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Physical Science

“The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1)

In Physical Science, our minds turn to the orders that govern physical phenomena.  We study the properties and behaviors of matter and energy, knowing that there is intelligence behind their design.  Because of that intelligence, we can explore their intelligibility through experience, as well as through reason, reading, lecture, discussion, and questioning.  Wonder and awe are kindled alongside the ability to analyze, explain, and predict.

After an introduction to the three constituents of the cosmos (matter, energy, and intelligence), we will explore how we measure, observe, and document as natural philosophers before digging into our study of the atom.  From the order of the periodic table to the nature of chemical reactions, we will show how the basic architecture of the atom influences and shapes every connected phenomenon.  This naturally leads us to energy, and the study of the myriad ways in which it is stored, released and changed in form.  Along the way, we explore magnets, electricity, sound, nuclear reactions, and other phenomena that involve the interplay of matter and energy.

The course is designed to engage both the arts of language and the arts of mathematics.  Reading and note-taking beforehand, plus the framing of questions associated with readings, leads to Socratic discussion and gateway lab experiences during class.  Labs are part of the class on the micro and the macro scale:  we will be running small experiments together during most sessions, ones that explain the topics at hand, and simple at-home labs involving common household items will be part of the experience, as well.

Mathematics enters as students learn to analyze what they observe.  As we discern relationships between factors and variables in a given situation, we can then distill a mathematical description and expression from the patterns we observe.  A solid foundation in arithmetic operations involving whole numbers, integers, fractions, and decimals, plus some experience in basic algebra would be an asset in this course.

In addition to the standard course sessions and labs, video clips and other links will be provided periodically to review, reinforce, and extend the learning in new directions.  An important part of learning physical science is to see what you learn in the world all around, from the living room to the sports field to the night sky.  With that in mind, many of these video experiences will be geared towards putting physics into context and helping students gain a vision of just how wide their study can be in the world.

The goal is for a student to leave the course with a firm, technical foundation in physical science, a sense of awe and wonder at God’s handiwork that tempers as well as situates that foundation, and a list of questions worthy of further exploration!

Eligible Students:
Grades 6-8; 9th graders welcome:  Students must be able to read independently and to create notes that are organized and easy to follow.  Students should be able to express themselves effectively through writing and must be capable of reviewing information and concepts on their own throughout the year outside of class.  A foundation in arithmetic, including integer, fraction, and decimals, plus experience in basic algebra would be a plus.

******Please note: The course includes multiple laboratory exercises in addition to in-class coursework.  Lab reports will require time outside of class to complete.**

Image of text book for Physical Science

Required Materials:
Books and supplies are not included in the purchase of the course.

  • Novare Physical Science, 3rd Edition, by John Mays
  • 3-Ring Binder dedicated to the course
  • Graph paper, preferably 4 square per inch
  • Ruler
  • Index Cards
  • Household materials required for labs. These will be low-cost, easily-accessible materials, to be outlined throughout the year.

Christa Maldonado has a love for learning and a deep enjoyment of puzzles and patterns. She enjoys identifying the patterns in nature, mathematics, and language that can lead the restful mind to contemplate the good and the beautiful. She has a Bachelor of Science in Natural Sciences from Excelsior College and a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management from Western Governor University. She is currently enrolled in a Master of Science in Instructional Design from Western Governor University. Although she has a great love for the patterns found in courses that give foundational structure, such as grammar and mathematics, she also enjoys learning more about the arts and sciences.
Christa is married and has three children. Her family enjoys discovering nature through hiking and camping. They live a restful life, full of good books and good food. Christa loves to read, sew, and bake. She has tutoring professionally since 2017. Christa is excited to help facilitate your child’s learning about to goodness, beauty, and truth.

Danielle Bartko is an experienced Math and Science teacher, and Orthodox Church Cantor and Choir Director. She taught in public schools and a Montessori based Orthodox private school. She has served the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese as a Cantor and Choir Director, and the Orthodox Church in America as a Choir Director. She spent countless summers at Camp Nazareth, first as a camper, and later as a counselor and chant teacher.
She holds degrees in Biology and Music from Lafayette College, and Secondary Teacher Certification from DeSales University. She has taught grades 5-12, and currently homeschools her children. She has experience in a variety of teaching methods, and has taught students with diverse academic needs. She is a lifelong learner, and has enjoyed growing and changing as an educator over the years. Her goal is to inspire her students to become lifelong learners as well.
Her Liturgical music education comes from a variety of coursework in Orthodox Music and Choral Directing. She has taken classes through Christ the Saviour Seminary and the OCA Liturgical Music Department, and independent study with Very Rev. Protopresbyter Michael Rosco and Professors Paul Hilko, George Hanas, Andrew Talarovich, and Jerry Jumba. Whenever she travels and visits a church, she will sneak into the choir loft, wait for an invitation to sing with the choir, and then ask for copies of good music to keep as a souvenir.
She grew up in New Jersey, but now lives in Pittsburgh PA with her husband and two young daughters. When she is not homeschooling her children or teaching classes, she enjoys gardening, jigsaw puzzles, SRS Iconography classes, visiting with friends and family, and going to the beach.

Red checkmarkComputer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.

Red checkmarkHigh-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.

Red checkmarkWebcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)

Red checkmarkHeadset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm

Red checkmarkZoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. unnamed-e1455142229376 To download Zoom:

  1. Visit
  2. Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
  3. Open and run the installer on your computer.
  4. In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.

Red checkmarkScanner: In this class, students frequently submit homework assignments by scanning pages from their workbooks. Students and/or their parents should have easy access to a scanner and the ability to use it.


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