Science » Science Course Descriptions

Science Course Descriptions

Science Department Chairperson: Mrs. Jessica Truax


Prerequisite: 9th graders–Composite score of 40 or above on the Placement Test / 10th graders – This course is required of all 10th graders who did not take Biology or Honors Biology in 9th grade and who are not taking A.P. Biology or Honors Biology in 10th grade.

(9-10) A course designed to provide students with a background in scientific processes and the nature of living systems. It involves the study of biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, genetics, the classification of organisms, ecology and an overview of human body systems.

(Meets CSU/UC “d” requirement; NCAA Approved)
Honors Biology
Prerequisite: 9th graders–Composite score of 70th percentile or higher on the Placement Exam; 10th graders–“C” or better in Honors Chemistry OR Department approval.

(9-10) This course is a more intensive survey of the material covered in the college prep Biology course.

(Meets CSU/UC “d” requirement; NCAA Approved)
Advanced Placement Biology
Prerequisite: Cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher and a “B” or better in Chemistry or Honors Chemistry or a passing score on a biology skills test and approval from the Science Department.

(10-12) A course comparable to a first-year college course, designed to provide students with the conceptual framework, factual knowledge, and analytical skills necessary to deal critically with the rapidly changing science of biology. Additional lectures, readings and research will be required.

(Meets CSU/UC “d” requirement; NCAA Approved)
Prerequisite: A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and a “B” or better in Algebra 1 or concurrent enrollment in Algebra 2.
(10-12) This course involves the study of matter and its properties and interactions. Students will learn the fundamentals of problem solving in chemistry. They will study atomic theory, chemical bonding, chemical reactions and energy, the concept of the mole, and stoichiometry.

(Meets CSU/UC “d” requirement; NCAA Approved)
Honors Chemistry
Prerequisite: 9th graders – Composite score of 88th percentile or higher on the Placement Exam and concurrent enrollment in Honors Geometry or higher Math course. 10th graders – an “A” in Honors Biology and an “A” in Algebra 1 both semesters.

(9-10) This course is a more intensive survey of the material covered in the college prep Chemistry course.
(Meets CSU/UC “d” requirement; NCAA Approved)

Advanced Placement Chemistry
Prerequisite: A cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher, a “B” or higher in Honors Chemistry, completion of a physics course, and completion of or concurrent enrollment in Precalculus.

(11-12) This course is designed to be the equivalent of a first year college chemistry course. It requires extensive outside reading and preparation. This course offers an in-depth exploration of the fundamentals of chemistry, focusing primarily on competence in dealing with chemical problems and laboratory situations.

(Meets CSU/UC “d” requirement; NCAA Approved)
Prerequisite: “B” or higher in Algebra 2 or Honors Algebra 2 and a “C” or better in Chemistry or Honors Chemistry.
(11-12) Physics is a quantitative laboratory science that deals with the fundamental concepts concerning matter, energy, space, time and their interrelationships. Specific areas of study will include mechanics, heat, sound, light, electricity, and magnetism, atomic and nuclear energy.

(Meets CSU/UC “d” requirement; NCAA Approved)
Honors Physics
Prerequisite: A cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher, completion of a chemistry course, and a “B” or better each semester of Precalculus OR “A” each semester in Honors Algebra 2

(11-12) This course is designed for college bound students that will be taking additional science and engineering courses in their college careers. Students will be challenged to apply math skills up to pre-calculus and to apply physics concepts in new ways. Many open-ended problems will be used that require estimating and trying new approaches to solve problems individually and in collaboration. Projects will encourage creative design and application of physics concepts. The outcome will be a advanced base for further study in college physics. Topics such as mechanics, heat, sound, light, electricity, magnetism and atomic and nuclear energy will be covered.

(Meets CSU/UC “d” requirement and honors designation; NCAA approved)
Advanced Placement Physics C: Mechanics/Electricity & Magnetism
Prerequisite: Completion of/or concurrent enrollment in AP Calculus BC.

(12) This course is designed to be the equivalent of a first-year, calculus based college physics course in mechanics. Students will acquire an in-depth understanding of the fundamentals of physics and its application to mechanics problems.
(Meets CSU/UC “d” requirement; NCAA Approved)
Earth Science
Prerequisite: Passing grade in Biology.

(10-12) The essential goal of Earth Science is to provide students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methods to understand and interpret basic topics in geology, oceanography, meteorology, astronomy, seismology, and volcanology.

(Meets CSU/UC “g” requirement; NCAA Approved)
Prerequisite: “C” or better in Biology and “C” or better in Chemistry, or Earth Science or Science department recommendation.

(10-12) This course stresses the structure and functions of the human body. An anatomical overview of 10 body systems including the integumentary, muscular, skeletal, cardiovascular, lymphatic, urinary, respiratory, digestive, nervous and endocrine systems is combined with how those systems perform their required functions. In addition, specific terms will used to designate location and position of anatomical areas. A general overview of body chemistry and cell physiology will preface an in-depth view of each body system.

(Meets CSU/UC “d” requirement; NCAA Approved)
Advanced Placement Environmental Science
Prerequisite: A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, a “B” or better in Biology both semesters and completion of a Chemistry course with a “C” or better in both semesters.

(11-12) AP Environmental Science is designed to be the equivalent of a one-semester, introductory college class in environmental science. This class will prepare students to take the AP Environmental Science exam. The goal of the class is to provide students with the scientific principles, concepts and methodologies required to understand the inter-relationships 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. If class requests are too large, seniors will be given priority for enrollment.

(Meets CSU/UC “d” requirement; NCAA Approved)
Introduction to Sports Medicine
Prerequisite: Cumulative GPA of 2.5 and completion of an Earth Science or Chemistry course. Prerequisite may also be met by permission of instructor.

(11-12) This course is designed to provide students with scientific and hands-on introduction into the field of Sports Medicine. This course will include topics such as: general health, first aid, CPR, structural and functional anatomy, taping and wrapping techniques and orthopedic assessment and treatment of many athletic injuries. This class will also require hours of outside of the classroom to work in the athletic training room, under the supervision of a Certified Athletic Trainer, to observe athletic injuries and treatment.

(Meets CSU/UC “d” requirement)

Sports Medicine: Athletic Training
Prerequisite: Intro to Sports Medicine or Anatomy & Physiology completed with a “B” average, or membership in the Sports Medicine Club with Mrs. Truax’s signature for approval.

(11-12) This one year course is designed to provide students with a hands-on introduction to the basics of first aid, CPR and orthopedic evaluation of injuries within the athletics population. Human anatomy and physiology or Intro to Sports Medicine must be completed before or simultaneously because this class will use that background knowledge as the basis for this class. This class will introduce the learning of orthopedic assessment of injuries, types of injuries, and what to do as a first responder to a medical emergency using multiple teaching strategies to address all forms of learning, but focusing on the hands on approach through practicum. Multiple laboratory activities are included to further aid in the learning process. Students from this class are encouraged to join the Sports Medicine Club and work as student athletic trainers after school to bring their new learned skills to life.

(Meets CSU/UC “g” requirement)
IB Biology (SL)
Prerequisite: “B” or better in Chemistry and Biology OR C or better in Honors Biology and Honors Chemistry
(11-12) Biology is the study of life. The vast diversity of species makes biology both an endless source of fascination and a considerable challenge. Biologists attempt to understand the living world at all levels from the micro to the macro using many different approaches and techniques. Biology is still a young science and great progress is expected in the 21st century. This progress is important at a time of growing pressure on the human population and the environment. By studying biology in the DP students should become aware of how scientists work and communicate with each other. While the scientific method may take on a wide variety of forms, it is the emphasis on a practical approach through experimental work that characterizes the sciences. Teachers provide students with opportunities to design investigations, collect data, develop manipulative skills, analyze results, collaborate with peers and evaluate and communicate their findings.
(Meets CSU/UC “d” requirement; NCAA Approved)
IB Environmental Systems & Societies (SL)
Prerequisite: “C” or better in Biology/Honors Biology and “C” or better in Chemistry/Honors Chemistry

(11-12) Environmental systems and societies (ESS) is an interdisciplinary course offered only at standard level (SL). This course can fulfill either the IB individuals and societies or the sciences requirement. Alternatively, this course enables students to satisfy the requirements of both subjects groups simultaneously while studying one course. ESS is firmly grounded in both a scientific exploration of environmental systems in their structure and function, and in the exploration of cultural, economic, ethical, political and social interactions of societies with the environment. As a result of studying this course, students will become equipped with the ability to recognize and evaluate the impact of our complex system of societies on the natural world. The interdisciplinary nature of the DP course requires a broad skill set from students, including the ability to perform research and investigations, participation in philosophical discussion and problem-solving. The course requires a systems approach to environmental understanding and promotes holistic thinking about environmental issues. Teachers explicitly teach thinking and research skills such as comprehension, text analysis, knowledge transfer and use of primary sources. They encourage students to develop solutions at the personal, community and global levels.

(Meets CSU/UC “d” requirement)

Physical Education:

Physical Education
Prerequisite: None

(9-12) A course in which the student participates in various sport, physical and modified activities to provide positive social interaction along with physical fitness.

Additional ways of fulfilling the 10 unit Physical Education graduation requirement:


• 5 units: Completion of a season of competition on a Damien interscholastic sports team.

• 5 units: Marching Band course or Winter Percussion course completed after school.

• 2 units: Participation for a semester in the Damien Bowling Club.

Health (semester course)
Prerequisite: None – required of all 9th graders

(9) This course focuses on physical, social, emotional, and mental aspects of health. Students will explore the impact of physical activity and nutrition on one’s health; mental health; the impact of various legal and illegal drugs and medications, tobacco, and alcohol on the body; infectious and noninfectious diseases.

Introduction to Fitness Training
Prerequisite: None

(10-12) This course is designed to give students the opportunity to learn weight training concepts and techniques to achieve high levels of fitness. Students will benefit from exposure to comprehensive weight training, cross training, technology in fitness, proper supplementation, and cardiorespiratory endurance activities. Students will learn the basic fundamentals of weight training, strength training, aerobic training, and resources used to maintain quality fitness levels. The course will include lecture, activity sessions, assessments to ensure safety, and fitness program development.