Biology is the pursuit of learning about living things and how they interact in our world. Students will learn how their lives relate to the study of biology, and how biologists approach the study of living organisms. The topics will be widespread, but always connected by a theme: cell structure, energy in living things, genetics, evolution, ecology, and human impact on the environment.
Higher Level International Baccalaureate Biology is a three semester course of study which utilizes structured labs, student research, and experimental design projects in conjunction with teacher led instruction to cover the following topics: biochemistry, cell structure and function, genetic patterns of inheritance, plant form and function, evolution, ecology, animal physiology, and the international nature of science. Students will sit for the Higher Level IB Biology exam in the spring of their senior year. Students should have taken and passed both biology and chemistry courses prior to enrolling in IB Biology, HL
AP Biology is designed to be a university level introductory biology class for future science majors as developed and described by the College Board. It is a course recommended for students interested in future university studies in the life sciences, medicine, ecology, cellular biology, microbiology, biological engineering, and scientific research. Objectives for this course cover three general areas of study in the biological sciences:
Molecules and cells;
Heredity and evolution;
Organisms and populations
The two main goals of AP Biology are to help students develop a conceptual framework for understanding concepts of modern biology, and an appreciation of science as a process. The course will provide personal experience in scientific inquiry; promote recognition of unifying themes that integrate the major topics of biology; and apply biological knowledge and critical thinking to environmental and social concerns. Students receiving a score of 3 or better on the AP Biology exam in May are rated as “qualified”. Students in AP Biology should expect to spend a minimum of four hours per week in individual study outside the classroom, and completion of at least one research project involving “experience in the field”. Successful students in this challenging class tend to be highly self motivated, and have a strong work ethic. Advanced Placement courses promote the development of those characteristics in West Ottawa’s college-bound students.
This course will prepare the science major for college as well as prepare students for technical training and the local job market. The traditional topics of Chemistry will be taught within the context of their relationship to and the solving of real life problems. Chemistry will be taught in relationship to the following: our water supply, air and climate, conservation of our chemical resources, petroleum, and nuclear chemistry.
AP Chemistry is designed to be the equivalent of a college freshman general chemistry course. Major topics include: bonding; states of matter; equilibrium; reaction kinetics; thermo chemistry; electrochemistry; descriptive chemistry; nuclear chemistry; organic nomenclature; and stoichiometry. Developing students’ ability to think clearly and to express their ideas orally and in writing, with clarity and logic, are additional goals of the class. Students are required to maintain a laboratory notebook that is a written record of their laboratory experiences. This course may enable some students to undertake, as college freshmen, second year work in the chemistry sequence at their institution or to register in courses in other fields where general chemistry is a prerequisite. For other students, this course may fulfill the laboratory science requirement and free time for other courses. Students must receive a score of 3 or better on the AP Chemistry Examination in May to be rated as “qualified”. Students in AP Chemistry should expect to spend a minimum or 5 hours per week in individual study outside of the classroom. Successful students in this challenging class tend to be highly self-motivated and have a strong work ethic.
Higher Level International Baccalaureate Chemistry is a rigorous three semester course of study which utilizes structured labs, student research, and experimental design projects in conjunction with teacher led instruction to cover the following topics: quantitative chemistry, atomic structure, periodicity, bonding, thermo chemistry, kinetics, equilibrium, acids/bases, oxidation/reduction, organic chemistry, human biochemistry, environmental chemistry and the international nature of science. Students will sit for the Higher Level IB Chemistry exam in the spring of their senior year. Students should have taken and passed both introductory biology and chemistry courses prior to enrolling in IB Chemistry, Higher Level.
This course is intended to give the student an understanding of space and the objects found there, as well as a basic astronomical background for the college-bound student. Because many of the topics are new to the students or are examined in greater detail than before, much individual attention and instruction is given. Astronomical topics covered include space in general, the solar system, stars, galaxies, and cosmology.
Botany is designed for students interested in green plants. Students will study classification, anatomy and physiology, and environmental influences on plants. Additionally, instruction and laboratory investigations in hormonal influences and growth regulation will be offered. The opportunity to experience plant propagation and growth, including tissue culture techniques, will be provided. Labs will be an integral part of this class.
Students will gain an understanding of the materials that make up the earth and the process that changes the earth. Specific topics will include topography, minerals, igneous processes, sedimentary processes, metamorphic processes, rock and mineral identification, groundwater, and Michigan geology. Students can earn college credit with successful passing of the exam. This credit is for Grand Valley State University and other colleges upon acceptance and attendance of those colleges through an articulation agreement that is with GVSU and 13 other colleges and universities. See GVSU articulation letter here.
Zoology is the sub discipline of Biology, the study of life. It focuses on all aspects of the animal kingdom, from physiology and behavior, to evolution and diversity. Eight invertebrate phyla and the large subphylum Vertebrata (animals with backbones) are examined during this course, from the simplest sponges to complex mammals. Lecture, labs, homework, tests, quizzes, and projects, both group and individual, are a part of the course.
This course should provide students with an appropriate, informed, personal perspective on the interrelationship between eco systems and society. IB Environmental Systems is intended to provide students with a coherent perspective on the environment; one that is essentially scientific and that enables them to adopt an informed and responsible stance on a wide range of key environmental issues. A strong laboratory and field investigation component will support a systems approach as students examine major ecosystems, global cycles, human population and its impact on Earth’s carrying capacity, natural resource exploitation and the importance of preserving natural diversity. This course requires a variety of IB assessments and students in the course will be required to complete the Group 4 Project.
The IB curriculum requires that students study four broad topics:
I. Systems and models
II. The ecosystem
III. Global cycles and physical systems
IV. Human population and carrying capacity
Students are further required to complete additional independent study in option A listed below, plus one other option of their choice, each with duration of 15 hours outside class time.
A. Analyzing ecosystems
B. Impacts of resource exploitation
C. Conservation and biodiversity
D. Pollution management
Assessment in this course includes but is not limited to:
A. Three written examination papers externally assessed
B. Laboratory investigations internally assessed by the teacher and externally moderated by the IBO
C. IB Group 4 projects (interdisciplinary), two to be completed each semester.
D. Weekly “Environmental Issues in the Media” Reports.
E. Standard assessments based upon lecture, lab activities, and reading assignment
This course will cover major environmental topics, such as acid rain, loss of biodiversity, and global warming. Topics covered will include, but are not limited to the following: interdependence of earth’s systems; cycling of matter; the solid earth; the atmosphere; the biosphere; human population; renewable and non-renewable resources; environmental quality; global changes and their consequences; and environment and society.
Conceptual Physics is intended to introduce students to many of the main principles of physics. The course utilizes a less mathematical approach to explain how everyday events occur. The class is highly lab oriented. Students will be required to use basic algebra and geometry, perform experiments, interpret data, and use higher order thinking skills to apply principles to everyday phenomena. Topics covered include: measurement, thermal energy, sounds and waves, light (refraction/reflection), electrostatics, magnetism, electric circuits, kinematics (motion in 1-D), dynamics, forces, vectors, 2-D motion, circular/rotational motion, work and momentum.
Students planning to take Physics should have a solid background and interest in science and mathematics. For the student who does not plan to take senior math, Physics provides the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of trigonometry and applied math. Students who intend further study in such areas as medicine, science, engineering, mathematics, electronics, optics, dentistry, and computer science should definitely consider taking Physics or Advanced Placement Physics. Topics covered include: measurement, thermal energy, sounds and waves, light (refraction/reflection), electrostatics and magnetism, electric circuits, kinematics (motion in 1-D), dynamics, forces, vectors, 2-D motion, circular/rotational motion, work, and momentum.
This course is the equivalent of a college freshman calculus basedl physics course. Major topics include Newtonian mechanics; electricity and magnetism; waves and optics; and nuclear physics. Course goals include: developing a disciplined approach to problem solving; using qualitative and quantitative reasoning and experimental investigation; and building an understanding of theories, techniques, concepts, and generalizing principles. Problem solving will use calculus on occasion, which is why it is imperative that students have taken Pre-calculus before taking this class.
This course may enable some students to undertake, as college freshmen, advanced work in the physics sequence at their institution or to register in courses in other fields where general physics is a prerequisite. For other students, this course may fulfill the laboratory science requirement and free time for other courses. Students must receive a score of 3 or better on the AP Physics C Mechanics and/or AP Physics C Electricity & Magnetism Examination in May to be rated as “qualified”. AP Physics may be taken after the completion of high school physics or as a student’s first physics course. Students in AP Physics should expect to spend a minimum of 5 hours per week in individual study outside the classroom. Successful students in this challenging class tend to be highly self-motivated and have a strong work ethic.
Standard level IB physics is a rigorous two semester course of study with the following goals: developing a disciplined approach to problem solving; using qualitative and quantitative reasoning and experimental investigation; and building an understanding of theories, techniques, concepts, and generalizing principles. The class does this by utilizing structured labs, individual student research and experimental design projects to cover various topics in classical physics. This course is the equivalent of a college freshman algebra/trigonometry based, general physics course. Major topics include Newtonian mechanics; fluid mechanics and thermal physics; electricity and magnetism; waves and optics; and nuclear physics. Students will sit for the IB exam in the spring of they year they take IB Physics.
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