Science

  • Overview

    Students at Wilson are encouraged to take four years of science and are provided with a wide range of options. The goal of the department is to help Wilson students understand what science is, what it can do, and how it will affect their lives. Wilson’s science department has been a strong focus of the school since it opened in 1957. Staff and students have changed, but quality remains a unifying theme.

    With the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in 2017, we have changed some of our course offerings to be consistent with the other high schools in Portland Public Schools. 

    In the recent past, the science department has received some outstanding honors:

    • All faculty possess undergraduate science degrees and rate as “Highly Qualified”
    • Every year, Wilson students are chosen for the Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering Program (ASE), a highly competitive organization that allows students to participate in research during the summer
    • Every year, Wilson graduates go on to get degrees in science and engineering at some of the most prestigious schools in the country, including Stanford, Harvard, University of Chicago, MIT, Yale, and Cal Tech

    COURSES

    • Physics NGSS Year 9
    • Chemistry NGSS Year 10
    • Biology NGSS Year 11

    Science Electives

    • Anatomy & Physiology
    • Earth & Space Science
    • Forensic Science
    • PSU Geology
    • Science Research
    • AP Biology
    • AP Chemistry
    • AP Environmental Science
    • AP Physics: 1
    • AP Physics: 2
    • AP Physics C: Mechanics
  • Courses

    The past three years have brought significant changes to science at Wilson due to the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards and the new core science sequence. We have also changed some of our course offerings to be consistent with the other high schools in Portland Public Schools. Students at Wilson are encouraged to go beyond the required core courses in science and are provided a wide range of electives to encourage them to diversify their scientific skills and interests.

    The goal of the department is to help all Wilson students understand what science is, what it can do, and how it will affect their lives. Wilson’s Science Department has been developing and teaching innovative curriculum since the school opened in 1957. While the staff and students have changed, quality remains a unifying theme.


    CORE SCIENCES
    9th-grade students will take Physics: NGSS.
    10th-grade students will take Chemistry: NGSS
    11th-grade students will take Biology: NGSS.

    Physics: NGSS Year 9 (Lab Science) Prerequisite: None. 1 unit, 1 period
    This course focuses on the core ideas of Physics - motion, forces, momentum, energy, waves, and electromagnetism. Students will experience the patterns approach of using experiments as a way to learn physics content and then apply what they have learned in engineering design tasks. The NGSS Physics class teaches students problem solving, innovation, design, and critical thinking. Physics is lab-based and STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) focused where students engage in regular scientific inquiry and engineering design. This hands-on course is highly engaging to students, with emphasis on data collection, analysis and communication and lays the foundation for future high school science courses. Students will use technology to collect and analyze data as well as use data mines and simulations when direct observation or collection of data is not possible. This class is the first science class of the three-year science sequence.

    Chemistry: NGSS Year 10 (Lab Science) Prerequisite: None. 1 unit, 1 period
    This lab-based course covers the foundational principles of modern chemistry as outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The course is framed around the themes of patterns as well as energy and matter. In addition to the focus on the NGSS chemistry science content, scientific practices, engineering design, and social justice are emphasized throughout the course. Course content will include the structures of atoms and compounds, the Periodic Table of the Elements, chemical reactions and physical changes, gases, solutions, acids and bases, chemical quantities, kinetic theory, and thermodynamics. Content and skills learned in NGSS Physics is built upon during the course. Critical thinking, data analysis, and argumentation from evidence are also emphasized.

    Biology: NGSS Year 11 (Lab Science) Prerequisite: None. 1 unit, 1 period
    This lab-based course covers the foundational principles of modern life science as outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The course is framed around the themes of structure and function as well as interaction and change. In addition to the focus on the NGSS life science content, scientific practices and engineering design are emphasized throughout the course. Course content will include the relationship between molecules and organisms, genetics, evolution,
    and ecology. Technological, historical, political, and environmental aspects of biology will also be addressed. Content learned in physics and chemistry courses is built upon and expanded on in a biological context. Critical thinking, data analysis, and argumentation from evidence are also emphasized.

    SCIENCE ELECTIVES

    9th – 11th grade students must be concurrently enrolled in one of the core science sequence courses as a prerequisite for all science electives.

    Anatomy & Physiology Year 11 – 12 (Lab Science) Prerequisite: previous or concurrent enrollment in Biology: NGSS Additional prerequisites: recommended grade of “C” or higher in Chemistry. 1 unit, 1 period
    This year-long lab science course covers basic human anatomy and physiology. Students will study the human body from cells and tissues to body systems, and learn how these systems interact. It is a rigorous course intended for students who enjoy science. It is valuable for students interested in medical or health science related careers. A major portion of the course will be devoted to laboratory work. This course is required for CTE honors.

    Earth and Space Science Year 10 – 12 (Lab Science) Additional prerequisites: None. 1 unit, 1 period
    Students will study astronomy, meteorology, environmental science, and structural and historical geology in this project–oriented, problem solving class. Methods of investigation will include the use of telescopes, computer simulations, and outside materials.

    Forensic Science Year 10 – 12 (Lab Science) Additional prerequisites: None. 1 unit, 1 period
    This class puts students at the scene of crimes and provides them with the skills, laboratory experience and knowledge to assist in solving those crimes. The students will gain proficiency in the identification of fingerprints, hair follicles, drug screening, poisons, minerals, soils and any other evidence present. We will introduce students to the criminal investigative process beginning from the time the crime is committed, through the identification, collection, preservation and presentation of evidence. This class provides the opportunity for students to take a first–hand look at exciting career opportunities in law enforcement.

    PSU Geology G201 (+ 204 lab) Dynamic Earth: Interior and G202 (+ 205 lab) Dynamic Earth: Surface Year 11-12 (Lab Science) Additional prerequisites: 3.0+ cumulative GPA. Strongly recommended: grade of B or higher in previous science courses. Intended for seniors. 1 unit, 1 period
    This is a dual-credit class, with Portland State University, that focuses on the study of Earth’s formation, composition, structures, and the processes that have changed its surface over time. The laboratory component of the class will cover basic geologic principles and processes emphasizing rocks, minerals, topographic and geologic maps, with special equipment provided by PSU. Register and pay $220 each semester (with documented financial need, cost reduced to $50 per semester). Four college credits per semester, 8 credits total. For a school brochure with registration deadlines and more information, go to https://www.pdx.edu/challenge-program and click on “School specific information” in the menu bar across the top of the page.

    Science Research Year 10 - 12 Prerequisites: None. 1 unit, 1 period
    The entire year in Research Methods is dedicated to performing an independent research project. Each student's topic is decided by the student and can be from any field of science, math, or engineering. The year will begin with a few weeks of lessons on how to write a research proposal and how to conduct authentic scientific research. Students will then write a research proposal and find a mentor. Upon approval of the proposal and the securing of a mentor, each student will proceed with their project. Students will give regular progress reports to their classmates in a setting that will resemble a science conference. The final product will consist of a poster board, a PowerPoint-style presentation, and a research paper. Students are encouraged, but not required, to enter their project in the PPS Science Fair or other competitions or exhibitions. Student need to be strongly motivated, independent, and have good time management skills in order to find success in this class.

    AP Biology Year 11 – 12 (Lab Science) Prerequisite: grade of “C” or higher in Biology and Chemistry. 1 unit, 1 period
    This course involves in–depth studies of selected topics in biology, including laboratory work involving AP Biology Labs, various class activities and an annual field trip to OHSU. Biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, biotechnology, evolution, human anatomy and physiology, and plants are studied throughout the year. Students must be willing to dedicate an adequate amount of academic effort to master the college–level content of this course. This course is recommended for students planning to continue as biology majors in college, including those considering careers in fields such as medicine, dentistry, or nursing. This class is a recommended part of our Health Sciences CTE Pathway.

    AP Chemistry Year 11 – 12 (Lab Science) Prerequisite: grade of “C” or higher in Chemistry: NGSS and a C or higher in Physics: NGSS or teacher permission. 1 unit, 1 period
    This is a laboratory–based science course designed for students who will be pursuing careers in the sciences, engineering, or medicine. It covers topics of freshman college courses and students may take the Advanced Placement exam to receive college credit.

    AP Environmental Science Year 11 – 12 (Lab Science) Prerequisite: grade of “C” or higher in Chemistry: NGSS and Physics: NGSS; C or higher in Advanced Algebra 3–4 (or concurrent enrollment with math teacher recommendation) or teacher permission. 1 unit, 1 period
    This year–long AP class embraces numerous subjects and disciplines. This course is designed to prepare students for the AP Environmental Science exam. In addition, this course will delve in depth into traditional ecology, and to encompass a local and global understanding of current environmental issues. Students will explore earth systems and their resources, population dynamics, resource usage, global change, energy flow in the ecosystem, and the relationships between social/cultural/economic systems and ecological issues. The study of local and global ecosystems, impact of human activities on the environment, and potential solutions to ecological problems will be explored through reading, writing, modeling, research, and class discussions. Research experience, field trips, and class debates are important aspects of this course. Students should be self–motivated and ready for a challenging and exciting year of study.

    AP Physics: 1 Year 11 – 12 (Lab Science). Year 10 allowed with teacher permission only. Prerequisite: grade of “C” or higher in Algebra 1-2 and Geometry. Concurrent enrollment in Algebra 3-4 or more advanced math. Recommended: grade of B or higher in Physics: NGSS. 1 unit, 1 period
    Physics is the study of the basic relationships fundamental to understanding the world around us. In this physics class, these relationships are expressed and used in both conceptual and mathematical format. Laboratory work is an essential component of the course and uses a variety of tools, including computer technology. This course is strongly recommended for all students interested in science–related opportunities in professional and technical areas. The topic areas include classical mechanics (motion, forces, energy, momentum, gravitation, and mechanical waves), and electricity. This course is particularly relevant for students planning to study engineering, math, and architecture in college. Due to significant content overlap, students should not take both AP Physics 1 and AP Physics C during their Wilson tenure.

    AP Physics: 2 Year 11 – 12 (Lab Science). Year 10 allowed with teacher permission only. Prerequisite: concurrent enrollment in Algebra 3-4 or higher math class. Recommended: grades of “B” or higher in Physics: NGSS and Chemistry: NGSS. AP Physics 1 is NOT a required prerequisite for AP Physics 2. 1 unit, 1 period.
    This class explores the fundamental relationships and equations that govern the way the world works in topics not covered in AP Physics 1 or AP Physics C. The primary topics are fluid statics and dynamics; thermodynamics with kinetic theory; electrostatic forces and fields; electrical circuits including capacitors; magnetic fields; electromagnetic induction; physical and geometric optics; and quantum, atomic, and nuclear physics. Students will engage in rich lab work, engineering projects, and use computers to model the behavior of systems. This course is particularly relevant for students planning to study the life sciences, chemistry, or earth science in college.

    AP Physics C: Mechanics Year 11 – 12 (Lab Science). Prerequisite: grade of “C” or higher or concurrent enrollment in AP Calculus AB. Recommended: completion of NGSS Physics and NGSS Chemistry with a grade of B or better. 1 unit, 1 period.
    AP Physics C: Mechanics is a calculus-based physics course which provides instruction in the following seven content areas: Kinematics; Newton’s Laws of Motion; Energy; Momentum; Circular Motion; Oscillations; and Gravitation. The course will be focused on the application of introductory differential and integral calculus to solving problems in the physics content areas. The course utilizes guided inquiry and student–centered learning to foster the development of critical thinking skills. The course includes a lab component equivalent to 25% of the student’s class time. Successful students will be well prepared to for the official AP Physics C: Mechanics exam offered by the College Board in May. This course is particularly relevant for students planning to study engineering, math, and architecture in college. Due to significant content overlap, students should not take both AP Physics 1 and AP Physics C during their Wilson tenure.

    AP Physics C: Mechanics Year 11 – 12 (Lab Science). 11th graders must be concurrently enrolled in Biology: NGSS. Prerequisite: a grade of “C” or higher in Physics and AP Calculus AB or concurrent enrollment and/or teacher permission. 1 unit, 1 period
    This is a second year physics course which provides instruction in the following 6 content areas: Kinematics, Newton’s Laws of Motion, Work, Energy and power, Systems of Particles and Momentum, Circular Motion and Rotation, Oscillations and Gravitation. The course will be focused on the application of introductory differential and integral calculus to solving problems in the content areas listed. Introductory differential and integral calculus is used throughout the course. The course utilizes guided inquiry and student–centered learning to foster the development of critical thinking skills. The course includes a lab component equivalent to 20% of the student’s class time. A detailed lab journal will be kept by all students.