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Science Instructors: ===> with links to their classroom websites ===>

Read more about the new science sequence.

Minnesota state graduation standards and district policy both require that students successfully complete three full years of science, including one year of Biology and one year of either Chemistry or Physics in order to graduate from South High School.

Some course offeringsSee Cirriculim guide for the full list of courses offered.

Physical Science

Open to: All 9th grade students Length: Year-long

Through this laboratory course students will master their understanding of the required high school Physical Science standards, as well as much of the required Earth and Space Science and Nature of Science and Engineering standards. Students will learn about motion and forces, energy, electricity, atomic structure, and chemical and nuclear reactions. These concepts are in turn used to investigate earth and space systems such as evolution of the universe and Earth. Content learning takes place through the continued development of students’ skills as scientists and engineers. The course sets the stage for further core and advanced science coursework. Instructional methods include hands-on investigations, guided inquiry, demonstrations, group work, lectures, projects, reading, and writing.


Open to: All 10th grade students Length: Year-long

This course provides a general overview of what it means to be “alive” and is a preparation for more advanced study of living systems. Students will inquire into the history and nature of science, investigate and study basic biochemistry, ecology, evolution, cells, genetics, DNA and fundamental comparative anatomy. Students will explore questions about the application of biological concepts to their everyday life. This course builds on the scientific inquiry and laboratory skills taught in 9th grade physical science.

Biology - Open

Open to: All 10th grade Open students Length: Year-long

This year-long course is team-taught in collaboration with Open US History and Open English 10, applying progressive methods of instruction to deepen student understanding of concepts. The three courses draw strands from all three disciplines into a cohesive project-based curriculum. All of the basic biological concepts and skills will be covered (see “General Biology Course Description”) but in a scope and sequence that allows it to be interdisciplinary. For example, during the cell biology unit students will be reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in English while investigating civil rights in US History. The focus in the Open classroom is primarily collaboration and exploration among students. 

Earth Science and Environmental Issues
Open to: All 10th,11th and 12th grade students
Length: Year-long
The goal of this course is to provide students with a knowledge base in understanding the working processes of the earth‘s internal and external functions, in relation to the living beings residing upon it. This course fulfills State requirements for Earth Science for upper classmen who need to fulfill the Earth Science requirement for graduation.


Open to: All 10th through 12th grade students Co-requisite: Enrollment in Geometry or above Length: Year-long

This yearlong course covers the basic principles of physics: motion, mass, force, energy, electricity, magnetism, light, and sound. You will engage in learning through hands-on activities, computer simulations, online video presentations and problem solving exercises. Expect to learn by exploring, thinking, and doing. This class must be taken with PLTW’s Principles of Engineering class.

AP Biology
Open to: All 10th,11th and 12th grade students
Prerequisite: Chemistry is required, Biology and Physics are recommended
Length: Year-long
This is a rigorous yearlong course that follows the curriculum of an introductory college course. The class materials draw extensively on current materials from scientific journals and research. The course covers selected topics in biochemistry, cell biology, energy, heredity, ecology, molecular genetics, biotechnology, evolutions, systematics and homeostasis. Students will learn through the use of periodicals, text, clas discussion, laboratories, guest speakers, demonstration and independent investigations. The course will prepare students to take the College Board AP Biology Test in May.

AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based

Open: 10-12th grade students

Length: Year long

This course is the equivalent to a first-semester college course in algebra-based physics. The course covers Newtonian mechanics (including rotational dynamics and angular momentum); work, energy, and power; mechanical waves and sound. It will also introduce electric circuits.

CIS Physics: Physics by Inquiry

Open to: 11th, and 12th grade students

Length: Year-long.

It focuses on students learning physics by participating in the process of scientific discovery and applying that content to solving qualitative problems, rather than on the quantitative problem solving found in a traditional physics course. In addition, the content (ranging from properties of magnets, to light and color and optics, to astronomy and others) differs from that found in a traditional physics course. Students collaborate with their peers to conduct experiments, generate theories of how things work based on their observations, and refine their theories by further experimentation. Emphasis in the course is placed on knowing the evidence that supports a theory.

Open to: All 10th,11th and 12th grade students
Prerequisite: Algebra 1
Length: Year-long
This is a two semester sequential course that uses ChemCom, a text written by the American Chemical Society. This text approaches chemical topics from an environmental point of view. The course explores matter, measurement, chemical notation, atomic structure, chemical periodicity, chemical bonds, kinetic theory, gases, chemical reactions, mole concept, stoichiometry, acids and bases, solutions, organic chemistry, nuclear chemistry, oxidation-reduction reactions, electrochemistry, and chemical/ environmental issues. Lectures, demonstrations, group problem solving and laboratory investigations are an integral part of this course. Keep in mind that the entrance requirements of many colleges now include one year of high school chemistry.

Honors Chemistry
Open to: All 10th,11th and 12th grade students
Length: Year-long
This is a two semester sequential course. This accelerated course is taught from the 2005 edition of Chemistry (Prentice Hall) and this traditional text will include lecture, demonstrations, laboratories, and group problem solving. This course approaches chemistry from a mathematical, problem solving perspective and it is ideal for students who are considering an engineering or science major in college.

AP Chemistry
Open to: All 10th,11th and 12th grade students
Length: Year-long
This course is designed to provide a solid, first-year college chemistry experience, both conceptually and in the laboratory. The labs serve to supplement learning in the lecture discussion section of the course. Problem solving skills, both on paper and in the lab, are emphasized to discover more about how chemistry works. Topics include reaction stoichiometry, bonding, equilibrium, thermodynamics and electrochemistry. This is a rigorous fast paced course. Students are expected to take the College Board AP Chemistry Test.

AP Environmental Science
Open to: All 11th & 12th grade students
Length: Year-long
The goal of this 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 and/or preventing them.

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