This full-year lab science course introduces classic biology topics updated for the 21st century. Biology studies living things and their relationships from microscopic to massive, ancient to modern, arctic to tropic. Our survey includes: (1) cellular and molecular biology, (2) ecology, (3) genetics, (4) biology of organisms (with selected human health and anatomy topics), and (5) evolution and diversity.
You will observe microscopic organisms and give monarch butterflies a health exam before tagging them for their 2,800 mile migration to Mexico. You will extract DNA, model its processes, and learn how scientists manipulate this magnificent molecule to make mice glow. You will observe animal behavior, test your heart rate, and practice identifying and debunking pseudo-science.
By the end of the course, students will be able to explain the nature of science as a system of knowing; cite evidence for foundational theories of modern biology; explain basic biological processes and functions; describe structures and relationships in living systems; outline systems of information, energy, and resources; demonstrate valid experimental design; discern ethical standards; relate their values and scientific ideas to decision-making; and apply biology knowledge to their own health.
In this flipped classroom, students are responsible for covering new material such as readings from the textbook and additional popular and scholarly sources, videos, and animations PRIOR to class meetings. In-person sessions focus on active discussion, clarification, exploration of content, review, modeling, and hands-on activities.
Labs address not only technical skills and sequential operations, but also forming testable predictions, collecting data, applying math, drawing conclusions, and presenting findings. Hands-on dissection, always optional, is taught with preserved crayfish and fetal pigs.
Sensitive issues: human reproduction is not taught separately, but mentioned as students learn about other, related topics such as sperm, eggs, stem cells, genetic disease, hormones, fetal development, breast-feeding, adolescence, and HIV. While there may be some debate-style discussion of topics such as GMO, abortion will not be debated. Birth control and sexuality education are not covered, but distinctions between gender and biological sex are discussed in detail in the genetics unit. Dissections are optional. Evolution is embedded in every topic, from molecular to ecological, inseparably from other content. It is addressed in a scientific context, not from a faith standpoint.
The course provides a substantive, full-credit experience on either an Honors or On-Level track. All class members share core material and participate in the same labs. Honors has longer or additional readings, more analytical work, and more thorough and difficult assessments. Brief, required summer assignments are due in August for those who elect to take Honors. Students register online for the same course, but must indicate which level they wish to study via e-mail by August 15. Students may move down a level (from Honors to On-Level) at any time.
Schedule: Note:This class will be taught in a Hybrid format with an online lecture on Mondays (9:00 am - 9:55 am) over a live, online platform and in-person lab and activities on Fridays (9:30 am - 10:55 am).
Prerequisites: Students should be very strong, independent readers and able to understand graphs, tables, percentages, decimals, ratios, and averages.
Workload: Homework includes term cards, brief written responses, weekly online quizzes, unit tests, occasional lab reports, and some creative assignments including sketching. Students will sometimes prepare short, in-class presentations, participate in group projects, run simulations, or conduct simple experiments at home. All students should expect to spend 4-6 hours outside of class reading and preparing homework.
Assignments: All assignments will be posted on password-protected Canvas classroom management site. There, students access assignments; upload homework, take automated quizzes and tests; track grades; message instructor and classmates; and attend virtual conferences.
Assessments: Completed homework, projects, quizzes, and tests receive points and narrative feedback. Parents can calculate a letter grade using the student's points earned divided by points available, in weighted categories that include assignments, reading quizzes, tests, and participation and presentations. Parents may view all scoring and comments at any time through the Canvas site.
Textbook/Materials: Students must purchase or rent the textbook Biology (2010 edition with baby alligator cover) by Stephen Nowicki, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Holt McDougal (ISBN# 9780547219479) An e-book version is also available (ISBN# 9780547221069). Core textbook readings are supplemented by the instructor with updated information drawn from sources such as peer-reviewed science journals, popular science publications, and podcasts.
Lab/Supply Fee: A class fee of $130 is due payable to the instructor on the first day of class.
Supplies/Equipment: Students will need access to a computer/internet, compound microscope with 400X magnification and cool lighting, splash goggles, water-resistant/acid-resistant lab apron, kitchen or postal scale, 3-ring binder, approximately 400- 3"x5" index cards; and plain, lined, and graph paper. Some of these supplies are used at home. Weekly "Read Me First" web pages and sometimes additional class announcements on Canvas tell students what items to bring to class.
Credit: Homeschool families may wish to count this course as a full credit in Lab Science for purposes of a high school transcript.