The objectives of the Science Department are to develop students’ scientific literacy as well as to provide a sound foundation of knowledge and skills for those students who pursue the study of science in college. Course designs and instructional methodologies are aimed at increasing students’ awareness of science as a process of discovery as well as a body of knowledge about the natural world. Emphases are placed on developing students’ understanding of the presence of natural processes in daily occurrences and the importance of basic science knowledge and problem-solving abilities as essential parts of the skills and mindsets of educated people.
Biology (9th Grade)
Introductory Biology is a survey course designed to enhance students’ appreciation of the living world and their understanding of how living systems function. The course also teaches the scientific method and how to conduct lab-based inquiry, and emphasizes the development of study skills which will serve students well through the rest of their high school careers. Introductory Biology covers cell structures and functions, cellular processes such as photosynthesis and cellular respiration, genetics, DNA and protein synthesis, evolution, the history of life and a survey of life’s diversity, and ecology. Students engage in hands-on labs and projects as a part of each unit, and these activities are designed both to enhance students’ research skills and to develop practical skills such as accurate measurement, graphing, and safe handling of laboratory equipment. Students are challenged to use systems thinking to understand the interrelated nature of life processes, and are encouraged to engage with and appreciate the natural world as they experience it in their daily lives.
Chemistry (10th Grade)
The course in Chemistry explores the nature of matter on the atomic as well as macroscopic level. Students complete written assignments, labs, and algebraic mathematical problems as they seek an understanding of what things are made of and how these things can undergo different types of changes. Projects relating the theoretical to the “real world” or chemistry’s practical applications are also completed. Access to a graphing calculator is required.
Conceptual Physics (11th or 12th Grade)
In the introduction of text written by Paul G Hewitt, he states: "You know you can’t enjoy a game unless you know its rules; whether it’s a ball game, a computer game, or simply a party game. Likewise, you can’t fully appreciate your surroundings until you understand the rules of nature. Physics is the study of these rules, which show how everything in nature is beautifully connected. So the main reason to study physics is to enhance the way you see the physical world. You’ll see the mathematical structure of physics in frequent equations, but more than being recipes for computation, you’ll see the equations as guides to thinking.” With that as context, the principal areas of study that will be explored are: Mechanics, Properties of Matter, Heat, Sound, Electricity and Magnetism, Light, Atomic and Nuclear Physics, and Relativity. Rather than content mastery, a cursory treatment of topics will be employed.
AP Physics 1:
Algebra based (11th or 12th Grade; Prerequisites: 90+ in Geometry or Instructor Approval; co-requisite Algebra II)
AP Physics 1 is an algebra-based, introductory college-level physics course. Students cultivate their understanding of Physics through inquiry-based investigations as they explore topics such as Newtonian Mechanics (including rotational motion; work, energy, power; and mechanical waves and sound; and introductory, simple circuits. AP Physics 1 is designed to enable you to develop the ability to reason about physical phenomena using important scientific process skills such as explaining causal relationships, applying and justifying the use of mathematical routines, designing experiments, analyzing data and making connections across multiple topics within the course. This course is equivalent to the first semester of a typical college level, algebra-based physics course.
Applied Engineering (10th - 12th Grade)
This is a fluidly structured and custom designed course that serves as a means for students to learn and apply the principles of engineering to solve real-world problems. Students first learn about the principles of engineering such as how the engineering design process works, how engineering combines the disciplines of math and science, and how design and modeling can be used to turn an idea into reality. Students then explore the various fields of engineering disciplines followed by a reflective assessment of their similarities and differences. To reinforce these principles, students simultaneously engage in a variety of engineering challenges that develop creative problem-solving skills while working in a design team environment. A series of engineering-themed video documentaries that connect modern engineering technologies to their original applications are discussed. Additionally, students learn the basics of mechanism simulation and structural analysis through effective use of 3D CAD software. Lastly, 3D CAD software is further implemented in conjunction with 3D printing technology as a means for students to explore rapid prototyping and manufacturing engineering technologies.
After having acquired a working knowledge of the principles of engineering, students will then sharpen their skills by engaging in increasingly complex design projects and engineering challenges specifically chosen to provide hands-on practical experiences. Students will have the opportunity to gain valuable leadership and meaningful exposure to all phases of an engineering project, such as feasibility studies, planning, design, evaluation, construction, and delivery. By matching a student's capabilities with a project's complexity, the Applied Engineering course has the flexibility to be taken for up to 3 years, as an increasing role of leadership and responsibility is given to students as they complete increasingly involved assignments.
Land Management (10th - 12th Grade)
Land Management is an elective course that will explore many of the factors that are associated with responsible land management. Employing MSA’s 1,600-acre campus, students study owner and user needs and desires to develop and implement plans for improved utilization and enjoyment. The course also emphasizes stewardship of the land, focusing on sustainable uses and practices. Land Management is an interdisciplinary course bringing together a range of topics that will include, but are not limited to: cartography, forestry, preservation, land development, and law. It is recommended that prospective students also have a keen interest in Design/Build, Applied Engineering, and/or Environmental Science. Students will learn and be assessed through projects, research papers, class discussions, and hands-on field work. Please note that roughly half of the course will be spent in a classroom environment and the other half outdoors in the field. Required equipment includes work boots, gloves, and eye protection. Work pants and jacket are also highly recommended.
Environmental Science (10th- 12th Grade)
Environmental Science is an elective course designed to help students understand how humans relate to, affect, and are dependent upon our natural environment. The course places emphasis on topics with local and global impact. Topics covered fall under the following broad headings: earth systems and resources, the living world, populations, land and water use, energy resources and consumption, pollution, and global change. Through lab activities, projects, research papers, and class discussions, students will be asked to tackle environmental questions with the understanding that environmental science is an interdisciplinary field within the sciences, and cannot be studied without consideration of economic and social factors. Students will also be requested to examine their environment with a scientific mindset, considering all possible interpretations of observed phenomena and collected data with curiosity and skepticism. Those considering enrollment in Environmental Science are encouraged to speak with the instructor beforehand to gain a thorough understanding of course scope and requirements.
(Prerequisites: Chemistry and 90+ in Biology or Instructor Approval)
This AP Biology course is designed to be similar to an introductory level college course about the science of our living world. This class incorporates topics that span four big ideas: the process of evolution, how organisms utilize free energy, the transfer of information essential to life processes, and how biological systems interact. For each of these topics, students will develop an in-depth understanding of what the concept is, its function on different levels, and its impact on life and society. AP Biology has an extensive lab component, comprising at least 25% of the class time. The lab work provides hands-on experience for understanding the material, develops good problem solving skills, promotes critical thinking, and applies each topic to everyday life situations. This course will help students develop a conceptual framework for modern biology and an appreciation of science as a process.
(Prerequisites: 90+ in Chemistry, Algebra II and Instructor Approval)
The Advanced Placement Chemistry course is designed to be the equivalent to an introductory college level chemistry course. The course is based around six big ideas: the structure of matter, bonding and intermolecular forces, chemical reactions, kinetics, thermodynamics, and chemical equilibrium. There is an extensive laboratory component with a focus on student-guided labs. Students will also work on basic science practices such as asking questions, making predictions, analyzing and evaluating data, and applying mathematical solutions to problems. DE BIO 145 Human Anatomy and Physiology for the Health Sciences PVCC BIO 145 (4 credit hours for the year) Introduces human anatomy and physiology primarily to those planning to pursue a degree in nursing. Covers basic chemical concepts, cellular physiology, as well as the anatomy and physiology of human organ systems. We will study the structure, function, and disorders of the major systems of the body and understand the relationship between anatomy, physiology, and pathology. We will use and define medical terms relating to the body systems covered during the semester, and we will solve solve problems relating to clinical conditions using physiological concepts. Co-curricular lab requirement.