Academics
A Notre Dame Education

Science

Philosophy

The Science Department of Notre Dame High School strives for excellence in science education through investigative research, laboratory activities, and collaborative dialogue among peers. Upon completion of a minimum of three years of science, students demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental concepts of the diverse fields of study within the physical and life sciences.

Through science education, Notre Dame provides each student with a rich academic background, an appropriate sense of self, an opportunity for growth, and a respect for the spiritual dignity of all persons. Students are equipped with the skills necessary to succeed in higher education and future careers in science.  All aspects of planning are aligned with the Mission Statement of Notre Dame High School.  Course content is planned using both State and National Education standards.

Courses Offered

List of 15 items.

  • Biology

    This course is a study of life and its diversity. It is focused on the following topics: cell structure, homeostasis, reproduction, metabolism, genetics, ecology, body systems, and personal health, which includes drug and alcohol education and sex education. These topics are explored using the text, laboratory investigation, and current technology.

    Prerequisites/Comments - Required course for all freshmen not taking Honors Biology. (UC “d” Science) 
  • Honors Biology

    The topics covered are the same as Biology. Honors Biology students are expected to work at an accelerated pace and cover material in greater detail. There is a high expectation for self-directed study and advanced reading comprehension. Dissection is required. As a 9th grade, science foundation class, this course does not receive UC Honors designation. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - This course is offered to a selected number of freshmen chosen by the Admissions Committee based on HSPT scores (math and reading), grades, and teacher recommendations. (UC “d” Science) 
  • AP Biology

    AP Biology is an introductory college-level biology course. Students cultivate their understanding of biology through inquiry-based investigations as they explore topics such as evolution, energetics, information storage and transfer, and system interactions. Dissection and research are required. Students are expected to be self-directed and capable of independent work. AP exam fee is required for this course.

    Prerequisites/Comments - A- or above in two of four semesters of Biology and Chemistry. The remaining two grades must not be below a B- (C+ if Honors). AND B- or above in Sophomore math course (C+ if honors). Students must complete the previous year's math class with an A- or above (AP or Honors, B- or above). (UC “d” Science - UC AP/Honors) 
  • Chemistry

    Chemistry is the study of the composition, structure, properties, and reactions of matter. Students will learn about the laws which govern the interactions of matter on the atomic and molecular levels. Coursework includes laboratory investigation and requires a working knowledge of basic high school mathematics. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - Requires a passing grade in Biology. This is a required course for all sophomores not taking Honors Chemistry. (UC “d” Science) 
  • Honors Chemistry

    This Honors level course moves at an accelerated pace and includes more areas of study and greater detail than the college prep chemistry course. Topics include atoms, molecules, ions, stoichiometry, the properties of solutions, acids and bases, and organic chemistry, among others. The student will use scientific inquiry to develop an understanding of complex chemical concepts through laboratory activities, the textbook, interactive videos, problem-solving, discussion forums, and research.

    Prerequisites/Comments - Students with a B- or above in Honors Biology or A or above in Biology (both semesters) may take this course. Students with a B+ in Biology, both semesters, will be considered with department chair approval. Students must complete their freshman math class with a B+ or above (Honors, B- or above). (UC “d” Lab Science - UC Honors) 
  • AP Chemistry

    This challenging course is designed to prepare students for the AP chemistry exam. Students will extend concepts from Honors Chemistry, undertaking demanding investigations and modeling molecular behavior. Topics mirror those of a college first-year chemistry course. Students are expected to be self-directed and capable of independent work. AP exam fee is required for this course.

    Prerequisites/Comments - Students with an A- or above in Honors Chemistry (both semesters) may take this course. Students with a B+ in Honors Chemistry or a 95% or above in Chemistry, both semesters, will be considered with department chair approval. (UC “d” Science - UC AP/Honors) 
  • Physics

    This Algebra-based course is designed to introduce students to mechanics, sound, light, and electricity. Coursework includes lab investigations, data analysis, report writing and construction of a roller coaster outside of class time. Students must have strong Algebra I skills and are expected to be self-directed and capable of independent work. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - Cumulative GPA of 3.20 or above plus C- or above in Biology and Chemistry. Completed Algebra II with semester grades of B- or completed Honors Geometry with an A- and department chair permission. Seniors below the required GPA who meet all other prerequisites must obtain special permission from the department chair for consideration based on their overall improvement in junior year grades, GPA and math achievement. (UC “d” Science) 
  • AP Physics 1

    This is designed to be the equivalent of a first-semester college course in algebra-based physics. The course covers Newtonian mechanics (including rotational dynamics and angular momentum); work, energy, and power; and mechanical waves and sound.  It will also introduce electric circuits. Students will be expected to construct a catapult and roller coaster outside of class time.  Students may take this course as their first physics course or may take it as a follow-up course to college prep physics. Students must have strong Algebra skills and are expected to be self-directed and capable of independent work. AP exam fee for this course. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - Cumulative GPA of 3.8 plus grades of B- (C+ if Honors) or above in all previous Science courses. Completion of Algebra II with an A- or completion of Honors Algebra II/Trig or higher-level Honors/AP math class a B-.  Students who have completed CP Physics with a grade of B- or above are also eligible.  (UC “d” Science - UC AP/Honors) 
  • AP Physics 2

    This course is designed to be the equivalent of a second-semester college course in algebra-based physics. The course covers fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, optics, and atomic and nuclear physics. Students are expected to be self-directed and capable of independent work. AP exam fee is required for this course. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - Must have a C- or above in AP Physics 1. (UC “d” Science - UC AP/Honors) 
  • Sports Medicine

    This course provides an introduction to the field of sports medicine. Emphasis is on the study of human anatomy and physiology.  Components include the prevention, recognition, and treatment of sports injuries. Students will become First Aid and CPR  certified. Dissection is required. Athletic training hours outside of class are also required. Note: This course is not approved by NCAA as a core course for NCAA Eligibility Criteria as a core science course.

    Prerequisites/Comments - This course is open to 11th or 12th-grade students with passing grades in both biology and chemistry with an expressed interest in sports medicine. Requires written instructor approval. Students are required to complete 15 hours of athletic training activities per semester outside of class time. (UC “d” Science) 
  • Advanced Sports Medicine

    This course is a 2nd-year course in which students will enhance their knowledge base through learning the concepts of mechanics as they apply to human movement, particularly those pertaining to exercise, sport, and physical activity. The students will gain an understanding of the mechanical and anatomical principles that govern human motion and develop the ability to link the structure of the human body with its function from a mechanical perspective. Research and analysis will be carried out in multiple areas, including forces that act on the human body and the effects those forces produce. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - This course is open to 12th-grade students who have completed Sports Medicine, Physics, or Human Anatomy/Physiology with a grade of B or higher, and completed Algebra II or higher with a grade of B or higher. Concurrent enrollment or prior completion of Pre-Calculus is recommended.  (UC “d” Science) 
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology

    This course is the study of the structures and functions of the human body. Content material is organized around body systems and focuses on how each system works together to promote homeostasis. Dissection is required.

    Prerequisites/Comments - An elective for juniors and seniors who have taken Biology and Chemistry with grades of C- or higher. (UC “d” Science) 
  • AP Environmental Science

    The AP Environmental Science course is the equivalent of a one-semester, introductory college course in environmental science, through which students engage with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world. The course requires that students identify and analyze natural and human-made environmental problems, evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and examine alternative solutions for resolving or preventing them. Environmental science is interdisciplinary, embracing topics from geology, biology, environmental studies,  environmental science, chemistry, and geography. Major course topics include Earth Systems and Resources, The Living World,  Population, Land and Water Use, Energy Resources and Consumption, Pollution, and Global Change. Students are expected to read the textbook and prepare themselves to pass the AP Exam. AP exam fee is required for this course.

    Prerequisites/Comments - A- or above in two of four semesters of Biology and Chemistry. The remaining two grades must not be below a B- (C+, if Honors). AND, B- or above in Sophomore math course (C+, if honors). This course is open to junior and senior students. If scheduling conflicts arise, priority will be given to seniors. (UC “d” Science-UC AP/Honors) 
  • Modern Astronomy & Cosmology

    Astronomy is the scientific study of the contents of the entire Universe. This course will provide students with a study of the universe and the conditions, properties, and motions of bodies in space. This course introduces students to the composition and structure of the universe. The content includes, but is not limited to, historical astronomy, astronomical instruments, the celestial sphere, the solar system, the earth as a system in space, the earth/moon system, the sun as a star, galaxies, intergalactic space,  expansion of the universe, the Big Bang theory, as well as recent discoveries about supermassive black holes, gravitational waves,  dark matter, and dark energy. A detailed study of stars: their distances, masses, luminosities, temperatures, and interrelations between these parameters.

    Prerequisites/Comments - This course is open to junior and senior students who have completed all four semesters of Biology and Chemistry with a grade of C- or above. Students must also have an A- in previous college prep math class or a B- in previous honors/AP math class. Enrollment may be limited. If scheduling conflicts or enrollment issues arise, priority will be given to seniors. Department chair permission required. (UC “d” Science-Earth/Space) 
  • Forensic Science

    This course introduces students to the investigative process used by crime scene investigators, forensic pathologists, and medical examiners. Topics covered include DNA analysis, trace evidence, blood spatter, toxicology, psychological profiling, ballistics, and lab techniques. A significant portion of the course will involve hands-on activities.

    Prerequisites/Comments - This course is only available to seniors who have completed their Junior year Science course with a C- or above. (UC “d” Science) 

Faculty

List of 12 items.

  • Shannon Genova '92

    Science Department Chair
    Biology
    (818) 933-3685
  • Ruslan Babayan

    AP Calculus AB
    Modern Astronomy
    Physics
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3411
  • Erin Branconier

    Biology Honors
    Biology
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3308
  • Michael Curiel '90

    Chemistry
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3309
  • John Hirn

    Biology
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3310
  • Joel Monroy

    Science Teacher
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3311

    monroy@ndhs.org
  • Mandy Savage

    Human Anatomy and Physics
    Forensic Science
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3306
  • Kelsey Tayne

    Science Teacher
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3441

    tayne@ndhs.org
  • Matt Toner

    AP Physics 1
    AP Physics 2
    Physics
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3312
  • Elliot Walker

    Science Teacher
    (818) 933-3682

    walker@ndhs.org
  • Melanie Walters

    Sports Medicine
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3405
  • Kameron Ward '07

    Human Anatomy and Physics
    Biology
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3429