Your high schooler and science
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By GreatSchools Staff
What high school science looks like
The National Science Education Standards, voluntary guidelines established in the late 1990s, form the basis of many state standards. In general, the topics your student could be studying in high school fall into these key areas:
Physical science (physics, chemistry)
In physics, high school students continue their explorations into the interaction of matter and energy, studying force, motion, momentum, electricity, and magnetism.
Students should transition from basic to sophisticated mathematical calculations, while solving problems related to speed, velocity, acceleration, and force.
Teens will study and work with various forms of energy, including electrical, chemical, light, sound, and thermal energy. Teens might study the properties of mechanical and electromagnetic waves — and experiment with both sound and light waves. Parents can expect students taking physics to learn about subatomic particles, fission, fusion, and nuclear energy.
And in the lab, teens work to explore chemical stability, chemical compounds, and chemical and physical changes of matter. They’ll study the different phases of matter, how structure changes, and the natural laws associated with this change.
Life science (biology)
High school biology students often conduct experiments in both the lab and the field, which helps to develop their understanding of living things — cell structure, systems, and ecosystems, and the genetics of organisms. More specifically, students look at cell theory, the concept of cells as the fundamental units of living things.
Students learn about biochemical reactions involving pH, temperature, and energy conversion processes like photosynthesis. They’ll study the functions of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in the human body and should be able to demonstrate their understanding of the way energy flows through ecosystems by creating food chains and energy pyramids.
Teen biologists may examine the molecular foundations of heredity, using their knowledge of DNA, RNA, genes, and chromosomes to aid in their investigations. By studying the process of formation and growth of organisms, how genetics and environment play a role in a species’ survival, teens also study relationships between organisms and their environments, including how human activities affect the natural processes of the earth.