Science

Baylor’s science curriculum is designed to help students learn how to pose meaningful questions and answer them using logic and evidence; understand how science affects their everyday lives; appreciate the wonders of nature; become more responsible, informed citizens; feel comfortable working with modern technology; and gain the background and confidence to pursue a technical degree in college if they choose. Hands-on learning, both collaborative and individual, is at the heart of our teaching. Teachers also integrate technology into the curriculum in a variety of ways so that students will be better prepared for the technological challenges that await them beyond Baylor.

Science Requirements: Three credits are required. Students may fulfill that requirement by taking biology, chemistry, and physics. Students who have demonstrated proficiency in science and have taken the necessary prerequisite courses may, with the approval of the department, take an AP science course in place of the physics requirement.

CLASSES

Biology

Biology is the study of the basic characteristics of living things. The course begins at the molecular level and systematically progresses through increasing levels of biological organization, ending with a study of humans and their environment. Students develop laboratory skills and techniques through regularly scheduled, discovery-oriented experiments.

Honors Biology

This course follows the general outline of the biology course, but it covers the material in greater depth, particularly in cell biology, genetics, and the diversity of living organisms. To be admitted to the course, students must have demonstrated superior ability and work ethic in their current science class.

Chemistry

Chemistry is the study of matter and how it can change. Atomic and molecular structure, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, kinetic molecular theory, solids, liquids, and gases are studied. Students develop laboratory skills and techniques through regularly scheduled, discovery-oriented experiments. (Algebra I is a prerequisite.)

Honors Chemistry

This course follows the outline of the chemistry course, but it covers the material in greater depth and with greater mathematical sophistication. To be admitted to the course, students must have demonstrated superior ability and work ethic in their current science class.

Physics

This course introduces students to scientific ways of viewing the world around them. Topics include elementary mechanics, light, electricity, and magnetism. Students develop laboratory skills and techniques through regularly scheduled, discovery-oriented experiments.

Honors Physics

This course follows the outline of the physics course, but it covers the material in greater depth and with greater mathematical sophistication. To be admitted to the course, students must have demonstrated superior ability and work ethic in their current science class. Departmental approval, including the approval of a student’s current science teacher, is required for enrollment.

Science Elective Courses

Astronomy

Astronomy is a semester elective, which introduces students to the night sky and to common celestial objects, such as the sun, moon, planets, meteors, asteroids, comets, galaxies, and nebulae. Simple methods of mapping the sky and for predicting astronomical movements and positions are also introduced. Other topics include the design and function of telescopes, astronomical influences on literature and the arts, and the current state of astronomical research. Students have the opportunity to attend one or more night labs in order to experience the night sky directly and to make use of the skills they have acquired.

Engineering Design

Engineering Design is a semester-long elective that introduces the various ways innovators can take an idea and produce an output. From prototypes to publications to patents to profits, students will engage in hands-on group collaborations to brainstorm, develop, and ultimately communicate their creations. Students completing Engineering Design are eligible to work on individual projects in Independent Scientific Research. Departmental approval is required for admission.

Environmental Science

This course provides a one-semester overview of important environmental science topics for students who are not inclined to take the two-semester AP course. Emphasis is given to the interdependence of the Earth's ecosystems and how human activity affects them. Biology and chemistry are prerequisites.

Forensic Science

Forensic Science is a semester elective that covers basic biological and chemical techniques used to solve crimes. Problem solving is emphasized. Students work in teams to design experiments and reach conclusions by applying the scientific method to empirical evidence. Biology and chemistry are prerequisites.

Fundamentals of Scientific Research

During this semester-long course, students are introduced to the fundamental elements of scientific research in the biological and chemical sciences and develop the requisite skills for conducting research. Students perform biotechnology techniques throughout the semester. Students learn to conduct a robust literature review, compose the basic elements of a scientific paper, present scientific data clearly in graphs and tables, and propose and develop a basic research plan. The skills developed in this course equip students to design and execute projects in Independent Scientific Research. To be admitted to the course, students must have demonstrated superior ability and work ethic in all academic areas. Departmental approval is required for admission.

Independent Scientific Research I

This semester-long elective allows students to hone the hands-on skills that were introduced in Fundamentals of Scientific Research, thus furthering proficiency in techniques associated with molecular and cell biology, analytical chemistry, engineering design, or advanced computing. Upon approval of their individual research proposals, students work toward significant progress by the end of the semester and are expected to display their work at the Baylor STEM symposium in May. This rigorous course requires extended hours of work and collaboration with university professors and other researchers. To be admitted to the course, students must have demonstrated superior ability and work ethic in all academic areas. Fundamentals of Scientific Research or Engineering Design are prerequisite.

Independent Scientific Research II

This semester-long elective allows students to continue research projects initiated in Independent Scientific Research I. This rigorous course requires extended hours of work, collaboration with university professors and other researchers, and the production of a poster (minimum requirement) or scientific manuscript. Some students are ready to submit papers for publication and national science competitions by the end of the semester. Students are required to display their work at the Baylor STEM symposium in May. To be admitted to the course, students must have demonstrated superior ability and work ethic in all academic areas. Independent Scientific Research I is a prerequisite.

Independent Scientific Research III

This semester-long elective allows students to complete research projects conducted in Independent Scientific Research II. This rigorous course requires extended hours of work, collaboration with university professors and other researchers, and successful submission of a poster presentation or scientific manuscript. Students must submit their paper for publication, enter a national science competition, or present a poster at a scientific conference. Students are also required to display their work at the Baylor STEM symposium in May. To be admitted to the course, students must have demonstrated superior ability and work ethic in all academic areas. Independent Scientific Research II is a prerequisite.

AP Courses in Science

AP Biology

This college-level course gives students the conceptual framework, factual knowledge, and analytical skills necessary to deal with the rapidly changing science of biology. Emphasis is placed on the biochemistry and organic chemistry of living systems. Major topics of discussion include molecules, cells, genetics, organisms, evolution, and populations. The volume of material requires a disciplined daily effort from the student for an entire year. Students’ admission to the course is based on the recommendation of the science department. Chemistry is a prerequisite. Biology is encouraged as a prerequisite for all but the strongest students.

AP Chemistry

This college-level course gives students an in-depth understanding of chemistry fundamentals along with proficiency in solving chemical problems. Students learn to think clearly and express their ideas, orally and in writing. The volume of material requires a disciplined daily effort from the student for an entire year. Students’ admission to the course is based on the recommendation of the science department. Chemistry is a prerequisite.

AP Physics C: Mechanics

This in-depth introduction to Newtonian mechanics is equivalent to a one-semester college course for science and engineering majors. Calculus is introduced and used throughout the course. A seven-week robotics unit is included during which students build and program LEGO Mindstorm robots. The volume and difficulty of the material require a disciplined daily effort for the entire year. Admission to the course is based on the recommendation of the science department. A corequisite for AP Physics C is either AP Calculus AB or AP Calcullus BC.

AP Environmental Science

This college-level course studies the environmental impact of human activity. The course begins with an examination of the interdependence of the Earth’s ecosystems. The course then looks at our natural resources and their usage, including the human influence on the environment on a global scale. Students gain an understanding of the consequences of decisions they make in their daily lives. Students’ admission to the course is based on the recommendation of the science department. Biology and Chemistry are prerequisites.