Science Courses

Science is our greatest endeavor. Through scientific processes we create new knowledge, and use scientifically-derived understanding to respond to societal need and global challenges while improving quality of life.

The science sequence required of all students is successful completion of 9th grade Biology, 10th grade Physics, and 11th grade Chemistry. A fourth year of either mathematics or science is required if a student has not chosen an AP/IB elective, and may be satisfied by a variety of science electives.

 Required coursesElective Options
# possible: options
9th gradeBiologyNone
10th gradePhysics (regular, honors, AP)1: Anatomy/Physiology, Environmental Science, IB Bio SL, AP Biology, Genetics Science & Society, Robotics, Advanced Science Research Honors, Honors Engineering
11th gradeChemistry (regular, honors, AP)1: All options listed above + Forensics Honors, AP Physics
12th gradeA 4th year of math or science is required unless students is taking an AP/IB elective3: All options listed above + Organic Chemistry Honors, AP Chemistry, AP Physics C, IB Astronomy SL,

PREREQUISITES FOR ALL ADVANCED PLACEMENT AND HONORS SCIENCE COURSE

Courses of study in science that are designated as an “elective”, “Honors” or “AP” will have prerequisites. For Physics & Chemistry honors courses, students are encouraged to  take a diagnostic exam in order to gauge preparedness for the course. In the event that there are limited seats available other factors will be considered including recommendations from current science teachers, past academic record, and other factors.  Changes in final report card grades may have impact on inclusion into advanced courses.

Biology (9th grade)

A course designed to help students develop the knowledge and skills to answer life’s essential questions; “How can there be so many similarities among organisms yet so many different plants, animals, and microorganisms? How does biodiversity affect humans?”,  “How do the structures of organisms enable life’s functions?” “How are the characteristics from one generation related to the previous generation?” “How do organisms obtain and use energy they need to live and grow? How do matter and energy move through ecosystems?” Skills include asking questions, planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, and engaging in argumentation from evidence. This course is required for all 9th grade students.

 

AP Biology (10-12th grade)

AP Biology is an introductory college-level biology course. Students cultivate their understanding of biology through inquiry-based investigations, lectures and research projects as they explore the following topics: evolution, cellular processes — energy and communication, genetics, information transfer, ecology, and biological interactions. All topics in the Advanced Placement Biology curriculum guide will be covered. Each student is required to take the AP Biology Exam in the spring. Successful students will need to bring enthusiasm for the subject matter, manage time effectively, and utilize available supports. This elective is open to 10th-12th grade students by competitive entrance process.   Instructor’s permission required.

 

IB Biology Standard Level/Higher Level Year 1 (10th-12th grade)

IB Biology SL is a one-year course; it can also serve as the first year of the IB Biology HL course. Biology SL covers a range of topics including cells, biochemistry, genetics, human physiology, ecology, and evolution. In addition to studying these topics in depth, students will also learn about cultural, historical, and philosophical issues pertaining to biology. Assessment includes the IB Biology SL exam at the end of the year and completion of a student-designed experiment. This course is open to all students as an elective (as an alternative to AP Biology) with selection preference for enrolled IB students.

 

IB Biology Higher Level Year 2 (12th grade)

IB Biology HL expands on the material from IB Biology SL; biochemistry, genetics, and evolution are studied in more detail, and the additional topics of animal physiology, plant physiology, and neurobiology and behavior. In addition to studying these topics in depth, students will also learn about cultural, historical, and philosophical issues pertaining to biology. Assessment includes the IB Biology HL exam at the end of the year and completion of a student-designed experiment. Prerequisite: IB Biology HL Year 1.

Advanced Science Research Honors (10th‑12th grades)

This course is intended for students who are self-motivated, curious, interested in pursuing independent research to pursue their own testable questions or engineering goals to build on existing content knowledge. Students must have previous experience in research through science fairs, summer programs, or internships. The emphasis will be on developing more sophisticated research skills (questioning, designing protocols, collecting and analyzing data, presenting outcomes, collaboration). Students will pursue placements in research settings at universities or hospitals. At these locations, students will experience first-hand what it is like to work alongside professional scientists with advanced technology in “state of the art” laboratories. All students are required to present their research at PA. Jr. Academy of Science (PJAS) regional fair and the Carver Science Fair. This is a 7th period course so that students may leave for their laboratory placements. Entrance is contingent upon an application demonstrating a research focus, skills, and interview.

Anatomy/Physiology (10th – 12th grades)

This course will introduce students to laboratory technique used in both anatomy and physiology. Systems will be studied from both a microscopic and gross anatomical approach; the cat will be the dissection animal. Concomitant with the anatomy, there will be lectures on each of the systems studied. Skills required for gross and microscopic identification, as well as the logic for understanding physiological relationships will be developed.  A nominal lab fee is required to cover the costs of supplies related to dissection.  Prerequisites: Biology, with a “B” or better.

 

AP Environmental Science (10th and 12th grades)

This course is the equivalent of a one-semester, introductory college course in environmental science. It is designed to emphasize scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world, to identify and analyze environmental problems both natural and human-made, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving and/or preventing them. The course examines how natural systems change over time and space, how technology and population growth relate to environmental challenges, and how we plan for a sustainable future. The course involves laboratory and field investigations, lecture, discussion, analysis of primary research and data, independent research, and development of applied solutions. This course is an alternative (not a successor) to regular Environmental Science:  Admission is competitive based on an entrance task requirement. Instructor’s permission required.

IB Environmental Science Standard Level (11th and 12th grades)

Students will study the science and social aspects of environmental and ecological issues such as food production, biodiversity, soil, atmosphere, and climate. We will examine public policy and law, ethics and societal changes as they relate to environmental challenges. ESS includes practical work, experimenting directly with environmental phenomena, examining real-world data, and contact with public officials and scientists who are involved in the field. There will also be opportunities for social action and the expression of legitimate concerns.  Students will be expected to draw upon previous experiences with science and social science so they can actively participate in the class. The overall intention is to assist the student in becoming comprehensively aware of the issues involved and the science behind solutions to environmental challenges. Students will be required to design and carry out an independent research project.  This course is an alternative (not a successor) to the regular Environmental Science:  you may only take one or the other, not both.  Instructor’s permission required for students outside of the IB program.

 

Forensic Science Honors (11th-12th grades)

Forensic Science is the application of scientific methods to support the law enforcement community in the investigation, apprehension and prosecution or vindication of individuals involved in criminal activities.  The course will examine crime scenes, pathology, anthropology, serology controlled substance analysis, DNA analysis, trace evidence, firearm and toolmark examinations, latent prints, crime scene reconstruction, US case law, major cases, legal issues The course is appropriate for students interested in pursuing careers in law, forensic law, health and medicine.  Students will be required to conduct research, complete scientific lab reports, write essays, give oral presentations, visit museums and other science related facilities. The ability to write well is one of the most important skills to have in college, therefore writing will be a point of emphasis throughout the course.

 

Genetics (10th – 12th grades)

This course is designed for any student who has passed Biology and wishes to understand Genetics in greater depth, especially as it relates to human heredity, evolution, and bioethics. Included are many hands-on experiences and laboratory experiments.  Topics will include recombinant DNA, bioengineering, forensic genetics, hereditary diseases, and the role of genetics in agriculture.  Attention will be given to the latest developments in genetics.  Students will be expected to use the web to acquire up to date information.  Special attention will be given to the interface between current developments in genetics, the legal environment, and bioethics.  Students will take part in bioethics debates.  The role of nature and nurturing in human development will be explored.  Prerequisites: Biology passed with at least a grade of “B”

(Food Science) Science and Society (10th – 12th) *half year course

Food science is the study of the physical, biological, and chemical makeup of food. This course is designed for students who have passed Biology. The course will examine the history of food development, and the culinary considerations that need to be made when preparing different types of food by studying food at a molecular level. Students will also learn essential food safety skills and food preparation skills in the kitchen. Topics include milk and dairy products, confectioneries, egg-based dishes, fruits and vegetables, doughs, meats, seafood, molecular gastronomy techniques, and food pairing. Note that this course appears as “Science and Society” in the course selection form and must be selected along with another half year course.

10th Grade and Beyond

Physics (10th grade)

A required course incorporating topics such as measurement, mechanics, kinematics, dynamics, vibration and waves, heat, electricity, magnetism, light and atomic theory. Laboratory work is offered in many all of these areas. Successful problem‑solving in the course presumes some experience in algebra, geometry and geometrical constructs, and some trigonometric functions. There are no prerequisites for this course. Students may request Honors or AP alternatives to this course.

Physics Honors (10th grade)

An algebra based Physics course with an accelerated pace and focus on models, experimental design, and systems thinking. The course is designed for students who want to improve problem solving skills and practice developing and using models. The course includes direct investigation and study of kinematics and dynamics, wave mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, and light and optics.  Lab activities are an integral part of the course. This is an alternative to Physics. Application requires a self-diagnostic exam and strong academic record.

 

AP Physics 1 (10th grade)

An advanced placement course that provides an in depth look at mechanics as well as an extensive laboratory work on the related topics at the level of introductory college Physics course.  This course is designed for students who like challenges and contemplate their future studies in any fields of Science, Engineering, Medicine, Mathematics, and any field where excellent thinking skills are required.. The objective of this course is to give students profound basic knowledge of Physics, learn how to design and perform scientific investigations using modern technology, get deeper insight of how Physics is connected to real life, and prepare them for the AP Physics 1 Exam and future studies. This course is an alternative to Physics and Physics Honors. Application requires a self-diagnostic exam and strong academic record. 

 

IB Physics SL/HL (11th and 12th grades)

IB Physics is co-taught with AP Physics 2.  Physics is the most fundamental of the experimental sciences as it seeks to explain the universe itself, from the very smallest particles to the vast distances between galaxies. Despite the exciting and extraordinary development of ideas throughout the history of physics, observations remain essential to the very core of the subject. Models are developed to try to understand observations, and these themselves can become theories that attempt to explain the observations. Besides helping us better understand the natural world, physics gives us the ability to alter our environments. This raises the issue of the impact of physics on society, the moral and ethical dilemmas, and the social, economic and environmental implications of the work of physicists. Teachers provide students with opportunities to develop manipulative skills, design investigations, collect data, analyze results and evaluate and communicate their findings. Prerequisite:  Acceptance into the IB Diploma Program.  Completion of AP Physics 1 or instructor approval.

 

AP Physics 2 (11th and 12th grades)

An advanced placement elective course that continues AP Physics 1 and provides an in depth study at of fluids, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, optics, and atomic and nuclear physics, as well as a laboratory work on the topics above. The objective of this course is to give students deep basic knowledge of the subject and prepare them for the future studies in fields of Physics ,Engineering, Medicine, Chemistry, Biology, Environmental Sciences, and other scientific fields. Prerequisite: An A in Physics or Physics Honors, or AP Physics 1 with A or B final grade. All students must obtain a recommendation from their Physics teacher.

 

AP Physics C (12th grade)

An advanced placement elective course that provides rigorous study of Mechanics and Electromagnetism at the second year college physics level. Calculus and Advanced Algebra are used as the major mathematics tools. The objective of this course is to prepare students for the AP Physics C exams and future studies of Physics, Computer Sciences, or Engineering.  Prerequisites: Students must have an A or B in AP Physics 1, 2, and Mathematics, as well as a passing score on the required entrance exam. All students must obtain a recommendation from their Physics teacher and interview with the teacher of the course 

 

IB Astronomy Standard Level (12th grade)

IB Astronomy is an experimental science that combines academic study with the acquisition of practical and investigational skills. Astronomy is arguably a unique branch of the sciences in being an area of study in which non-scientists often take a keen interest. In this sense, it is a discipline that is open to all. Both theory and practical work should be undertaken by all students as they complement one another naturally, both in school and in the wider scientific community. The IB astronomy course allows students to develop a wide range of practical skills and to increase facility in the use of mathematics. It also allows students to develop interpersonal and information technology skills, which are essential to life in the 21st century. By studying astronomy students should become aware of how scientists work and communicate with each other. While the scientific method may take on a wide variety of forms, it is the emphasis on a practical approach through experimental work that characterizes the subject. This course is open to students in and out of the IB program. Prerequisite: A or B in any Central physics course.

 

Robotics (10th–12th)

The Robotics class is a way for students to add a level of academic rigor to their participation on the RoboLancers robotics team. Students undertake an intensive team-based design project to produce a functional robot to compete against other teams in the FIRST Robotics Competition. Students may specialize in mechanical design, fabrication, programming, electrical systems, or business management. Students set goals for personal learning and growth, and report on their progress toward those goals at regular intervals throughout the year. The course meets after school nine hours a week, and additional weekend hours are required throughout the school year. Prerequisite: successful completion of one year as a RoboLancers team member and permission of instructor.

 

Honors Engineering (10th-12th grades)

This course is designed for students considering studying mechanical, civil, or structural engineering (or similar) in college. Students will learn to analyze and design structures, machines, and mechanisms. To accomplish this, students will build core engineering skills including the engineering design process, engineering drawing and CAD (Computer Aided Design), trigonometry and basic calculus, physics of rigid and elastic bodies, and mechanical intuition. The course includes team-based and individual design projects. Interested 11th and 12th graders: take the self-diagnostic at bit.ly/chs-engineering before signing up to decide if the course is right for you. Interested 10th graders: take the above self-diagnostic, then email Mr. Johnson (mjohnson4@philasd.org) to ask permission to sign up.

11th Grade and Beyond

Chemistry (11th grade)

A college preparatory, lab based course offering topics such as use of the metric system with quantitative relationships, matter and energy, classification of matter, formula writing, equations, quantitative gas relationships, atomic theory and structure, periodicity, bonding, analysis of solids and liquids, colligative properties of solutions, ionization, kinetics, thermodynamics, halogens, nitrogen and sulfur, some organic and nuclear chemistry.  Participation in laboratory exercises is mandatory and will comprise a significant proportion of the final grade. This course satisfies the 11th grade Chemistry requirement.

Chemistry Honors (11th grade)

This course is a college preparatory, lab based course that is accelerated in pace relative to the general Chemistry course, and provides a more intensive coverage of the same topics taught in general Chemistry.  The purpose of the course is to provide students strong preparation for the SAT II Chemistry Subject Test. This course satisfies the 11th grade Chemistry requirement and is an alternative to Chemistry. Application requires a self-diagnostic exam and strong academic record. 

 

AP Chemistry (11th – 12th grades)

AP Chemistry is a lab-based course that provides students with a college-level foundation to support future advanced coursework in chemistry. Students cultivate their understanding of chemistry through inquiry-based investigations, as they explore content such as: atomic structure, intermolecular forces and bonding, chemical reactions, kinetics, thermodynamics, and equilibrium.  These topics are studied in the context of important science practices including determining scientific questions and methods, creating models of chemical phenomena, solving problems using mathematical relationships, and developing explanations and scientific arguments. The course is designed to prepare students to take the AP exam in May of the academic year.  Students may apply to this course to satisfy the 11th grade Chemistry requirement or as a 12th grade elective following general or honors chemistry.  Application requires a self-diagnostic exam and strong academic record. 

 

IB Chemistry Standard Level (11th – 12th grades)

IB Chemistry SL is an experimental science that combines academic study with the acquisition of practical and investigational skills. Chemical principles underpin both the physical environment in which we live and all biological systems. Chemistry is often a prerequisite for many other courses in higher education, such as medicine, biological science and environmental science. Both theory and practical work should be undertaken by all students as they complement one another naturally, both in school and in the wider scientific community. The IB chemistry course allows students to develop a wide range of practical skills and to increase facility in the use of mathematics. It also allows students to develop interpersonal and information technology skills, which are essential to life in the 21st century. By studying chemistry students should become aware of how scientists work and communicate with each other. While the scientific method may take on a wide variety of forms, it is the emphasis on a practical approach through experimental work that characterizes the subject. Teachers provide students with opportunities to develop manipulative skills, design investigations, collect data, analyze results and evaluate and communicate their findings. Students will be required to attend this class during one homeroom period per week in addition to the normal daily schedule.  Prerequisite: C or better in both Biology and Physics.  Exam may be required. Instructor’s permission required.

 

Organic Chemistry Honors (12th grade)

This is a second year advanced chemistry course that is taught on a college level of instruction.  It is a course that is taught in nursing school and is a prerequisite for medical, dental, pharmacy, and veterinary schools.  Organic Chemistry is the study of hydrocarbons and substituted hydrocarbons in terms of three-dimensional space, bonding, atomic structure, kinetics and acid/base chemistry.  The course will cover the structure and reactivity and the reactions and synthesis of organic compounds. There are no prerequisites for this course.