Science Course Descriptions

Human Biology

(Grade 9)
Year-long

Human Biology is a year-long course in which students learn the major concepts of biological thought through a study of the biology of humans. Major concepts include cell structure and function, cell metabolism, evolution, homeostasis, disease, cellular reproduction and genetics, and organization of body systems. Topics within these major concepts include lessons in exercise physiology, human evolution, diabetes, cancer, stem cells, and cardiovascular anatomy. Students are in the laboratory a minimum of once a week and labs include organic compound identification, muscle action, osmosis, enzyme function, heart structure and function, cancerous and normal cell structure, hominid skull comparison, and bacterial populations comparison. The final exam for this course requires students to develop, conduct, and analyze an experimental procedure that answers a biological question posed by the instructor.

Chemistry

(Grade 10)
Year-long

General Chemistry is a course designed to help students discover the interconnections between the chemical elements, nature, and their everyday lives. The course involves a large number of laboratory investigations, mathematical modeling of chemical systems, computer simulations, and the exploration of different chemical careers. Major concepts that are explored include the nature of matter; atoms, molecules and the states; chemical reactions; thermochemistry; equilibrium; acid/base theory; and oxidation reduction. Additionally, students will be introduced to organic and nuclear chemistry.

AP Biology

(Grade 11, 12)
Year-long

AP Biology is a rigorous survey course designed to help students develop a conceptual framework for modern biology and an in-depth understanding of concepts in biology, in order to help them gain an appreciation of science as a process. Students will develop the conceptual framework, factual knowledge, and analytical skills necessary to deal critically with the rapidly changing science of biology. The major themes of study are molecules and cells, heredity and evolution, and organisms and populations.


Physics

(Grade 11, 12)
Year-long

The General Physics course is designed to help students discover the general physical principles that govern our empirical universe. This course is a college preparatory course that focuses on mathematical models of physical phenomena and explores these models with multiple laboratory activities, computer simulations, and hands-on projects. Major concepts that are explored include mechanical kinematics, properties of matter, thermodynamics, sound, electricity and magnetism, light, atomic and nuclear physics, and relativity.

AP Physics 1

(Grade 11, 12)
Year-long

This course explores a wide range of topics in both classical and modern physics with a strong focus on Newtonian mechanics, including a study of kinematics, dynamics (translation and rotation), work, and energy. Other units include wave mechanics, and electrical circuits. Lectures, reading the textbook, solving problems, laboratory sessions, and demonstrations of physical concepts are used to enhance the understanding of physics. Class discussions, personal reflections, and observations connect the physics in the world to the physics learned in the classroom. AP Physics is a mathematically rigorous survey course that is equivalent to a first-semester course in algebra-based college physics such as that required for pre-med students. This course is intended for students with a prior physics class, or as a first-year physics course for students who meet the necessary prerequisites.

Natural History of the Southern Appalachians

(Grade 11, 12)
Semester

The goal of this course is to present an overview of the geological history of the Southern Appalachians and how geology has influenced distribution, abundance, and diversity of native plants and animals. Students will be exposed to the ecosystems of the Southern Appalachians, learn about the biological diversity and endemic species of the area, and gain experience in the field study, collection, and identification of native plants and animals. There will be opportunities to visit local areas in order to gain an understanding of natural resource research, issues, and management strategies that affect this region. Mapping skills and GIS technology will be incorporated. Participation in field trips is mandatory, as well as participation in attending at least one conference or professional presentation. Students will be required to conduct a research project for this class.

 

Human Dimensions of Ecosystem Change: Carbon, Water, and Energy

(Grade 11, 12)
Semester

The class will cover the basic principles of ecosystem structure and function, but will focus on three major cycles: carbon, water, and energy (many forms), and how these systems have been influenced by human activity. Changes to the carbon, water, and energy cycles elicit responses in physical and biological systems, as well as in human systems (economics, sustainability, energy systems for example). The emphasis in this course is on investigating ways to balance human needs with sustainable practices. Mapping skills and GIS technology will be incorporated. Students will be required to conduct a research project for this class. Participation in field trips is mandatory, as well as participation in attending at least one conference or presentation.

 

Inorganic Chemistry

(Grade 11, 12)
Semester

Inorganic Chemistry explores the fundamental principles and laboratory techniques that are introduced in the first semester of a college chemistry class. The main topics that will be explored are; chemical equilibrium, thermochemistry, acid/base dynamics, and oxidation reduction reactions. After taking this course students will be well prepared to tackle the most challenging topics in a general chemistry college course.

 

Organic Chemistry

(Grade 11, 12)
Semester

Introduction To Organic Chemistry is a one-semester course that explores the fundamental principles and laboratory techniques that allow students to categorize, organize and predict the properties of carbon based compounds. The relationships between chemical reactivity and structure are emphasized, using many of the concepts that were first learned in the introductory chemistry course. The main topics that will be covered are; atomic structure, bonding, nomenclature, isomerism, stereochemistry, chiral molecules, substitution and elimination reactions and IR spectroscopy.

AP Chemistry

(Grade 11, 12)
Year-long

Students who intend to take
both Advanced Topics in Science: Inorganic Chemistry and Advanced Topics in Science: Organic Chemistry should register for this course, AP Chemistry.  Students will receive AP credit for the two combined classes and will be prepared to take the AP exam.

Introduction to Modern and Classical Genetics

(Grade 11, 12)
Semester

This course introduces students to both the fundamentals of classical genetics as well as issues and techniques of modern genetics and biotechnology. The course is heavily lab oriented, with students learning and applying protocols in DNA extraction, bacterial transformation, gel and polyacrylamide electrophoresis, DNA fingerprinting, protein extraction and purification, and polymerase chain reaction. Lab protocols are developed by the teacher and are also developed independently by the students. Topics explored includes historical aspects of our understanding of genetics, DNA structure, the processes of replication, transcription, and translation, the molecular basis of genetic disease, gene sequencing, synthetic biology, and ethical considerations in modern genetics and biotechnology.

Introduction to Microbiology

(Grade 11, 12)
Semester


This course introduces students to the biology of viruses, bacteria, protists and fungi. The course is heavily lab oriented, with students learning and applying protocols in microbiology, including bacterial culturing, biochemical identification, morphologic identification, Gram staining, microscope use, antibiotic resistance and environmental microbiology. Students often learn basic microbiological techniques and then apply those techniques to protocols they develop themselves. Content is focused on information necessary to understand and apply lab protocols
.

 

 

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