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Science Courses

Science Course Offerings


Year-Long Core Courses and Advanced Placement Courses

Biology (Regular and Honors)

Grade level – 9 or 10

Prerequisites: enrollment in the Honor’s section requires honors grades in previous courses and teacher recommendation.

Biology introduces the basic concepts of life science with an emphasis on how they relate to daily life. Topics include ecology, biological diversity, the chemistry of life, cellular structure and function, genetics, evolution, and human systems. Critical thinking activities, laboratory exercises, and classroom discussions about biology in our everyday lives reinforce this knowledge. Field trips utilize the natural resources of the Adirondack Mountains to apply the concepts to local ecology. Students also gain experience by dissection, solving practical problems, and analyzing experimental data.

Chemistry

Grade level – 10 or 11

Prerequisites: biology and must be enrolled in Algebra II

Chemistry develops a foundational understanding of major concepts in the field such as atomic theory, periodic law, chemical bonding, and stoichiometry. Critical thinking activities, laboratory exercises, and classroom discussions about chemistry in our everyday lives reinforce this knowledge. Students also gain experience writing lab reports, solving practical problems, and analyzing experimental data.

Honors Chemistry

Grade level – 10 or 11

Prerequisites: honors grades in biology and math, enrolled in Honors Algebra II, and teacher recommendation

Honors Chemistry introduces the basic concepts of chemistry. The course provides extensive laboratory experience to develop students’ experimental and problem-solving skills and prepares students for college chemistry courses by covering topics in more detail. Topics covered include matter, atomic theory, electrons, chemical bonding, nomenclature, mole concepts, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, gas laws, molecular structures, solutions, equilibrium, acid-base reactions, redox, and nuclear chemistry.

Geology

Grade level – 9, 10, 11 or 12

Geology investigates the structure of the earth with a focus on local landscapes. Topics include the Earth’s formation, mineralogy, plate tectonics, weathering/erosion, mountain building, and surface geomorphology. Labs and field trips are essential components of the course. Local topographic features, including rocks in the High Peaks and Ausable River, will be studied in the field, mostly during the spring trimester.

Physics

Grade level – 11 or 12

Prerequisites: biology, chemistry, and must be enrolled in Pre-calculus.

Physics develops the student’s observational and analytical problem-solving skills. Theoretical concept development is emphasized along with problem-solving and laboratory skills. A background in algebra is assumed, and trigonometric concepts are required components of our study. The course covers classical mechanics including kinematics (the description of motion in one and two dimensions), dynamics (the causes of motion, Newton’s laws of motion), and the conservation laws (energy and momentum). In addition, we study topics selected from statics, waves, sound, and light. Several projects through the year integrate physics principles with elements of engineering and technology.

Honors Physics

Grade level – 11 or 12

Prerequisites: honors grades in math and chemistry, enrolled in Honors Pre-calculus, and teacher recommendation.

The course moves at a faster pace than physics and covers the following material in depth: classical mechanics including kinematics (the description of motion in one and two dimensions), dynamics (the causes of motion, Newton’s laws of motion), and the conservation laws (energy and momentum). In addition, we study topics selected from statics, waves, sound, and light. Several projects through the year integrate the physics principles studied with engineering and technology to achieve a deeper understanding of the topics.

Environmental Science

Grade level – 11 or 12

Prerequisites: two lab sciences including biology.

Environmental Science is a broad scientific survey course designed to garner a holistic perspective and improve the student's ecological literacy. The goal is to ignite systems thinking and develop the skill set needed to discover answers and analyze options, and to utilize ecological systems as a successful model to help us deal with environmental issues. Ultimately, this perspective and the accompanying skills help build a framework for decision making for use throughout life.

Human Biology

Grade level – 11 or 12

Prerequisites: biology and one other lab science.

Human Biology takes a hands-on approach to learning the structure and function of human body systems. The course aims to expand the student’s current knowledge of how the human body works, starting with the molecules of life and continuing through all major body systems. During the comprehensive study of the systems, students will understand more fully how their daily activities affect their health now and in the future. Students will also relate how disease leads to loss of functioning in the systems. Labs include dissections of a number of major animal organs. Students will also have the opportunity to get American Red Cross First Aid and CPR certified upon successful completion of the First Aid unit.

AP Biology

Grade level – 11 or 12

Prerequisites: honors grades in biology and chemistry, and teacher recommendation.

Offered to qualified students who have successfully completed biology and chemistry with a record of high achievement in the sciences. AP Biology is a challenging full-year college-level introduction to the study of biology. The course is laboratory-based, examining life from the molecular and cellular levels through organisms, genetics, and evolution. Throughout the year, students will develop advanced inquiry and reasoning skills, such as designing a plan for collecting data, analyzing data, applying mathematical solutions, and connecting concepts in and across areas of study. All students must take the national AP Exam in May.

AP Environmental Science

Grade level – 11 or 12

Prerequisites: honors grades in biology and chemistry, and teacher recommendation.

The AP Environmental Science course is the equivalent of a one semester, introductory college course in environmental science; it includes geology, biology, ecology, chemistry, economics, sociology, politics, and geography. Classes include lectures, hands-on activities, student presentations, labs, fieldwork, class discussions, group projects, films and guest speakers. The key themes of the course are co-evolution and energy flow through systems. The first trimester explores how these themes play out in ecosystems while the second and third trimesters investigate how humans have impacted these ecosystems as well as efforts to mitigate the negative impacts of humanity. While designed to prepare students for the AP exam, the course fundamentally creates systems thinkers and holistic problem solvers.

Science Elective Courses

Rocket Science

Spring and Fall trimester elective.

In this hands-on course, the design process will be emphasized as students incorporate science, computer modeling, engineering, and math to design, build, and launch their model rockets. Teamwork and problem solving will also be important skills developed over the course of the trimester.

The Physics of Winter Olympic Sports

Winter trimester elective.

What is the science behind the sports in the Winter Olympics? This course offers an introduction to physics (dynamics) through the study of the Winter Olympic sports of bobsled, biathlon, curling, figure skating, hockey, luge, and skiing. Through hands-on discovery, demonstrations, videos, and articles, students will learn about the concepts and fundamental laws connected to Winter Olympic sports.

Molecular Genetics (Advanced biology elective)

Spring trimester elective

A course exploring how genetic information is revealed by the structure and function of nucleic acids. The molecular basis of replication and gene expression will be introduced, and the biotechnology used to study the processes of molecular genetics. Prerequisite: Biology and Chemistry (or currently enrolled in Chemistry).

 

Health

1 trimester pass/fail course (not counted in the student’s course load).

By law, all students in NY State must earn a high school health credit to graduate. Health presents students material needed to understand how to establish and maintain a healthy lifestyle. This pass/fail class includes discussion on major health concerns and provides each student the skills necessary to weigh options, make responsible decisions, and develop behaviors that promote a healthy lifestyle.

Northwood Academic Programs