Students begin studying science in elementary school and continue through high school and beyond. During elementary school, teaching science is not as specific or analytical as it is observational. Elementary school students will be introduced to the most basic aspects of biology, ecology, geology and astronomy through observation of the world around them and general readings. In middle school, students may begin studying biology, geology and astronomy to greater depth, but serious examination of science does not begin until high school. High school students are typically required to take focused classes in both biology and chemistry, with elections available in physics, geology, meteorology, astronomy and other fields.
Biology is the study of living organisms. It is taught in different stages throughout elementary, middle and high school, with many different focuses. Introductory biology is often a exploration of anatomy, bodily functions and metabolic processes, with forays into ecology and the interaction between living organisms and their environment. High school biology offers students a more in-depth analysis of the topics covered in elementary and middle school. Through lectures, readings, examinations, research assignments and lab exercises, high school biology courses provide students with the opportunity to explore microbiology, biotechnology and biomedical issues. Additionally, Advanced Placement biology courses cover three major topic areas: molecules and cells, heredity and evolution, and organisms and populations.
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Chemistry is the study of matter and it’s composition. It is one of the most important branches of science in that it serves as a foundation for more advanced areas of biology, geology, astronomy and more. It stems from the periodic table of the elements: the elements’ discovery, composition and uses. Chemistry students study the atom and atomic structure, learning how they fuse together to create compounds.
Students are first introduced to overarching principles of chemistry such as the states of matter, conservation of matter and the composition of matter as collections of molecules and atoms. These topics are then explored through simple chemical reactions and everyday applications of chemistry. Introductory Chemistry is a required course at most high schools in the United States. High school chemistry instructors teach students the mathematical reasoning behind the principles of chemistry. Curricula for Introductory Chemistry focus on chemical bonds and compounds, as well as stoichiometry, the mathematical analysis of chemical reactions. Students establish familiarity with chemistry equations and the periodic table of the elements, preparing them for Advanced Placement Chemistry, which involves a more in-depth mathematical analysis of the concepts covered in Introductory Chemistry.
Physics encompasses the science of matter, motion and energy. A highly advanced and complex area of science, physics is not usually taught at the elementary and middle school levels. However, elements of physics are incorporated into the general science education that younger students receive. In elementary and middle school, students begin to learn about gravity, friction and kinetic energy all of which are basic principles of physics.
Physics is often offered in high school after students have completed introductory levels of biology and chemistry. High school physics begins to incorporate mathematics through physics equations and formulas. A typical high school physics curriculum begins with general theories of motion, including force, kinetic energy, friction and acceleration. Classes then cover more advanced motion, such as tension.