Science Academy | Curriculum

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Incoming 9th-grade students automatically qualify for consideration in the Advanced Science Academy if they score in the 90th percentile of Morris Catholic High School Placement Test matriculators. They may also receive an invitation to apply for their performance on subject placement exams and/or at the discretion of the program director.

 

Around the end of their first semester, qualifying freshmen will receive an official invitation from the program director for immediate membership as an initiate. Full membership is granted at the end of the first year contingent upon performance and dues obligations.

 

High-performing 9th-graders may request membership at the end of their first academic year and will be considered based on their performance across Morris Catholic coursework. Freshmen failing to meet minimum program standards will not be allowed to continue in the AMI their Sophomore year and will have to meet those standards before being considered for readmission. Under extraordinary circumstances, Sophomores may receive consideration for membership based on their overall academic performance, character, and fulfillment of curricular requirements. No student may apply for or receive membership in the Advanced Science Academy after their Sophomore year, and students must complete 2.5 years of membership in the Academy to receive distinction on their record and diploma.

Incoming Freshmen entering into the program are required to take Biology Honors. Rising Sophomores who wish to join the program may be considered if they perform extraordinarily well in Biology or Biology Honors and Geometry, at the discretion of the Director.

 

Academy members must maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA in the sciences and overall to continue to qualify. This is calculated at the end of the academic year, so membership is in effect all academic year regardless of ongoing performance.

 

Academy members have the privilege of interacting with local scientific and clinical leaders (Lunch & Learn) and learning how to read and interpret primary literature (Journal Club), so they are expected to attend all AMI-sanctioned activities. Students will be given the grace to skip up to two (2) Journal Club sessions and one (1) Lunch & Learn per semester. Note: Due to COVID-19 pandemic, Lunch & Learns have been temporarily replaced with Tea Times held virtually on select evenings.

 

Members will conduct themselves with the highest degree of respect and dignity befitting a student of Morris Catholic and of the student leaders they are. Behavior outside these norms may result in their termination from the program.

 

Academy members should be enthusiastic about all their endeavors, and generally uninhibited in their pursuit of truth.

Students wishing to withdraw from the program at any time must provide the Director with a signed letter to that effect and have it counter-signed by the student's guardian(s). Program fees are non-refundable after a student has taken part in any Academy activity.

Biology Honors

Credits: 5

Prerequisites: 90th percentile (of Morris Catholic High School) or above on the HSPT in math and no grade lower than an A- (90%) in 7th- and 8th-grade math, science, and English; permission of the Chair. Course limited to 25 students.

 

Biology Honors is a year-long course that introduces students to the marvel of the living world around them. This lab course is an investigation of the principles that govern the living world and serves as an introduction to how scientists approach and answer biological problems.  It is the first of a two-part series culminating in the College Board’s AP Biology exam. As such, the Biology Honors curriculum provides slow, in-depth coverage of the most crucial half of introductory biology: the philosophy of science, biochemistry, the cell and how it harvests energy and reproduces, genetics and genomics, and evolution. Classroom discussions, activities, projects, laboratory experiments, and formal assessments will reinforce the concepts and principles presented in the course and highlight the social implications of science on society. The course will exceed the New Jersey State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards by providing greater depth than prescribed by those standards or in CP Biology sections. This course is a prerequisite for AP Biology, which picks up where this class leaves off.

Chemistry Honors

Credits: 5

Prerequisites: 95% in Biology (or 90% in Biology Honors) and 93% in Algebra 1 (or 90% in Algebra 1 Honors).

 

Students use their knowledge of scientific methodology and literacy to derive chemical principles in the same way that a scientist would. There is a heavy emphasis on the mathematical treatment from the basic structure of atoms to chemical formulas, bonding, types of reactions, solubility, stoichiometry, energy, equilibrium, and nuclear chemistry. NOTE: This course (or Chemistry or AP Chemistry) is required in order to graduate.

Advanced Placement® Courses

AP® Biology

Credits: 5

Prerequisites: 90% in Biology Honors; Chemistry Honors(+) and/or Physics Honors(+) may be taken concurrently; permission of the Chair.

 

AP Biology is a college-level lab course that uses the sanctioned AP curriculum and stresses four Big Ideas: 1. Evolution drives the diversity of life. 2.  Biological systems utilize energy and molecular building blocks to grow, reproduce, and maintain homeostasis. 3. Living systems store, retrieve, and transmit information.   4. Biological systems interact in complex ways. It aims at developing a conceptual framework for modern biology and an appreciation of science as a process. The course has an emphasis on molecular and cellular biology, including the biochemistry of respiration, photosynthesis, DNA replication, protein synthesis, and genetics.   It also emphasizes the process of evolution in creating the diversity of life on Earth and the relationships between it. AP Biology constitutes the second in a two-part series beginning with Biology Honors. Note: This course will require additional meeting times during Commons or before or after school.


AP® Chemistry

Credits: 5

Prerequisites: 90% in Biology Honors (no exceptions granted); permission of the Chair.

 

The AP Chemistry course provides students with a college-level foundation to support future advanced coursework in chemistry. Students cultivate their understanding of chemistry through inquiry-based investigations, as they explore topics such as atomic structure, intermolecular forces and bonding chemical reactions, kinetics, thermodynamics, and equilibrium (The College Board).

 
Biomedical Ethics Honors

Credits: 1.25

Cross-listed with Social Studies Department and Theology Department

Prerequisites: U.S. History 1 Honors/U.S. History 2 Honors (final grade of 85+%) or U.S. History 1/U.S. History 2 (final grade of 90+%)

 

The dialogue between medical science and the Catholic faith has for its primary purpose the common good of all human persons. It presupposes that science and faith do not contradict each other. Both are grounded in respect for truth and freedom. As new knowledge and new technologies expand, each person must form their conscience based on the moral norms for proper health care. This semester course helps students address contemporary social and ethical biomedical issues, including clinical treatment, genetics, and biotechnology. The course frames ethical discussions within the context of the Catholic moral tradition.  This course is a requirement for science academy students beginning with the class of 2023.

Not offered in 2020-21. Returns in 2021-22 as a quarter course linked to SciComm (4th Q).


Genetics Honors

Credits: 2.5

Prerequisites: 90% in Biology CP (or 85% in Biology Honors), Chemistry, and Physics (may be taken concurrently); permission of the Chair. Psychology suggested (may be taken concurrently).

 

Genetics studies the biological basis of inheritance and the connection between structure and function. This senior elective is taught in the style of a college seminar and covers topics ranging from the molecular basis of heredity, chromosomal structure, patterns of Mendelian and non-Mendelian inheritance, evolution, biotechnological applications, and clinical correlates. While not a formal lab course, we will use models, demonstrations, and much discussion to introduce the student to the wonders of the postgenomic era. Upon completion, students should be able to recognize and describe genetic phenomena and demonstrate knowledge of important genetic principles. *Preference is given to seniors; this course and/or Neurobiology is required for science academy distinction.

*Not offered in 2020-21. Offered in odd-numbered years (2019-20, 2021-22, etc.).

 

History of Science

3rd Quarter | Credits: 1.25

Cross-listed with Social Studies Department 

Prerequisites: Students who qualify for any AP® course are eligible to take this course.

 

This elective surveys the history of western science, particularly astronomy and physics. The course is meant to provide an appreciation for the deep historical roots of science in Western Civilization, the changing nature of scientific models and the status of scientific knowledge. The course will cover, among other things, the earliest Babylonian astronomers, the Ionian cosmologists and the geocentric and heliocentric models of the Greeks, science in the Middle Ages (Byzantine, Western and Islamic), the scientific revolution (Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, Newton) and developments in modern physics and cosmology (general relativity, quantum mechanics, the “Big Bang”).

Linked to SciComm (4th Q) in 2020-21.

 

Neurobiology Honors

Fall Semester | Credits: 2.5

Prerequisites: 90% in Biology CP (or 85% in Biology Honors), Chemistry, and Physics (may be taken concurrently); permission of the Chair. Psychology suggested (may be taken concurrently).

 

Neurobiology studies the biological basis of nervous system structure and function. This elective will be taught in the style of a college seminar and will cover topics ranging from cellular neurophysiology to development to gross nervous system anatomy and clinical correlates. While not a formal lab course, we will use models and demonstrations to introduce the student to the wonders of the brain. *Preference is given to science academy members and then by seniority; this course and/or Genetics is required for science academy distinction.

Offered in even-numbered years (2020-21, 2022-23, etc.).


Physics Honors

Credits: 5

Prerequisites: 90% in Chemistry Honors (95% in Chemistry CP with permission of the Chair), Algebra 1, Geometry Honors and Algebra 2 (Algebra 2 may be taken concurrently).

 

This course is designed to provide the student with a strong background in physics. The essential concepts, including mechanics, electricity, magnetism, wave theory and optics, are developed by means of lecture, laboratory experience, and problem-solving.

 

Scientific Communication

4th Quarter | Credits: 1.25

Prerequisites: Permission of the Chair.

 

This course introduces the essential skills necessary for any science major or pre-med student, emphasizing the language of science and how information is disseminated. The focus of the course is on communicating scientific ideas smoothly and effectively both orally and in writing. This course will introduce students to the tips and tricks that make learning science possible, such as using PubMed to find papers, Grants.gov to find grant opportunities, or learning how different journals use different styles to have the highest impact. The course will further develop the students’ abilities to read, write, present, and critically analyze scientific data (particularly biological/medical), skills that are, unfortunately, not stressed at any level of education (including graduate school), but are nonetheless essential for success that is measured in publications and grant dollars. The course will combine library and open-source resources, along with a particular emphasis on reading/writing/critiquing primary scientific literature. Students will be introduced to potential extramural funding sources (even for motivated undergraduates!) and the art of scientific presentation, poster presentations, illustration, and digital presentation. The course culminates with the compilation of students’ work into a single, professional-looking publication that highlights the skills and styles they have acquired. This course meets over only a single quarter (4th Quarter) to edit and publish the results of the Senior capstone projects. Students who complete this course will be prepared for immediate integration into laboratories in basic and clinical science, and be better suited to excel in college as well as later in their careers. *Preference is given to Juniors in the science academy.

Linked to History of Science (3rd Q) in 2020-21; linked to Biomedical Ethics Honors (3rd Q) from 2021-onward.

Advanced Placement® Courses

AP® Physics 1

Credits: 5

Prerequisites: 90% in Biology Honors and Chemistry Honors (may be taken concurrently); permission of the Chair.

 

This is an algebra-based, introductory college physics course that explores topics such as Newtonian mechanics (one- and two- dimensional motion, projectile motion, forces, and gravitation); work, energy, and power; mechanical waves and electromagnetic waves; magnetism and circuits. Through inquiry-based learning, students will develop scientific critical thinking and reasoning skills. The AP Physics student must be familiar with Algebra II and trigonometry. Calculus is useful but not necessary for this course. Depending on the college of choice, successful completion of the course and a satisfactory grade on the AP exam may not exempt a student from freshman physics classes; however, this course should be excellent preparation for AP Physics 1 Exam in May. Note: This course will require additional meeting times during Commons or before or after school.

Faith and Science

4th Quarter | Credits: 1.25

Cross-listed with Social Studies Department and Theology Department

Prerequisites:  None

 

The course sets out to familiarize the student with the history of the dialogue between Science and Faith, and with the basic concepts necessary in order to enter further into the rich context provided by this dialogue. By critically analyzing the science/faith dialogue in relation to creation and evolution it provides the student with both the understanding and vocabulary necessary to begin engaging fruitfully with others on this important and complex area in modern society.

Linked to Science Academy Capstone (3rd Q).

 

Genetics Honors

Credits: 2.5

Prerequisites: 90% in Biology CP (or 85% in Biology Honors), Chemistry, and Physics (may be taken concurrently); permission of the Chair. Psychology suggested (may be taken concurrently).

 

Genetics studies the biological basis of inheritance and the connection between structure and function. This senior elective is taught in the style of a college seminar and covers topics ranging from the molecular basis of heredity, chromosomal structure, patterns of Mendelian and non-Mendelian inheritance, evolution, biotechnological applications, and clinical correlates. While not a formal lab course, we will use models, demonstrations, and much discussion to introduce the student to the wonders of the postgenomic era. Upon completion, students should be able to recognize and describe genetic phenomena and demonstrate knowledge of important genetic principles. *Preference is given to seniors; this course and/or Neurobiology is required for science academy distinction.

*Not offered in 2020-21. Offered in odd-numbered years (2019-20, 2021-22, etc.).

 

Neurobiology Honors

Fall Semester | Credits: 2.5

Prerequisites: 90% in Biology CP (or 85% in Biology Honors), Chemistry, and Physics (may be taken concurrently); permission of the Chair. Psychology suggested (may be taken concurrently).

 

Neurobiology studies the biological basis of nervous system structure and function. This elective will be taught in the style of a college seminar and will cover topics ranging from cellular neurophysiology to development to gross nervous system anatomy and clinical correlates. While not a formal lab course, we will use models and demonstrations to introduce the student to the wonders of the brain. *Preference is given to science academy members and then by seniority; this course and/or Genetics is required for science academy distinction.

Offered in even-numbered years (2020-21, 2022-23, etc.).

 

*Science Academy Capstone

3rd Quarter | Credits: 1.25

Prerequisites: Completion of all Science Academy requirements; meeting graduation requirements; permission of the instructor.

 

Beginning with the Class of 2022, all members of the science academy must complete a capstone research paper using primary sources. The guidelines for this manuscript can be found in the appendix of this Handbook. Topics are assigned in consultation between the Director and the student. The final paper will be delivered to a panel of 5 faculty (three from Science [including the Director], one from Social Studies, and one from Theology) and orally defended. Passing papers will be published to the Morris Catholic community in the science academy’s journal. This course designation meets twice as often as a regular course, but over only a single quarter (3rd Quarter) so that the Junior science academy members taking SciComm can spend the 4th Quarter editing and publishing the result of this capstone project. Students must successfully complete this project for graduation distinction as primus inter pares. The course is required for science academy distinction.

*Beginning in 2021-22. Linked to Faith & Science (4th Q).

 

Advanced Placement® Courses

AP® Environmental Science

Credits: 5

Prerequisites: 90% in Biology Honors, Chemistry Honors, and/or Physics Honors; permission of the Chair. 

 

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, 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.

 

*AP® Physics 2

Credits: 5

Prerequisites: 90% in Biology Honors and Chemistry Honors (may be taken concurrently); satisfactory progress through AP Physics 1 at the discretion of the instructor. 

 

AP Physics 2 is an algebra-based challenging introductory college-level course with a primary focus on the following topics such as fluids, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, and modern physics. The AP Physics student must be familiar with Algebra II and trigonometry. Calculus is useful but not necessary for this course. Depending on the college of choice, successful completion of the course and a satisfactory grade on the AP exam may not exempt a student from freshman physics classes; however, this course should be excellent preparation for AP Physics 2 Exam in May. Note: This course will require additional meeting times during Commons or before or after school.

*Not offered in 2020-21.

 

AP® Psychology

Credits: 5

Cross-listed with Social Studies Department

Prerequisites: World History Honors with a final grade of 90+% or US History 1 Honors or US History 2 Honors with a final grade of 90+%.

 

This course introduces the student to the major fields of study in Psychology as prescribed by the College Board. This course emphasizes the recent developments in the fields of human development, memory, cognition, language acquisition, social behavior, psycho-biology, and normal/ abnormal psychology. Because of the demanding nature of the work, this course will involve supplemental reading and essay writing to prepare the student to take the Psychology AP exam. Students who take this course may not take Introduction to Psychology. * Preference is given to seniors.

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