip may be part of the course and gives students a direct experience of walking through Colorado’s ecological life‑zones, from foothills through the alpine. Readings will be drawn from Thoreau’s Walden, Williams’ Refuge, Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer, and Galvin’s The Meadow, along with poetry from Wordsworth, Frost, Berry, Snyder, and Atwood. Students will also sample some current natural history writers like Annie Dillard, David Duncan and Terry Tempest Williams.
  • General Physics

    Prerequisite: successful completion of Algebra 1
    General Physics is one of the cornerstones of scientific study and the foundation of engineering disciplines. This laboratory and algebra based course focuses on kinematics, forces, energy and momentum as well as electrostatics, circuits, waves and optics. Without overly emphasizing computation, this course focuses on physics as clarified in graphs and mathematical equations utilizing hands‑on labs, projects, and activities with consistent practice in problem solving and data analysis. This course is open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
  • Geology

    Colorado Springs is located in one of the best regions of the world to study geology—the structure of the Earth and its associated processes. We have at our back door approximately two billion years of geology deposited in the rock record. This field‑based course utilizes 12 to 15 field trips focusing on the geologic history of Colorado and the Western United States. Students compile their own extensive rock and mineral collection from field trips and develop a field journal. The class also explores traditional aspects of geology such as plate tectonics theory, rock and mineral identification and glaciation. Since humans have occupied the planet for a scant 4 million of the 4.8 billion years since its creation, studying geology affords a unique combination of learning a science and also gaining perspective on our origins within the physical world.
  • Honors Chemistry

    Prerequisites: Grade of A‑ or higher in Biology or prior science class, teacher recommendation, and direct communication with the teacher and Dept. Chair prior to registration.
    Chemistry is the study of matter and energy and the interactions between them. This course covers not only the basic curriculum of chemistry, such as atomic structure, the periodic table, chemical bonds, and chemical reactions, gases, acids and bases, but also allows for increased depth on each unit, more challenging laboratory exercises, and the application of what we learn in the fields of biochemistry and biomedical science. Moreover, this course is specifically designed to properly prepare students for the higher standards and increased content of all AP Science courses and is a prerequisite for AP Chemistry.
  • Mysteries of the Human Brain

    Prerequisite: One year of high school Biology and one year of high school Chemistry
    Neuroscience has been identified as the 21 st century’s scientific frontier and “Mysteries of the Human Brain” is a one-semester journey delving into how this amazing network of cells achieves the seemingly infinite tasks it accomplishes to out‑function even the most complex supercomputer on the planet. This class will explore the many astonishing feats of the brain's structure and function by gaining an intimate understanding of the workings of individual brain cells, their means of communication, and how they work together to form neuronal networks and circuits that control all the varied functions we perform and establish the workings of our mind and emotions. In order to establish our understanding, we will draw on the fields of chemistry, biology, physics, physiology, psychology, and computer science. As our knowledge base is built we will explore the means of neurological diseases and injury, how the brain accomplishes the tasks of learning and memory, the effects of drugs and pharmaceuticals on brain function, and current topics and careers in the neuroscience field.
  • Principles of Engineering

    Principles of Engineering incorporates four engineering design projects. The first two projects will involve the students replicating their design from paper and the computer—Computer Aid Design (CAD)—to create a three-dimensional model! The latter two projects will involve miniature circuit designs and exposure to microcontrollers to create a sensor measuring device and a robotic toy car. The intent of this course is to educate the students about popular engineering tools (CAD and microcontrollers) and skills used in universities and industries for a wide range of fields in engineering. This course will expose the students to learn how to critically think, solve, and innovate solutions as a team and individually
  • Robotics

    Robotics uses the LEGO Mindstorms system to create several robots. Robots will be programmed using a C based language to receive information from sensors, interpret the information, and complete tasks. Robots will compete against each other in classroom competitions which will get progressively more difficult as the semester goes on. In addition to constructing the robots, the class will study the history of robotics along with current advancements and applications.
  • Sustainable Science

    In a purely human sense, to sustain literally means to keep one's self functioning or enduring at a certain level. In our world today, this word has taken on a wide array of social and environmental implications, with dynamics such as global warming, fossil fuel extraction and food production practices impacting our world. This class will start from a premise that we all sustain ourselves through a variety of practices, beliefs and interactions, both with our physical surroundings and with the events of daily life that surround us. In class, we will explore the following dynamics that affect sustainability: the science of cooking and eating, ecosystem awareness and appreciation, making good nutritional choices and understanding where our food is sourced, and mindful consumption (becoming self‑reliant by understanding & producing the products that we use daily). The majority of what we study and learn will stem from making products in a hands‑on fashion and understanding the associated scientific processes involved.

List of 5 members.

  • Photo of Brett Rubenstein

    Brett Rubenstein 

    Science Department Chair
    (719) 391-5347
  • Photo of Robert Gustke

    Robert Gustke 

    Science Faculty, Varsity Girls Swimming Coach
    (719) 391-5326
  • Photo of Katheryn Baker

    Katheryn Baker 

    Science Faculty, Interim Co-Director, Technical Theater Director
    (719) 391-5329
  • Photo of Jennie Agin

    Jennie Agin 

    Science Faculty
    (719) 391-5259
  • Photo of Lee Derr

    Lee Derr 

    Science Faculty
FVS is a private, college-preparatory, co-ed, day and boarding school for grades 9-12 in Colorado Springs.
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