Science

Our Science Division provides all students with the knowledge and critical-thinking skills necessary to engage with science outside the classroom and beyond high school. Our courses allow students to explore the scientific disciplines deeply through laboratory exercises and research.

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  • Inquiry-based Physics

    Course Number 
    JP001
    Instructor(s) 
    Level 
    Middle School
    Session 
    Year-long

    In this year-long course, students explore the fundamentals of physics through experimentation and discussion guided by the instructor. Through this engaging process, the instructor poses questions and counterexamples until the students reach a consensus in their experimentation, after which concepts are formally summarized. This course provides a strong foundation for work in more advanced science courses by introducing a number of basic skills, including significant figures, interpretation of graphs, problem solving, and the basics of laboratory work. Concepts covered include: Newtonian physics, fluids, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism.

  • Foundations in Science: Energy and Matter

    Course Number 
    JS002
    Instructor(s) 
    Level 
    Middle School
    Session 
    Year-long
    Prerequisites 
    Inquiry-based Physics (JP001)

    This year-long seminar-style course introduces students to the concepts that provide the foundation for physics, chemistry, and biology. Students will explore energy and matter, two ideas that unify the sciences, and examine these core concepts from the perspective of each discipline. Students will use an inquiry-based approach with an emphasis on acquiring the background knowledge and perspective to develop research problems and will practice these skills through experimentation at home. Through exploration of the central themes of the course, students will additionally become familiar with the basic principles of scientific reasoning. The primary goal of the course is to provide students with a well informed introduction to science that prevents common misconceptions and that prepares students for high-school and AP-level laboratory sciences.

  • Honors Environmental Science

    Course Number 
    OS005
    Instructor(s) 
    Level 
    High School
    Session 
    Year-long
    Prerequisites 
    Honors Beginning Algebra (OM011)

    Honors Environmental Science introduces students to fundamental topics in earth and environmental science, and emphasizes their connection to everyday life. Topics include: earth's history and geology, plate tectonic theory, global climates and biomes, biodiversity and ecosystem services, biogeochemical cycling, evolution and human history, modern environmental impacts, global climate change, and alternative energy. Students complete experiential labs that prompt them to explore their local environments or dig into favorite topics in greater depth. Lab work helps students build scientific research and communication skills through mapping, graphing, analyzing data, researching the scientific literature, and presenting findings in class. This course is ideal for students who are excited to learn about environmental science and/or want to take a high school level science course in preparation for Honors Physics or Honors Chemistry. 

  • Honors Chemistry

    Course Number 
    OC005
    Level 
    High School
    Session 
    Year-long
    Prerequisites 
    Honors Intermediate Algebra (OM012)
    Additional Recommendations 
    Previous middle school or high school science course

    Honors Chemistry is a year-long seminar-style course that introduces the fundamental language, ideas and tools used in the study of chemistry. This advanced introductory high school chemistry course covers key topics such as chemical nomenclature, stoichiometry, the periodic table, chemical bonding, equilibrium, kinetics, thermodynamics, nuclear chemistry, and common laboratory practices. Emphasis is placed on the use of chemistry in the natural world, the physical world and our daily lives. The course fosters skills necessary to describe chemical processes and behaviors and to solve numerical and verbal problems in chemistry. Through both at-home and virtual lab work, students learn useful chemistry laboratory techniques, gain the ability to formulate experimental questions, design scientific experiments, effectively articulate scientific findings, conduct error and statistical analysis, and strengthen understanding of course material. Upon completion, students will have a solid foundation in chemistry and will be prepared for AP Biology, AP Chemistry, and college-level chemistry courses.

    Related course: Students also have the option of doing additional laboratory work during the summer at Stanford (see OCL10 – Chemistry Lab)

  • AP Chemistry

    Course Number 
    OC010
    Instructor(s) 
    Level 
    High School
    Session 
    Year-long
    Prerequisites 
    Honors Intermediate Algebra (OM012)
    Honors Chemistry (OC005)
    Additional Recommendations 
    Passing score on the AP Chemistry exam

    AP Chemistry is a year-long seminar-style course that teaches students the fundamental ideas and tools of modern chemistry and covers college-level introductory chemistry topics. Students become fluent in the language, symbols, laboratory skills, and concepts of chemistry. They learn to describe chemical names, the periodic table, types of reactions, chemical reactivity, structure, bonding, thermodynamics, kinetics, electrochemistry and nuclear chemistry. Throughout the course they are exposed to applications of chemistry in organic chemistry, materials science, environmental chemistry and biochemistry. This course stresses problem solving in chemistry using verbal descriptions and mathematical relationships to describe chemical ideas and processes. AP Chemistry gives students hands-on laboratory experience by requiring students to perform experiments at home using lab equipment and reagents purchased from a chemical supplier or household chemicals. This course prepares students for the AP Chemistry exam.

    Related course: Students also have the option of doing additional laboratory work during the summer at Stanford (see OCL10 – Chemistry Lab)

  • Chemistry Lab

    Course Number 
    OCL10
    Level 
    High School
    Session 
    Summer
    Prerequisites 
    Honors Chemistry (OC005)
    AP Chemistry (OC010)
    Additional Recommendations 
    Must have completed Honors or AP Chemistry during the academic year

    Chemistry Lab is a residential summer course held on the Stanford campus during Summer @ Stanford that allows students to explore chemistry topics through hands-on experimentation in a lab class setting. Experiments correspond with topics covered in Honors Chemistry (OC005) and AP Chemistry (OC010), and experiments will be scaffolded according to students’ depth of understanding. Students will gain a variety of skills needed in a research lab, including experience with modern tools and techniques and effective communication of results. Examples of experiments that may be performed include chelation titration, calorimetry, nanoparticle synthesis and characterization, silver plating, synthesis/purification of aspirin, micro- and thin layer chromatography, extraction/purification of chlorophyll and carotene from plants, and UV-Vis and fluorescence spectroscopy.

  • AP Biology

    Course Number 
    OB010
    Level 
    High School
    Session 
    Year-long
    Prerequisites 
    Honors Chemistry (OC005)
    AP Chemistry (OC010)
    Additional Recommendations 
    Consent of instructor

    AP Biology is a year-long seminar course that covers college-level introductory biology topics in molecular and cellular biology; anatomy, physiology, and diversity of plants, animals, and microbes; and ecology and evolution. Emphasis is placed on the themes that unify biology, including regulation of biological processes, energy transfer, continuity and change, evolution, the relationship between structure and function, emergent properties, interdependence in nature, the scientific process, and the relevance of biology in our everyday lives. Through at-home and virtual lab work, students learn useful biological techniques, gain the ability to design scientific experiments, effectively communicate results, and strengthen their knowledge of material presented in lecture. This course prepares students for the AP Biology exam.

    Related course: Students also have the option of doing additional laboratory work during the summer at Stanford (see OBL10 – AP Biology Lab)

  • AP Biology Lab

    Course Number 
    OBL10
    Level 
    High School
    Session 
    Summer
    Prerequisites 
    AP Biology (OB010)
    Additional Recommendations 
    Must have completed AP Biology during academic year

    AP Biology Lab is a residential summer course held on-campus during Summer @ Stanford that allows students to explore college-level introductory biology topics through hands-on experimentation. Experiments correspond with topics covered in AP Biology (OB010). Techniques utilized to explore these topics may include polymerase chain reaction (PCR), gel electrophoresis of nucleotides or proteins, ELISA, and microscopy. Emphasis is placed on understanding the process of science, experimental design and interpretation, and the relevance of biology to our everyday lives. Students gain experience with modern biological techniques currently used in molecular biology and medical diagnostic labs, as well as learning to effectively record and communicate results.

  • Advanced Topics in Biological Research

    Course Number 
    OB011
    Instructor(s) 
    Level 
    High School
    Session 
    Year-long
    Prerequisites 
    AP Biology (OB010)
    Additional Recommendations 
    Consent of instructor

    Advanced Topics in Biological Research is a year-long seminar course that explores a variety of biological concepts in depth through discussion of scientific research. Topics are chosen from the breadth of the discipline and build on the foundation of knowledge acquired in AP Biology (OB010). Students study molecular and cell biology, genetics, plant biology, medicine, evolution, and ecology by reading both current and seminal research publications and discussing these works as a group. Not only do students gain an appreciation of relevant research topics in modern biology, but they also learn about valuable research tools and the skills necessary to understand the frontiers of the science.

  • Advanced Topics in Biological Research: Writing Option

    Course Number 
    OB012
    Instructor(s) 
    Level 
    High School
    Session 
    Year-long
    Prerequisites 
    AP Biology (OB010)
    Additional Recommendations 
    Consent of instructor

    Advanced Topics in Biological Research: Writing Option is a companion course to OB011. Students choosing the Writing Option will be engaged in the discussions of OB011 and additionally discuss the forms and styles of science writing including primary research publications, reviews, and science journalism. Students will apply their knowledge of these forms by composing a review article or significant research paper on the modern biological research topic of their choosing. Throughout the writing process, students will learn the skills necessary to independently and deeply explore scientific research literature and the process of writing, editing, and reviewing a lengthy written piece including peer-evaluation.

  • The Study of the Mind: Psychology, Neuroscience, and Philosophy

    Course Number 
    OPS10
    Level 
    High School
    Session 
    Year-long
    Prerequisites 
    Methodology of Science – Biology (OMSB9)
    Modes of Writing and Argumentation (OE011)
    Additional Recommendations 
    High school biology course

    In this course, we will study the mind and human behavior by exploring the insights that have emerged in the intersecting fields of neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy. We will draw on texts such as Pinker’s The Language Instinct, Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow, Wilson’s Strangers to Ourselves, and Sacks’s The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, to examine language and mind, reasoning and biases, the unconscious, and abnormal psychology. Topics may include Freudian psychoanalysis, the neurobiology underlying emotion, and animal cognition, as well as topics to be determined by student interests. While not designed to strictly follow the AP Psychology curriculum, this course will provide a conceptual foundation for students who are interested in preparing independently for the AP Psychology exam.

  • Honors Physics

    Course Number 
    OP005
    Level 
    High School
    Prerequisites 
    Honors Intermediate Algebra (OM012)

    Honors Physics is a year-long seminar-style course that introduces the fundamental language, ideas and tools used in the study of physics. This advanced introductory high school physics course covers key topics such as kinematics (displacement, velocity, acceleration, vectors), dynamics (inertia, momentum, force, Newton’s laws, kinetic and potential energy), wave phenomena, electric fields and forces, magnetism, and sound. Emphasis will be placed on introducing and developing those concepts, skills, and methods necessary to excel in physics, thus providing the foundation for more advanced study of physics. Through both at-home and virtual lab work, students learn useful experimental techniques, gain the ability to formulate experimental questions, design scientific experiments, effectively articulate scientific findings, and strengthen understanding of course material. Upon completion, students will have a solid foundation in physics and will be prepared for AP Physics C contingent on preparation in mathematics.

    Related course: Students also have the option of doing additional laboratory work during the summer at Stanford (see OPL50 – Physics Lab)

  • AP Physics C: Mechanics

    Course Number 
    OP051
    Instructor(s) 
    Level 
    High School
    Session 
    Fall Semester
    Prerequisites 
    AP Calculus BC (OM4BC)
    AP Calculus C (OM42C)
    Honors Physics (OP005)
    Additional Recommendations 
    Passing score on AP Physics exam

    AP Physics C: Mechanics is a semester-long calculus-based physics course designed to be equivalent to an introductory university-level physics course when taken in conjunction with AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism (OP053). In this course, students explore mechanics, including study of kinematics, force, circular motion, momentum, energy, rotation, gravitation, and simple harmonic oscillation. By completing lab work (a combination of at-home labs and virtual labs), students reinforce their understanding of concepts, gain hands-on experimentation experience, and develop their written communication skills. This course prepares students for the AP Physics C Mechanics exam, though the scope of the course is not limited exclusively to the AP curriculum. Prior completion of AP Calculus BC is advantageous but not required.

    Related course: Students also have the option of doing additional laboratory work during the summer at Stanford (see OPL50 – Physics Lab)

  • AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism

    Course Number 
    OP053
    Instructor(s) 
    Level 
    High School
    Session 
    Spring Semester
    Prerequisites 
    AP Physics C: Mechanics (OP051)
    Additional Recommendations 
    Passing score on AP Physics exam

    AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism is a semester-long calculus-based physics course designed to be equivalent to an introductory university-level physics course when taken in conjunction with AP Physics C: Mechanics (OP051). In this course, the main focus is on electricity and magnetism, including exploration of electrostatic force, electric fields, electric potential, simple circuits, magnetic fields, induction, and EM Waves. By completing lab work (a combination of at-home labs and virtual labs), students reinforce their understanding of concepts, gain hands-on experimentation experience, and develop their written communication skills. This course prepares students for the AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism exam, though the scope of the course is not limited exclusively to the AP curriculum. Prior completion of AP Calculus BC is advantageous but not required.

    Related course: Students also have the option of doing additional laboratory work during the summer at Stanford (see OPL50 – Physics Lab)

  • Physics Lab

    Course Number 
    OPL50
    Instructor(s) 
    Level 
    High School
    Session 
    Summer
    Prerequisites 
    Honors Physics (OP005)
    AP Physics C: Mechanics (OP051)
    AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism (OP053)
    Additional Recommendations 
    Must have completed Honors Physics or AP Physics C courses during the academic year

    Physics Lab is a residential summer course held on campus during Summer @ Stanford that allows students to explore physics topics through hands-on experimentation in a lab class setting. Experiments correspond with topics covered in Honors Physics (OP005), AP Physics C: Mechanics (OP051) and AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism (OP053), and experiments will be scaffolded according to students’ depth of understanding. Students gain a variety of skills needed in a research lab, including experience with modern tools and techniques and effective communication of results.

  • Light and Heat

    Course Number 
    UP055
    Instructor(s) 
    Level 
    University
    Session 
    Fall Semester
    Prerequisites 
    AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism (OP053)
    Additional Recommendations 
    Consent of instructor

    Light and Heat is a directed study course that the student completes at his or her own pace, but is designed to be completed within one semester. The course is an introduction to university-level optics and thermodynamics. Topics include temperature, properties of matter, introduction to the kinetic theory of matter, light and electromagnetic waves, reflection and refraction of light, lens systems, interference, and diffraction.

  • Modern Physics

    Course Number 
    UP070
    Instructor(s) 
    Level 
    University
    Session 
    Spring Semester
    Prerequisites 
    Light and Heat (UP055)
    Additional Recommendations 
    Consent of instructor

    Modern Physics is a directed study course that the student completes at his or her own pace, but is designed to be completed within one semester. The course is an introduction to the ideas of modern physics. Topics include key concepts in special and general relativity, quantum mechanics, nuclear physics, high-energy particle physics, and cosmology.

  • Intermediate Mechanics I & II

    Course Number 
    UP110/111
    Instructor(s) 
    Level 
    University
    Session 
    Fall or Spring Semester, Directed Study
    Prerequisites 
    Differential Equations (UM53A)
    Modern Physics (UP070)
    Additional Recommendations 
    Consent of instructor

    Intermediate Mechanics I & II are two directed study courses taken in sequence that the student completes at his or her own pace, but is designed to be completed within one semester each. Together, the courses provide a thorough exploration of the mechanics of systems of particles and rigid bodies. Topics include coordinate transformation and vectors, Newtonian mechanics, linear and nonlinear oscillations, Hamilton’s principle, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian dynamics, non-inertial reference systems, rigid-body dynamics, coupled oscillations, and introductory fluid mechanics.

  • Health

    Course Number 
    OB001
    Instructor(s) 
    Level 
    High School
    Session 
    Fall or Spring Semester

    The Stanford OHS Health and Wellness course is a self-paced course for students without a previous health class or AP Biology at Stanford OHS. In this course, students gain the knowledge and skills necessary to maintain a long and healthy life by identifying and avoiding dangerous environments and risky behavior and by preventing common communicable and chronic diseases. Students also gain an appreciation for how the body and mind work and learn about the changes to be expected in the future. Finally, students learn about the role individuals play in public health and maintaining the health of a community. Using the course workbook as a guide, the course can be completed in less than a semester. This course fulfills the non-academic Health Stanford OHS graduation requirement and does not receive a letter grade.

  • Astronomy

    Course Number 
    OASTR1
    Level 
    High School
    Session 
    Spring Semester
    Prerequisites 
    Honors Beginning Algebra (OM011)

    This semester-long course introduces students to historical and modern astronomy. Topics include the nature of light, the atom, telescopes, and orbits. In addition, students will learn about the life cycles of stars, including an introduction to black holes. Through various activities and experiments, students will explore our place in the universe as well as the relative scales of astronomical objects. As a class, we will leverage our disparate locations to reconstruct historical calculations such as the circumference of the earth by Eratosthenes and the distance to the sun by Aristarchus. Engaging with current research, we will examine the modern astronomical data used to search for and categorize the thousands of planets outside our solar system.