Six semesters required  

[Unless otherwise noted, all academic courses in this department meet both CSU and UC entrance requirements]

GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS:  Three years of lab science required to include:  Two semesters (one year) of biology; two semesters (one year) of a physical science elective and two semesters (one year) of a second life or physical science elective or biotechnology.  "Physical Science" includes all levels of Chemistry and all levels of Physics.  “Life Science” includes the courses Biology, Biology Honors, AP Biology, Biology II - Humans in the Biosphere and AP Environmental Science. *

* A typical sequence for most students for entrance into a competitive college or university would include a year each of biology, chemistry and physics.

College Prep Classes

Honors & AP Classes

Electives

 

#3010 BIOLOGY (required)  
10 credits - Grade(s) 9, 10
Prerequisite: None   
Fee: Fees will be collected for field trips  
 

Biology is a required laboratory course that fulfills one year of Notre Dame High School’s graduation requirement for science.  The major emphases of the course are on the nature of science, evolution (change over time) and the relationships among living things.  Topics to be studied will include: the nature of science, the scientific method, the microscope, physical and chemical basis of life, cell anatomy and physiology, genetics, heredity, evolution, classification, botany, phylogenetic biology and comparative anatomy.   The student will have the experience of participating in a variety of laboratory experiments, working with both living and preserved specimens.  Other presentation methods in class will include: lecture/demonstration, discussions, problem worksheets, videos, computer labs and individual research.   Student learning will be evaluated by written homework, written lab reports, model building, oral reports, quizzes, tests and an individual science experiment.

#3020 HUMANS IN THE BIOSPHERE ~ECOLOGY, BIOTECHNOLOGY AND HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY
10 credits - Grade(s) 11, 12
Prerequisite: Completion of Biology or Biology Honors with a C or better both semesters
Fee: Fees will be collected for a field trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Humans in the Biosphere: Ecology, Biotechnology and Human Physiology is an elective laboratory course that is a continuation of Biology.  The first semester will start with a survey of biomes, ecology and population growth including the role of humans in the biosphere. Bioethics will be explored during a unit on biotechnology.   First semester will conclude with a survey of the diversity of life including viruses, monerans, protists, fungi and plants.  Second semester will cover comparative anatomy of vertebrates with an emphasis on human physiology and anatomy.  Dissections are a required part of the second semester.  The student will have the experience of participating in a variety of laboratory experiments, working with both living and preserved specimens. Other presentation methods in class will include: lecture/demonstration, discussions, problem worksheets, videos, computer labs and individual research.  Student learning will be evaluated by written homework, written lab reports, model building, oral reports, quizzes, and tests.

Humans in the Biosphere is not intended to be a replacement for Chemistry or Physics.  Students planning on a science major in college should not take this course in lieu of Physics; however non-science majors could take this as their third year of science.  Seniors have enrollment priority for this class.

#3500 CHEMISTRY
10 credits - Grade(s) 10, 11, 12  
Prerequisite: C or better in Biology Honors both semesters
Concurrent enrollment in or completion of Algebra II

Chemistry is a physical science laboratory course which emphasizes chemical changes, applied mathematics and the scientific method.  Topics will include:  molecular and atomic theory, the Periodic Table, stoichiometry, physical properties of matter, gas laws, thermodynamics and chemical reactions.   The student will have the experience of participating in a variety of laboratory experiments. Other presentation methods include: lecture/demonstration, discussions, problem worksheets, games, songs, videos, computer labs and research.  Student learning will be evaluated by written homework, written lab reports, model building, oral reports, quizzes, tests and a laboratory research project.

#3600 PHYSICS (Trigonometry-based Physics)
10 credits - Grade(s) 11, 12
Prerequisite: C or better in Algebra II and Chemistry (both semesters)
Completion or current enrollment in Trigonometry or Department approval.  NOTE:  It is strongly recommended that juniors taking physics be concurrently enrolled in trigonometry/precalculus honors or higher

Fee: Fees will be collected for a field trip to the Exploratorium.

Physics is a one-year elective laboratory course. The course is structured so that there is first a conceptual understanding and then an employment of highly effective problem solving methods to support the physical laws fundamental to all sciences. The course will cover motion, forces, vectors, momentum, energy, simple machines, waves, sound, light, reflection, refraction, lenses, mirrors, electricity, magnetism, and atomic theory. The student will have the experience of participating in a variety of laboratory experiments. Other presentation methods in class will include: lecture/demonstration, discussions, problem solving, videos, computer labs and individual research. Student learning will be evaluated by written lab reports, quizzes, tests, oral presentations, and a Physics/science project or research paper.

Physics is suggested for students planning to attend a U.C. campus and especially for those planning to major in math, science or engineering.

Honors Program

Prerequisites for Honors Courses in Science
 

Course being applied for:

Grades must be maintained throughout the year

Honors Chemistry

An A in Biology or an A- in Biology Honors and an A- in Algebra II or Algebra II Honors or concurrent enrollment in Algebra II Honors (must be eligible for Algebra II Honors at the end of the first semester)
Minimum weighted GPA of 3.8
Note: The first semester skills assessment will be a factor in determining chemistry honors placement. Students must earn an 86% or higher on the end of semester skills assessment in Biology/Biology Honors. In addition, the score on the biology chapter 2 (chemistry) test will be considered.
AP Chemistry An A in both Biology Honors and Chemistry Honors and have excelled in their math courses Completed or be concurrently enrolled in Honors Trigonometry/PreCalculus

Minimum weighted GPA of 4.0

AP Physics 1

Concurrent enrollment in Trigonometry/Pre-Calculus honors or higher (Calculus AB or BC). Must be enrolled in an approved math course.  Note:  It is strongly encouraged that students in Calculus BC enroll in AP Physics1 concurrently.  Minimum GPA of 3.8

Honors Biology

92% (or above) on the HSPT
10th grade reading level (or above) on HSPT
A’s in 7th and 8th grade science  
Concurrent enrollment in Geometry Honors or higher as a freshman

AP Biology

An A in Biology or A- in Biology Honors (both semesters) and an A in Chemistry or a B or better in Honors Chemistry
Minimum GPA of 4.0

AP Environmental Science

B or better in Biology or Biology Honors and Chemistry or Honors Chemistry  
Minimum GPA of 3.5

* The requirements noted above for honor science and AP classes are minimum requirements. A class may fill without providing a seat for all candidates who have the minimum requirements. Placements are made using Fall semester grades. If a student’s grades drop during the second semester the student may be removed from the class.

#3015 HONORS BIOLOGY
10 credits - Grade(s) 9 
Prerequisite: see Prerequisites for Honors Courses in Science 
Fee: Fees will be collected for field trips  

Honors Biology is a required laboratory course that fulfills one year of Notre Dame High School’s graduation requirement for science.  Honors Biology studies the same topics as the required biology course but in greater depth.  In addition, there will be enrichment activities for each unit that will include investigating current topics, reading scientific articles and designing experiments.  The honors biology student will be expected to be a highly engaged, independent learner.  The major emphases of the course are on the nature of science, evolution (change over time) and the relationships among living things.  Topics to be studied will include: the nature of science, the scientific method, the microscope, physical and chemical basis of life, cell anatomy and physiology, genetics, heredity, evolution, classification, botany, phylogenetic biology and comparative anatomy.   The student will have the experience of participating in a variety of laboratory experiments, working with both living and preserved specimens.  Other presentation methods in class will include: lecture/demonstration, discussions, problem worksheets, videos, computer labs and individual research using school and private resources.  Student learning will be evaluated by written homework, written lab reports, model building, oral reports, quizzes, tests and an individual science experiment.

 

#3030 AP BIOLOGY
10 credits - Grade(s) 11, 12 
Prerequisite: see Prerequisites for Honors Courses in Science
Fee: Advanced Placement Exam; Fees will be collected for field trips.  

This course is designed to be the equivalent of a college introductory course usually taken by Biology majors during their first year.  The textbook used in AP Biology is college level and the labs are the equivalent of those done by college students.  The course aims to provide students with the conceptual framework, factual knowledge, and analytical skills necessary to deal critically with the rapidly changing science of biology.  The primary emphasis will be on developing an understanding of concepts.  This conceptual understanding includes:  a grasp of science as a process rather than as an accumulation of facts, personal experience in scientific inquiry, recognition of unifying themes that integrate the major topic of biology, and the application of biological knowledge and critical thinking to environmental and social concerns.  The four big ideas that will be covered are:  Evolution, Energy Transfers, Information, and Interactions.  The topics of study will include:  chemistry of life, cells, cellular energies, evolution, heredity, molecular genetics, biotechnology, structure and function of plants and animals, and ecology.

#3550 HONORS CHEMISTRY
10 credits - Grade(s) 10, 11
Prerequisite: see Prerequisites for Honors Courses in Science        

Chemistry Honors is a fast paced physical science laboratory course which investigates the basic structure of matter through lecture, discussion, lab work, extensive reading and independent research.  This course emphasizes chemical changes, applied mathematics, the scientific method and problem solving.  Topics to be studied include molecular and atomic theory, physical states of matter, chemical reactions, the Periodic Table, organic chemistry, acid-base chemistry, redox reactions, molecular structure, colloidal properties, reaction rates, equilibrium, electrochemistry, stoichiometry, thermodynamics, kinetics, gas laws, physical properties of matter and nuclear chemistry.   The student will have the experience of participating in a variety of laboratory experiments. Other presentation methods in class include: lecture/ demonstration, discussions, problem worksheets, games, songs, videos, computer labs and research.  Student learning is evaluated by written homework, written lab reports, model building, oral reports, quizzes, tests and a laboratory research project.

#3510 AP CHEMISTRY
10 credits - Grade(s) 10, 11
Prerequisite: see Prerequisites for Honors Courses in Science  
 

AP Chemistry is a rigorous second year, lab intensive chemistry course that is to be the equivalent of a college level general chemistry class. AP Chemistry is a course geared toward students with interests in chemical and physical sciences, as well as any of the biological sciences. The course aims to prepare students to take the AP Chemistry exam toward the end of the academic year. AP Chemistry topics include atomic theory, chemical bonding, phases of matter, solutions, types of reactions, chemical equilibrium, reaction kinetics, electrochemistry, and thermodynamics.  Labs are an important part of AP chemistry.  The labs completed require following or developing processes and procedures, taking observations, and data manipulation.  See the lab list for lab details.  Students communicate and collaborate in lab groups; however each student writes a laboratory report in a lab notebook for every lab they perform.  A minimum of 25% of student contact time will be spent doing hands-on laboratory activities.

 

#3651 AP Physics 1
10 credits - Grade(s) 11, 12
Prerequisite: see Prerequisites for Honors Courses in Science
Fee: Fees will be collected for field trips to the Exploratorium.

AP Physics 1 is a one-year, college level laboratory Physics class. The AP Physics 1 course focuses on the big ideas typically included in the first semester of an algebra-based, introductory college-level physics course and provides students with enduring understandings to support future advanced coursework in the sciences. It is intended to prepare students interested in science and engineering for a standard first year college physics course. Through inquiry-based learning, students will develop critical thinking and reasoning skills. Students will develop an understanding of fundamental physical laws and the ability to apply and manipulate these laws using mathematical problem-solving techniques.  Concepts will be discovered and reinforced using a variety of laboratory experiments and demonstrations. Mathematical application of algebra and trigonometry techniques will be applied whenever relevant.

Topics covered: Kinematics, Dynamics: Newton’s laws, Circular motion and universal law of gravitation, Simple harmonic motion: simple pendulum and mass-spring systems, Impulse, linear momentum, and conservation of linear momentum in collisions, Work, energy, and conservation of energy, Rotational motion: torque, rotational kinematics and energy, rotational dynamics, and conservation of angular momentum, Electrostatics: electric charge and electric force, DC circuits: resistors only, Mechanical waves and sound.

AP Physics 1 is suggested for students planning to attend a U.C. campus and especially for those planning to major in Math, Science or Engineering

#3655 AP ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE
10 credits - Grade(s) 11, 12
Prerequisite: see Prerequisites for Honors Courses in Science
Fee: Advanced Placement Exam; Fees will be collected for field trips.    

The AP Environmental Science course is designed to be the equivalent of an introductory college course in environmental science.  It is a rigorous science course that stresses scientific principles and analysis with a strong laboratory and field investigation component.  Environmental Science is interdisciplinary yet has several major unifying themes which are: science is a process; energy conversions underlie all ecological processes; the Earth itself is one interconnected system; humans alter natural systems; environmental problems have a cultural and social context and human survival depends on developing practices that will achieve sustainable systems.  Topics to be studied include ecosystems, the flow of energy, the cycling of matter, the solid earth, the atmosphere, the biosphere, human population dynamics, renewable and nonrenewable resources, land use, waste disposal, environmental and global changes and their consequences, and environment and society.  Students will acquire skills in specific laboratory techniques and procedures such as collecting and analyzing water samples.  Students will conduct long-term studies and will analyze real data.  Fieldwork may include a trip to a local public facility such as a water-treatment plant.

 

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#3660 BIOTECHNOLOGY LABRATORY FUNDAMENTALS
10 credits - Grade(s) 11, 12
Prerequisite: Completion of Biology or Biology Honors with a C or better and department approval 


This is an elective laboratory course which provides entry level as well as advanced training in biotechnology skills, methods and applications. This course integrates the core competencies of the life science career pathway and physical sciences with the technical skills needed for post- secondary education and/or employment in the biotechnology industry.  Topics covered include history of biotechnology, standard laboratory procedures, protein structure, isolation and analysis, the products and applications of modern biotechnology, DNA structure, function, isolation and analysis, recombinant DNA and genetic engineering, synthesizing DNA and PCR, bringing the products of biotechnology to market, plant biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, bioethics in biotechnology and careers in biotechnology.

#3700 INDEPENDENT SCIENCE RESEARCH PROGRAM
5 credits - Grade(s) 9, 10, 11, 12     
Prerequisite: Department approval

Science research in the high school program is a unique opportunity for students to experience the rigor and rewards of real scientific research while still in high school. Students in this program will develop an independent plan of study with a science teacher and/or professional mentor and will provide proof of attendance at a predetermined minimum number of activities (lectures, research, outreach, presentations). While the class meets on a regular schedule, the majority of the work is conducted independently. Students will be required to attend regularly scheduled scientific talks at Notre Dame and in the community (Stanford, SLAC, SJSU, and others as identified). Students choose any topic they want to research, but are expected to pursue it enthusiastically and in a professional manner.  Students will present their projects at a local or regional science fair.  This program requires a multi-year commitment.  A sample curriculum follows:

THREE-YEAR TIMELINE The following is a three-year timeline of what is expected of a student in the science research program (Note:  this program can be modified to run freshman through junior year or  sophomore through senior year):

YEAR 1 (may start during a Notre Dame summer session prior to Freshman year):

  1. Choose a topic to pursue.
  2. Read professional scientific articles and academic texts on the topic.
  3. Narrow the topic to a specific area to research.
  4. Contact experts in the field of research.
  5. Establish a rapport with one or more professionals, leading to a student/mentor relationship and a laboratory in which to work.
  6. Complete four quarterly reports
  7. Make PowerPoint/poster presentations of scientific papers during class time and at the end-of-year science symposium.

Summer after YEAR 1:

During the summer, students begin to explore research techniques with the guidance of the mentor. Students also remain in contact with their teachers via email.

YEAR 2:

  1. Meet with mentor(s) on a regular schedule.
  2. Develop experimental procedures.
  3. Begin data collection and redefine their hypotheses if necessary.
  4. Make oral presentations of scientific papers and their preliminary results.
  5. Complete four quarterly reports
  6. Present preliminary results at the end-of-year science symposium.

Summer after YEAR 2:

A large portion of the summer is expected to be dedicated to science research. It is during this summer that most students complete data collection and begin the analysis of data under the direction of the mentor. Students continue to maintain contact with their teachers and write a preliminary draft of the research paper.

YEAR 3:

  1. Write formal, publishable papers of their research and revise quarterly.
  2. Prepare lectures and poster presentations.
  3. Showcase completed research by submitting papers and presenting their research at numerous local and national scientific competitions.
  4. Act as advisors for freshmen or sophomores entering the course.
  5. Present their final work at the end-of-year science symposium