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General Biology 9

Grades 9

Prerequisite: Placement test and departmental approval.

Students discover science as inquiry as they investigate the nature of life on both the molecular and environmental levels. Topics such as biodiversity, the effect of human activity on the biosphere, cell structure and function, photosynthesis, cellular respiration, genetics, evolution, plants, and the human body are discussed in a way to enhance critical thinking skills and to provide associative skills for personal and social perspectives that may influence future decision making. Experiments support and enhance classroom discussion, as well as stimulate students to analyze and make assessments. An I-text combines the power of the text with CD-Rom and Internet technology to provide animations, simulations, assessment and problem solving activities. Additional computer programs are used to view processes and procedures, dissections, simulations and basic anatomy, while Power Point presentations and the Education app are used in classroom lectures. The students will learn the skills necessary to write lab reports.

Honors Biology 9

Grades 9

Prerequisite: For grade 9, you must have department approval, top overall scores in the GMA Entrance Test, top 20% of Science Placement Test, and 93 in Grade 8 Science and Math.

Honors Biology is a course that will expand upon the topics covered in General Biology class. Students will explore how living things are constructed on a molecular level. They will explore the processes of photosynthesis, cellular respiration, and the cellular activities that drive the cell cycle, as well as make comparative anatomy studies of human and other organisms. They will assimilate how traits are inherited and how organisms evolved over time. Students will gain an understanding of environmental processes, the impact of human activity on ecosystems,  interdependent relationships between organisms and their environments, and the correlation between structures and functions in major human body systems. Interactive labs will include dissections, organic chemistry, modeling, computer simulations, and genetic studies. This course prepares students for the SAT/ACT and is in compliance with the National Science Standards. Completion of Honors Biology is a stepping stone towards enrollment in AP Biology.

AP Biology 11, 12

Grades 11, 12

Designed to bring content essential to support the basic themes and foundations of biology to the student. More than the memorization of content, the value of learning comes from the ability to apply themes and patterns over many topics of biology. This curricular framework will advance critical thinking skills, utilizing inquiry and reasoning skills, designing experimental procedures and data collection, analyzing data, applying mathematical formulae, and connecting concepts in and across domains. Students practice establishing lines of evidence and use them to refine testable explanations and make predictions about natural phenomena. Each big idea, “enduring understanding,” is supported by underlying content and laboratory experiences. A well-chosen AP Biology Preparation book is recommended. Students may go online to to the AP Biology page and look at some of the topics covered. Reading, research and writing are key components of the learning process. Communication skills are expected in oral discussions, reflections from homework and readings, in group study sessions, and in written lab reports and research papers. Collaboration is also a key to success in learning. Work together, see how others think and process information, and learn how you learn best.

90 in Honors Biology and Honors Chemistry, 93 in both Biology and Chemistry, 85 in prior AP Science courses, and department approval.
Completion of AP Chemistry or Genetics/Biotechnology is advantageous, but not required.

Chemistry 10, 11

Grades 10, 11

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Biology and Algebra I

Chemistry offers fundamental knowledge about the world in which we live. Coursework includes the study of structure of matter and the changes that matter can undergo. This course will also focus on the connection among observations, experimental data, and conceptual understanding. The course will stress the importance of descriptive and predictive abilities based on the understanding of concepts. Students will be expected to recognize patterns and make inferences from scientific data. Laboratory experiences are designed to support chemical concepts learned in class discussions. Students will develop laboratory skills, practice safe lab procedures, and refine writing techniques for lab reports. Technology will be used for molecular modeling, class communication, and to support concepts learned in class.

Honors Chemistry 10, 11

Grades: 10, 11

Prerequisites: 87 in Honors Biology And Intermediate Algebra/Honors Geometry, 93 in Biology and Math, and Department approval.

This course is designed for students considering engineering, science, and pre-medical courses of undergraduate study. Course topics include atomic structure, molecular structure, states of matter, balanced chemical reactions, equilibrium, acids and bases, and oxidation-reduction. The students investigate the structure and properties of substances and the reactions by which one substance is converted to another. Emphasis will be given to problem solving and interpretation of scientific data. The course requires evaluation of scientific models based on pattern recognition, contradictions, and exceptions. The honors chemistry class is accelerated both in depth of detail and breadth of study. Students will develop laboratory techniques and refine writing for lab reports. Students must commit to daily review of class work.

AP Chemistry 11, 12

Grades 11, 12

The AP Chemistry course is designed to be the equivalent of the general chemistry course usually taken during the first college year (2 semesters of both Chemistry and Lab, 8 credits total.)

AP Chemistry is built around six main ideas:

1. The chemical elements are fundamental building materials of matter, and all matter can be understood in terms of arrangements of atoms. These atoms retain their identity in chemical reactions.
2. Chemical and physical properties of materials can be explained by the structure and the arrangement of atoms, ions, or molecules and the forces between them.
3. Changes in matter involve the rearrangement and/or reorganization of atoms and/or the transfer of electrons.
4. Rates of chemical reactions are determined by details of the molecular collisions.
5. The laws of thermodynamics describe the essential role of energy and explain and predict the direction of changes in matter.
6. Any bond or intermolecular attraction that can be formed can be broken. These two processes are in a dynamic competition, sensitive to initial conditions and external perturbations.

Prerequisites: 90 in Honors Chemistry and Math, 93 in Chemistry and Math, 85 in prior AP science courses, enrollment in AP Calculus, Honors Calculus, or Honors Pre-calculus. 

Eligibility to enter into an AP Science is determined by the science department policy for previous grade in an Honors (or College Prep) science class. 

Note: Entrance into AP classes is by invitation based on achieved scores. AP students must take the exam for AP, and families are financially responsible for the associated fees.

Physics 11/12

Grades: 11, 12

Prerequisites: Department approval, Biology, Chemistry and Algebra

Physics is the branch of science that studies matter and energy and how they interact. The topics in this course focus on the study of motion, forces, energy, waves, light, and electricity. Physics is less about the problems and more about using equations, laws, and theories to understand the world we live in. Fundamental concepts of physics will lead to investigations in the laboratory. Students will gain skills using laboratory apparatus and correct laboratory techniques and procedures to design and carry out long and short-term investigations using principles of the scientific method and use proper formats for reporting their findings.

Honors Physics 11, 12

2 semesters
Level 2

Students investigate the relationship between matter and energy and relate the fundamental laws that tie sciences together including the modern theory of special relativity. As a STEM themed class, students evaluate the scientific principles of everyday phenomena as they apply the mathematical laws of physics to such phenomena. Students support analysis of lab data with evidence from equations and graphs. They draw assumptions from concepts, recognize patterns of concepts, and propose when and how to apply the concepts and laws they have learned in new situations. Students will devise mechanical models and present the principles of and demonstrate their action to the class.

Technology provides a means for research and investigation, from running program simulations, using motion detectors, photogates, and force meters to collect and analyze data, to producing power point presentations, visual lab reports, and using video to support data as well as concepts. Topics include linear and circular motion: speed and acceleration, laws of motion, friction, parabolic motion, gravitational force, work, momentum, potential and kinetic energy, torques, and rotational motion.

Prerequisites: 87 in Honors Chemistry, 93 in College Preparatory Chemistry, enrollment in Honors Precalculus, Precalculus, or Calculus, and Department Approval required

Anatomy and Physiology 11, 12

2 semesters
Level 3

This course is a study of the cells, tissues, and organ systems of the human, an investigation into the structures that perform all life functions. Students will write or produce digital lab reports, invent strategies for study, and develop investigative and critical thinking skills as they examine cells, organs, and systems, recognizing how each part of a system plays a major role in homeostasis, maintaining the optimum environment for the body to function. Skeletal, muscular, digestive, cardiovascular, immune, respiratory, excretory, reproductive, and nervous systems are the focus of the course. Lab activities include dissection of fetal pigs, and sheep heart, eye, kidney, and brain, for the purpose of comparing these organs and body systems to the human’s. Other lab activities will include indicating the presence of organic molecules in foods, and testing heart and breathing rates after various stages of activity. Students will develop research, communication, and presentation skills to understand diseases/ illnesses/abnormalities of the systems and the technologies that today’s science can provide in curing, healing, or treating them.

Prerequisites: Department Approval and 80 in Biology and Chemistry

Honors Anatomy and Physiology 11, 12

Honors Anatomy and Physiology
2 semesters
Level 2

Fundamental Advanced Placement Biology themes such as “Relationship of structure to function,” “Science as a process,” and “Regulation” or maintaining homeostasis, will be common threads throughout the study of the human body and how it functions. Students will identify the various cells and tissues of the human body and recognize the function performed by each unique basic structure. On the organ and organ system level, students will then investigate the skeletal, muscular, digestive, circulatory, immune, respiratory, excretory, nervous, and reproductive systems. In each system, students will analyze functions of the systems from the basic cells to the interactions of organs, glands, and muscles that make the system function as it does. Student presentations of muscle origin, insertion, and action will challenge students to investigate the muscles used in everyday actions and communicate what they have learned effectively to their classmates. Students will investigate genetic activity as the regulator of normal cell functioning and apply this knowledge to the possible cause of abnormalities, such as cancer. Comparative anatomy of the fetal pig and human will enhance students’ recognition and analysis of organs/organ systems in these two organisms, especially the digestive, pulmonary, cardiovascular, and reproductive systems. Further anatomical studies include dissection of the mammalian heart, kidney, brain, and eye to provide students a genuine model to investigate structure versus function. Certain systems such as the digestive system will require the study of organic molecules, solubility, and enzyme function. Lab activities will also test the students themselves, for example, in breathing and heart rate changes in various stages of activity, and in perception and reflex activities involving the nervous system.

As a STEM themed class, students develop critical thinking skills on all levels of study. Students will write or produce digital formal lab reports, critique articles, perform research, make presentations, and develop portfolios to broaden their understanding and reflect on the knowledge gained in class. In this process, students will learn to articulate and communicate effectively, engaging all in the learning process. Students will use computer or calculator programs develop charts and graphs to enhance data and analysis. Discussion and research will span current technological advances, and the bioethics involved in some controversial topics.

Prerequisites: 93 in Biology and Chemistry, 87 in Honors Biology 9/10 and in Honors Chemistry.

Department Approval required.

Forensic Science 11, 12

Grades 11, 12

The level of sophistication that forensic science has brought to criminal investigations is awesome. This lab course emphasizes scientific methodology while investigating the actual science concepts and technology utilized in crime solving. Topics range from gathering physical evidence at the crime scene, analyzing toxicology, blood, and DNA, to microscopic examination of hair, fibers, and fingerprints. Labs are designed to solve crime scene scenarios.

Prerequisites: Biology and Chemistry

Department Members

Mrs. Kimberley Clearkin

Titles: Faculty
Degrees: M.S.

Mrs. Cynthia Antoni Conaway '71

Titles: Faculty
Degrees: M.S. Ed. Gwynedd Mercy College

Mrs. Susan Mitchell

Titles: Department Chair (Science), Math Faculty
Degrees: M.S. Gwynedd Mercy University

Mrs. Kelly O'Neill P '22

Titles: Faculty
Degrees: B.S. Chemistry Villanova University

Mrs. Kirsten Wordeman

Titles: Faculty
Degrees: M.S. The Ohio University