Science

The science program encompasses a three-year, inquiry-based program designed to foster the spirit of curiosity and encourage the ongoing pursuit of scientific knowledge.
 
The goal of the course work is to develop a conceptual framework that students can use to investigate a variety of disciplines. The courses are integrated in that concepts and skills introduced in 9th grade Conceptual Physics are reinforced in 10th grade Chemistry and applied to biological systems in the 11th grade. The advanced electives present an opportunity for students to apply their fundamental knowledge of science to a particular area of interest. The ultimate goal is for students to possess sufficient knowledge and confidence to explore the ramifications of modern science in their lives.
 
The science program’s mission is to see each student develop the ability to:

  • Explore the process of science
  • Examine how models and theories are formed, communicated, tested and changed
  • Increase awareness of current areas of research and testing of theories
  • Be scientifically literate
  • Appreciate and understand the science in their everyday world
  • Apply their understanding of a set of basic scientific principles to new concepts
  • Build confidence in their ability to learn science and be willing to think about science on their own
  • Read newspaper or magazine articles involving science and be able to understand and willing to think about them
  • Differentiate between what makes intuitive sense and what really happens
  • Participate in scientific experimentation by doing hands-on learning activities, inquiry based experiments, and student-led demonstrations
  • Gain a deep understanding of concepts
  • Learn material in depth
  • Implement concepts rather than memorize content
Click on any course name below to learn more.

Science Core Courses

List of 3 frequently asked questions.

  • Conceptual Physics

    The Conceptual Physics course covers topics related to sound, light, collisions, projectiles, and electricity and magnetism. Lab work is the primary focus of instruction. Students use their results to develop mental models about how the world works. In addition to traditional problems, students are expected to write about physical concepts and apply what they have learned to real world situations. Students also learn how to evaluate the scientific claims of others. This course collaborates with the music department in studying sound and with the fine arts department in studying light and color.
  • Chemistry

    Prerequisite(s): Conceptual Physics

    Chemistry aims to develop students’ understanding of the particulate nature of matter, and of the changes in matter and energy that occur during chemical reactions. We will build on many of the skills (like making mental models) developed in Conceptual Physics. Topics that will be covered in this course include matter, atomic structure, the periodic table, chemical bonding, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, gases, thermochemistry, solids, liquids, solutions, acids and bases, electrochemistry, and organic chemistry.  Students interested in preparing for AP Chemistry will also study significant figures, additional periodic trends, percent composition, spontaneity, and weak acid/base models.
  • Biology

    Prerequisite(s): Chemistry

    Biology is a college preparatory lab course. It aims to develop students’ understanding of the fundamental characteristics of life at both the cellular and organismal levels. This course will build on students’ understanding of physics and chemistry as we explore the science of living things. Through an exploration of biochemistry, cells, and genetics, students learn how molecules and energy combine to form and direct all life. As the class studies evolution, students learn how the logical consequences of differential survival and inherited traits produce the vast diversity of species. Our in-depth study of anatomy and physiology guides students in learning how their own bodies work and in developing “body literacy” that will serve them throughout their lives. We conclude the year with the study of ecology, investigating the complexities of species interactions.

    This course has a heavy emphasis on student-led investigations, the process of science, and experiential learning. As this course builds on students’ prior science learning, there is an emphasis on continuity and the integration of key themes such as the relationship between structure and function and interdependence in nature.

Science Elective Courses

List of 9 frequently asked questions.

  • AP Biology

    Prerequisite(s): Algebra II, Biology, Chemistry and Department Approval
     
    The goal of the AP Biology course is to develop a broad understanding of living organisms and biological systems, and the skills and practices necessary to interpret biological data and evaluate evidence. It is divided into five units: Cellular Energetics, Cellular Communication & Information Transfer (includes physiology - nervous, endocrine, and immune systems), Genetics, Evolution, and System Interactions (includes ecology). This course is designed to be equivalent to a typical first-year college general biology course, and to prepare students for the AP Biology Exam. Thus, students will be expected to work independently outside of class-time, and significant amounts of homework will be assigned.

    AP Biology is a quantitative course. Although neither Statistics nor Pre-Calculus are co-requisite, students not concurrently enrolled in a one of these or a higher-level math class should anticipate some additional math work outside of class time. In May and June (after the AP exam) the class will work on fun biology-related topics outside the scope of the AP curriculum. This course requires a significant amount of laboratory work, and it may be necessary to schedule some after school laboratory sessions. 

    Please Note: AP courses often require considerably more time to prepare for than other courses. This course will require additional meeting times throughout the year.
  • AP Computer Science Principles

    Open to: 10, 11, 12
    Prerequisite(s): Algebra I

    Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles offers a multidisciplinary approach to teaching the underlying principles of computation. The course will introduce students to the creative aspects of programming, abstractions, algorithms, large data sets, the Internet, cybersecurity concerns, and computing impacts. AP Computer Science Principles will give students the opportunity to use technology to address real-world problems and build relevant solutions. Together, these aspects of the course make up a rigorous and rich curriculum that aims to broaden participation in computer science.

    This is an introductory course. Students do not need prior programming experience.
  • AP Computer Science A

    Open to: 10, 11, 12
    Prerequisite(s): Algebra I

    AP Computer Science is a college level course that teaches students how to program in the Java language, and students will be prepared to take the AP Computer Science in Java Exam in May. Topics include program design and implementation, algorithm analysis, standard data structures, and object-oriented programming design. Assignments will emphasize programming methodology with an emphasis on problem solving and algorithm development, with the assistance of the textbook and online resources.

    Students don't need prior knowledge of a computer programming language to do well in the class, especially if they have strong problem solving skills. However, many students elect to take AP Computer Science Principles first.

    Please Note: AP courses will require additional meeting times throughout the year.
  • AP Chemistry

    Prerequisite(s): Pre-Calculus (or concurrent enrollment in Pre-Calculus), Chemistry and Department Approval

    The goal of the AP Chemistry course is to develop an in-depth understanding of the relationship between submicroscopic atomic/molecular structure and the macroscopic (observable) properties of matter. It is divided into five units: atomic structure, properties of matter, transformations and thermodynamics, kinetics, and equilibrium. This course is designed to be equivalent to a typical first-year college general chemistry course, and to prepare students for the AP Chemistry Exam. Thus, students will be expected to work independently outside of class-time, and significant amounts of homework will be assigned.

    AP Chemistry is a heavily quantitative course. In May and June (after the AP exam) the class will work on one or more fun, chemistry-related topics outside the scope of the AP curriculum. This course requires a significant amount of laboratory work, and it may be necessary to schedule some after school laboratory sessions. 

    Please Note: AP courses often require considerably more time to prepare for than other courses. This course will require additional meeting times throughout the year.
  • Environmental Science and AP Environmental Science

    Prerequisite(s): Conceptual Physics, Chemistry and Biology

    Environmental Science is the study of the natural world and human interactions within it. The course is interdisciplinary, building on concepts in physics, chemistry, biology, and earth science. The general scope of the course is investigating how the earth works, how living things interact on earth, the impacts that humans have on their environment, and the choices available to humans today regarding how we will treat our environment in the future. Common topics include geology, ecology, oceanography, natural disasters, agriculture, endangered species and extinctions, renewable and non-renewable energy, global climate change, environmental laws and policy, environmental ethics, human population growth and resource use, and international environmental issues.

    The course is driven by long- and short-term projects such as ecological challenges like raising brine shrimp or gardening, engineering challenges like designing off-grid appliances, and debates on current environmental issues. Students are also expected to go out into the environment; there will be a number of field trips throughout the year.

    Please Note: Students may choose to take this course as an AP class. AP students should expect lengthier assignments and more work to be completed without supervision. Students should understand that AP courses often require considerably more time to prepare for than other courses.
  • AP Physics C: Mechanics

    Prerequisite(s): Conceptual Physics, AP Calculus, AB or BC (or concurrent enrollment in AP Calculus, AB or BC) and Department Approval

    This deep and narrow course in Newtonian Mechanics covers momentum, energy, projectile motion, rotation, oscillation, and gravitation. The course is focused on exploring natural physical phenomena and solving problems, especially those involving calculus. It is designed to contain the same course material as the typical calculus-based introductory physics course and laboratory program offered at many colleges and universities. Students examine many real world problems that would otherwise be too difficult to solve by other means. 

    Please Note: AP courses often require considerably more time to prepare for than other courses. This course will require additional meeting times throughout the year.
  • Advanced Biochemistry

    Prerequisite(s): Biology (or concurrent enrollment in Biology) and Chemistry (B- or higher)
     
    This is a laboratory-based course that will cover selected topics in advanced biochemistry to a greater depth than possible in the core chemistry and biology courses. Topics covered may include: organic chemistry, metabolism, microbiology, DNA structure and analysis, plasmids, PCR, protein structure and analysis, applied immunology, enzymology, classical genetics, and/or bioethics. Students should expect multiple long-term projects and extensive collaboration with lab partners, as well as daily documentation of laboratory procedures and results.

    This course be taken simultaneously with Biology. Concurrent enrollment in AP Biology and/or AP Chemistry is encouraged.
  • Robotics and Engineering

    Open to: 10, 11, 12
    Prerequisite(s): Algebra I

    Students will be introduced to robotics technologies like Mindstorms and VEX, as well as learning-by-inventing via projects such as building rubber-band cars and The Marshmallow Toothpick Challenge. The technologies that the course will explore include: robotics, 3D printing and cutting, soldering, prototyping/inventing, and e-textiles. All students will explore some robotics and engineering concepts, and students will eventually have the flexibility to emphasize one of them if they choose.

    Students don't need prior programming knowledge, although all students will be introduced to at least some programming. Those students with prior programming knowledge will also have the opportunity to do more extensive programming tasks.
  • World of Coding

    Open to: 9

    World of Coding is an introductory computer science course in which students explore the fundamentals of programming using CSS/HTML and JavaScript/GameLab. Students will investigate problem solving, wen development, animations and games, and physical computing. Students will complete multiple projects including a research paper on the societal implications of “big data” and and iterative design project in the EVERlab in conjunction with their Tanach I class.

    Please Note: This is an introductory course open to all ninth graders, which may be taken in lieu of Past in the Present. Students do not need prior programming experience. It can be followed by AP Computer Science A and/or Robotics & Engineering.

Science Faculty

Dr. Cecily Burrill
Dean of Math and Science
415.694.5772 x151
cburrill@jchsofthebay.org

Michael Fitch
Chemistry
415.694.5772 x123
mfitch@jchsofthebay.org

Marta Fuentes-Filp
Physics, Environmental Science
415.694.5772 x142
mfuentes@jchsofthebay.org

John Hagen
Computer Science
415.694.5772 x122
jhagen@jchsofthebay.org

Megan Noel
Physics, Biology
415.694.5772 x166
mnoel@jchsofthebay.org

Ray Louie
Computer Science
415.694.5772 x170
rlouie@jchsofthebay.org
Click here to see the complete Curriculum Map.
The Jewish Community High School of the Bay (JCHS) is a unique college preparatory high school committed to integrating deep learning, universal wisdom, and Jewish values. We empower each student to embrace her or his Jewish identity, generate empathy and compassion, delight in lifelong education, and improve the world.
Jewish Community High School of the Bay
1835 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
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Phone: 415.345.9777

JCHS is grateful for generous operational, programmatic, and financial support from: