Departments & Courses

Science & Computer Science 

SHC Graduation requirement: Three years years required, four years recommended
UC/CSU Admissions requirement: Two years required, three recommended

Our Mission

The mission of the SHC Science & Computer Science Department is to help our students form an appreciation for science and its processes. We teach our students to use the scientific method as investigative tool, so they can more critically understand modern descriptions of our universe and arrive at objective conclusions about the natural world. We are committed to providing a rigorous, college preparatory curriculum that meets the needs of all students while using innovative and cutting-edge learning activities to challenge them to reach their full potential. SHC science teachers strive to promote in students a basic understanding of the ethical and moral issues within science and provide opportunities for students to apply their scientific knowledge and skills in service to their community.

Our Goals

    • Use appropriate and current equipment to design and perform scientifically valid experiments to answer questions, communicate results and assimilate new ideas.
    • Critically reason and problem solve, given quantitative and qualitative data.
    • Effectively communicate major scientific principles, discoveries and theories using verbal, written and graphical mediums.
    • Work both collaboratively and independently in pursuing and demonstrating scientific knowledge.
    • Utilize scientific knowledge to serve the greater community.
    • Be well prepared for future study in any scientific discipline and eager to learn more about science throughout their life.

Course standards are derived from the Next Generation Standards, Common Core Standards and California Science Standards.



Courses in this Department

Anatomy and Physiology offer students the opportunity for a detailed study of the human body and its major body systems. Students will gain a fundamental understanding of the relationship between structure (anatomy) and function (physiology) as well as an understanding of the interconnectedness of the body’s various systems. Unit topics focus on levels of organization, body support and movement, communication and control, fluids and transport, homeostatic balance, and the impact of diseases on the body. This course is suggested for students interested in a health-related field of study or career (i.e. medicine, nursing, athletic training, physical/occupational therapy or other related fields).

Note: This course is available for 11th and 12th grade students. Students may not take Biology concurrently with this course. Students will receive credit in the UC “d” lab science area upon completion of this course.

Prerequisites: 1) A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher in Science 2) Biology 1,2 or Biology Honors 1,2.

AP Computer Science in Java 

AP Computer Science in Java is a year-long course designed to help students master the basics of Java and equip them to successfully pass the College Board AP Computer Science A exam. The course emphasizes problem-solving and is intended both for students interested in studying computer science and for students interested in other disciplines. The course utilizes a blended approach, and is fully web-based, with students writing and running code in the browser. 

Prerequisites: AP Computer Science Principles or Visual Basic (Python), or approval of instructor (for students who have considerable programming experience but have not taken either of those courses.)

AP Computer Science Principles is a year-long course that gives students the opportunity to explore several important topics of computing using their own ideas and creativity, to use the power of computing to create artifacts of personal value, and to develop a working knowledge of computer science. The course covers the fundamentals of computing, including problem solving, working with data, understanding the Internet, cybersecurity, and programming. The course utilizes a blended classroom approach with a mix of web-based and physical activities.

Prerequisites: none.

Through student-centered activities such as laboratory experiments and group work, as well as some lecture presentation and reading, biology students explore and analyze the natural world. Students formulate and investigate questions about living things and classify living things according to the organisms’ characteristics. Students explain the principles of genetics, cell biology and DNA replication, the function of major cell organelles, energy utilization and interrelationships of living things. Students also discuss biological aspects of various societal issues.

The AP Biology course is designed to be the equivalent of a two-semester college introductory biology course taken by biology majors during their first year. The topics covered are biochemistry, heredity and evolution, ecology and the structure of cells. This class prepares students for the AP Biology exam.

Note: this course includes a summer assignment.

Prerequisites: A 3.7 or better GPA in Science OR a passing AP Potential Score (based on PSAT score.)

Chemistry students investigate the properties of matter; the ways in which substances interact, combine, and change; and the use of processes to form new substances. Students learn through student-centered activities such as laboratory experiments and group work, as well as some lecture presentation and problem solving. Students observe the characteristics of various types of matter and learn to distinguish between them. They also execute, classify, predict and quantify the products of chemical reactions. In addition, students perform calculations involving mass, moles and concentration of types of matter.  Students also describe the model of the atom and the placement of elements in the periodic table. 

In this course, students achieve all of the outcomes of Chemistry 1,2 but do so with a higher level of conceptualization and with more complex mathematical problem solving. This higher level of expectation is particularly evident in laboratory investigations, collaborative problem solving sessions and various classroom assessments. Students also explain, apply and quantify the thermodynamics of chemical and physical changes, and apply their knowledge of covalent bonding and molecular geometry to basic reactions in the field of organic chemistry.

Prerequisites: 1) An A in the first semester of Physics 1,2 2) A score in the top 50th percentile of the PSAT 8/9.

The AP Chemistry course is designed to be the equivalent of the general chemistry course that is taken during the first year of college. Students in the course will attain a depth of understanding of the fundamentals of chemical problem solving and analysis. AP Chemistry is designed to contribute to students’ abilities to think clearly and to express their hypotheses with clarity and logic. As a course designed to prepare students to succeed on the AP Chemistry exam, emphasis will be placed on both qualitative and quantitative laboratory investigations. The course will be similar to the honors chemistry course in its sophisticated approach to mathematical problem solving, verbal articulation, and graphical analysis of chemical phenomena. The course will differ from Chemistry or Honors Chemistry in that it will move at a much faster pace, and will utilize the materials and practice problems suggested by the College Board for an AP Chemistry course.

Prerequisites: A 3.7 or better GPA in Science OR passing AP Potential Score (based on PSAT.)

Computer Programming is a class in Visual Basic 6.0, a programming language that includes problem solving, program logic and design techniques of an event-driven language.  Students will study a language that uses graphical user interfaces along with tools for understanding elementary programming concepts. Note: this is blended curriculum, meeting during block 7 as well as requiring independent online learning. Prerequisite: This course has no formal prerequisites though students generally need a 3.0 GPA level proficiency in Algebra and Geometry to achieve the course outcomes.

The AP Environmental Science course is a full-year course designed to be the equivalent of an introductory college course in Environmental Science. Environmental Science covers a wide range of topics including the natural sciences (Biology, Chemistry, and Geology) and social sciences (Economics, Ethics, and politics). The AP course stresses scientific principles and analysis, includes a laboratory component, and reflects the collegiate experience in both breadth and level of detail. The goal of the course is to provide students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships found in the natural world, to identify and analyze environmental problems both natural and human-made, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, to examine alternative solutions for resolving and/or preventing them, and to develop an understanding of environmental policy.

Note: this course includes a summer assignment.

Prerequisites: A 3.7 or better GPA in Science OR AP Potential Score.

Food Science and Technology builds on introductory-level Chemistry and Biology, focusing on the biochemical principles encountered in agriculture and food preparation, and using an inquiry approach to develop and use models to explain scientific phenomena based on direct, observable, hands-on experimentation. Topics covered will include: the form and function (based on physical and chemical properties) of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates; the anatomy and physiology of the human digestive system; the mechanics of chemical reactions and their impact on food properties; uses and management of microorganisms in agriculture and food preparation and their effects on the evolution of microorganisms; the investigation of energy and its role in biochemical reactions; and the effects of human activity on marine and terrestrial food chains. Course principles and current issues in agriculture and food production will be developed through student-designed lab work, described using various diagrammatic and visual representations, and represented through overarching models created in post-laboratory discussions. 

Prerequisites: Biology 1,2 or Biology Honors 1,2.

Students in Honors Biology will develop an understanding of key concepts that will build upon students’ understanding of disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices. The course touches upon the five life science topics: 1) Structure and Function, 2) Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems, 3) Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems, 4) Inheritance and Variation of Traits, and 5) Natural Selection and Evolution. One goal of this course is to support students in developing usable knowledge that can be applied across the science disciplines. Honors Biology is a college-preparatory, pre-AP course. The pace will be faster, and the course will cover more material in greater depth than the regular biology.

Prerequisites: A 3.7 or better GPA in Science OR a score in the top 33rd percentile of the PSAT.

Making, Hacking, and Tinkering is a high school-level course that exposes students to some of the major concepts and practices of engineering. The curriculum includes Civil and Mechanical Engineering, Circuitry and Coding. Students will have the opportunity to develop skills and understand concepts through hands-on activities, projects, and problem-based learning. A team approach to learning strengthens interpersonal skills, creative abilities, and problem solving skills. Additionally, the course emphasizes time-management skills and responsible use of technology.

Prerequisites: A cumulative 3.0 GPA in previous Science courses.

Note: This course is open only to 11th and 12th graders, with preference given to 12th graders; students receive credit in the UC “d” lab science area.

Through student-centered activities such as experimentation, research, field trips, and investigation, as well as some lecture presentation and reading, Marine Biology students survey marine environments and their biotic communities with an emphasis on the natural history of marine organisms.  This course will touch on a number of different branches of biology (including biochemistry, physiology, zoology, botany, and ecology) within the context of the ocean environment. Students will start by learning about the ocean itself and its physical properties, as these properties influence the abundance, distribution, diversity, physiology, and behavior of marine organisms.  Students will also learn about the specific environmental challenges facing marine life as well as the physiological and behavioral adaptations that have resulted from these challenges.  Students will then learn about the life cycles of marine organisms—what they eat and how they reproduce—before examining in some depth a number of the most common taxa of marine species.  Once students have a sense of the biodiversity of oceanic life, they will examine the interrelationships between species in different marine communities.  The course will conclude with a look at the impact of humans on the ocean environment both directly and indirectly. The course will prepare students for further study within the field of marine biology and environmental science.

Prerequisites: Physics 1,2.

Physics provides students the conceptual understanding and procedural fluency to make both qualitative and quantitative analysis of the physical world. Students will use knowledge of fundamental principles and processes to build critical thinking and problem solving skills. This algebra based course incorporates Inquiry-based Learning. Beginning with an exploration of motion and advancing through an investigation of forces, momentum, energy, waves and electricity, the course will lay a strong foundation for further study in other sciences as well as more advanced courses in physics. Students will demonstrate their understanding in a variety of ways including quizzes, laboratory investigations and group challenge activities. Physics teachers will work in collaboration with 9th grade Algebra teachers to foster alignment between the two subjects. Prerequisites: The course is open to 9th graders. Concurrent enrollment in Algebra or higher math.

The AP Physics C, Mechanics course develops students’ knowledge of physics, with topics including phenomenology, theories and techniques, concepts and generalizing principles, rotational kinematics and dynamics, Kepler’s Laws, Universal Gravitation, statics, and simple harmonic motion. The course engages students in sophisticated mathematical problem solving, verbal articulation, and graphical analysis of physical phenomena. The course will cover the material prescribed by the College Board for an AP Physics C, Mechanics course only, and will incorporate a large number of AP type problems and practice exams to prepare students for that exam.

Note: This course is open only to 11th and 12th graders, with preference given to 12th graders; students receive credit in the UC "d" lab science area.

Prerequisites: Either a cumulative 3.7 GPA in Science courses or a passing AP Potential Score (based on the PSAT.) 

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