SCIENCE

6 semesters/30 credits required

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

EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENT for all science class:  

All classes need the use of an appropriate computer as outlined in the Technology requirements.  Chromebooks are not robust enough for the science classes.

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 science elective.  Physical science includes all levels of chemistry and all levels of physics.  Life science includes the courses Biology, Biology Honors, Biotechnology Laboratory Fundamentals, Biology AP, and Environmental Science AP.   Introduction to Engineering and Computer Science Principles AP are acceptable science electives that meet the 3rd year requirement. *

* A typical sequence for most students for entrance into a competitive college or university would include a year each of biology, chemistry and physics. Please visit our STEAM page for a chart of typical course sequence.

College Prep Courses

Honors & Advanced Placement Courses

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 biology, genetics, heredity, evolution, classification, botany, phylogenetic biology and comparative anatomy. Students 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 lab reports, model building, oral reports, quizzes, tests and an individual science experiment.

#3500 CHEMISTRY
10 credits - Grade(s) 10, 11, 12  
Prerequisite: C or better in Biology or 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 lab reports, model building, oral reports, quizzes, tests and a laboratory research project.

#3515 CONCEPTUAL CHEMISTRY
10 credits - Grade(s) 10, 11, 12  
Prerequisite: Completion of Biology or Biology Honors

Conceptual Chemistry is a physical science course that emphasizes chemical changes, applied mathematics and the scientific method.  Topics to be studied include: molecular and atomic theory, the Periodic Table, stoichiometry, physical properties of matter and chemical reactions.  This chemistry course is designed for students who need more support making the applications between Algebra II and chemistry.  The student will have the experience of participating in a variety of laboratory experiments.  Other presentation methods include: lecture/ demonstration, discussions, problem solving, games, songs, videos, computer labs and research. There will be individualized instruction to develop specific student skills as identified. Student learning will be evaluated by 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)
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, electricity and other topics as time permits. 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.

#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.

#2077 INTRODUCTION TO ENGINEERING
10 credits - Grade(s) All  
Prerequisite: Enrollment in Geometry or higher

Introduction to Engineering is a yearlong, hands-on, project based course.  Rooted in the engineering design process, students will design, test, and improve their designs in order to meet various needs.  Students apply concepts learned in science and math classes in order to complete projects across numerous engineering disciplines including civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science.  Many of the projects are self-selected based on individual interest.  A capstone project allows students to creatively problem solve and engineer a solution to a community need.  Students will explore the role of engineers in society in addition to their own hands-on engineering experience.  This class is highly collaborative and builds technical as well as communication skills.

This course meets the A-G UC requirement for science.

Honors Program

Prerequisites for Honors and Advanced Placement Courses in Science

Honors and Advanced Placement Program

Honors and Advanced Placement eligibility is based on student reflection of their skills, work habits, and desire to embrace the challenges and opportunities that the honors and Advanced Placement courses present.  Students will be guided by a recommendation by their current science teacher. Students should refer to the resources provided to help differentiate between the courses to help support their decisions

NOTE:  With the exception of Computer Science Principles Advanced Placement, Advanced Placement courses are limited to juniors and seniors and they are allowed to take only one AP Science class per year.

#3015 HONORS BIOLOGY
10 credits - Grade(s) 9 
Prerequisite: see Prerequisites for Honors and Advanced Placement 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 lab reports, model building, oral reports, quizzes, tests and an individual science experiment.

#3030 BIOLOGY ADVANCED PLACEMENT
10 credits - Grade(s) 11, 12 
Prerequisite: see Prerequisites for Honors and Advanced Placement 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, cell structure and function, cellular energetics, cell communication and cell cycle, heredity, molecular gene expression and regulation, natural selection, and ecology.

#3550 HONORS CHEMISTRY
10 credits - Grade(s) 10, 11
Prerequisite: see Prerequisites for Honors and Advanced Placement 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 lab reports, model building, oral reports, quizzes, tests and a laboratory research project.

#3510 CHEMISTRY ADVANCED PLACEMENT
10 credits - Grade(s) 11, 12
Prerequisite: see Prerequisites for Honors and Advanced Placement Courses in Science   

Chemistry AP is a rigorous, second year, lab-intensive chemistry course that is the equivalent of a college-level general chemistry class. Chemistry AP is a course geared toward students with interests in chemical and physical sciences, as well as any of the biological sciences. The course prepares students to take the Chemistry Advanced Placement exam in the spring of the academic year.  Chemistry AP topics include atomic theory, chemical bonding, phases of matter, stoichiometry, solutions, types of reactions, behavior of gases, acids and bases and chemical equilibrium, reaction kinetics, electrochemistry, and thermodynamics.  Labs are an important part of AP chemistry.  The 16+ labs require following or developing processes and procedures, taking observations, manipulating data and creating and interpreting graphs. 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 PHYSICS 1 ADVANCED PLACEMENT
10 credits - Grade(s) 11, 12
Prerequisite: see Prerequisites for Honors and Advanced Placement Courses in Science 
Fee: Fees will be collected for field trips to the Exploratorium.

Physics 1 AP is a one-year, college-level laboratory physics class. The Physics 1 AP 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.

Physics 1 ADVANCED PLACEMENT is suggested for students planning to attend a U.C. campus, especially for those planning to major in math, science or engineering.

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

The Environmental Science AP 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. 

#2083  COMPUTER SCIENCE PRINCIPLES ADVANCED PLACEMENT
10 credits - Grade(s) All
Prerequisites: Completion of Algebra

Computer Science Principles AP introduces students to the foundational concepts of computer science and challenges them to explore how computing and technology can impact the world. With a unique focus on creative problem solving and real-world applications, Computer Science Principles AP prepares students for college and career.  The course takes a non-language specific approach to introduce students to the creative aspects of programming, abstractions, algorithms, large data sets, the Internet, cybersecurity concerns, and computing impacts.  Computer Science Principles AP will give students the opportunity to use technology to address real-world problems and build relevant solutions.  Students will create a portfolio of performance tasks completed throughout the year.

This course meets the A-G UC requirement for Science

 

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#3700 INDEPENDENT SCIENCE RESEARCH PROGRAM
5 credits - Grade(s) All     
Prerequisite: A submission of a statement of interest and 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:

  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