Science Summer Assignment 2010 - 2011

Science summer work is required of all Pomfret students enrolled in yearlong science core courses (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology) at the college prep and honors levels. AP science course have specific summer assignments that differ from those described below. If you have requested an AP science course, please contact the registrar or academic dean to learn of placement decisions and to obtain specific instructions regarding summer work.

Q: I am new to Pomfret. Which science course will I take? What summer work do I need to complete?

Students are placed in a core science course according to our Physics-first sequence and in a manner consistent with the student's previous transcript. Pomfret students take Physics, then Chemistry, and then Biology. Students new to Pomfret who have yet to take high school Physics are enrolled in a physics course, even in the freshman (III form) year. New juniors or seniors who have completed two core sciences are placed in the course still needed for graduation. If questions remain regarding science summer reading (placement), please contact Don Gibbs, chair of the science department, at

The summer science assignments described below are for non-Advanced Placement courses in physics, chemistry and biology. The same assignment is required for each core course at the honors and college-prep level.




Physics Foundations, Physics, Physics-Freshman Honors, and Physics Honors

In the upcoming school year, you'll be using a powerful computer program called Mathematica. You'll be able to take notes, perform calculations, take data in the lab, create graphs, and take tests, all within the same program.

In order to get used to Mathematica, go to the following link and watch the series of short video screencasts recorded by teachers in the science department. They'll guide you through the different methods of using the program so you can hit the ground running this fall.

Click here for the Mathematica tutorials:

If you are bringing your own computer to school in the fall, you can download and install Mathematica on your computer and try out some of the methods ahead of time. If you do, you'll be able to hit the ground running when school starts.

Go to: and download either the PC or Mac version for students.

To register the program so that you can use it, you'll need to use your new Pomfret School email address. Send an email from your Pomfret account to Mr. Geyer at

Chemistry Courses: Honors Chemistry and Chemistry

Students enrolled in Chemistry and Chemistry Honors are assigned to watch the PBS NOVA ScienceNOW segment Island of Stability. The program is available for on-line viewing at and is about 15 minutes in length. The video chronicles efforts to manufacture new, heavy elements, which are not found in nature, and describes theories about nuclear composition and stability that are being tested by this research. The website also contains several content links that can be accessed for additional information.

After viewing the film, complete the summer chemistry assignment by accessing either the Word document, the Mathematica document, or the Rich Text file found below. Download any version of the assignment onto your computer, rename and save the document as directed, and then follow the directions within the document. Submit your completed assignment by email to by August 31st. Early submissions are encouraged.

Chemistry Summer Assignment 2010 (MS Word)
Chemistry Summer Assignment 2010 (Mathematica)
Chemistry Summer Assignment 2010 (Text File)

Biology Courses: Honors Biology and Biology

Students enrolled in Biology and Honors Biology are assigned to watch the PBS NOVA program Lord of the Ants. The program is available for on-line viewing at Lord of the Ants is shown in a series of five chapters that total about 50 minutes. The video chronicles the life and contributions of noted biologist E.O. Wilson, the world's foremost expert on ants and a champion of efforts to classify, appreciate, and preserve the richness of life on planet Earth. Wilson has made a career of studying the very small (ants) while gaining tremendous insight into very large and important biological concepts. You can also learn about Wilson's ideas on biological diversity by clicking the link and reading a brief essay entitled What is Left to Explore.

After viewing the film and reading the essay become a backyard biologist. The assignment is:

(A) Observe a single example of a local insect species outside in its natural habitat/environment.
(B) Collect (and freeze) or photograph a specimen of the insect.
(C) Observe and record the environment in which it was found.
(D) Observe and record its behavior in that environment.
(E) Use library resources (field guides by Simon & Shuster, Peterson, Audubon, etc.) to identify the organism by its common and scientific names (genus and species).
(F) Record notes about your insect's characteristics and its habitat from the field guides and
(G) Compare the habitat in which you found your insect to the information in the field guide.
(H) Make certain to create a full bibliography for all the information you record.
(I) Use a magnifying lens to create a detailed pencil drawing of your insect, just as Wilson does in the film. The drawing is to be larger than life (no smaller than 3" x 3") and include details such as bristles and fine body features.
(J) Find your organism on E.O. Wilson's Encyclopedia of Life ( and print the page about your organism from this website.
(K) Lastly, describe three specific physical features and or behaviors that permit this particular insect to be successful. In other words, in what specific ways is the organism adapted to its natural environment and/or built to do the things that it does, helping it to survive and thrive.

Bring all of these components (B-K), coordinated to form a polished summary of your experience, to your biology on the first day of classes.