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Science Department





Science Department Faculty
Sarah Lipetz - Department Chair
Ingo Gaida
Dominick Grossi
Jessica Gutierrez
Ianna Hafft
Benjamin Kay
Ritva Lofstedt
Vijaya Macwan
Ayanna Pantallion
Liane Sato
Breanna Snyder
Kate Song
Christina Staroschak




The Santa Monica High School Science Department offers a variety of courses that cover a wide spectrum of scientific studies. Courses offered enhance students’ general knowledge as well as preparing them for the rigorous course work required at the college level.

In addition to textbooks and lessons, students get hands-on experience in lab environments, on field trips, and while researching, designing and preparing special projects and reports.


Environmental Science Descriptions >
Biology Course Descriptions >
Chemistry Course Descriptions >
Marine Biology Course Descriptions >
Physiology Course Descriptions >
Physics Course Descriptions >



Biology P:
Grade Level: 9-12
Meets UC/CSU Requirements
Year Course (5 credits per semester)
Prerequisite: None
Biology is a college-preparatory course designed to satisfy the University of California requirement for a laboratory science. Students learn about interactions in an ecosystem; functions of cells, genetics, and evolution; and characteristics of living things. Students at Malibu High become knowledgeable of the local environment through weekly oceanographic and biological research at Zuma Beach.

Biology HP:
Grade Level: 9-12
Meets UC/CSU Requirements
Year Course (5 credits per semester)
Prerequisite: None

Honors Lab Biology is a university-preparatory course designed to satisfy the University of California requirement for a laboratory science. Students learn about cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, evolution, taxonomy, and ecology. Students at Malibu High become knowledgeable of the local environment through weekly oceanographic and biological research at Zuma Beach.

Biology AP:
Grade Level: 10-12
Meets UC/CSU Requirements
Year Course (5 credits per semester)
Prerequisite: Minimum grade of A in Biology P and B in Chemistry P

Biology AP is designed to be the equivalent of a college level introductory biology course usually taken by biology majors during their first year. The two main goals of this course are to help students develop a conceptual framework for modern biology and to help students gain an appreciation of science as a process. The primary emphasis of this course is on developing an understanding of concepts rather than on memorizing terms and technical details. The main topics covered in this course include the chemistry of life, cells, energetics, genetics, ecology, and the evolution, behavior, structure, and physiology of organisms. Students must also complete 12 required AP Biology labs, which are conceptual in nature and quite extensive. This course is demanding in both the time commitment and level of work required of the students. Students take the AP Biology exam in May.

Chemistry P:
Grade Level: 10-12
Meets UC/CSU Requirements
Year Course (5 credits per semester)
Prerequisite: Minimum grade of C- in second semester Biology P and Geometry or written consent of instructor.

Chemistry is a college-preparatory course designed to satisfy UC’s requirements for a laboratory science. This course covers the basic concepts of general chemistry: the mathematics of chemistry, atomic structure, inorganic nomenclature, the concept of mole, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, the gas laws, properties of water, solution concentrations, and acidbase chemistry. The course has a laboratory component and is mathematical in nature.

Chemistry HP:
Grade Level: 10-11
Meets UC/CSU Requirements
Year Course (5 credits per semester)
Prerequisite: Grade of B in Biology, Algebra A/B and Geometry A/B. Recommendation of both Biology and mathematics teachers if grade is B (no recommendation if grade is A.)

Honors Chemistry is a course designed for students who have demonstrated excellence in Biology and Mathematics. The topics include all those covered in regular Chemistry P plus additional units in Quantum Chemistry, Chemical Periodicity, Thermochemistry and Neutralization. The course is rigorous in nature, being both fast-paced and highly mathematical. It includes a laboratory component.

Chemistry AP:
Grade Level: 11-12
Meets UC/CSU Requirements
Year Course (5 credits per semester)
Prerequisite: Grade of B in Chemistry P. Completion of Intermediate Algebra is highly recommended.

Chemistry AP is designed to be the equivalent of the general chemistry course usually taken during the first year of collage. Students taking this course should attain a depth of understanding of fundamentals and a reasonable competence in dealing with chemical problems. This course should also contribute to the development of the students’ abilities to think clearly and to express their ideas, orally and in writing, with clarity and logic. This course is demanding in both the time commitment and level of work required of the students. Students are expected to take the AP Chemistry exam in May.

Environmental Science:
The goal of the AP Environmental Science course is to provide students with the scientific principles, concepts and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world, to identify and analyze environmental problems both natural and human-made, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving and/or preventing them. Environmental science is interdisciplinary; it embraces a wide variety of topics from different areas of study: biology, chemistry, physics, geology, oceanography, economics and political science. APES has a required laboratory and field component. A transportation fee is requested.

Marine Biology HP:
Grade Level: 11-12
Meets UC/CSU Requirements
Year Course (5 credits per semester)
Prerequisite: Minimum grade of C in Biology P and Chemistry P (A or B strongly recommended.)

Marine biology is the scientific study of plants, animals, and other organisms that live in the ocean. This hands-on laboratory science course focuses on the chemical, physical, and biological properties of the California coastal environments, with special attention given to study of the Santa Monica Bay ecosystem. Santa Monica pier and beach are used extensively for field observations and sampling from the marine environment. The laboratory portion of this course will cover the physical and chemical properties of seawater, plankton collection and analysis, and the taxonomy, structure, and physiology of marine plants and animals. Students are expected to complete at least one research project that is experimental in nature. Field trips include some or all of the following: Cabrillo Marine Museum, tide pools, whale-watching, Malibu Lagoon, and grunion hunting.

Physiology P:
Grade Level: 10-12
Meets UC/CSU Requirements
Year Course (5 credits per semester)
Prerequisite: Completion of two years of science: 1 year of life science and 1 year of physical science recommended.

Students will explore the fascinating aspects of how living things perform their vital functions. Students cover the nine body systems, their interdependence and their interaction with the environment. The course includes studying the major bones, muscles, and organs of the body, the learning of physiological concepts, the application of these concepts to practical situations and the performance of physiological assessment skills.

Physics P:
Grade Level: 11-12
Meets UC/CSU Requirements
Year Course (5 credits per semester)
Prerequisite: Minimum grade of B in Intermediate Algebra or written consent of instructor. Recommended concurrent enrollment in Pre-calculus.

Physics is the study of the fundamental laws of nature applied to how things work from the atom to the universe. It is a highly mathematical course covering the topics of kinematics, vector analysis, rotational dynamics, heat, sound, light, electricity, magnetism, quantum physics and relativity. Students learn through lecture, lab and creative projects.

Physics AP:
Grade Level: 11-12
Meets UC/CSU Requirements
Year Course (5 credits per semester)
Prerequisite: Minimum grade of B in Chemistry and concurrent enrollment in Calculus, or consent of instructor.

Physics AP is a two-semester calculus-based physics course and forms the first part of the college sequence that serves as the foundation in physics for students majoring in the physical sciences or engineering. During this year course we cover topics in classical mechanics. These topics covered are the calculus-based level and use of calculus in problem solving increases as the course progresses. Strong emphasis is placed on solving a variety of challenging problems, some requiring calculus, and there is emphasis on analysis in the laboratory as well as in the classroom. Students take the AP Physics exam in May.









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