Course Descriptions – Science

Earth Science

Earth Science offers a focused curriculum that explores Earth’s composition, structure, processes, and history; its atmosphere, freshwater, and oceans; and its environment in space.

Course topics include an exploration of the major cycles that affect every aspect of life, including weather, climate, air movement, tectonics, volcanic eruptions, rocks, minerals, geologic history, Earth’s environment, sustainability, and energy resources. Optional teacher-scored labs encourage students to apply the scientific method.

The content is based on the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) standards and is aligned with state standards.

Physical Science

Physical Science offers a focused curriculum designed around the understanding of critical physical science concepts, including the nature and structure of matter, the characteristics of energy, and the mastery of critical scientific skills.

Course topics include an introduction to kinematics, including gravity and two-dimensional motion; force; momentum; waves; electricity; atoms; the periodic table of elements; molecular bonding; chemical reactivity; gases; and an introduction to nuclear energy. Teacher-scored labs encourage students to apply the scientific method.

The content is based on the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) standards and is aligned with state standards.

Biology

Biology focuses on the mastery of basic biological concepts and models while building scientific inquiry skills and exploring the connections between living things and their environment.

The course begins with an introduction to the nature of science and biology, including the major themes of structure and function, matter and energy flow, systems, and the interconnectedness of life. Students then apply those themes to the structure and function of the cell, cellular metabolism, and biogeochemical cycles. Building on this foundation, students explore the connections and interactions between living things by studying genetics, ecosystems and natural selection, and evolution. The course ends with an applied look at human biology.

Scientific inquiry skills are embedded in the direct instruction, wherein students learn to ask scientific questions, form and test hypotheses, and use logic and evidence to draw conclusions about the concepts.

Lab activities reinforce critical thinking, writing, and communication skills and help students develop a deeper understanding of the nature of science.

Chemistry

Chemistry offers a curriculum that emphasizes students’ understanding of fundamental chemistry concepts while helping them acquire tools to be conversant in a society highly influenced by science and technology.

The course provides students with opportunities to learn and practice critical scientific skills within the context of relevant scientific questions. Topics include the nature of science, the importance of chemistry to society, atomic structure, bonding in matter, chemical reactions, redox reactions, electrochemistry, phases of matter, equilibrium and kinetics, acids and bases, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, nuclear reactions, organic chemistry, and alternative energy.

Scientific inquiry skills are embedded in the direct instruction, wherein students learn to ask scientific questions, form and test hypotheses, and use logic and evidence to draw conclusions about concepts. Lab activities reinforce critical thinking, writing, and communication skills and help students develop a deeper understanding of the nature of science.

Throughout this course, students are given an opportunity to understand how chemistry concepts are applied in technology and engineering. Journal and Practice activities provide additional opportunities for students to apply learned concepts and practice their writing skills.

Physics

Physics offers a curriculum that emphasizes students’ understanding of fundamental physics concepts while helping them acquire tools to be conversant in a society highly influenced by science and technology.

The course provides students with opportunities to learn and practice critical scientific skills within the context of relevant scientific questions.  Topics include the nature of science, math for physics, energy, kinematics, force and motion, momentum, gravitation, chemistry for physics, thermodynamics, electricity, magnetism, waves, nuclear physics, quantum physics, and cosmology.

Scientific inquiry skills are embedded in the direct instruction, wherein students learn to ask scientific questions, form and test hypotheses, and use logic and evidence to draw conclusions about the concepts.  Lab activities reinforce critical thinking, writing, and communication skills and help students develop a deeper understanding of the nature of science.

Throughout this course, students are given an opportunity to understand how physics concepts are applied in technology and engineering.  Journal and Practice activities provide additional opportunities for students to apply learned concepts and practice their writing skills.

Psychology

Psychology provides a solid overview of the field’s major domains: methods, biopsychology, cognitive and developmental psychology, and variations in individual and group behavior.

By focusing on significant scientific research and on the questions that are most important to psychologists, students see psychology as an evolving science. Each topic clusters around challenge questions, such as “What is happiness?” Students answer these questions before, during, and after they interact with direct instruction.

The content is based on the American Psychological Association’s National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula. The teaching methods draw from the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) teaching standards.

Ecology – VA

This course focuses on ecology which is the branch of biology that deals with interactions between organisms and their environments. This course covers ecosystems dynamics, as well as the basic principles of earth science. Students will also study the effects of human activities on ecosystems, including the release of pollution, solid waste management, resource management, and energy conservation. Emphasis is placed on how individuals can help to conserve Earth’s environments for current and future generations.

This course is aligned with Virginia’s standards for ecology.

Science Foundations

Science Foundations provides students with opportunities to develop the knowledge, skills, and strategies necessary for success in rigorous high school science courses. The course is appropriate for use as remediation at the high school level or as a bridge to high school.

Science Foundations is a two-semester course, with each semester containing 10 mini-units. Each mini-unit is composed of three lessons. The first lesson focuses on key concepts found in Earth science, physical science, and life science. The second lesson reinforces reading and math skills students need to be successful with the content introduced in the first lesson. The third lesson introduces scientific inquiry and critical thinking skills that will help students thrive in science as well as other disciplines. Carefully paced, guided instruction is accompanied by engaging and accessible interactive practice. Checkup activities provide an opportunity to review content prior to assessment. Practice activities offer an opportunity to apply concepts that were presented in Study activities.