Science

  • Philosophy: Scientific literacy is vital for all students to become informed citizens in order to make responsible and ethical decisions about both personal and global issues. The science content area provides many laboratory-based opportunities to achieve scientific literacy through a diverse offering of core and elective courses.  

    Some course titles include level designations related to the rigor of the course:

    • 300 level (also referred to as AP, Honors, or Advanced) courses are designed for students who have demonstrated exceptional ability in the subject matter. 
    • 200 level courses are designed for students who have demonstrated a high performance record in the subject matter.  
    • 100 level courses are designed to help students meet course proficiencies and graduation requirements. 
    • Courses with no level assigned are open to students who have taken any indicated prerequisites.

    So what courses should students take? Three credits of science are required for graduation at Essex High School.  College-bound students should take a minimum of four years of science.  


    Grades 9 & 10 
    Core course placement in Science in 9th and 10th grade is based on student readiness and interests, but does not limit student access to courses in grades 11 and 12. All courses are designed to generate strong science literacy for all students.  Students interested in multiple AP science courses as 11th and 12th graders may want to take two science core courses in either Grade 9 or 10.  This is known as “doubling” and is available with a science teacher recommendation. Students will also want to consider how their math courses align with their choices for science when deciding whether to double.

    Grades 11 & 12 

    Course placement in 11th and 12th grade should be based on a student’s career interest and the competitive nature of their college choices. Doubling in 11th and 12th grade is quite common because of the wide variety of science electives.


  • EARTH AND SPACE SCIENCE


    EARTH AND SPACE SCIENCE 100
    Course Number: Q310       1 Physical Science Credit      Grades: 9     

    This is an introductory course designed to provide students with scientific literacy in the earth and space sciences. Topics are explored through inquiry, discussion, projects, lab investigations, research and technology. The course will focus on the study of the Earth’s lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and its relationship to other planetary bodies.  Students enrolled in this course analyze and describe Earth’s interconnected systems and how they are changing due to natural processes and human influence.


    EARTH AND SPACE SCIENCE 200
    Course Number: Q212       1 Physical Science Credit      Grades: 9   

    This is an introductory course designed to provide students with scientific literacy in the earth and space sciences. It is an in-depth study building on previous scientific knowledge. Students are expected to be able to work independently. Topics are explored through inquiry, discussion, math applications, projects, lab investigations, research and technology. The course will focus on the study of the Earth’s lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and its relationship to other planetary bodies. Students enrolled in this course analyze and describe Earth’s interconnected systems and how they are changing due to natural processes and human influence.


    BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

    These courses meet students’ needs in differentiated ways. Each is a college preparatory, lab-based course that includes life science and human body topics as outlined by the Next Generation Science Standards.


    BIOLOGY 100
    Course Number: Q312       1 Natural Science Credit      Grades: 10-12 

    This course introduces the student to biology theories and concepts with class activities, experimentation and some projects. Topics include scientific method and experimentation, biochemistry, cell structure and function, genetics, ecology, evolution, human body systems. 


    BIOLOGY 200
    Course Number: Q210       1.50 Natural Science Credit      Grades: 9-12  

    This course introduces the student to biology theories and concepts with class activities, experimentation and some projects. Strong study skills and the ability to work independently are key elements needed for success in Biology 200. Topics include scientific method and experimentation, biochemistry, cell structure and function, genetics, ecology, evolution, and human body systems. 

    Recommended: Completion of or concurrent Earth and Space Science 100 or 200


    ADVANCED BIOLOGY
    Course Number: Q107       1.50 Natural Science Credit      Grades: 11-12  

    This course is intended for the student who is interested in studying in more depth the major areas covered in the first year course in Biology. This course utilizes inquiry activities, group and individual projects, and class discussions to investigate ideas in biology. Biochemistry, cell biology, evolution, genetics, ecology, and body systems are studied. The course is mostly aligned with the AP Biology curriculum and some students take the AP exam in May. Due to the long-term nature of several units and laboratory investigations, some material that is required for success on the Advanced Placement exam is not covered during class time. To fully prepare for this rigorous exam, interested students are expected to meet outside of class on several occasions during the second semester.   
    Recommended: Completion of Biology 200 and Chemistry 100 or 200


    CHEMISTRY SCIENCES

    These courses meet students` needs in differentiated ways. Most students take chemistry as the third of the core sciences after completing biology.


    CHEMISTRY 100
    Course Number: Q320       1 Physical Science Credit      Grades: 10-12 

    This course introduces students to theories and concepts with experimentation and projects. It has been successfully completed by those students who have an interest in chemistry but are thinking of a career outside of the science field, for example fine arts or business. This course provides an excellent foundation in the basic topics of general chemistry, always placing an emphasis on how chemistry relates to daily life. Lectures, demonstrations, videos, computer simulations and traditional hands-on lab activities are used throughout this course. Topics include acids and bases, atomic and molecular structures, chemical bonds, chemical formulas, chemical reactions, classifying matter, gas laws, mole concept, nuclear chemistry, nomenclature, periodic trends, phases of matter, properties of water, and introduction to energy relationships. Basic algebra skills are very important, though this course requires much less computation than Chemistry 200.
    Recommended: Completion of one science credit and completion of or concurrent Algebra I


    CHEMISTRY 200
    Course Number: Q220       1.50 Physical Science Credit      Grades: 10-12  

    This course introduces students to theories and concepts primarily through experimentation. It has been successfully completed by students who desire to have a mathematical-based study and are possibly thinking of a career that would require this information, for example engineering, health, medical fields, environmental or other science related careers. Lectures, demonstrations, videos, computer simulations and traditional hands-on lab activities are used throughout this course. Topics include acids and bases, atomic and molecular structures, chemical bonds, chemical formulas, chemical reactions, classifying matter, gas laws, mole concept, nuclear chemistry, nomenclature, periodic trends, kinetics and equilibrium, mathematics of chemistry, thermodynamics, and stoichiometry.  Strong algebraic math skills are required because many concepts involve processing relevant computations and analyzing lab data. 
    Recommended: Completion of one science credit and completion of or concurrent Algebra II


    AP CHEMISTRY
    Course Number: Q122       1 Physical Science Credit      Grades: 11-12 

    This course is designed to be the equivalent of the general chemistry course usually taken during the first college year. For some students, this course enables them to undertake second-year work in the chemistry sequence in their first year at college or to register in college courses in other fields where general chemistry is a prerequisite. For other students, the AP Chemistry course fulfills the college laboratory science requirement and frees time for other courses. AP Chemistry is a rigorous curriculum that includes the following topics: atomic theory and atomic structure, chemical bonding, nuclear chemistry, gases, liquids and solids, solutions, reaction types, stoichiometry, equilibrium, kinetics, thermochemistry, and descriptive chemistry. Students are expected to spend a considerable amount of time outside of class to complete assignments.  
    Recommended: Completion of Chemistry 200


    PHYSICS

    These courses meet students’ needs in differentiated ways. Most students take physics as the fourth of the core sciences after completing chemistry. 


    PHYSICS 100
    Course Number: Q306       1 Physical Science Credit      Grades: 11-12    

    This course stimulates higher level cognitive skills by emphasizing the laws of physics as they relate to the everyday world. This course provides opportunities for multiple learning styles via projects and laboratory investigations. First semester topics include motion, Newton’s Laws, and energy conservation. Second semester topics include heat, waves, sound, optics, and electricity. Algebra skills are necessary for success here, but this course demands much less computation than Physics 200. Physics 100 includes traditional hands-on laboratory work and also computer-interfaced laboratories.   
    Recommended: Completion of one science credit and completeion of or concurrent Algebra I


    PHYSICS 200
    Course Number: Q211       1.50 Physical Science Credit      Grades: 11-12     

    This course covers topics of classical physics. Newtonian mechanics (vector-based), gravitation, conservation of energy, and momentum are covered in the first semester. The second semester covers electrostatics, DC circuits, waves, sound, light, and optics. Demonstrations and videos are used to supplement the lectures and to provide historical background for the laws of physics. Computer simulations, computerized data collection and analysis, and traditional hands-on lab activities are used throughout the course.   
    Recommended: Completion of Algebra II


    AP PHYSICS
    Course Number: Q123       1 Physical Science Credit      Grades: 11-12   

    Scientists and engineers are changing the world all of the time. They dream up creative, practical solutions and work with other smart, inspiring people to invent, design, create and discover things that matter. AP Physics is a great foundation course if this sounds interesting to you. The topics covered during the course of the year are mechanics and electricity & magnetism. Methods of calculus will be introduced as appropriate with plenty of assistance available as needed. The course will include MIT video lectures, group problem solving, demonstrations, and laboratory activities. 
    Recommended: Completion of Physics 200 and completion of or concurrent Calculus


  • SCIENCE ELECTIVES


    ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY
    Course Number: Q322       1 Natural Science Credit      Grades: 11-12  

    This course will cover the basic principles of human anatomy and physiology. Topics will include the structure and function of cells, tissues and organ systems of the body, homeostasis and growth and development. Lab work will be an integral part of this course.  
    Recommended: Completion of Biology 100 or 200


    BELIZE FIELD STUDY
    Course Number: Q005       .5 Natural Science Credit      Grades: 10-12     

    This course meets for a split-block for the full year. The curriculum involves content specific to studying the rainforest and marine ecosystems and the geography and culture of Belize. The course culminates with a ten-day trip to Belize. The trip and SCUBA certification are optional, and are available for an additional fee. Students who take the trip will spend half of the time in a rainforest reserve and half of the time on a small island marine reserve. Visits will also be made to Mayan ruins and the zoo. Students will also complete a service project at a small village school. 


    BOTANY
    Course Number: Q016       1 Natural Science Credit      Grades: 11-12     

    The year begins and ends outside: in the fall, we’re studying forest ecology and identifying trees; in the spring, our attention turns to the school landscape where we get our hands dirty designing and planting the gardens out front.  The remainder of the year is split between the greenhouse and the classroom. We start seeds, grow seedlings into plants and then either use them for the gardens or donate to the food shelf. The topic of ethnobotany, society’s uses of plants, is explored through the creation of various products made entirely of plants (baskets, beads, twine, etc.). The physiology and mechanics of plants and flowers are examined using scientific experiments and microscopy. This course is very hands-on and interactive and relies heavily on in-class projects and labs. 
    Recommended: Completion of Biology 100 or 200


    DESIGNING SOLUTIONS TO GLOBAL CHALLENGES
    Course Number: Q230       1 Physical Science Credit      Grades: 11-12      

    Engineering is the application of science to problem solving. Design is the creative expression of knowledge.  Engineering Design is an open-discovery art form where the principles of iterative exploration enable us to find solutions to global challenges. Join other Vermont students in this collaboration between the University of Vermont and area high schools. Successful students who choose to use a dual enrollment voucher or pay for college credit will earn 3 UVM credits through the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences in addition to 1 EHS credit for this course. This course is an invitation to all students that believe we can find ways to improve the quality of life for people around the world. This course culminates with an engineering showcase to celebrate the power of young minds to affect improvement in our world.  
    Recommended: Completion of Algebra II


    AP ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE 
    Course Number: Q124       1 Natural Science OR 1 Physical Science Credit      Grades: 11-12      

    This course will 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. Environmental Science is interdisciplinary and will include topics in Earth Science and Biology. Specifically, content and labs will address: earth systems and resources, the living world, population, land use and water use, energy resources and consumption, pollution, and global change. A variety of teaching techniques will be employed, including lab, projects, lecture, discussion, movies, and field trips.   
    Recommended: Completion of Earth and Space Science 100 or 200, completion of Biology 100 or 200


    FORENSICS
    Course Number: Q008       .5 Natural Science OR .5 Physical Science Credit      Grades: 10-12      

    This course is a hands-on, investigative science course. Students will learn how to observe, collect, analyze and evaluate evidence found at a crime scene. Some of the many topics covered will include the analysis of fingerprints, DNA, hair, skulls, blood and tracks. Emphasis is placed on the development of scientific inquiry. 
    Recommended: Completion of one science credit.  10th graders must be enrolled concurrently in Biology 100 or 200.


    MARINE BIOLOGY
    Course Number: Q324       .5 Natural Science Credit      Grades: 10-12  

    Marine biology is the scientific study of the organization and dynamics of plants and animals of the sea. This course will include an introduction to oceanography as well as a study of marine plants and animals and the factors affecting their environments. Among the environments to be studied are coral reefs, salt marshes, tide pools, beaches and rocky shores. 
    Recommended: Completion of or concurrent Biology 100 or 200


    ORGANIC CHEMISTRY 
    Course Number: Q223       .5 Physical Science Credit      Grades: 11-12     

    This course is designed to be an introduction to the basic principles of organic chemistry with an emphasis on biological/medical applications. Topics covered will include bonding in molecules, the structure and naming of organic molecules, the study of functional groups and how they affect physical and chemical properties of molecules, and an introduction to spectroscopic methods used to identify and study organic molecules. This course will have a laboratory component.   
    Recommended: Completion of Chemistry 100 or 200


    PLANETARY ASTRONOMY
    Course Number: Q321       .5 Physical Science Credit      Grades: 10-12     

    This course offered during Semester 1 explores the amazing and revolutionary discoveries made by astronomers about the cosmos. From our earliest ancestors to the present day, smart and creative people have been making observations and building innovative instruments to better understand the universe we live in. This first semester course will cover naked-eye astronomy, the constellations, the formation of the solar system, gravity and its effects on the planets, the nature of light and how telescopes work, the planets and other bodies in our solar system, and the newly-discovered solar systems beyond our own. This course is independent of Stellar Astronomy & Beyond and can be taken either before or after.   
    Recommended: Completion of one science credit


    STELLAR ASTRONOMY & BEYOND
    Course Number: Q323       .5 Physical Science Credit      Grades: 10-12      

    This course offered during Semester 2 explores the amazing and revolutionary discoveries made by astronomers about the cosmos. From our earliest ancestors to the present day, smart and creative people have been making observations and building innovative instruments to better understand the universe we live in. This second semester course will cover the life cycle of our Sun and how it produces its energy, the evolutionary path of other stars, the strange properties of red giants, white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes, our Milky Way galaxy, dark matter and dark energy, and the history and fate of our universe as we understand it today. This course is independent of Planetary Astronomy and can be taken either before or after.   

    Recommended: Completion of one science credit


    ROBOTICS
    Course Number: Q226       .5 Physical Science Credit      Grades: 9-12     

    Robotics is one of the fastest growing fields of science. It combines engineering and science in a playfully interactive way. Students will design interactive systems that sense the world around them, make decisions, and then perform actions in the world around them. This course is designed for all ability levels, with students having input on the focus and scope of their learning. Student experiences will include laboratory-based project planning, experimentation, design, fabrication, programming, problem solving, teamwork, testing, evaluation, documentation, and presentation. 


    21st CENTURY DESIGN
    Course Number: Q225       .5 Physical Science, .5 Fine Arts Credit      Grades: 11-12   

    The dawning reality of the 21st century is that global society values form as much as function. Science and engineering no longer guarantee success. Artistic worth is no longer a luxury, it is a requirement. In this class, students participate in all aspects of the design process. Integrating art and science, students will explore the qualities of successful design and the role of individuals in the design process. This course will feature practical applications of artistic and technical skills, and will culminate with a unique design work for each student.  
    This course is offered every other year.  Offered 2018-2019