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Upper School: Electives

Upper School Electives STEM STEM

Science Research

Our STEM electives allow students to go beyond the required curriculum to further investigate specific areas of interest in math and science. We encourage students to take these courses to better understand real-life applications of mathematics and science.

Intended for students in grades 10–12 who have completed a research internship either at Riverdale in the Summer Research Program or as an intern/ volunteer in a research laboratory and/ or field setting outside the school. Students who are preparing to carry out summer research will be guided in locating a lab.

Learning Experience


Through our inquiry-based approach in science, we help students understand basic science and the scientific method so they will be informed followers of scientific developments and discriminating citizens who can evaluate the validity of scientific claims. In our math courses, we emphasize problem-solving skills, reasoning and communication, establishing connections between the various disciplines, and using technology as a tool.

A college level introduction to the study of human behavior. Topics explored include: the different theories and perspectives of psychology, critical thinking skills and research methods, including statistical analysis, personality theories, the biological basis of behavior, development, theories of learning, memory, cognition and intelligence, sensation and perception, states of consciousness, motivation and emotion, psychological disorders and treatment, and social psychology.

Science, Economics, and Politics of Water An in-depth look at what is surely becoming one of the most important substances on earth, if not the most important. We look at the chemical, biological, historical, political and economic aspects of water, and the current politics and economics of water use in this country and in developing countries.

Astronomy This course is designed to help students better understand how the earth is impacted by the solar system, the galaxy, and the cosmos. Topics include the celestial sphere, historical and modern astronomy techniques, the solar system, the birth and death of stars, light, gravity, and cosmology.


Molecular Biology We focuse on the basic technology of DNA manipulation and genetic engineering principles. Students conduct experiments that involve the transformation of E. coli; DNA fingerprinting; plasmid mapping; isolation of chromosomal DNA from E. coli; Southern Blotting; and extraction of mitochondrial DNA from plant cells.

Marine Biology (Biological Oceanography) A one-semester introduction to marine biology with an emphasis on the relationships between marine organisms and their environments. Specific marine environments, adaptations of organisms, interrelationships between organisms and the behavior of animals will be explored.

Mathematical Approaches to Economics This course introduces students to the fundamental definitions and theories of Micro- and Macro-economics, including supply & demand, cost vs. benefit, profit & loss, efficient markets, market regulation (e.g. taxes, subsidies, price ceilings, minimum wages), capitalist competition & monopoly. While the course requires reading and discussions of economic theories, our goal is to employ graphical and computational skills from Algebra and Precalculus to accurately and objectively quantify the costs and benefits of various financial scenarios and policies.

Profile for Riverdale Country School

The Riverdale Learning Experience (2019)  

The Riverdale learning experience is influenced by many factors: the growing science of how children learn, the role of character strengths...

The Riverdale Learning Experience (2019)  

The Riverdale learning experience is influenced by many factors: the growing science of how children learn, the role of character strengths...