At York Country Day School, we work to help each student pursue excellence as a Scholar, Artist, Athlete and Citizen and it all begins in Preschool. Country Day offers a comprehensive, project-rich, college preparatory education for students in Preschool through grade 12. Two important facets of our curriculum are science and the arts. The science program begins in Preschool where children explore their world. They examine seeds and plant beans. They look at the plant roots and discover how variables such as sunlight and water affect the plants growth. They also conduct a yearlong creek study, which focuses on observation and recording skills.
When students enter Lower School, they begin to use a curriculum called FOSS or Full Option Science System. FOSS focuses on inquiry-based process science and engineering. This allows the students to experiment with scientific concepts rather than learning from lectures and textbooks. In first grade, students discover how worms live and what they do for the earth by watching and handling them. By third grade, children are given tools and asked to build their own electrical circuits. Fifth graders experiment with erosion and landforms in individual stream tables.
Science gets even more interesting as sixth graders pit their predictions against those of the professionals during the unit, "Are you Smarter than a Weatherman?" Middle school students complete labs on dew point and relative humidity, collect data and review online weather models to make predictions. Seventh grade finds students growing "fast plants" (Brassica rapa) as they study genetics. After pollinating the plants, gathering seeds from the mature plants and replanting, Middle School students look for changes in flower color and stem height in the second generation. These lessons allow students to learn through doing!
In Upper School, the AP Biology class learns about cell respiration while making root beer and ginger ale. Tenth grade chemistry students determine the concentration of acid in different brands of soda through an acid base titration. Students eager to dig deeper into the applied sciences have created a nozzle to maximize Laminar flow and wind tunnels to test the efficiency of pine box derby cars.
The best time to engage a child's imagination is when they are young so art, music and drama begin in Preschool. Children have music class on a regular basis and perform their pieces in various concerts throughout the school year. They are encouraged to experiment with various artistic techniques in the classroom, beginning with Kindergarten, in Art Class. The Kindergarten class performs a play based on a different children's story each year.
Lower School students take part in visual art and chorus classes multiple times a week, in which they learn about artists, art history and vocal performance. Instrumental lessons begin in fourth grade and are open to all. The band director encourages students to participate in instrumental music at all levels. In the spring, the fifth grade class performed The Common Good. This short play was created by the students with the help of a theatre professional.
As they progress into the Middle School, students delve further into experiential learning in the arts. All Middle School students sing in the spring and holiday choral concerts. They may also perform in the music ensemble. Middle School students perform a musical every May. Past productions have been Schoolhouse Rock Live! and Willy Wonka, Jr. Spring 2011's performance will be Disney's Mulan, Jr.
In addition to courses in art, theatre and music, Upper School students stage two theatre productions a year. This spring, they performed Godspell. Students can also elect to be in the Upper School Chorus and ensemble.
From Preschool to Upper School, science and the arts are exciting, enriching and challenging parts of the Country Day curriculum. Two seniors will begin college this fall with a clear sense of themselves and their strengths as Scholars, Artists, Athletes and Citizens.