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Science Faculty
  Cristal Burkhart Science Dept.
  Ethel Catahan Science Dept.
  Daniel Chapman Science Dept.
  Kelsey Cushing Science Dept.
  Wilson Kwan Science Dept.
  Greg Schiller (818) 489-7861 Science Dept.


  • Graduation requirement: 1 year Biology, 1 year Chemistry or Physics
  • Satisfies Category D of the A–G requirements: 2 years required, 3–4 years recommended

The Science Department strives to provide a standards- and inquiry-based, arts infused comprehensive curriculum to prepare students for college and career. The department is committed to expanding students' understanding of and appreciation for the natural world and to providing hands-on laboratory experiences that connect theory to the real world.


9th Grade Courses:
Honors Biology

Biology/Honors Biology

An inquiry-based approach to biology, this course covers the following major content areas: cell biology, genetics, ecology, evolution and physiology. Throughout the course, science is approached as a process rather than mere accumulation of facts. The course incorporates hands-on and personal experience to connect learned material to everyday life. Biological knowledge and critical thinking skills are required to address issues related to social and environmental concerns. Topics are grouped and discussed according to the California State Standards for biology.

10th Grade Courses:
Chemistry CP
Honors Chemistry


Chemistry CP provides students with a comprehensive study of the nature of matter and the changes it undergoes. This course is appropriate for most college-bound students. Topics studied in this course include atomic theory, chemical bonding, periodicity, nuclear chemistry, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, gases, kinetics, equilibrium, acid-base theory, and oxidation-reduction. Through a combination of laboratory experimentation, art-based hands-on activities, and cooperative learning strategies, students gain an understanding of physical phenomena and improve their problem-solving and critical thinking skills. This course draws extensively on students' knowledge of algebra, with an ongoing mathematical and quantitative component. The material requires students to continually build upon previously acquired skills—so students are encouraged to keep up with the steady pace of the class and come in for extra help any time!

Honors Chemistry

Honors Chemistry is designed for students who have demonstrated strong ability in previous science courses. In this fast-paced, demanding course, the main topics are studied at and advanced level with a focus on both conceptual understanding and problem-solving. Course topics include: atomic theory, nuclear chemistry, periodicity, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, gases, solutions, reaction kinetics, equilibrium, acid-base theory, oxidation-reduction, and organic chemistry. Quantitative aspects of chemical concepts are emphasized throughout the course. Laboratory experimentation is an integral part of this class, and students write a number of formal reports, which require demonstration of a sophisticated understanding of the relevant theories and principles. Students are expected to work cooperatively in both laboratory and classroom settings and to take individual responsibility for meeting the objectives of the course. This course is particularly well-suited for students considering careers in science, engineering, or medicine.

11th/12th Grade Courses:
Honors Physics
Marine Biology
Anatomy & Physiology
AP Biology
AP Psychology
AP Chemistry
AP Environmental Science

Physics/Honors Physics

This course is an introduction to classical and modern physics and includes: Kinematics, Newton's Laws of Motion, Conservation of Energy, Wave Motion, Thermodynamics, Electricity, and Magnetism. The course requires the implementation of the scientific method by working on various laboratory and art-based activities and the performance of independent projects. This course will serve well both for college bound students and those who want a deeper understanding of the world.

Marine Biology

This is a one-year lab science course that studies the ocean and the organisms that live within it. It covers the physiology and behavior of marine plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates. It explores how organisms are adapted to their specific habitat within the ocean. Oceanography, marine ecology and conservation of marine resources will also be addressed. Prerequisites: Biology A and B, one year of physical science.

Anatomy & Physiology

This course studies the structure and function of the human body and the mechanisms for maintaining homeostasis within it. It includes the study of cells, tissues, and the integumentary, skeletal, muscular and nervous systems, as well as the endocrine, cardiovascular, lymphatic, respiratory, digestive, urinary and reproductive systems. Prerequisites: Biology A and B, one year of physical science.

AP Biology

(10th Grade students may take this class after successfully passing Biology.) The key concepts and related content that define the revised AP Biology course and exam are organized around a few underlying principles called the big ideas, which encompass the core scientific principles, theories and processes governing living organisms and biological systems. For each of the big ideas, enduring understandings, which incorporate the core concepts that students should retain from the learning experience, are also identified. Each enduring understanding is followed by statements of the essential knowledge necessary to support it. Unless otherwise specified, all of the details in the outline are required elements of the course and may be included in the AP Biology Exam


AP Psychology

The AP Psychology course introduces students to the systematic and scientific study of human behavior and mental processes. While considering the psychologists and studies that have shaped the field, students explore and apply psychological theories, key concepts, and phenomena associated with such topics as the biological bases of behavior, sensation and perception, learning and cognition, motivation, developmental psychology, testing and individual differences, treatment of abnormal behavior, and social psychology. Throughout the course, students employ psychological research methods, including ethical considerations, as they use the scientific method, analyze bias, evaluate claims and evidence, and effectively communicate ideas

AP Chemistry

AP Chemistry is an in-depth, fast-paced second-year chemistry course for advanced, science-oriented students. The course will provide students with a thorough grounding in chemical principles and quantitative reasoning. The workload is equivalent to a first-year college introductory chemistry course, including an intensive and necessary laboratory component. The laboratory program may require an extra time commitment, and students will be expected to maintain a laboratory notebook. Self-motivated, independent learners who have demonstrated strong abilities in previous science and math courses are encouraged to take this rigorous, but rewarding course. All students enrolled in this course are prepared for and expected to take the AP examination in May. Many (but not all) colleges will accept a score of 3 or higher on the AP exam for college credit, which may allow students to enroll in higher-level courses as a freshman or fulfill a lab science requirement.

AP Environmental Science

The A.P. Environmental Science course is designed to be the equivalent of a one-semester introductory college course in environmental science. This course stresses scientific principles and analysis and includes a strong laboratory component. The goal of the course is to provide students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships to 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. The seven major units within this course include: Earth Systems and Resources, The Living World, Populations, Land and Water Use, Energy Resources and Consumption, Pollution, and Global Change.