High School Science

High School science subjects are taught on a rotating three to four year cycle, depending on the grade levels and demand by students. Generally, the cycle begins with Biology in Grade 9, followed by Chemistry, then Physics. An additional year is given to explore either Astronomy or Aviation, depending again on the student interest of the high school at the time. Aviation is sometimes offered as an elective science subject on top of the standard science of that year (e.g. Chemistry or Physics). AP courses are offered at the "I AM" School for those students who have aspirations to gain college credit to enter into competitive fields such as engineering, or have astro-aviation aspirations.


Biology at the "I AM" School is taught with an emphasis in microbiology.  Coursework is very hands-on; students grow fungal and bacterial microbes in various media, learn slide preparation techniques, and are often found peering through their microscopes.  General biology curriculum is fully covered and connected to microbiological experimentation—including basic biochemistry topics related to DNA and proteins.  Lecture and discussion happen as the students conduct laboratory activities, which keeps an active classroom environment.  The students are required to read a book addressing a research topic in biology and present a TED Talk type presentation as the course’s final project.


General biology textbook, Insights in Biology, 2nd ed

various microbiology texts,

microbiology supplemental materials including Guide to Microlife,

and the Biology Coloring Workbook

Methods and Activities

1. Lecture and text reading

2. Lab technique

3. Lab reports

4. Individual and/or group projects

6. Quizzes, tests, lab practical exam

7. Field trips

8. Final talk


​A conceptual introduction to general chemistry is provided as a one-trimester class in 9th grade to prepare students for general chemistry in the 11th or 12th grade years. General chemistry includes the inorganic topics typically covered at the high school level with an introduction to organic chemistry if time permits. Reaction demonstrations are conducted weekly and are often at a college level in complexity. The chemistry curriculum is robust and requires dedication from the students. Demos, lecture, videos, text reading, and problem solving comprise three quarters of the curriculum with laboratory experimentation fleshing out the coursework. Students are taught laboratory safety and technique and are expected to maintain a comprehensive laboratory notebook. Additionally, the students are required to read a book addressing a research topic in chemistry (for example, Stuff Matters by Mike Miodownik). The course requires a final exam, and a chemistry show is sometimes organized depending on class interest.


Conceptual chemistry textbook: Heath—Chemistry
General chemistry textbook: Zumdahl—Chemistry
Supplementary material from various chemistry texts
Chemistry Connections, 2nd ed
Book on a research topic


Methods and Activities

1. Demonstrations

2. Lecture, videos, and text reading

3. Problem solving

4. Lab technique

5. Lab reports

6. Quizzes, tests, and final exam

7. Chemistry Show



A conceptual introduction to physics is provided as a one-trimester class in 9th grade to prepare students for a math-based physics in the 11th or 12th grade years. Math-based physics includes problem solving for classical physics scenarios—topics include motion, Newton’s Laws, work, energy, momentum, circular motion, gravity, thermodynamics, waves, sound, light, and magnetism. The course introduces quantum physics, and astrophysics is addressed if the students have previously taken astronomy.  A final exam is given, and a TED Talk like presentation is required based on a research topic in physics or engineering.


Conceptual physics textbook: Hewitt Conceptual Physics

Physics textbook: Holt McDougal Physics

Supplementary material from: Knight—Physics for Scientists and Engineers, Carroll—An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics, Ryden—Introduction to Cosmology

Book on a research topic

Methods and Activities

1. Demonstrations

2. Lecture, videos, and text reading

3. Problem solving

4. Lab reports

5. Quizzes, tests, and final exam

6. TED talk like presentation



Classroom lecture in astronomy is accompanied by video presentation of the text figures and illustrations from the electronic version of the course textbook.  This enriches the students’ follow-up reading, as they’ve already become acquainted with how the textbook presents topics visually.  As an elective science, Astronomy at this level is mostly conceptually based with limited mathematics.  The course topics include: the planetary system, the Sun, stars, interstellar medium, galaxies, and cosmology.  Much emphasis is put on astronomical observation.  Each student is assigned a pair of 10X50 binoculars for the duration of the course.  Two to three times weekly the students are given individual observation assignments; viewing the Moon, planets, nebulae, star clusters, and tracking satellites are among the assignments that are generally 20-minute tasks.  The students keep an astronomy notebook to record their observations, and learn to use Internet resources such as the US Naval Observatory website.  Group binocular labs and telescope labs are scheduled throughout the course dependent on weather conditions. Astronomy students are taught how to navigate the night sky using charts and maps, and in the use and care of various types of telescopes including Schmidt–Cassegrain and Maksutov designs. The students also have access to a 20-inch Dobsonian telescope.  Students are required to produce their own Moon map.  A TED Talk like presentation related to a book on astronomical research is the course final project.


Astronomy textbook: Chaisson McMillan – Astronomy Today

Chandler’s Star Chart for the north latitude

Phillip’s Planisphere

Supplemental Material from:

Seronik – Binocular Highlights

Harrington – Touring the Universe through Binoculars

Cherrington – Exploring the Moon through Binoculars and Small Telescopes

King-Hele – Observing Earth Satellites

Tirion – The Cambridge Star Atlas

Bartlett – The Amateur Astronomer’s Notebook

Book on a research topic

Methods and Activities

1. Lecture, videos, and text reading

2. Problem solving

3. Quizzes and tests

4. Star navigation



It’s rare indeed these days that aviation ground school is offered as an elective in high school.  This course has inspired burgeoning pilots. The aerodynamics of flight and the systems/operations of aircraft are taught through lecture, videos, and quizzes.  Additionally, the students have access to an in-classroom and up-to-date flight simulator.  Students take field trips to flight schools and airports.  The course is designed to prepare students to take the FAA Written Exam – a requirement in the process of obtaining a Private Pilot’s Certificate.  A comprehensive lecture notebook is developed and many practice quizzes that mimic the FAA exam are taken throughout the course.


Aviation textbook: Jeppesen – Private Pilot

Sectional charts

Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge

Airplane Flying Handbook


Airman Knowledge Testing Supplement

Gleim online testing


Methods and Activities

1. Lecture, videos, and text reading

2. Flight simulation

3. Practice quizzes

4. Using a plotter

5. Using an E6B computer

6. Field trips

7. Possible FAA Written Exam at a local testing facility