Program of Studies » Science

Science


All science courses have been updated to align with the Next Generation Science Standards in conjunction with the Massachusetts State Frameworks.  
531+C Biology Honors (Grade 9)         Everyday        Full Semester        1.00 Credit

Note: This is a required course for graduation  

Biology 531 introduces students to the major unifying principles of biology with an emphasis on biological chemistry, cellular structure and function, patterns of inheritance, gene expression, evolution and ecology. Through a combination of laboratory investigations, developing critical thinking skills by experimenting, decoding and modifying computer models, class discussions, projects and modeling, students will develop analytical skills essential to the practice of biology. Students will demonstrate their learning through multiple modes of expression and communication, including mathematical, using various technologies and tools.This course is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and the MA state frameworks.  Biology 531+C (H), unlike 533, is taught at an accelerated pace with more depth; therefore self-motivation and strong reading skills are required for success at the honors level.
533     Biology (Grade 9)            Everyday        Full Semester        1.00 Credit
 
Note: This is a required course for graduation  

Biology 533 introduces students to the major unifying principles of biology with an emphasis on biological chemistry, cellular structure and function, patterns of inheritance, gene expression, evolution and ecology. Through a combination of laboratory investigations, class discussions, projects and modeling, students will develop analytical skills essential to the practice of biology. Students will demonstrate their learning through multiple modes of expression and communication, including mathematical, using various technologies and tools. This course is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and the MA state frameworks.
536     Geology & Oceanography             Everyday     Full Semester        1.00 Credit

(Grades 10, 11, 12)
 
This earth science course studies and investigates Geology and Oceanography. Students will learn these two Earth Systems and discover how they work together. In Geology, students will learn the basics of rock formation, plate tectonics, and earth formation. In Oceanography, students will learn about the forming of the oceans, ocean currents, wave dynamics, and ocean life. The scientific method will be used in frequent hands-on projects and simulations investigating these topics. 
537     Astronomy & Meteorology            Everyday     Full Semester        1.00 Credit
(Grades 10, 11, 12)

This earth science course studies and investigates Astronomy and Meteorology.Students will learn these two Earth Systems and their properties.  In Astronomy, students will learn about the forming of the universe and galaxies, solar systems, star formation, and space. In Meteorology, students will learn the basics of the atmosphere, weather systems, cloud formations, and atmospheric relationships with space. The scientific method will be used in frequent hands-on projects and simulations investigating these topics. 
543     Chemistry (Grades 10, 11, 12)        Everyday        Full Semester        1.00 Credit
541     Chemistry Honors (Grades 10, 11, 12)    Everyday        Full Semester        1.00 Credit
 
Course Sequence: Completion of Algebra 1.

The purpose of Chemistry is to emphasize the structure of the atom, the chemical bond and chemical changes. Students learn to solve related mathematical problems, perform experiments and apply careful observation and imagination in reporting results. Students are given lab problems and must utilize critical thinking skills as well as application of concepts to not only solve the problems but to communicate their results.  To be successful in this course, students should have strong algebra/math skills and be able to work independently.
The honors course is taught at an accelerated pace. 
545     Chemistry in the Community         Everyday        Full Semester        1.00 Credit
(Grades 10, 11, 12)
 
Course Sequence: Completion of Biology and be enrolled in or have completed Algebra 1.

ChemCom is a student-centered, activity based, issues oriented chemistry course that encourages small group learning. It includes many traditional chemistry concepts as well as more biochemistry, industrial, organic and environmental chemistry than is normally encountered in a traditional high school Chemistry course. The most unique feature about ChemCom is that chemistry skills are taught on a need-to-know basis with environmental, societal and technological issues/problems determining the depth and breadth of the chemical concepts taught. Students will develop research skills to gather, interpret, synthesize and evaluate information and evidence while using a variety of scientific methods and technologies. Students will also demonstrate their learning through creative, multiple modes of expression using various technologies and tools.
546     Field Botany (Grades 10, 11, 12)        Everyday        Full Semester        1.00 Credit
 
Course Sequence: Completion of Biology.

The Field Botany course is a lab-based course that provides the student with extensive knowledge and experience in identifying forest and field vegetation that is native to their communities. Students participate in field experiences throughout the semester, exposing them to the natural world through winter and spring.  Students carry out experiments both inside and outside including plant growth and propagation methods. Through field and forest observations, students become detectives, observing life cycles of plants and the changes from dormancy to leaf-out. Students will use digital technologies throughout the course to assist in field identification of local flora.  Students develop observation, critical thinking skills and spatial analysis to identify plants outside.  By working in teams, students develop collaboration and communication skills.  Students also develop a global awareness of the role humans play in the spread of plant species throughout the world.  
547     Forensic Science (Grades 11, 12)        Everyday        Full Semester        1.00 Credit
 
Course Sequence: Completion of Biology and Chemistry (or Chemistry in the Community with teacher permission) AND Algebra 2.

Forensic Science is a challenging course that requires a strong worth ethic to handle honors level homework and classwork expectations. This integrated science course applies both biological and physical sciences to the gathering, interpretation and analysis of physical evidence for legal applications.  Analysis of physical evidence includes fingerprints, hair, blood, bones, insects DNA, arson and stages of decomposition.  Topics covered vary each year based on student interests and abilities.  These topics require a mature attitude for occasional graphic images and strong odors.  To succeed in the field of forensics requires close attention to detail, strong analytical skills, and strong communication skills (both written and verbal).  All of these skills are further developed as students work through mock crime scenes, write & present team case reports and participate in mock trials.  An ability to work productively and equitably in teams is also essential - all work in this course is team based (just like in a real forensic work environment).  This class meets the lab science requirement for graduation.
551     Physics Honors (Grades 11, 12)        Everyday        Full Semester        1.00 Credit
 
Course Sequence: Completion of Algebra 2 and Chemistry.

Those students interested in further physical science experiences pursue this course. The process of the physical sciences and critical analysis of data is stressed along with the subject matter. Analysis of the results of both experimentation and problem solving situations form the core of study. Research dealing with historical experiments in physics provides an interesting view of the scientific method. Students who have successfully completed Algebra 2 and Chemistry will be better prepared for this course. Enrollment in, or completion of, Precalculus during or prior to taking physics is strongly recommended.
552     Applied Physics - Principles of Technology I 

(Grades 11, 12)                Everyday        Full Semester        1.00 Credit
 
Course Sequence: Completion of Algebra 1.

This is an activity-based course in applied physics. It provides a practical understanding of the principles of mechanical, fluid, electrical and thermal systems, and the math associated with them. This program has been referred to as “Physics in Work Clothes.” Students have the opportunity to work the physical principles through numerous lab experiments and critical thinking exercises.
553     Environmental Studies: Ecology/Problems     Not Offered until 2024-2025
(Grades 10, 11, 12)                 Everyday        Full Semester        1.00 Credit
 
Course Sequence: Completion of Biology.
 
The course provides students with an introduction to ecology, global ecosystems, and current world wildlife issues through project-based learning. Through text, digital and online sources, students visually visit the uniqueness of planet Earth; the many habitats found on earth, and carry out ecological studies through simulation activities in class or on computers.   Computers are used to create graphs, analyze field data, and access the internet for sharing data findings. Throughout the course students participate in lab activities, field studies, DVDs, computer models and local ecological monitoring near their homes. The course provides students with critical and analytical thinking skills necessary to understand existing and potential global ecological problems and biodiversity loss.  Through collaboration and sharing, students develop an understanding of sustainability and the new role of humans as stewards of the earth.
554     Somatic Human Anatomy and Physiology - BODY    
(Grades 11, 12)                Everyday        Full Semester        1.00 Credit
 
Course Sequence: Completion of Biology and Chemistry
 
Human Anatomy and Physiology is an exciting and challenging in depth course that explores the body systems by emphasizing physiological mechanisms and their relation to human anatomy. It is recommended for students interested in pursuing careers in healthcare or related fields. There is a mandatory laboratory component which consists of exploring body systems using computer technology as well as an animal dissection. This class meets the lab science requirement for graduation. Successful students in Anatomy & Physiology have completed Biology and Chemistry. They also have strong time management skills and are able to work independently.
565    Forest Ecology and Wildlife Management         Only offered in 2023-2024
(Grades 11, 12)                Everyday        Full Semester        1.00 Credit
 
Course Sequence: Completion of Biology.

The course focuses on identifying and learning about Ashburnham and Westminster's natural resources, (forests, watershed, wetlands, lakes/ponds, streams, wildlife) and the critical thinking skills needed to enhance and maintain forest and wildlife habitats.  Students develop collaborative team skills and work together to prioritize, plan and manage land-use choices that enhance habitat for wildlife sustainability. Students learn how to make development decisions in the community that balance community welfare and human growth with protection of sensitive ecological areas. Students are involved in local environmental issues, learn and practice the skills needed for positive environmental decision making.  Students participate in field studies, lab and research activities, challenge projects, simulations, and audio and visual technologies. Students use real world tools to see the power of technology in managing wildlife habitat.  Students learn the basics of GIS (Geographic Information System) Technology using data from MASS GIS, Fisheries and Wildlife, Federal Environmental Agencies, NASA remote sensing, USGS Aerial maps and other sources. Students may participate in Vernal Pool certification using standards from the MA Natural Heritage and Endangered Species program, or may assist local community environmental groups in protection, monitoring and planning of local open space properties.
559     Environmental Science Honors   
(Grades 10, 11, 12)                Everyday        Full Semester        1.00 Credit
 
Course Sequence: Completion of Biology and Chemistry OR completion of Biology and concurrent enrollment in Honors Chemistry.
 
The course provides students with an introduction to ecology, global ecosystems, and current world wildlife issues. Through text, digital and online sources, students visually visit the uniqueness of planet Earth; the many habitats found on earth, and carry out ecological studies through simulation activities in class or on computers.   Computers are used to create graphs, analyze field data, and access the internet for sharing data findings. Throughout the course, students participate in lab activities, field studies, DVDs, computer models and local ecological monitoring near their homes. The course provides students with critical and analytical thinking skills necessary to understand existing and potential global ecological problems and biodiversity loss.  Through collaboration and sharing, students develop an understanding of sustainability and the new role of humans as stewards of the earth.  This course is designed to prepare students to continue onto AP Environmental Science and is taught at an accelerated pace. 
560     Advanced Placement Environmental Science  
(Grades 11, 12)                 Everyday        Full Semester        1.00 Credit
 
Course Sequence: Completion of Environmental Science Honors

The goal of the AP Environmental Science course is to provide students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world with human systems, to identify and analyze environmental problems using math, chemistry and physics knowledge (including pollution and climate change impacts), to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems on natural and human systems and to examine alternative solutions for resolving or preventing environmental problems. Students will also explore the meaning of sustainability as it relates to economics, environmental ethics and political decisions. This is a lab based course which meets all College Board requirements. Summer work may be required. Students are required to take the AP Exam in May.
562     Advanced Chemistry and Physics Honors 
(Grade 12)                    Everyday    **Fall Semester only**    1.00 Credit
 
Course Sequence: Completion of Physics and Chemistry.

This course is recommended for those students who would like to participate in an accelerated science program and is required for those taking the AP Chemistry course. This course emphasizes collaboration, original research, laboratory experiments and analysis. Topics in qualitative and quantitative analysis are the core of this course. The study of atomic theory and radioactivity provides students with a better understanding of the evolution of scientific thought.
570     Advanced Placement Chemistry 
(Grade 12)                    Everyday    **Spring Semester only**    1.00 Credit
 
Course Sequence: Completion of Advanced Chemistry and Physics

The AP Chemistry course is designed for students who wish to attain a depth of understanding of the fundamentals of chemistry. The course will be taught to meet the standards of the National AP Chemistry Curriculum. Topics covered will include atomic theory, bonding, reactions, kinetics, stoichiometry, equilibrium and electrochemistry. The course places emphasis upon critical thinking and quantitative thinking and lab work. Students will be required to take the AP Chemistry examination in May.