Science | Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School

Science

The Science Department inspires students to understand scientific methods of inquiry and prepares them to live in a scientific and technological society.

You will learn to access and process information from readings, diagrams, investigations, and oral communications with an eye to future STEM careers, your personal health and environmental stewardship. You will learn to design effective scientific investigations, analyze data, communicate results, and apply results to explain phenomena inside and outside the laboratory. You and your teachers will collaborate on project-based work to explain scientific concepts in biology, chemistry, the environmental sciences and physics. You will also be able to participate in field trips to some of the Bay Area’s top science centers and have opportunities for service projects that support your learning. 

Three years (30 units) of Science are required for graduation (including Biology, Chemistry, and Physics for students planning on attending a four-year college immediately after high school). Unless otherwise noted, all Science courses are UC-approved as college-preparatory core/elective courses.

Available Courses in 2018-19

Astronomy
Semester Course; 5 Units

This course is a descriptive introduction to the study of the heavens. Topics include the sky by day and night; the Sun and the Moon and their motions; eclipses; constellations and the zodiac; astronomical instruments (quadrants, telescopes, spectroscopes, radio telescopes, satellites, and probes); planets, moons, asteroids, meteors, comets, and the solar system; the Earth as a planet; stars and our galaxy; how we know what stars are made of; other galaxies and the red shift; astronomical time and distance scales; the Big Bang; neutron stars and pulsars; and black holes. This class includes evening viewings where students return to campus to view planets and stars through telescopes.

In order to take this course, students must have earned a C­ or higher in any level of Biology. This course will be offered every other year.

Biology
Yearlong Course; 10 Units

This is a laboratory course exploring the unity, diversity, and complexity of living forms.  The student will learn the complex interactions between living and non-living environments. This includes the chemical basis of life; heredity and genetics; the processes of change within organisms, populations, and communities; the great diversity of types of organisms; how they perform the same fundamental biological processes; ecology; and the impact of humans on their environment. 

This course is required for all freshman students who are not placed in either Physical Science or Honors Biology.  This course is also required for sophomores who passed Physical Science during their freshman year.

Biology (Honors)
Yearlong Course; 10 Units

This course covers the same concepts as Biology, but it does so with greater intensity.  Students are held accountable for greater depth, independence, and a higher standard of achievement.  In addition, students will conduct labs which are inquiry-based and require formal lab write-ups.  Examples of labs include cellular respiration studies using probes and enzymatic action.

This course satisfies the Biology requirement for qualified freshman students.  In order to take this course, students must test into it, based on the HSPT entrance examination.  Students who earn a C- or higher in this course will earn an extra grade point toward their grade point average. 

Biology (AP)
Yearlong Course; 10 Units

Designed for advanced students, this course prepares themfor the Advanced Placement Exam in Biology.  Due to the extensive laboratories necessary for AP preparation, students should be committed to a serious approach to their studies and a high degree of motivation.  AP Biology aims to provide students with the conceptual framework, factual knowledge, and analytical skills necessary to deal critically with the rapidly changing science of biology.  Although much of the content will be present during class, students are expected and required to cover additional material on their own.  The topics covered in the course and time dedicated to each topic mirror the breakdown of the AP exam.

This course is available to qualified students.  Students who earn a C- or higher in this course will earn an extra grade point toward their grade point average.  Students who take this course must sit for the Advanced Placement examination in May.  In order to be eligible to take this course, students must receive department approval (which may include a separate application and/or examination), attend the mandatory AP Information Night, AND have earned minimum grades in the previous two year’s Science courses (A- or higher in both semesters of both Biology and Chemistry or B- or higher in both semesters of both Honors Biology and Honors Chemistry). 

Principles of the Biomedical Sciences
Semester Course; 5 Units

In this course, students investigate various health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, sickle-cell disease, hypercholesterolemia, and infectious diseases. They determine the factors that led to the death of a fictional person, and investigate lifestyle choices and medical treatments that might have prolonged the person’s life. The activities and projects introduce students to human physiology, medicine, and research processes. This course provides an overview of all the courses in the Biomedical Sciences program offered at SJND and lays the scientific foundation for subsequent courses.

This course is available to students concurrently enrolled in Honors Biology.  Students who qualify for Honors Biology may choose to take this course in lieu of the required Health Education course. 

Biomedical Innovation
Yearlong Course; 10 Units

In the final capstone course of the Project Lead the Way Biomedical Science sequence, students build on the knowledge and skills gained from previous courses to design innovative solutions for the most pressing health challenges of the 21st century. Students address topics ranging from public health and biomedical engineering to clinical medicine and physiology. Students have the opportunity to work on an independent design project with a mentor or advisor from a university, medical facility, or research institution.

This course is available to Project Lead the Way’s Biomedical Science students. In order to take this course, students must have earned a B or higher in Human Body Systems and receive department approval.

Chemistry
Yearlong Course; 10 Units

This laboratory course introduces students to the principles of general inorganic chemistry and the exploration of its central question:  What is the nature of matter?  Subatomic and atomic theories, chemical interactions and dynamics, and descriptive chemistry are covered.  Labs and demonstrations are an integral component of this course.

This course is available to qualified students.  In order to take this course, students must have earned a C- or higher in any level of Biology.

Chemistry (Honors)
Yearlong Course; 10 Units

Honors Chemistry covers the same material as Chemistry (see above) but at a faster pace and with more depth. Specifically, the material is treated with more mathematical analysis, so a solid math aptitude is essential.  Inquiry-based laboratory investigations will be conducted weekly and a detailed lab composition book is mandatory for this course.  Students will learn to write formal lab reports in their composition books for many of the labs performed in this course.

This course is available to qualified students.  Students who earn a C- or higher in this course will earn an extra grade point toward their grade point average.  In order to be eligible to take this course, students must receive department approval (which may include a separate application and/or examination) AND have earned minimum grades in the previous year’s Science course (A- or higher in both semesters of Biology or B- or higher in both semesters of Honors Biology). 

Chemistry (AP)
Yearlong Course; 10 Units

This year-long (10 unit) course is available to qualified students. Students who earn a C- or higher in this course will earn an extra grade point toward their grade point average. Students who take this course must sit for the Advanced Placement examination in May.  In order to be eligible to take this course, students must receive department approval (which includes a separate examination), attend the mandatory AP Information Night, AND have earned minimum grades in the previous two year’s Science courses (A- or higher in both semesters of the previous year’s on-level Science course or B- or higher in both semesters of the previous year’s AP/Honors Science course), AND have earned an A- or higher in both semesters of Algebra 2 or B- or higher in both semesters of Honors Algebra 2/Trig.  

The AP Chemistry course 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 topics such as: atomic structure, intermolecular forces and bonding, chemical reactions, kinetics, thermodynamics, and equilibrium. This course requires students to engage in laboratory investigations. This includes a minimum of 16 hands-on labs, at least six of which are inquiry based.

This course will explore the science of computing from a large variety of topics including the binary number system, hardware, computational logic and problem solving. Students will also learn the fundamentals of programming such as variables, conditional statements, loops, functions, data structures, design, debugging and algorithms. The basic principles of object oriented programming will be presented as well. Students will complete a variety of in class lab assignments and a final project.

This course is available to any student with an interest in learning the fundamentals of computer science and programming. There are no pre­requisites associated with this course. UC approval for this course is pending.

Computer Science A (AP)
Year-Long; 10 Units

This year-long (10 unit) course is available to qualified students. Students who earn a C- or higher in this course will earn an extra grade point toward their grade point average. Students who take this course must sit for the Advanced Placement examination in May. In order to be eligible to take this course, students must attend the mandatory AP Information Night AND have earned minimum grades in the previous year’s Introduction to Computer Science and Programming course (B- or higher in the semester) OR receive instructor approval (which includes a separate interview). Students must have also earned an A- or higher in both semesters of Algebra 2 or B- or higher in both semesters of Honors Algebra 2/Trigonometry.  

AP Computer Science A is equivalent to a first-semester, college-level course in computer science. The course introduces students to computer science with fundamental topics that include problem solving, design strategies and methodologies, organization of data (data structures), approaches to processing data (algorithms), analysis of potential solutions, and the ethical and social implications of computing. The course emphasizes both object-oriented and imperative problem solving and design using Java language. These techniques represent proven approaches for developing solutions that can scale up from small, simple problems to large, complex problems.The AP Computer Science A course curriculum is compatible with many CS1 courses in colleges and universities (The College Board, 2014).

The final course in the Engineering Pathway sequence will explore the various stages of the software development lifecycle in a project based format. Students will work through requirements gathering, feasibility study, system analysis, software design, coding and testing to produce a fully functional application involving both software and hardware components.  The different types of software design patterns will be explored broadening students programming skills developed in previous courses. Data structures will be introduced focusing on relational and nosql databases. The course will also investigate emerging trends in software development such as serverless architectures and functional programming as an alternative to OOP.

This semester-long (5 unit) course is available to qualified students.  In order to take this course, students must have passed or be concurrently enrolled in AP Computer Science A, received a B- or higher in Introduction to Computer Science and Programming AND receive instructor approval. This course is pending UC approval. 

 

Physics
Yearlong Course; 10 Units

We live in a physical world that can be modeled and explained through physical laws and using the scientific method. With these models, scientists and weathermen make predictions and engineers create designs to better our world. In this hands­on laboratory course, students learn the laws of physics through inquiry­ and project­based activities. Students will also learn that there is often times more than one solution to a given problem. Each unit of the course offers activities that emphasize the principles of physics and each semester offers a project that links these principles to engineering design and problem solving. Topics in this course include one­ and two­dimensional motion; Newton’s laws and forces; circular motion, impulse, and momentum; energy; and torque.

This course is available to qualified students. In order to take this course, students must have earned a B or higher in both semesters of any level of Chemistry AND concurrent enrollment in at least Algebra 2 with math department approval.

Physics (AP)
Yearlong Course; 10 Units

This course is an introductory college-level physics course that explores topics such as Newtonian mechanics (including rotational motion); work, energy, and power; mechanical waves and sound; and simple circuits.  Through inquiry-based learning, students will develop scientific critical thinking and reasoning skills.  This course prepares students to successfully pass the AP Physics 1 exam in May and is equivalent to one semester of college-level Physics. 

The course is available to qualified students.  Students who earn a C- or higher in this course will earn an extra grade point toward their grade point average. Students who take this course must sit for the Advanced Placement examination in May. In order to be eligible to take this course, students must receive department approval (which may include a separate application and/or examination), attend the mandatory AP Information Night, and  have earned minimum grades in the previous year’s Science course (A- or higher in both semesters of Chemistry or B- or higher in both semesters of Honors Chemistry). 

Human Body Systems
Yearlong Course; 10 Units

In this course, students examine the interactions of body systems as they explore identity, communication, power, movement, protection, and homeostasis. Students design experiments, investigate the structures and functions of the human body, and use data acquisition software to monitor body functions such as muscle movement, reflex and voluntary action, and respiration. Exploring science in action, students build organs and tissues on a skeletal manikin, work through interesting real-world cases and frequently play the role of the biomedical professional to solve medical mysteries.

This course is available to qualified students. In order to take this course, students must have earned a B- or higher in any level of Biology.

Forensic Science
Semester Course; 5 Units

Forensic science is the application of scientific knowledge to questions of civil and criminal law.  This course is a lab-based, hands-on course that will explore what forensic scientists do.  Students will learn modern forensic methods and use scientific methods to solve legal problems.  This course focuses on collection and analysis of crime scene evidence (serology, toxicology, entomology, odontology, and trace evidence) and the exploration of lab analysis techniques (chromatography, DNA analysis, fingerprinting, and hair/footprint analysis).  Forensic scientists also are required to testify in court about their methods and analysis of evidence.  To make a convincing case, forensic scientists need to be able to clearly and concisely explain the results of the labs and techniques they use as well as explain the significance of their results in lab reports.  Finally, mock crime scenes will be investigated in this course and real case studies analyzed.

This course is available to any student who has earned a C- or higher in either Biology or Honors Biology.

Environmental Science (AP)
Yearlong Course; 10 Units

The goal of the AP Environmental Science course is to provide students with the 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 or preventing them.  Throughout this course, students are encouraged to consider scientific principles and disciplines when completing labs and activities.  In addition, field experiences will include biodiversity study, waste management, and water quality studies.

This course is available to qualified students.  Students who earn a C- or higher in this course will earn an extra grade point toward their grade point average.  Students who take this course must sit for the Advanced Placement examination in May.  In order to be eligible to take this course, students must receive department approval (which may include a separate application and/or examination), attend the mandatory AP Information Night, and have earned minimum grades in the previous two year’s Science courses (B- or higher in both semesters of any level of Biology and Chemistry). 

Marine Biology and the Environment
Semester Course; 5 Units

This course provides an introduction and overview to the diversity and interrelationships of life forms in salt-water environments, with an emphasis on Northern California coastal waters and their resources. In addition, this course will explore natural ecological systems in order to encourage students to become part of the solution to environmental problems. Laboratory investigations will explore both marine and environmental niches and the organisms that inhabit them. Labs will also cover the basic principles of marine and environmental biology.  Field trips are an exciting component of this course. Field trips often include a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a visit to and lesson from the Marin Mammal Center, and/or a trip to the UC Davis Marine Lab at Bodega Bay.

This course is available to qualified students.  In order to take this course, students must have earned a C- or higher in any level of Biology.

Medical Interventions
Yearlong Course; 10 Units

In Medical Interventions, a Project Lead the Way course, students will investigate the variety of interventions involved in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease as they follow the lives of a fictitious family.  A “how-to” manual for maintaining overall health and homeostasis in the body, the course explores how to prevent and fight infection, how to screen and evaluate one’s DNA code, how prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer, and how to prevail when the organs on the body begin to fail.  Through these scenarios, students will be exposed to the wide range of interventions related to immunology, surgery, genetics, pharmacology, medical devices, and diagnostics.  Each family case scenario will introduce multiple types of interventions and will reinforce concepts learned in previous Biomedical Program courses as well as new content.  Interventions may range from simple diagnostic tests to treatment of complex diseases and disorders.  These interventions will be showcased across the generations of a family and will provide a look at the past, present, and future of biomedical science.  Lifestyle choices and preventive measures are emphasized throughout the course as well as the important role scientific thinking and engineering design play in the development of interventions of the future.

This course is available to any student who has earned a B- or higher in Human Body Systems.

Faculty and Staff

Kristina Braithwaite
Teaches: AP Environmental Science, Bay Area Marine Ecology, Biology
Teaches: AP Physics, AP Chemistry, Physics, Forensic Science
Teaches: Chemistry
Teaches: Bay Area Marine Ecology, Human Body Systems, Principles of the Biomedical Sciences
Teaches: AP Biology, Biomedical Innovation, Medical Interventions
Anne Yoon
Teaches: Biology, Honors Chemistry