College Prep’s curriculum provides a firm foundation and an understanding of the interrelationships among the different branches of science.
Science courses help students think logically and creatively, strengthen problem-solving and observational skills, and hone analytical reasoning. The program emphasizes physical and biological environments and the specific processes of and approaches to the different scientific subject areas. All core courses require extensive laboratory work. Students also become adept in the use of technology for data collection and analysis.

Students are required to take three years of science classes, though many take more. Ninth graders take Physics, tenth graders take Chemistry, and eleventh graders take Biology. Juniors and seniors may continue their studies by taking AP Chemistry, AP Environmental Science, AP Physics and other science electives such as Applied Studies: STEM Research Program, Astronomy, Forensic Science, Issues in Science,
and Neuroscience.

List of 3 items.

  • Physics (9th grade)

    Why does a star shine? How does a television work? How do we generate electricity? This course focuses on how the principles of physics work in the real world. Students learn to design experiments in order to get meaningful results that further their knowledge. Hands-on challenges give students experience in applying their understanding and improving their iterative designs. Classes are a mix of lecture, discussion, demonstration, small-group work, and laboratory exploration. Physics lays the foundation for students to more thoroughly understand the concepts in the chemistry and biology classes that follow, and it prepares them to take AP Physics in the future.
  • Chemistry (10th grade)

    How we experience everything in the world—what we see, feel, and smell—is affected by microscopic particles and their interactions. In this course, students approach and solve new problems using the fundamentals of chemistry and rely on the careful and insightful application of logic to reveal why material behaves as it does. The course covers a wide range of topics, including:
    • Thermodynamics, to explain why some reactions happen while others do not
    • Kinetics, to understand the role of catalysts to speed important reactions
    • Quantum theory, to discover the special properties of water necessary for life
    • Organic chemistry, to study the biological molecules that are crucial for humans to exist 
    Chemistry fosters a sense of excitement for discovery, which is supported by frequent laboratory experiments, activities, and demonstrations. Students wishing to dive more deeply into chemistry have the opportunity to take AP Chemistry in their junior or senior year.
  • Biology (11th grade)

    Biology is an introductory survey of the biological sciences beginning with the biochemical, genetic, and evolutionary tools used by all living organisms. Complex systems are examined including the biosphere and the human body with an emphasis on research, case studies, collaborative lab work, and presentations. The core laboratory component is experimental design and methods of data analysis. Labs are constructed as experimental activities, observations, or mini-lab demonstrations. Students use computers and scientific software for data collection and analysis, write lab reports, share oral presentations, and complete online projects.

the science program

The labs give an opportunity to apply the skills and information that we have learned in class to solve a research question with real scientific implications.”

science electives

List of 10 items.

  • AP Chemistry

    The equivalent of a first-year college general chemistry course, AP Chemistry goes into greater depth and detail on the material covered in tenth-grade chemistry. The course emphasizes lab work and quantitative and qualitative applications. Topics include the structure and properties of matter, chemical reactions, thermodynamics, and equilibrium. Other disciplines—particularly biology and biochemistry—are integrated into class topics. Cooperative work skills, a willingness to ask questions, and a deep well of curiosity are valuable assets for every AP Chemistry student. This class prepares students for the AP Chemistry Exam.
  • AP Environmental Science

    This course provides students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world, to identify and analyze environmental problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving or preventing such problems. Environmental science incorporates elements of biology, chemistry, sociology, geology, and design. It focuses on how the ecological relationships between organisms and their environments are influenced by environmental change. Topics include the impact of governmental policies on human population growth, industrial and corporate agriculture’s effects on human and environmental health, and the latest innovations in city design and sustainability. Highlights include designing experiments at Lake Temescal, testing soil quality from students’ own neighborhoods, and meeting guest speakers from the water policy, fisheries, and energy fields. This class prepares students for the AP Environmental Science Exam.
  • AP Physics

    Which will win in a downhill race: a bowling ball or a doughnut? Why is a car the safest place to be in a lightning strike? How fast do you need to go to escape from the Earth’s gravitational pull? In this course, students take observations about the world and use them to build abstract models that allow them to predict sophisticated behavior. The concepts of the derivative and the anti-derivative are used from the beginning of the course. AP Physics focuses on classical mechanics and electromagnetism in preparation for the AP Physics C Exam.
  • Applied Studies: STEM Research Program

    College Prep’s STEM program is for students interested in getting hands-on research experience in a broad array of STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). The course begins with a spring semester seminar (STEM Research Part I) that provides foundational scientific knowledge and analytical skills. During discussion-based classes, students learn how to read primary scientific literature, analyze and critique raw data, and work as a productive member of a research team. The core of the program takes place during the summer when students are matched with research mentors for full-time, six-week internships. In the fall, the program concludes with a semester-long seminar (STEM Research Part II) in which students prepare a poster about their summer research and deliver a formal scientific talk. Most placements are in labs at UCSF or UC Berkeley.
  • Astronomy

    This mind-expanding course investigates the universe, starting with the solar system (including planets, comets, and asteroids), followed by stars (birth, evolution, and death), and ending with cosmology (how the universe was created, its current state, and ultimately how it will end). Topics include supernovas, neutron stars, pulsars, and black holes (including what would happen if you fell into one). Einstein’s theories of relativity, essential for the conception of time and space, are covered in depth, which leads to a discussion of time travel and its paradoxes. Other highlights include space travel, life on other planets, and dark matter. 
  • Developmental Biology

    How does a single cell transform itself into a multicellular, complex, functional adult organism? This course covers the major events of animal development, focusing on the genetic, cellular, and biochemical processes that drive these events, including the regulation of gene expression, cell-cell signaling, and cell shape change. The course also covers common techniques and strategies used in developmental biology research. Students learn to design and interpret experiments to answer questions about development, and discuss and analyze primary articles from the literature. Finally, developmental biology is connected to related fields like evolutionary biology and human disease.
  • Forensic Science

    Forensic science is the application of scientific principles and techniques to matters of criminal justice, especially relating to the collection, examination, and analysis of physical evidence. This course teaches about the tools, techniques, and protocols used in investigating crime scenes. Topics include the history of forensics, crime scene analysis, physical and chemical analysis of evidence, toxicology, blood and DNA, entomology and time of death, fingerprinting, blood spatter, and ballistics. There is detailed study of the protocols for collecting evidence to eliminate contamination and misinterpretation and how forensic scientists evaluate evidence to avoid bias. The course includes hands-on labs, simulations, case studies, and a mock crime scene to develop practical and theoretical aspects of forensics. 
  • Issues in Science

    How should we decide who will get organ transplants when the need exceeds supply? Is it ethical for physicians to provide lethal doses of medication to the terminally ill? Should parents be allowed to withhold medical treatment from children on religious grounds? These are the sorts of questions addressed in this discussion-based seminar that focuses on scientifically anchored ethical dilemmas. Students use the formal principles of bioethics to refine arguments. The course draws upon a wide variety of academic and popular media sources to examine how scientific research is changing our understanding of the world, and how society, in turn, is being transformed by scientific tools.
  • Molecular Genetics

    This course examines the biochemistry of gene expression and how that knowledge can be applied to technologies such as vaccine design, genome editing, and personalized medicine. Students dive into the molecular structure of DNA, the mechanics of DNA replication, and the regulation of protein synthesis. Some of the more recent discoveries in molecular genetics are introduced, including non-coding DNA, RNA interference, and epigenetics. On lab days, students learn how to use several techniques needed to examine how information moves from the nucleic acid-based genome to the amino acid-based proteome that conducts the cellular work of the body.
  • Neuroscience

    This course investigates the brain. How did it develop? What are the different parts of the brain and what are their functions? How does it actually work? How do pharmaceuticals affect it? How is it involved in vision, hearing, body sense, and motion? The class explores how the brain affects human behavior, such as sleep, sexuality, emotions, learning, memory, and human communication. Students read case histories of patients to learn about neurological disorders, their causes, and how they affect behavior and consider the philosophical aspects of the mind—the seat of consciousness, thought, and feeling.
It gives me pleasure that these extraordinarily smart kids—who are going to be decision makers, movers and shakers, and perhaps go into science and medicine—will have thought deeply about these topics as young adults and will hopefully continue to be informed thinkers throughout their lives and careers.

List of 8 members.

  • Photo of Katy Yan

    Katy Yan 

    Science Teacher
    510-652-0111 x223
  • Photo of Eva Campodonico

    Eva Campodonico 95

    Science Teacher
  • Photo of Cameron Exner

    Cameron Exner 

    Science Teacher
    510.652.0111 x223
  • Photo of Mike Lane

    Mike Lane 

    Science Teacher
    510-652-0111 x223
  • Photo of Jeff Sensabaugh

    Jeff Sensabaugh 87

    Science Teacher
    510-652-0111 x223
  • Photo of Carol Stanton

    Carol Stanton 

    Science Teacher
    510-652-0111 x223
  • Photo of Jennifer Tetler

    Jennifer Tetler 

    Science Teacher
    510-652-0111 x223
  • Photo of Paul Wrona

    Paul Wrona 

    Science Teacher
    510-652-0111 x223

mens conscia recti

a mind aware of what is right