Science Course Descriptions

BIOLOGY

Biology is a survey of a broad range of biological topics. Ecology, with an emphasis on ecosystems, is studied in relationship to the impact of humans on ecosystems and the biosphere. An in-depth study of cellular biology, which includes biochemistry, molecular biology, and cytology, is related to the functioning of whole organisms. Basic concepts of genetics and human genetics are studied in detail along with their relationships to genetic diseases. Emphasis is placed on the process of evolution and representative extant species from the six kingdoms of organisms. Rather than skimming through many topics, fewer topics are studied but at considerably more depth than is traditionally done in high school biology. Laboratory activities are conducted and coordinated with each of the areas of study. The labs stress the development of observation skills, critical thinking, and inquiry.

CHEMISTRY

This course is a well-rounded introduction into chemistry. Topics include matter, atomic structure, periodic table arrangements, trends in the periodic table, types of bonding, chemical names and formulas, composition and reaction stoichiometry, states of matter, solutions, acids and bases, gases and gas laws, equilibrium and kinetics and nuclear chemistry. This course contains a laboratory component in which students learn observing, measuring, planning and inquiring hands on. A great emphasis lies on learning to work independently in small groups and on learning responsible behavior in the laboratory.

HONORS CHEMISTRY

Honors Chemistry is a course which covers topics in a typical freshman college chemistry course. Topics include organization and relationship between matter and energy, electron configuration, three-dimensional structure of molecules and the relationships between bonding and macroscopic properties, formulae and naming of compounds, balancing equations and predicting products, compositional and reaction stoichiometry, gas laws, thermochemistry, equilibria, thermodynamics, acid and base chemistry, kinetics, and some organic chemistry. Students must be able to use and apply higher level mathematical, analytical, and logical problem solving using dimensional analysis. Laboratory exercises emphasize becoming familiar with using equipment and understanding procedures, as well as being able to handle the quantitative components of laboratory work with clarity and precision.

AP CHEMISTRY

AP Chemistry course matches a yearlong college-level survey course. It is assumed that entering students will have a very good understanding of chemistry at the level of Honors Chemistry. Because a good Honors Chemistry course covers most of the topics in AP Chemistry, the course contains a significant laboratory component. Students will be expected to learn to write their own laboratory protocol based on verbal instructions. Following each experiment, students will be expected to write a lab report modeled after a formal scientific paper. Students must be independent learners and be able to pay attention to small details. The lecture/discussion portion of the course will consist of lecture series that will cover in greater depth those topics which the AP course extends beyond an Honors Chemistry course. The level of problem-solving difficulty is high, and strong demands will be placed on the individual student to incorporate mathematical skills with the concepts presented in the course. The AP Chemistry exam, given in May, is required. Teacher recommendation is required for enrollment in the course.

PHYSICS

Physics is a survey of a broad range of topics. The main concepts include Newtonian mechanics, thermodynamics, waves & optics, electromagnetism, and modern physics. Hands-on experiments are incorporated to enhance these concepts. Students have the option of taking AP Physics B as a follow-up course the next year.

HONORS PHYSICS

Honors Physics includes a broad range of topics similar to the physics course but goes deeper and at a faster pace giving more opportunity for tying in mathematical concepts and laboratory experimentation. Many topics included in this course will not be covered in either Physics or AP Physics B courses. Students who complete this course may opt to take the AP B Physics exam and a following year in the AP Physics C course if they achieve a 3 or higher on the AP B exam.

AP PHYSICS 1

This year-long course covers a semester of a college-level survey course that uses algebra and trigonometry. Topics covered will include force, motion, energy, momentum, circular motion, torque, periodic motion (waves), and electrical circuits. The level of problem-solving difficulty is high, and strong demands are placed on the individual student to incorporate mathematical skills with the concepts presented in the course. The Advanced Placement exam is given in May. Students who achieve a 3 or higher on the AP Physics 1 exam may choose to take AP Physics C as a second-year physics course.

AP PHYSICS 2

This year-long course is an algebra-based, introductory college-level physics course. Students cultivate their understanding of physics through inquiry-based investigations as they explore topics such as fluid statics and dynamics; thermodynamics with kinetic theory; PV diagrams and probability; electrostatics; electrical circuits with capacitors; magnetic fields; electromagnetism; physical and geometric optics; and quantum, atomic, and nuclear physics. Students must have completed either Physics, AP Physics 1, or Honors Physics to enroll in this class.

AP PHYSICS C

AP Physics C is a calculus-based physics course separated into two semester courses. Mechanics is in the fall and Electricity and Magnetism is in the spring. The level of problem-solving difficulty is high, and strong demands are placed on the individual student to incorporate calculus skills with the concepts presented in the course. The AP exam is given in May. Students must remain enrolled in Calculus (not Applied Calculus) the entire year and must have achieved a 3 or greater on the AP Physics B exam to be considered candidates for AP Physics C.

ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY 1

The anatomy (structure) and the physiology (function) of the following organ-systems are studied: integumentary, nervous (including sense organs), endocrine, immune, digestive, and reproductive. Labs include measuring selected physiological factors related to the systems studied.

ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY 2

The anatomy (structure) and the physiology (function) of the following organ-systems are studied: skeletal, muscular, circulatory, and respiratory. Labs include measuring selected physiological factors related to the systems studied with particular emphasis on how exercise may affect each system.

AP BIOLOGY

AP Biology matches a year-long college-level survey course and covers a broad range of biological topics in depth in order to prepare students for the AP Biology exam. Through active learning approaches such as problem-solving, collecting and analyzing real data, and discussing and synthesizing ideas, the emphasis is on understanding rather than memorizing. Students will design and execute inquiry labs during at least 25% of the course. Writing in the style required for the AP Biology exam is emphasized and practiced. Students are required to take the AP exam given in May. An application form must be submitted to the teacher.

Psychology

This course serves as a broad introduction to contemporary psychology. Thus, psychology will be explored as a social science as well as a means of promoting not only a greater understanding of self and others, but also of the community, both locally and globally.

Objective: Through scientific understanding of human behavior and mental processes the students will gain a greater understanding of self and others, focusing on four dimensions of creativity: fluency (the ability to generate lots of ideas), flexibility (the ability to look at a question or topic from a different angle), originality (the quality that generates unique or unusual products, unexpected ideas, or the first of a kind), and elaboration (adding details, filling in the gaps, embellishing, and completing a creative idea).

ASTRONOMY

In the first quarter the students cover the introductory topics of astronomy and the solar system. Special emphasis is placed on the objects visible within the solar system for that particular quarter. The second quarter of Astronomy covers stellar evolution, galaxies, and Big Bang Theory. Again, special emphasis is placed upon the deep space objects visible for that particular quarter. Astronomy meets three times per week in the classroom and one night per week at the Speer-Lyell Observatory.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Environmental Science is an introduction to environmental science and environmental studies with a focus on sustainability. Topics include the use of basic scientific concepts and tools for environmental problems; the biosphere; human population growth; biodiversity; and the use of natural resources, in particular water and energy. The course evaluates natural environmental processes, as well as human impacts on these processes. Students explore sustainability issues in general, and individuals' contributions toward environmental sustainability. A component of this course will include the examination and analysis of current environmental events. Fieldwork, class discussions, and laboratory exercises will be used to reinforce scientific principles.

SCIENCE AND SOCIETY

This course will provide to students an opportunity to explore and appreciate the role that science has played on the history of mankind. Students will also have the opportunity to see how different cultures and people have contributed to the development of science and why we think the way we do. We will examine how the ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, and Greek societies influenced our scientific way of thinking. We will explore the relationship between important scientific discoveries, technological advances and historical events which led to profound changes in how people think and view the world. For example, the roots of modern medical practices are found in the French Revolution which would lead to the origins of medicine as a science with the discovery of anesthesia, antiseptics, and bacteriology.

ROBOTICS

Robotics integrates computer programming in C++, mathematics, engineering, physics, critical thinking, problem-solving, and robotics. Students will learn the basics of programming an Arduino chip to create a robot that will use sensors to guide it through its path. Students are provided with the robots and parts and are taught a basic understanding of the writing code in C/C++. The class starts with teacher-led classes and then switches to student-based work with a partner during class to build the robots and to write the codes to program their robots. Each student is expected to have a working computer (running Windows, Mac, or Linux) and have a good understanding of how to load new programs onto that computer. Students must fill out an application to be considered for the course.

AP COMPUTER SCIENCE PRINCIPLES

This course introduces students to the essential ideas of computer science and shows how computing and technology can influence the world around you. The course will introduce students to the creative aspects of programming, abstractions, algorithms, large data sets, the Internet, cybersecurity concerns, and computing impacts.

AP COMPUTER SCIENCE A

This course is the equivalent of an introductory college-level programming class in which students will learn the fundamentals of computer science using the Java programming language. It begins by focusing on programming basics and then on writing full classes and the logic and structures around building them. Computer Science A emphasizes object-oriented programming methodology with an emphasis on problem solving and algorithm development.

HONORS ADVANCED SCIENCE RESEARCH

This course is a year-long independent study which earns the student 1/2 credit. Each student designs and executes an original research project and then must participate in at least three science competitions or two competitions and one presentation to an adult or student group. This is a course that does not meet during a regular class period; however, the student must communicate regularly with the teacher. There will be deadlines for completing various aspects of the research project.

MSON ETYOMOLOGY OF SCIENTIFIC TERMS

The purpose of the course is, to quote the textbook, "By teaching … the root elements of medical terminology – the prefixes, suffixes, and combining forms of Greek and Latin … not only to teach students modern medical terminology, but to give them the ability to decipher the evolving language of medicine throughout their careers." This is in many ways a language course, and deals with the elements that are used to create terms to meet the specific needs of medical scientists. As material is introduced, students will complete practice exercises during each class meeting, as well as complete approximately one quiz per week. Outside of class, students are expected to analyze and define fifty terms each week. Additional material deals with especially complex etymologies, the history of our understanding of certain aspects of medical science, and relevant material from Greek and Latin texts.

MSON MEDICAL BIOETHICS

This course will focus on such cases as medical practice, medical research and development, and health care policy, examined through a wide array of case studies, gathered from sources in literature, journalism, and film. The academic study of ethics examines how we make the decisions. Curricula will build on a foundation of theoretical moral theories, more specifically, how we make decisions when faced with complex, often controversial, issues. No prior knowledge of philosophy is assumed, however, authentic assessment of students’ initial facility with logical analysis will ensure that all students are challenged to grow and deepen their theoretical and practical understandings of the subject.

MSON NUCLEAR SCIENCE

This course provides an overview of the field of nuclear science emphasizing the sources and properties of nuclear radiation and mechanisms of radiation interaction with matter. Specific topics include: basic nuclear physics, modern physics concepts related to nuclear science, atomic and nuclear models, attenuation of particle beams, photon and neutron interactions, nuclear structure and instability, radioactive decay processes and properties of radiation, nuclear reactions and energetics, particle accelerators, and fission and fusion processes. Information will be presented by class lectures, reading assignments, discussions and research projects. There will be approximately two hours of homework for each class and will consist of problem solving and writing reports. Laboratory exercises will be performed in a virtual context analyzing authentic data. Lab reports must be submitted for each exercise.

MSON ORGANIC CHEMISTRY

This semester course will provide useful background information in organic chemistry by covering topics not typically found in high school chemistry courses. The course will give insight into the importance of the chemistry of carbon compounds to our daily lives. Topics covered will include organic nomenclature, structural formulas, stereochemistry, bonding, reaction mechanisms, chemical transformations of functional groups, and instrumental isolation and detection techniques. Applications to the life sciences (chemistry of proteins, nucleic acids, medicines, and natural products), biochemical applications to medicine, industrial applications, and environmental applications will be explored. Completion of the course should make students more confident in their chemical background when entering college biology or chemistry courses.

MSON ENVIRONMENTAL BIOETHICS

This course will focus on such cases as environmental sustainability, global energy and food resources, gathered from sources in literature, journalism, and film. The academic study of ethics examines how we make the decisions. Curricula will build on a foundation of theoretical moral theories, more specifically, how we make decisions when faced with complex, often controversial, issues. No prior knowledge of philosophy is assumed, however, authentic assessment of students’ initial facility with logical analysis will ensure that all students are challenged to grow and deepen their theoretical and practical understandings of the subject.

MSON ADVANCED TOPICS IN CHEMISTRY

This semester course explores real-world applications to chemistry that are often skimmed over or omitted in most chemistry courses. Possible topics include nuclear, medical, atmospheric, industrial, food, water, and consumer product chemistry. Learn how a nuclear power plant works, how fuels are chemically altered for vehicles, what chemicals are added to drinking water and why they are added, how ores are processed into useful products, and why a country’s standard of living can be determined by its production of chlorine or other important chemicals. We’ll explore the periodic table for daily applications and technologies, from cell phones to photovoltaic cells to medical treatments. This course will be heavy in applications and theory, leaving out much of the problem-solving found in other courses.

MSON CSI - FORENSIC SCIENCE

This course will emphasize classic Mendelian genetics, molecular genetics, and population and evolutionary genetics. The topics include structure and function of genes (and the genome), biological variation, and gene regulations. Subsequently, the course will explore what experimental research has taught us about genome analysis methods, and our use of this information in society. Topics include recombinant DNA technology, mathematical models and statistical methods for data analysis. Papers from the current and classic literature will supplement lecture material.

MSON GENETICS AND GENOMICS

This course will emphasize classic Mendelian genetics, molecular genetics, and population and evolutionary genetics. The topics include structure and function of genes (and the genome), biological variation, and gene regulations. Subsequently, the course will explore what experimental research has taught us about genome analysis methods, and our use of this information in society. Topics include recombinant DNA technology, mathematical models and statistical methods for data analysis. Papers from the current and classic literature will supplement lecture material.

MSON HEALTH PHYSICS AND NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY

This is an overview course that provides broad subject-area coverage to introduce students to application of theory to practical aspects of nuclear science and technology in the world today with special emphasis on health physics. Specific topics include: the detection and measurement of ionizing radiation, the quantities of radiation dosimetry (the absorbed dose, equivalent dose, and effective dose) used to evaluate human radiation risks, elementary shielding calculations and protection measures for clinical environments, the characterization and proper use of health physics instrumentation, and the regulatory and administrative requirements of health physics programs, principles of nuclear reactors, and nuclear technology in industry and research. Information will be presented by class lectures, reading assignments, discussions and research projects. There will be approximately two hours of homework for each class and will consist of problem solving and writing reports. Laboratory exercises will be performed in a virtual context analyzing authentic data. Lab reports must be submitted for each exercise.

MSON ASTRONOMY

This semester-long course introduces students to historical and modern astronomy. Topics include the nature of light, the atom, telescopes, and orbits. In addition, students will learn about the life cycles of stars, including an introduction to black holes. Through various activities and experiments, students will explore our place in the universe as well as the relative scales of astronomical objects. As a class, we will leverage our disparate locations to reconstruct historical calculations such as the circumference of the earth by Eratosthenes and the distance to the sun by Aristarchus. Engaging with current research, we will examine the modern astronomical data used to search for and categorize the thousands of planets outside our solar system.

MSON INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTER PROGRAMMING

This course is designed to serve as a first course in computer science for students with no prior computing experience. The course concentrates on programming in Processing, which prepares students to work with other object-oriented programming languages. Themes include data structures, logic, problem solving through algorithm design, computer graphics, and user interaction. Topics in object-oriented programming include objects, classes, inheritance, polymorphism, and code reusability.

MSON ADVANCED COMPUTER PROGRAMMING

Data Structures and Algorithms in Java: this year-long course continues and deepens students’ understanding and practice of object oriented programming. Students are expected to have familiarity with programming in Java at the AP Computer Science A level. Core topics in the context of the Java programming language include practical implementations of fundamental and more advanced data structures (linked lists, hash encoded storage, binary search trees - AVL, treaps, red-black trees, and heaps), algorithms for organizing and manipulating data (including sorting, searching, and traversal algorithms), and time complexity of algorithms in a problem-solving oriented context. In-depth exploration of standard Java libraries and features such as Java Collections, error handling, threads, and designing and building graphical user interface using AWT and Swing libraries is included. Much of the course is project-based, with assignments stressing the design of classes and algorithms appropriate to a particular problem.


South Campus • Pre-K3 to 4th grade • 4120 Old Canton Road • Jackson, MS 39216 • 601-987-9300
North Campus • Grades 5 to 12 • 370 Old Agency Road • Ridgeland, MS 39157 • 601-853-6000

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