Science Department Curriculum Philosophy

The Science Department of Msgr. McClancy High School believes that the human species is an evolving organism capable of developing himself and society through discovering and accurately perceiving the physical and biological environment in a search for truth.

Our curriculum strives to develop scientific literacy, the ability to function in an environment where logic, reasoning, and critical thinking are used routinely, where the idea that actions and events may affect one’s future is viable. Oriented to meet national, state and local norms of academic expectation our traditional curriculum emphasize information and terminology supplemented with laboratory explorations and demonstrations. The task of integrating specialized information in each science area into an education which prepares students to improve their lives and cope with an increasingly technological world is effected through the enthusiasm and training of the classroom teacher. In general, the learning experiences will focus on the following abilities:

  1. To distinguish between evidence and opinion;
  2. To recognize the limitations and usefulness of science and technology in advancing human welfare;
  3. To use concepts, skills, and values in making everyday decisions;
  4. To distinguish between facts and theory; and
  5. To recognize the human aspect of science, including the tentativeness of its theories.
  6. To emphasize that faith and reason, therefore the Catholic faith and science, cannot oppose each other since God is the essence of both faith and reason. (Encyclical Letter, Fides et Ratio)

To fulfill the learning needs of a student population which evidences a wide spectrum of achievement, individuals are filtered into courses which seek to upgrade their environment in information and potential expression. Two tracks are available. The average track engages the student with standard science curricula which can be achieved with a nominal expenditure of effort. The honor’s track is offered to those whose enthusiasm and attainment demonstrate science as an academic area of intensive interest. An annual Science Symposium provides an attainment outlet for these students. All students are encouraged to participate in science activities beyond the classroom experience.

Instructors are urged to give students an awareness of the nature and scope of a variety of science and technology related careers. Endorsement is urged for the incorporation of the resolution of current societal problems. Each course should include skills that enhance creative performances that enable the student to:

  1. Address novel situations
  2. Feel comfortable with ambiguity, incompleteness and the tentativeness of knowledge
  3. Develop imagery
  4. Separate promising from unpromising alternatives
  5. Communicate adequately

Science Skills To Be Developed Within Courses

A.    ACQUISITIVE SKILLS

  1. Listening  – being attentive, alert, questioning
  2. Observing  – being accurate, alert, systematic
  3. Searching   –  locating sources, using several sources, being self-reliant, acquiring library skills.
  4. Inquiring – asking, interviewing, corresponding
  5. Investigating  –  reading background information, formulating hypotheses
  6. Gathering data – tabulating, organizing, classifying, recording
  7. Research  –  locating a problem, learning the background, setting up experiments, analyzing data, drawing conclusions.

B.     ORGANIZATION SKILLS

  1. Recording  –  tabulating, charting, working systematically, working regularly, recording completely
  2. Comparing – noticing how things are alike, looking for similarities, noticing identical features
  3. Contrasting   –  noticing how things differ, looking for dissimilarities, noticing, unlike features.
  4. Classifying   –   putting things into groups and subgroups, identifying categories, deciding between alternatives.
  5. Organizing   –   putting items into order, establishing a system, filing, labeling, arranging.
  6. Outlining  –  employing major headings and subheadings, using a sequential, logical organization
  7. Reviewing  –   picking out important items, memorizing, associating
  8. Evaluating  –  recognizing good and poor features, knowing how to improve

C.    CREATIVE SKILLS

  1. Planning ahead  –  seeing possible results and probable modes of approach, setting up a hypothesis
  2. Designing  –  a new problem, new approach, device, system
  3. Inventing  –  creating a method, device, technique
  4. Synthesizing   –   putting familiar things together in a new arrangement, hybridizing, drawing together.

D.    MANIPULATIVE SKILLS

  1. Using an instrument – knowing its parts, how it works, how to adjust it, its limitations
  2. Caring for the instrument   –  knowing how to store it, using settings, keeping it clean, proper handling, safe transport.
  3. Demonstration  –  setting up apparatus, making it work, describing parts and function, illustrating science principles
  4. Experimentation   –  recognizing a problem, planning a procedure, collecting data, drawing conclusions.
  5. Repair   –  repairing and maintaining equipment, instruments, etc.
  6. Calibration – learning the basic information about calibration, calibrating an instrument.

E.    COMMUNICATIVE SKILLS

  1. Asking questions – learning to formulate good questions, to be selective in asking, to attempt to discover one’s own answers.
  2. Discussion  –  learning to contribute ideas, listening to ideas of others, keeping on the topic, arriving at conclusions
  3. Explaining  –  describing clearly to others, clarifying major points, being willing to repeat
  4. Reporting   –   orally describing in capsule form the significant events in a scientific happening.
  5. Writing  –  composing several integrated paragraphs on a topic
  6. Criticism   –   constructively evaluating a scientific procedure or conclusion.
  7. Graphing   –   constructing a graph showing distribution, being able to interpret a graph.

Courses

Grade 9

  • Biology
  • Honors Biology

Grade 10

  • Honors Chemistry
  • Earth Science

Grade 11

  • Chemistry
  • Honors Physics
  • Forensic Science (available for grade 12)

Grade 12

  • A.P. Advanced Biology
  • Physics