Astronomy

Department: Science

Course Description: This one-semester elective course will give students a general overview of the fundamental principles of astronomy. Students will investigate the formation of our solar system as well as the composition and characteristics of a variety of solar bodies including planets, comets, asteroids, moons and the sun. This modern knowledge will be taken in a historical perspective, as students learn about the evolution of astronomical ideas. Also included is an observational component that covers constellations, the celestial sphere and the motions of heavenly bodies. A discussion of telescope types and uses will complement this section. In addition, students will grapple with some fundamental questions about the universe: where did we come from, where are we now, and where are we going? The first step in this journey takes us to the birth, life and death of stars. A detailed look at the sun (the star we know best) will assist students in understanding the life cycle of stars. The demise of massive stars gives us such fascinating objects as supernovae and black holes. The course culminates with the topic of cosmology. Here, students learn about the expansion of the universe and discuss theories of the universe’s origin (such as the Big Bang), as well as its fate.

Prerequisite: Physics or Honors Physics. UC approved.

Interview with: Dr. Nelson

Produced by: Evan Cheng

Honors Biology vs. AP Biology (Juniors)

Department: Science

Honors Biology Course Description: This course is designed for students who have a proven interest and ability in science. This yearlong course provides a detailed view of fundamental biological processes, cell structures and function, molecular and classical genetics, basic biochemistry, evolution, anatomy and physiology, and ecology.

Honor Biology Prerequisite: Chemistry or Honors Chemistry and departmental approval. UC approved.

AP Biology Course Description: This yearlong lab course prepares students for the AP Biology examination as well as the SAT Subject Test in biology. Included in this course are biochemistry, cytology and cellular energy transformations, taxonomy, ecology and population dynamics and molecular genetics, heredity and evolution.

AP Biology Prerequisite: Grade 11 - AP Biology is available to juniors who satisfy department requirements to take the course (from Honors Chemistry an A- or better for the first semester; from AP Chemistry a B+ or better for the first semester), obtain departmental approval and successfully complete a Harker summer course. UC approved. Grade 12 - A or better in Biology or B+ or better in Honors Biology and department approval. UC approved.

Interview with: Mr. Pistacchi

Produced by: Evan Cheng

Biotechnology

Department: Science

Course Description: Biotechnology is the use of living organisms or their products to enhance our lives and our environment. This course examines the fundamental issues of biotechnology, such as what biotechnology is and its history, how biotechnology is done and being used today, how it impacts the lives of humans, other animals, plants and the environment. We also look at ethical issues about the role of science and technology in our society. The course is very lab-based, allowing the students exposure to many of the basic techniques used in biotechnology today.

Prerequisite: Completion of first semester of Biology or Biology Honors. UC approved.

Interview with: Dr. Harley

Produced by: Evan Cheng

Honors Chemistry vs. AP Chemistry (Sophomores)

Department: Science

Honors Chemistry Course Description: This course serves as an introduction to modern chemistry. Atomic structure, bonding, phase change, solutions, chemical reactions, thermodynamics, acid- base equilibria, kinetics and aspects of organic and inorganic chemistry are included. Emphasis is placed on developing problem-solving skills. This course incorporates lab work.

Honors Chemistry Prerequisite: Physics or Honors Physics and departmental approval. UC approved.

AP Chemistry Course Description: This course is the equivalent of an introductory college general chemistry course. We begin with a brief
review of some basic topics in chemistry relating to the nature of atoms, molecules, ions, the concept of mole and stoichiometry. This is followed by a more in-depth discussion of the electronic structure of atoms, the nature of chemical bonding and how it relates to states of matter, thermochemistry, chemical kinetics, chemical equilibrium, thermodynamics and electrochemistry. We will also touch upon basic organic and nuclear chemistry. A major objective of this course is to understand basic principles and apply them towards solving comprehensive problems. The course is integrated with a rigorous laboratory program. Students who have completed this course will be prepared to take the AP Chemistry examination as well as the SAT Subject Test in chemistry.

AP Chemistry Prerequisite: Grade 10 - AP Chemistry is available to sophomores who satisfy department requirements to take the course, earn an A or better each semester of Honors Physics, obtain department approval and successfully complete a Harker summer course. UC approved. Grade 11 & 12 - Honors Chemistry and departmental approval. UC approved

Interview with: Mr. Korin

Produced by: Arushi Saxena

Electronics

Department: Science

Course Description: The primary objective of this course is to introduce the basic principles of electric circuits through experimentation and laboratory-based activities. The emphasis in the course will be on analog circuits with an introduction to digital electronics at the end of the semester. Specific objectives include:

  • recognizing safe electrical hazards and practicing proper safety procedures in the laboratory;

  • identifying components from a circuit diagram;

  • constructing circuits from circuit diagrams;

  • being able to decompose circuits into parallel and series networks and apply Thevenin’s theorem to simplify circuits for analysis;

  • being able to apply Kirchoff’s Laws and Ohm’s law to analyze a circuit;

  • applying various mathematics modes to analyze circuits including solving simultaneous equations, logarithms, exponentials and sinusoidal functions;

  • making accurate electric measurements using a digital multimeter and oscilloscope;

  • developing techniques for troubleshooting electric circuits;

  • designing and building a complex circuit using various components and solderless breadboards;

  • designing and building a complex circuit using the software Electronic Workbench.

Prerequisite: Physics or Honors Physics. UC approved.

Interview with: Dr. Nelson

Produced by: Evan Cheng

Marine Biology

Department: Science

Course Description: This one-semester course explores the major concepts in ecology through an exploration of the Earth’s ocean ecosystems. First, we explore the unique conditions in the ocean and implications for life living there. Then we investigate the distribution of the Earth’s oceans, the major currents and the control and effect of tides. Next, we explore the various components of marine food webs, starting with phytoplankton and working our way up to fish, marine mammals and sea birds. The last part of the course includes a survey of the major ocean ecosystems and their unique features.

Prerequisite: Physics or Honors Physics. UC approved.

Interview with: Dr. Schafer

Produced by: Larissa Tyagi

Modern Physics

Department: Science

Course Description: The discoveries and the methods of analysis that are the basis of 20th-century physics have dominated our lives and in many cases set the tone of our intellectual debate. Discoveries from quantum mechanics are the basis for all the current work in the development of modern materials and in modern electronics devices such as transistors. Using a conceptual approach this course covers special and general relativity, the quantization of energy, particle-wave duality, the four fundamental forces, and the latest theories regarding the fundamental building blocks of nature.

Prerequisite: Physics or Honors Physics. UC approved.

Interview with: Dr. Nelson

Produced by: Evan Cheng

AP Physics 2 vs. AP Physics C

Department: Science

Course Description for AP Physics 2: This course follows all directives as set by the College Board in their description of the AP Physics
2 course. This course (which replaces AP Physics B) continues the systematic introduction to the main principles of physics that began in the freshman physics course and emphasizes the development of conceptual understanding and problem-solving ability using algebra and trigonometry. The Physics 2 course includes topics in both classical and modern physics. Knowledge of algebra and basic trigonometry is required; the basic ideas of calculus may be introduced in the theoretical development of some physical concepts, such as acceleration and work. Understanding of the basic principles involved and the ability to apply these principles in the solution of problems is a major goal of the course, which serves as preparation for the AP Physics 2 exam.

Prerequisite for AP Physics 2: Students who completed Honors Physics with a B+ both semesters or Physics with an A both semesters, have concurrent enrollment in Honors Precalculus or higher level math course, and earn department approval are eligible for AP Physics 2. UC approved.

Course Description for AP Physics C: This course follows all course directives as set by the College Board in their description of the AP Physics C course. This yearlong, calculus-based physics course is composed of roughly one-half mechanics (including linear and rotational kinematics and dynamics) and one-half electricity and magnetism. Methods of calculus are used wherever appropriate in formulating physical principles and in applying them to physical problems. The sequence is more intensive and analytic than that in AP Physics 2. Strong emphasis is placed on solving
a variety of challenging problems, some requiring calculus. After this course students will be able to take the AP Physics C exam in either Mechanics or Electricity and Magnetism.

Prerequisite for AP Physics C: AP Physics C is designed for students who have earned A- or higher grades in Honors Physics and have completed, or for seniors are enrolled in, AP Calculus BC. Department approval required. UC approved.

Interviews with: Dr. Brada and Mr. Spenner

Produced by: Evan Cheng

Research Methods and Advanced Research

Department: Science

Course Description for Research Methods: Research Methods is designed for students interested in independent science research. Because of the breadth of material included in most science classes, it is a challenge for students to delve deeply into a given topic that interests them. This program allows students to develop a research question using resources online and in college libraries. Students design and conduct experiments to test their research questions and then analyze their results with statistical analyses. Students expand their communication skills with formal reports and presentations to the class. They also participate in a larger research community at the local science fair and the Harker Research Symposium.

Prerequisite for Research Methods: Physics or Honors Physics and recommendation of the student’s science and/or mathematics teacher. In addition, students must attend a brief meeting in the spring prior to their enrollment in the course. UC approved.

Course Description for Advanced Research: In Advanced Research, students have the option of continuing their research projects from the Research Methods course with additional experiments and/or more in-depth analyses. They also may pursue research in a different field altogether. Students who complete a research project over the summer or are ready to collect data on a project approved by the instructor may also enroll. The course requires much independent work, but also incorporates peer review and mentoring of less experienced research students. Advanced Research may be taken for credit more than once. With instructor approval, students may enroll in an honors version of the course. Honors students are held to a higher standard of writing quality and are expected to incorporate original procedures and/or analysis into their projects. Honors students also take on additional mentoring duties with students in the Research Methods course.

Prerequisite for Advanced Research: Research Methods or instructor approval. Typically, instructor approval requires satisfactory completion of a summer research internship or a formal research proposal.

Interview with: Mr. Spenner

Produced by: Evan Cheng

The Science of Food

Department: Science

Course Description: This course will explore a variety of topics related to the science of food including: the chemistry and nutrition of carbohydrates, fats and proteins; the chemistry and importance of the various vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals in our diets; the use of food substitutes and additives to various food products; the role of microorganisms in the production of various foods such as bread and yogurt and how these microbes alter the chemistry of important foods; and the chemical changes that take place in foods during cooking and baking. We will be spending significant time both in the lab and in the kitchen, conducting experiments and investigating the impact of cooking and baking on different foods.

Prerequisite: Chemistry, Honors Chemistry or AP Chemistry. UC approved.

Interview with: Dr. Schafer

Produced by: Larissa Tyagi