In grades 9-12, students continue to engage in three-dimensional learning utilizing the three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards or NGSS. In the core NGSS aligned courses, students develop a greater capacity to investigate and explain natural phenomena and to design solutions to global challenges with greater emphasis on systems thinking and community-based geoscience literacy. Students collaborate on performance tasks that engage them in the authentic work of both scientists and engineers.
- Grade 9 Science
- AP Chemistry
- AP Biology
- AP Environmental Science
- Medical Terminology
- Human Anatomy and Physiology
- Human Immunity and Disease
- Introduction to Oceanography
Grade 9 Science
- In order to explain “How do people reconstruct and date events in Earth’s planetary history?” ninth-grade students learn to use indirect evidence to construct an account of Earth’s geologic history.
- Students use geoscience data to model geoscience processes to explain “Why do the continents move?
- Students engage in systems thinking to figure out “How do the properties and movements of water shape Earth’s surface and affect its systems?”
- Through hands-on explorations and simulations of planetary motion, students use models to determine, “How can one explain and predict interactions between objects and within systems of objects?”
- Students use science ideas about collision forces and the conservation of momentum and energy to design landing gear for a supply capsule.
- Students explore the questions, “How do people model and predict the effects of human activities on Earth’s climate” and “How do the major Earth systems interact?”
- Using geoscience data from ice cores, analysis of global temperature data, and explorations of heat and light energy, students develop a systems model to explain the phenomena of melting glaciers.
- Students research global challenges and create a systems model of causes and effects along with the prediction of the effectiveness of different mitigation strategies.
- Through data analysis and mathematical modeling, students determine, “How are waves used to transfer energy and send and store information?”
- Through simulations and research on the composition of matter, galaxy motion, and light spectra, students develop an evidence-based explanation for the question, “What is the universe, and what goes on in stars?”
- Coral Reef/Sustainability
- Forest Regrowth/Biochemistry
- Yellowstone Wolves/Ecology
- Hawaiian Crickets/Evolution
- Biology students use the phenomena of coral reef bleaching as context for the questions, “How do the major Earth systems interact?” and “How does biodiversity affect humans?”
- Students use scientific ideas about carbon cycling, atmospheric composition changes, and biosphere feedback mechanisms to design a plan to maintain the biodiversity of reef habitats by reducing human impact on them.
- In order to figure out, “How do the structures of organisms enable life’s functions?” students explore the phenomena of forest regrowth following a wildfire.
- To make sense of “How do substances combine or change (react) to make new substances?” students investigate cellular processes, including photosynthesis and cellular respiration.
- Engaging in systems thinking, students determine the interaction between cell structures, processes, and carbon-based organic molecules.
- Students show “How do organisms obtain and use the energy they need to live and grow?” when explaining tree regrowth.
- Considering the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park, students explore the questions “How do organisms interact with the living and non-living environment to obtain matter and energy?“ and “How do matter and energy move through ecosystems?
- Students use results from homeostasis experiments and predator-prey simulations to visualize and explain changes to the Yellowstone ecosystem.
- Students engage in a case study of dwarfism. In order to explain, “How are the characteristics from one generation related to the previous generation?” students compare and contrast cell division for growth and for reproduction.
- Students examine the DNA replication errors and environmental factors that can cause genetic variations or influence the expression of traits.
- Students use their understanding of genetics to explore, “How can there be so many similarities among organisms yet so many different plants, animals, and microorganisms?”
- Students explore factors that influence an organism's chances for survival and reproduction and the mechanisms of natural selection.
- Students examine ecological disturbances and relationships that may have resulted in the evolution of crickets that cannot chirp.
- Nuclear Processes/Atomic Structure and Periodicity
- Toxic Waste/Chemical Bonding
- Vehicle Airbag Design/Gas Laws and Chemical Reactions
- Chemistry of Climate Change
Nuclear Processes/Atomic Structure and Periodicity
- To engage in the question, “What is the universe and what goes on in stars?” students compare observations of a supernova and nuclear bomb test.
- Students research the processes of fission and fusion and star life cycles and the evidence for different models of atomic structure.
- Students are presented with a forensic case study to solve using spectral analysis of unknown substances.
- After exploring the role of ions, isotopes, and electron configurations, and analyzing the patterns in elements and their properties that led to the development of the Periodic Table of the Elements, the students address the question, “How can one explain the structure and properties of matter?”
Toxic Waste/Chemical Bonding
- As a context for the question, “How do substances combine or change (react) to make new substances?” students review current, local examples of toxic waste dumping.
- Students create explanatory models of the forces involved in different types of bonding, as well as molecular shapes and polarity.
- Students design tests to identify unknown substances and develop models of explaining their results.
Vehicle Airbag Design/Gas Laws and Chemical Reactions
- Students design an airbag to figure out, “How does one characterize and explain reactions and make predictions about them?” and “How can one explain and predict interactions between objects and within systems of objects?
- Students examine the behavior of gasses and model the gas laws. They explore different types of chemical reactions and investigate factors that can change the speed of a chemical reaction and affect its equilibrium point.
- Students apply science ideas related to stoichiometry, limiting reactants, and thermal energy changes to determine the amounts and types of substances to use in their airbag designs.
Chemistry of Climate Change
- Students explore the question, “How do humans depend on Earth’s resources?” and “How do people model and predict the effects of human activities on Earth’s climate?”
- Students use systems modeling techniques to visualize the impacts of an event on the Earth’s systems (biosphere, atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere) and humans that are part of the biosphere.
- Students explore mitigation strategies such as alternative energy sources, green home design, and urban planning.
- Energy forms, transformations, and conservation
- Energy flow: Work, Efficiency, Power
- Forces, Newton's 1st and 3rd Laws
- Kinematics, Newton's 2nd Law
- 2/3-D motion: Projectile motion, Universal gravitation, Circular motion
- Conservation of momentum
- Wave production, absorption, propogation
- Reflection, mirrors
- Refraction, lenses
- Superposition, interference
- Electrostatics and magnetic forces
Energy forms, transformations, and conservation
Energy flow: Work, Efficiency, Power
- Students learn to differentiate between the energy that flows to the molecular scale (as heat) and the energy that flows to or from the bulk scale as kinetic, position, or elastic energy.
- Students apply the concept of work to measure or calculate energy as it flows and compares the efficiency of the different transformations.
Forces, Newton's 1st and 3rd Laws
Kinematics, Newton's 2nd Law
2/3-D motion: Projectile motion, Universal gravitation, Circular motion
Conservation of momentum
Wave production, absorption, propogation
Electrostatics and magnetic forces
- Chemical Foundations and Stoichiometry
- Chemical Reactions and Solutions
- Chemical Equilibrium
- Chemical Kinetics
- Atomic Structure and Periodicity
- Chemical Bonding
- Thermochemistry, Entropy and Free Energy
- Nuclear Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- AP Chemistry Project
Chemical Foundations and Stoichiometry
Chemical Reactions and Solutions
Atomic Structure and Periodicity
- Students use the Periodic Table of the Elements to predict the chemical and physical properties of individual elements, along with periods and families of elements.
- Students learn to locate and use properties of specific elements including modeling electron energy levels using atomic spectra, quantum numbers, and atomic orbitals.
Thermochemistry, Entropy and Free Energy
- Students solve First Law thermodynamics equations involving a change of enthalpy, the heat of formation, the heat of reaction, Hess's Law, heats of vaporization, calorimetry and fusion.
- Students solve Second Law thermodynamics equations involving entropy, the free energy of formation, the free energy of reaction, the dependence of change in free energy on enthalpy and entropy changes, and the relationship to equilibrium constants and electrode potentials.
- Students examine the properties of different types of radiation, their biological effects, and implications of half-life for natural radioactivity and nuclear waste disposal.
- Students distinguish between nuclear fission and nuclear fusion and assess the relative risks and benefits of various nuclear technologies including power plants.
AP Chemistry Project
- Cell Biology
- Cellular Energetics
- Cell Communication
- Gene Expressions and Regulation
- Natural Selection
- Student-Directed Final Research
Gene Expressions and Regulation
- Students explore evidence for past and continuing evolution. They investigate mechanisms that favor certain traits or cause new ones to arise.
- Students build on their understanding of these processes to explain speciation and infer common ancestry.
- Students explore hypotheses about the origin of life.
Student-Directed Final Research
AP Environmental Science
- Environmental Problems, Their Causes, and Sustainability
- Frameworks for Understanding: Science, Systems, and Ethics
- Matter, Energy, and Life
- Biological Communities
- Biomes: Global Patterns of Life
- Population Biology
- Human Populations
- Environmental Health and Toxicology
- Food and Agriculture
- Pest Control
- Land Use: Forests and Grasslands
- Preserving and Restoring Nature
- Geology and Earth Resources
- Air, Weather, and Climate
- Air Pollution
- Water Use and Management
- Water Pollution
- Conventional Energy
- Sustainable Energy
- Solid, Toxic, and Hazardous Waste
Environmental Problems, Their Causes, and Sustainability
Frameworks for Understanding: Science, Systems, and Ethics
- Students review effective experimental design, deductive and inductive reasoning, and criteria for a hypothesis to become a scientific theory.
- Students use systems thinking to identify feedback loops in specific environmental issues. They are introduced to different philosophical viewpoints along with environmental justice and environmental racism.
Matter, Energy, and Life
- Students examine the interplay of natural selection, adaptation, and evolution.
- Students examine how species occupy different niches in the same habitat and how they interact in ways that either cause or avoid competition for resources.
- Students describe ecosystem health, processes of ecological succession, and the potential effects of invasive species.
Biomes: Global Patterns of Life
- Students examine characteristics of the major terrestrial and aquatic living communities.
- Students identify the climates and the adaptation of the flora and fauna of each biome.
- Students assess the damage that humans do to the various biomes and propose mechanisms to repair or avoid the damage in these biomes.
- Students explore different factors that affect the population growth of specific species and graph the phases of population changes.
- Students connect the theory of island biogeography to the theory of the evolution of species and the likelihood of endangerment to isolated species.
- Students predict the effects of small population changes on isolated species.
Environmental Health and Toxicology
- Students examine principles of environmental health, environmental risks currently facing U.S. citizens, and what might be done about them.
- Students identify some major environmental toxins and outline their effects on human health. They relate infectious organisms to their disease and transmission route including emergent and ecological diseases.
Food and Agriculture
- Students explore world food supplies, agricultural inputs, and sustainable approaches to prevent malnourishment or undernourishment.
- The students relate famine to social, environmental, and economic forces including major plants used for food, agriculture versus agribusiness, soil problems, and the pros and cons of genetically modified organisms.
- Students study the three kinds of biodiversity essential to the preservation of ecological systems.
- Students relate the role of biodiversity to humans and to ecological system health. They examine the negative impacts that humans have on biodiversity and legislation and policies that protect species from extinction. They review human interventions that have resulted in population increases.
Land Use: Forests and Grasslands
- Students focus on forests and grasslands to consider the effects of land-use decisions.
- Students identify forest types, products, and harvest techniques that harm or restore habitat. They relate the overuse of rangeland to the formation of deserts.
- Students debate the recreational and economic value of national parks, consider the value and challenges of wildlife refuges, and characterize the principles of landscape ecology.
Preserving and Restoring Nature
- Students investigate efforts to preserve natural environments, examining why it is done and how it is done, and what works and what does not.
- Students justify the restoration, mitigation, and replacement of natural areas damaged by humans.
- Students explain the role of fire in maintaining ecosystems.
Geology and Earth Resources
Air, Weather, and Climate
- Students learn about the major types of air pollutants, their sources, environmental impacts, and human health effects.
- Students characterize the indoor air pollutants, including their sources, types of buildings affected, and human health effects.
- Students propose strategies to decrease indoor and outdoor air pollutants and evaluate the effectiveness of the Clean Air Act.
Water Use and Management
- Students learn about water supplies, water use, and strategies for water conservation.
- Students review different priorities for human water use and review water conservation methods.
- Students debate the costs and benefits of water diversion projects and address the ecological and economic aspects of the projects.
- Students learn about common water pollutants, their origin, and impacts on the environment and human health, as well as ways to remediate the pollutant.
- Students summarize the quality of water in developed and developing countries.
- Students explain contamination problems associated with groundwater and describe the major ocean pollutants.
- Students appraise the effectiveness of the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.
- Students learn about conventional energy sources – fossil fuels and nuclear power– that provide most of our energy supplies.
- Students contrast U.S. sources and uses of energy to that of other nations.
- Students evaluate the economic and environmental costs and benefits of using fossil fuels and nuclear energy.
- Students explore renewable energy sources, options for conservation, and environmentally friendly energy supplies.
- Students describe methods of energy conservation and alternative energy resources including biomass fuels, geothermal power, and generating electricity with tides and ocean thermal gradients.
Solid, Toxic, and Hazardous Waste
- Students examine solid waste and hazardous waste production and its environmental effects and study the efforts to reduce waste production.
- Students examine the costs and benefits of recycling wastes and incineration.
- Students define hazardous wastes and explain how such wastes are disposed of in the United States.
Introduction to Aquaponics
Food Production and Marketing
Medical Word Building
Human Body Organization
- Students learn the correct pronunciation, spelling, and use of medical terms for each body system as well as the related anatomy, physiology, human diseases, and treatment. The systems studied include the integumentary, musculoskeletal, circulatory, lymphatic and immune, respiratory, digestive, urinary and reproductive, and nervous systems, including the specialized sense organs for vision, hearing, smell, and taste.
- History of Genetics
- Mitosis and Meiosis
- Mendel's Laws
- Gene Expression Alters Mendelian Ratios
- Sex-Linked Traits
- Genetic Disorder Research Paper or Presentation
History of Genetics
Mitosis and Meiosis
- Students describe the intercellular movement of the genetic information throughout the four phases of mitosis(PMAT).
- Students diagram the phases of mitosis interphase, prophase, metaphase, anaphase and telophase.
- Students relate the division of somatic (nonsex) cells to the increased cell number in cooperation with apoptosis and necrosis.
- Students relate the cell division process through virtual models of meiosis.
- Students describe the intercellular movement of the genetic information throughout the two divisions of the four phases of meiosis; interphase, prophase I, metaphase I, anaphase I, telophase I, prophase II, metaphase II, anaphase II, and telophase II.
- Students will determine the possible variations of genes through independent assortment.
- Students build a model of DNA, placing the parts of the nucleotides to produce a working model of DNA much like Watson and Crick used when discovering the double-helix structure of DNA.
- Students use the models to explain DNA replication and protein synthesis.
- Working with lab partners, students engage in a DNA extraction lab using peas and other plants.
- Students produce the DNA and examine it under a dissection microscope to make observations and draw conclusions.
- Students learn Darwin's Principles of Natural Selection and review the basic tenets of evolution.
- Students will explore selective breeding, hybridization, inbreeding, and polyploidy.
- Students explore the tools of genetic engineering.
- Students explore cloning, transgenic organisms, and gene splicing along with the ethics of utilizing these techniques in agriculture, industry, health, and medicine.
Gene Expression Alters Mendelian Ratios
Genetic Disorder Research Paper or Presentation
Human Anatomy and Physiology
- Body Organization and Terminology
- Chemistry and the Living Body
- Cells: Structure and Function
- Integumentary System
- The Skeletal System
- Muscle System
- Nervous System: Peripherals
- Central and Somatic: Nervous Systems
- Sensory Organs
- Respiratory Anatomy
- The Cardiovascular System
- Human Digestion
- Excretory System
- Endocrine System
- Human Reproduction and Development
Body Organization and Terminology
- Students learn the nomenclature of the structure of the human body.
- Students explain the levels of organization in the human body, the systems and their function, and the major cavities.
- Students explore homeostasis as it relates to any system and feedback mechanisms.
- Students develop a model to demonstrate their knowledge of the anatomical positions and use anatomical terms to identify the external regions of the body.
Chemistry and the Living Body
- Students review types of bonds, pH, and chemical reactions.
- Students relate these concepts to cell dynamics.
- They explain the role different bond types play in the human body.
- Students describe the importance of water's unique chemical properties.
- Students apply their knowledge of enzymes to situations such as hypothermia and hyperthermia. They evaluate the use of supplements and vitamins.
Cells: Structure and Function
- Students describe the structure and function of different cell types and their organelles.
- They describe the processes that transport, transcription, and translation and relate this to the overall health and function of the cell.
- Students relate the process of mitosis to cancer, how cancer affects the cells and thus the entire human body.
- Students explain the relationship of aging to cellular processes.
- Students explain how the skin helps maintain body temperature and synthesize Vitamin D.
- Students describe the structure and function of hair, skin glands, and nails.
- Students examine the effects of aging on the skin, how their behavior can enhance or reduce it, and evaluate the reliability of products claiming to prevent skin aging.
The Skeletal System
- Students discuss different types of bones and joints based on their anatomy and shapes.
- Students describe the differences in the ossification of intramembranous bones and endochondral bones.
- Students relate the impact of the exercise on the concept of 'challenging' the bone tissues.
- Students distinguish among the different vertebrae of each region.
- Students describe the effects of aging and selected diseases on bone function.
- Students explain the structure and function of the sarcomere.
- Students work together to demonstrate their knowledge of muscle anatomy.
- Students explain the diseases and effects of aging.
- Students investigate muscle function in a lab and relate this to the decisions they must make to maintain normal muscle activity.
Nervous System: Peripherals
Central and Somatic: Nervous Systems
- Students describe the anatomy of the spinal cord and explore the regions of the brain.
- Students explain the 'one' neuron single pathway to 'one' neuron anatomy of the brain and the process of establishing long term memory.
- Students assess how drug use can affect 'judgment' in terms of brain anatomy/physiology.
- Students identify given disorders when symptoms are indicated.
- Students relate parasympathetic and sympathetic functions to given situations based on the needs of the body.
- Students describe the anatomy of the sensory organs, how each one functions, and related disorders.
- Students discuss the role of the eye structure, rods and cones, and lens adjustments in vision.
- Students discuss the physiology of pitch detection in the basilar membrane, the location of the sound, static and dynamic equilibrium.
- Students describe the anatomy of the tongue’s taste regions and the basal membrane of the nose.
- Students explain the importance of slow and fast adapting sensory structures, including pain and proprioception.
The Cardiovascular System
- Students identify the anatomy of the heart, the cardiac cycle, and what mechanisms control the cycle.
- Students relate heart health to genetics and lifestyle, examine heart disease case studies, and make relevant connections to their own family histories.
- Students identify the major circulatory routes, and types of blood vessels, and become proficient at measuring blood pressure
- Students explain the different types of immunity, the defense mechanisms of the human body, and the different types of immunoglobulins and their specific functions.
- Students determine why some individuals seem to catch many contagious illnesses while others are rarely sick.
- Students determine the causes of allergies, autoimmune disorders, and other dysfunctions of the immune system. They describe the role of the Major Histocompatibility Complex.
- Students identify the hormones produced by glands.
- Students explore negative feedback mechanisms of hormonal homeostasis and how exogenous hormones can alter that mechanism.
- Students identify different hormone mechanisms, possible imbalances, and changes during the life of a human to show they understand how maturation and aging occur.
Human Reproduction and Development
- Students describe the anatomy of both male and female reproductive systems, their function, and their role in the perpetuation of the species.
- Students explain fertilization, prenatal development, and birth processes.
- Students assess how the aging process affects maturation and eventual reduction of function of male and female organs of reproduction.
Human Immunity and Disease
- An Introduction to Infectious Diseases
- Transmission of Infectious Disease
- Pathogenic Microbes
- Pathogens and Disease
An Introduction to Infectious Diseases
Transmission of Infectious Disease
Pathogens and Disease
- Students study the pathways through which pathogens can invade a host and the human body’s immune system response to pathogens.
- Students review how the innate and adaptive immune systems fight infectious disease, the role of B cells and T cells, and vaccine effects.
- Students research tetanus, MRSA and HIV.
Introduction to Oceanography
- Nature of Marine Science
- The Water Planet and the Not-So-Rigid Earth
- The Seafloor and Marine Sediments
- The Properties of Water and Seawater
- The Oceans and the Atmosphere
- Currents, Waves and Tides
- Coasts and Coastal Waters
- Marine Habitat
- Biological Productivity and Energy Transfer
- Pelagic Organisms and Benthic Organisms
- Marine Resources
- Marine Environmental Concerns
Nature of Marine Science
- Students will gain an historical perspective of ocean exploration including a study of the general characteristics of the ocean, the history of ocean exploration, past and modern technologies for ocean research, basic navigation with coastal charts and future potential for the development of underwater habitats for humans.
The Water Planet and the Not-So-Rigid Earth
- Students explain how the homogeneous Protoearth became a layered Earth with outgassing producing the atmosphere and the oceans and how life in the early oceans changed the atmosphere.
- Students simulate the process of radiometric age dating of rock and summarize the geologic time scale.
- Students describe the formation and evolution of ocean basins as related to plate tectonics.
- Using data from volcanic island arcs and seamounts, the students infer plate motions and whether the present oceans are opening or closing.
The Seafloor and Marine Sediments
- Students describe characteristics of marine provinces and relate bathymetric features to plate boundaries and motions.
- Students explain that continental margins are made up of the continental crust and that deep-ocean features occur in oceanic crust.
- Students explain how marine sediments provide evidence of Earth’s history.
- Students identify properties of marine sediments and explain how the distribution of marine sediments is controlled by proximity to land, depth of seawater, the productivity of marine organisms, and topography of the seafloor.
The Properties of Water and Seawater
- Students investigate the unusual properties of water from the molecular level.
- Students relate water’s thermal properties to the global heat budget, ocean circulation, and atmospheric circulation.
- Students explain the influence of salinity on the characteristics of seawater and model the thermal and salinity patterns in the ocean.
The Oceans and the Atmosphere
Currents, Waves and Tides
- Students explain how ocean currents are set in motion by wind or by differences in density caused by differences in salinity and temperature and how ocean currents moderate global temperatures and influence global climate.
- Students explain that ocean surface waves are caused primarily by solar energy imbalances creating wind and how a tsunami is generated by seismic disturbances in the ocean basin. They explain the causes of tides.
Coasts and Coastal Waters
- Students research and explain the primary processes that reconfigure the shore and explain how humans have negatively affected the shore and the littoral oceans.
- Students explain why coastal waters have more variable characteristics than the open ocean and why many of these coastal environments are important ecosystems and often remove land-derived pollutants from water.
- Students identify marginal seas as relatively large, semi-enclosed basins of seawater that typically have restricted circulation.
- Students explore marine life and maintain a saltwater aquarium habitat.
- Students explain that organisms living in the oceans develop special adaptations to the chemical and physical characteristics of seawater and that algae are the basic producers of food.
- Students infer the availability of sunlight and nutrients in the ocean and differentiate between the pelagic and benthic environments.
Biological Productivity and Energy Transfer
Pelagic Organisms and Benthic Organisms
- Students describe the characteristics of pelagic organisms and the special adaptations that allow pelagic organisms to survive and thrive.
- Students describe the adaptations and modifications that permit some mammals to live in the sea.
- Students describe the characteristics of benthic organisms, how their distribution is affected by the usual physical and chemical constraints of the oceans, and the chemosynthesis that takes place at hydrothermal vents and cold seeps.
- Students develop an understanding of the importance of marine resources and the need to develop a practice of sustainable resource management practices.
- Students will model marine fisheries to compare sustainability and business-as-usual practices.
- Students describe different ways the marine environment can be used to generate energy.
Marine Environmental Concerns
- Students study how pollutants occur in increasing amounts and types in the oceans, including industrial and agricultural chemicals as well as plastic, oil, sewage, trash, and radioactive waste.
- Students describe how nations individually and collectively have attempted to control pollutants by legislation and regulations and evaluate the impact of marine legislation and regulation on the welfare and economy of the average individual.