The primary purpose of the science program at Garces Memorial High School is to foster the intellectual growth of the students through an academically challenging curriculum with a moral scientific approach. An understanding of science, its purposes, principals, concepts and methods must be an essential part of the science education of our students. In order to live in a world of science and technology, a student must attain a degree of scientific literacy. Consequently, each portion of the scientific program has a specific role to play appropriate to the academic level of instruction and related to other subjects in the curriculum. The Science Department provides students with the necessary course-work for admittance to colleges and/or universities. Upper division AP and Honors classes provide a background for students who plan to pursue science related fields. Classes are also provided for students who plan to pursue other fields of interest. The Physics First philosophy is designed to teach students about science in a logical manner in which the transitions between courses are logical and smooth, with each course building on the knowledge gained in the previous course. The developmental progression of learning is from concrete to abstract. For this reason, Newtonian physics should be first. It is by far, the most concrete of the sciences.
The goal of the science department is to expose the student to the natural world as well as practice analytical thinking and scientific objectivity through the use of the scientific method.
Abilities Necessary to Do Scientific Inquiry
Identify Questions and Concepts that Guide Scientific Investigations.
Students should formulate a testable hypothesis and demonstrate the logical connections between the scientific concepts guiding a hypothesis and the design of an experiment. They should demonstrate appropriate procedures, a knowledge base, and conceptual understanding of scientific investigations.
Design and Conduct Scientific Investigations.
Designing and conducting a scientific investigation requires introduction to the major concepts in the area being investigated, proper equipment, safety precautions, assistance with methodological problems, recommendations for use of technologies, clarification of ideas that guide the inquiry, and scientific knowledge obtained from sources other than the actual investigation. The investigation may also require student clarification of the question, method, controls, and variables; student organization and display of data; student revision of methods and explanations; and a public presentation of the results with a critical response from peers. Regardless of the scientific investigation performed, students must use evidence, apply logic, and construct an argument for their proposed explanations.
Use Technology and Mathematics to Improve Investigations and Communications.
A variety of technologies, such as hand tools, measuring instruments, and calculators, should be an integral component of scientific investigations. The use of computers for the collection, analysis, and display of data is also a part of this standard. Mathematics plays an essential role in all aspects of an inquiry. For example, measurement is used for posing questions, formulas are used for developing explanations, and charts and graphs are used for communicating results.
Formulate and Revise Scientific Explanations and Models Using Logic and Evidence.
Student inquiries should culminate in formulating an explanation or model. Models should be physical, conceptual, and mathematical. In the process of answering the questions, the students should engage in discussions and arguments that result in the revision of their explanations. These discussions should be based on scientific knowledge, the use of logic, and evidence from their investigation.
Recognize and Analyze Alternative Explanations and Models.
This aspect of the standard emphasizes the critical abilities of analyzing an argument by reviewing current scientific understanding, weighing the evidence, and examining the logic so as to decide which explanations and models are best. In other words, although there may be several plausible explanations, they do not all have equal weight. Students should be able to use scientific criteria to find the preferred explanations.
Communicate and Defend a Scientific Argument.
Students in school science programs should develop the abilities associated with accurate and effective communication. These include writing and following procedures, expressing concepts, reviewing information, summarizing data, using language appropriately, developing diagrams and charts, explaining statistical analysis, speaking clearly and logically, constructing a reasoned argument, and responding appropriately to critical comments.