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Science

The objective of science education is to bring about scientific literacy through inquiry, exploration and application. As stated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Project 2061, “A scientifically literate person is one who is aware that science, mathematics, and technology are interdependent human enterprises with strengths and limitations; understands key concepts and principles of science; is familiar with the natural world and recognizes both its diversity and unity; and uses scientific knowledge and scientific ways of thinking for individual and social purposes.”
 
The department hopes to engender a scientific worldview that includes certain beliefs: the world is understandable; scientific ideas are subject to change; science knowledge is durable but cannot provide answers to all questions; science relies on inquiry, evidence and analysis to explain and predict; and scientific work is a complex social activity that has generally accepted ethical principles of conduct. The department desires to impart the attitude of the true scientist to students—one that is open-minded, investigative, curious and embraces the idea that science is a process rather than an accumulation of facts. The laboratory orientation of the courses fosters cooperative interaction and emphasizes that science is an active, social enterprise.
  • Accelerated Physics

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: Algebra I, concurrent enrollment in Honors Geometry and department recommendation

    This course explores major physics principles through experiments and demonstrations with an emphasis on applied concepts quantified by more-advanced mathematics. Therefore, students must have a mastery of algebra. As in Physics, students employ the scientific method to make observations and measurements, graphically analyze data, and describe those relationships both in words and mathematical equations. These skills are used to explore, develop and apply scientific ideas about motion and forces, momentum and energy, and electricity and magnetism in greater depth and at a faster pace than in the Physics course.
  • AP Biology

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: Honors Chemistry and department recommendation

    This class is the equivalent of a college introductory biology course and is divided into seven major units that span all levels of biological organization, from atoms and molecules to cells and organs to interactions among organisms. These units have been developed with the four big ideas of the AP Biology curriculum framework in mind: that the process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life; that biological systems utilize free energy and molecular building blocks to grow, to reproduce and to maintain homeostasis; that living systems store, retrieve, transmit and respond to information essential to life processes; that biological systems interact, and that these systems and their interactions possess complex properties. Science is more than a collection of facts; it is a process of observing and understanding the natural world. To that end, scientific literacy is fostered through this class, which allows students an opportunity to practice the process of science through laboratory exploration.
  • AP Chemistry

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: Honors Chemistry and department recommendation

    The  AP Chemistry course prepares students to qualify for transferable college credit through the Advanced Placement examination program. The course is for students with a great interest and ability in science. Building on a strong foundation in chemistry, this course teaches the advanced science student originality in observation and experimentation, precision in advanced mathematical calculations, computer-based graphing, data collection and analysis. Conducting rigorous qualitative and quantitative laboratory experiments and writing comprehensive analytical lab reports are emphasized in order to satisfy equivalent demands of college freshman chemistry.
  • AP Physics 2

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: Honors Algebra II and department recommendation; at least Honors Precalculus as a corequisite

    This course is a rigorous, non-calculus-based study of classical and modern physics with the goal of preparing students to take the AP Physics 2 exam. The fast-paced program emulates the lecture portion of survey courses commonly taught at colleges and universities. Emphasis is on reading, understanding and interpreting physical information; developing problem-solving techniques; refining analytical and mathematical skills; and performing experiments and interpreting results. Topic areas include a review of mechanics, including rotational dynamics; fluid mechanics and thermodynamics; electricity and magnetism; waves and optics; and atomic and nuclear physics.
  • Biology

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: Chemistry

    This laboratory course provides an introduction to the basic concepts and unifying principles of modern biology. The course introduces topics at the organismal, cellular and molecular levels. Major themes include unity and diversity of species, mechanisms of information flow and species change, cell structure and division, and human body systems (with an emphasis on the immune, neurological, digestive and cardiovascular systems). The importance of understanding the organism as a whole is stressed, as well as the interaction of organisms with their environment. The course includes significant laboratory and project components, with an emphasis on the use of current technological resources as teaching and learning tools.
  • Biotechnology

    1 semester, 1/2 credit; 2nd semester only
    Prerequisite: Biology or AP Biology

    The Biotechnology class is a lab-based class in which students learn molecular biology techniques in both an experimental and health-based context. Appropriate for all students who have completed either prerequisite biology course, this hands-on class builds on the junior experience by allowing students to explore cutting-edge science in an approachable way. Students learn to manipulate DNA and work with recombinant proteins, among other techniques. An emphasis is also placed on understanding how core techniques can be used to address health issues and other societal challenges. Students have the opportunity to design their own experiments and connect with the local biotechnology community through field trips.
  • Chemistry

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: Algebra I or Algebra IB and Physics

    This general chemistry class is a laboratory course intended for all students who have completed Physics. Addressing the properties and behavior of matter, this course employs a combination of discussion and laboratory formats. Students develop skills in applying scientific reasoning to laboratory-generated data and in problem solving based on the use of mathematical applications. Mastery of the terminology and symbols of chemistry and the use and preparation of data tables and graphs are goals. Specific topic areas include atomic and molecular theory, phases of matter, atomic structure, periodic properties, energy of chemical reactions, chemical kinetics, equilibrium reactions, solubility and ionization, oxidation and reduction, and electrochemical cells.
  • Chemistry Honors

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: Algebra I, Physics and department recommendation

    This rigorous chemistry class is highly recommended for students who plan to take AP Biology and/or AP Chemistry. While covering the same topics as Chemistry, the Honors Chemistry class emphasizes independent learning and more-extensive laboratory investigations. Students approach problem solving using rigorous mathematical models and delve deeper into the basic chemical processes at a faster pace than in the Chemistry course. Mastery of algebra and comfort with abstract thinking are a must.
  • Marine Biology

    1 semester, 1/2 credit; 1st semester only
    Prerequisite: Biology or AP Biology

    This course takes an ecological approach to examining the ocean habitat and the organisms that live in it. Designed for students who have already taken Biology or AP Biology, the course will reinforce key biological principles and address the specific applications of those principles to marine systems. Marine organisms from all three domains of life will be examined in the context of the major ocean habitats, from intertidal zones to the deep sea floor. Particular attention will be paid to the evolutionary and ecological context for characteristics of organisms and communities. Local resources, such as tide pools and nature centers, will be employed to the fullest extent possible, and modern molecular biology and other techniques will be used frequently to address the current state of ocean research.
  • Neuroscience (Honors)

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: AP Biology and department recommendation

    Although the brain weighs only three pounds and is small enough to hold in your hands, it is the body's most vital organ. The Neuroscience class explores the biology of the brain and the mind. Using the foundation established in AP Biology, students study the unique cells and chemicals that make up the brain and the central nervous system. Students will investigate topics such as basic anatomy, function of cells and integration of function—specifically sensation, perception, movement and memory. Additional areas of study include addiction and drugs, mental health, brain disorders and diseases, and nervous system injuries and treatments. The class emphasizes reading of primary sources and maximizes study of the most current ideas in neuroscience today.
  • Physics

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: Algebra I or IA

    This course promotes conceptual understanding of major physics principles through interesting and thought-provoking experiments, demonstrations and unifying projects such as a projectile launcher and a rollback vehicle. Students employ the scientific method to make observations and measurements, graphically analyze data, and describe those relationships both in words and mathematical equations. These skills are used to explore, develop and apply scientific ideas about motion and forces, momentum and energy, and electricity and magnetism.