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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: Recommendation from science and math teacher

    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 the Physics course, 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, reproduce and 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 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 some laboratory and significant project components with an emphasis on the use of current technological resources as teaching and learning tools.
  • Biology (Honors)

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: Chemistry and department recommendation

    The intent of this rigorous, in-depth one-year course is to provide students with a holistic approach to the study of living things. A strong emphasis is on practical work through experiments and field studies. Topics of study include cellular biology, molecular biology, genetics, ecology, evolution and human physiology. Students will have opportunities to design and complete their own investigations, collect and process data, analyze results, collaborate with peers, and evaluate and communicate their findings.
  • 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 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 in Chemistry, Honors Chemistry 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 is a must.
  • Environmental Systems, Art and Culture: Science

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: Biology (can be taken concurrently), may be taken at an honors or non-honors level

    Environmental Systems, Art and Culture is a course that integrates all subjects mentioned above without separation or hierarchical value. With each topic beginning with a foundation in various environmental science, topics range from biological knowledge to surveys and research. Concurrently, classroom learning will address the implications of global and local communities on various environmental systems, focusing particularly on the ramifications and effects on marginalized communities. Art-making is one of the pillars of the class and students will be offered a wide variety of artistic mediums to engage. Students do not need to have taken a visual arts course, but they are expected to bring their energy and creativity. Students will engage in the parallel process of discussion, action, and creation that exists in the lives of artists and activists as cultural producers. Using the classroom and wider San Diego as a laboratory, students will develop and explore their personal values and begin to see them in relation to broader society. They will engage in extended community service projects that address the overarching themes of the course. Ultimately, the course will empower students to make thoughtful and educated decisions about their own future, to find joy in human connections, artwork and teamwork, and use their discovered strengths to better our current environment. This is a dual block class; it meets for two blocks and fulfills both the elective and science credit.
  • Marine Biology

    1 semester, 1/2 credit; 1st semester only 
    Prerequisite: Biology, Biology (H), 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, Honors 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 seafloor. Particular attention will be paid to the evolutionary and ecological context for the 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 or teacher 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. Topics to be investigated include basic anatomy, the 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, diseases, and nervous system injuries and treatments. The class emphasizes reading of primary sources and maximizes the study of the most current ideas in neuroscience today.
  • Organic Chemistry/Organic Chemistry (H)

    2 semesters, 1 credit 
    Prerequisite: Chemistry or Honors Chemistry, may be taken at an honors or non-honors level 

    Organic Chemistry is a second-year chemistry course where organic molecules form the basis of exploration. Each unit will center around an experiment or project and involve understanding the history, usage and impact of organic molecules. Topics include organic molecular structure and nomenclature, properties of organic molecules, organic chemical reactions and biochemistry. This course is ideal for those who enjoyed their first-year chemistry course and are excited to build on that knowledge by taking a deep dive into the fascinating world of organic chemistry.
  • Physics

    2 semesters, 1 credit 
    Prerequisite: Algebra I

    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.
  • Sports Science

    2 semesters, 1 credit (can also be taken for 1 semester, 1/2 credit) 
    Grade 12 
    Sports Science is an inquiry-based course rooted in the following question: what influences athletic performance? Students examine this question from a scientific lens, focusing on the findings from the scientific literature that are practical to athletes. Sports performance is multi-variable so the course takes a broad purview, examining the role of training, environment, nutrition, psychology, sleep, genetics and ergogenic aids in predicting and explaining athletic success. In addition, students will engage with the scientific process as a participant, not merely a spectator, and complete an independent research project based on their personal athletic endeavors or a professional athletic organization.

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9490 Genesee Avenue
La Jolla, CA 92037

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