From molecules to mountains.

Science

The primary goal of the Science Department is to provide you with a foundation of scientific literacy necessary to play an informed and intelligent role in our modern technological society. The department offers a wide spectrum of required and elective courses so that, through exposure to both physical and life sciences, you will be introduced to the problem-solving skills, concrete and abstract ideas and laboratory techniques that encourage an understanding of science.

In the Science Department, learning takes place both in the classroom and in the field. You use the fully equipped science labs for a variety of investigations and take advantage of computers to collect and process data efficiently. Classes head outdoors to study the local creeks, chaparral, and nearby tide pools. If you’d like to pursue a topic in greater depth you can work individually with a faculty member or a professional scientist on a science research project. In recent years, students have designed projects in molecular genetics, nutritional research, and biochemistry.

Year course. Physics is an algebra-based physics course designed for all freshmen at Cate. Students investigate the traditional concepts of motion, force, momentum, work, energy, waves, sound, and electrostatics, in preparation for chemistry and biology. Instructional methods follow a research-based guided-inquiry model that capitalizes on hands-on, cooperative learning where students construct their knowledge and find answers to their questions as they investigate and practice scientific inquiry in the laboratory. The course emphasizes finding and describing patterns in nature, exploring depth over breadth of material, fostering and leveraging disciplined curiosity, and sharpening scientific inquiry practices. Open to freshmen.

Year course. Physics with Trigonometry is the foundational science class for incoming freshmen at Cate with an advanced mathematical background. Students investigate the traditional concepts of motion, force, momentum, work, energy, waves, sound, and electrostatics, in preparation for chemistry. The course emphasizes finding and describing patterns in nature, exploring depth over breadth of material, fostering and leveraging disciplined curiosity, and sharpening scientific inquiry practices. Students will learn to approach problems through and as an extension of their deep conceptual understanding. In addition to algebraic thinking, this class will use the tools of Trigonometry to solve physics problems and represent phenomena. Open to freshmen placed in an Algebra 2 and Trigonometry course (Math 30 or Math 31H), or higher.

Co-Requisite: Integrated Algebra 2 and Trigonometry (Math 30), or higher.

Year course. This introductory lab-based course is designed to foster deductive reasoning in the context of environmental challenges. The curriculum will examine material, atmospheric, organic, water, and nuclear chemistry. After completing this year course students will be able to describe matter in terms of elements, atoms, compounds, and any changes in these fundamental building blocks during chemical reactions. Students will be able to explain chemical and physical properties of materials through an understanding of the structure and arrangement of atoms, ions or molecules and the forces between them. They will recognize that changes in matter involve the rearrangement of atoms and the sharing or transfer of electrons and be able to apply the laws of thermodynamics first explored in physics to explain and predict the direction of changes in matter. Open to sophomores.

Year course. This introductory lab-based course is designed to foster deductive reasoning in the context of environmental challenges. The curriculum will examine material, atmospheric, organic, water, nuclear, equilibrium, and electrochemistry. After completing this year course students will be able to describe matter in terms of elements, atoms, compounds, and any changes in these fundamental building blocks during chemical reactions. They will be able to explain chemical and physical properties of materials through an understanding of the structure and arrangement of atoms, ions or molecules and the forces between them. Students will recognize that changes in matter involve the rearrangement of atoms and the sharing or transfer of electrons. They will be able to apply the laws of thermodynamics first explored in physics to explain and predict the direction of changes in matter. Open to sophomores placed in an Algebra 2 and Trigonometry course (Math 30 or Math 31H), or higher.

Prerequisites: High achievement in Physics and departmental permission.
Co-Requisite: Integrated Algebra 2 and Trigonometry (Math 30), or higher.

 

Year course. This introductory biology course explores the core topics of ecology, cell biology, genetics, and evolution in the context of global environmental and ecological issues. A rigorous laboratory component supports the exploration of these topics while involving students in the practices of science as they pose questions, investigate, use models, interpret and analyze data, construct explanations, and engage in argument from scientific evidence. Open to juniors and seniors.

Prerequisite: Chemistry.

Year course. This rigorous first-year survey course is designed to foster scientific thinking at a high level and addresses the core topics of ecology, cell biology, genetics, and evolution while placing a particular emphasis on biological systems at the molecular level. The successful student, with some additional work outside of the course and a commitment to test preparation, will be positioned to perform well on the SAT Subject Test in Biology. Open to juniors and seniors who have demonstrated high achievement and interest in science coursework.

Prerequisite: High achievement in Chemistry and departmental permission.

Fall trimester. Molecular and Cellular Biology is a rigorous second year, college-level biology course with a significant emphasis on biochemistry and thermodynamics. Through an evolutionary lens, students will begin with an in-depth study of energy transformations in biological processes, the structure and function of proteins, and end with investigations into specific biochemical pathways involved in cell functioning and communication. Students will be introduced to methods and experimental techniques used in research, have opportunities to design and implement independent inquiries, and learn how to perform statistical analyses of their results. Students will begin to read primary scientific literature, compose annotated bibliographies, and communicate their findings in the form of scientific papers or presentations. Due to the rigor and pace of this course, there is an additional required time commitment. Limited space available; students will be required to prioritize course requests during registration. Open to juniors and seniors who have demonstrated high achievement and interest in science coursework.

Prerequisite: High achievement in Chemistry and Biology and departmental permission.
Co-Requisite: Integrated Algebra 2 and Trigonometry (Math 30), or higher.

Fall trimester. In Climate and Biology students will explore the evidence scientists use to create the models for understanding past, current, and future climate. Through an evolutionary lens, this course explores the history of climate on Earth and the functioning of the climate system. In addition, this course examines biological changes in response to climate as well as emerging conservation and policy responses. This is a rigorous second year, college-level biology course. Limited space available; students will be required to prioritize course requests during registration. Open to juniors and seniors who have demonstrated high achievement and interest in science coursework.

Prerequisite: High achievement in Chemistry and Biology and departmental permission.
Co-Requisite: Integrated Algebra 2 and Trigonometry (Math 30), or higher.

Fall trimester. Transmission Genetics is a rigorous second year, college-level biology course that examines the details by which genetic information is transferred from one generation of humans to the next and how that information is transformed into the physical expression of traits. Advanced studies will include the ability to distinguish more subtle patterns of inheritance, such as sex-linked traits, incomplete and codominance, multiple alleles and linked genes, as well as types and effects of different gene and chromosomal mutations. Through an evolutionary lens, the course will conclude with an examination of complex multifactorial traits and the interaction between human genes and the environment. Students will discuss and debate the ethical issues raised by their studies in stem cells, reproductive technology, and eugenics. Limited space available; students will be required to prioritize course requests during registration. Open to juniors and seniors who have demonstrated high achievement and interest in science coursework.

Prerequisite: High achievement in Chemistry and Biology and departmental permission.
Co-Requisite: Integrated Algebra 2 and Trigonometry (Math 30), or higher.

Winter trimester. Molecular Genetics is a rigorous second year, college-level biology course of study that examines the biochemistry of the gene and the applications of current biotechnology. Students will begin with evolution and the foundations of the molecular structure of DNA, and the mechanics of DNA replication, protein synthesis, and gene expression. Subsequently, the more complex topics of gene regulation, non-coding DNA, RNA interference, and epigenetics will be explored. Students will become proficient with current biotechnological skills and techniques involving DNA extraction, gel electrophoresis, the polymerase chain reaction, DNA sequencing, and genetic engineering. Throughout the course, students will consider and discuss the ethical dilemmas associated with the development of these revolutionary ideas and techniques. Due to the rigor and pace of this course, there is an additional required time commitment. Limited space available; students will be required to prioritize course requests during registration. Open to juniors and seniors who have demonstrated high achievement and interest in science coursework. Seniors who have completed Advanced Biology: Human Transmission Genetics will be given preference.

Prerequisite: High achievement in Chemistry and Biology and departmental permission.
Co-Requisite: Integrated Algebra 2 and Trigonometry (Math 30), or higher.

Winter trimester. Marine Ecology is a rigorous second year, college-level biology course, with additional field and lab requirements, that examines a wide variety of Pacific Ocean ecosystems, neritic and pelagic. Focusing on coastal and island ecology, students will gain an appreciation for evolution, biodiversity, and the sustainability of ecosystems of The Pacific. With an emphasis on ecological relationships, students will consider human impacts throughout the course. The course employs high-level scientific practices in various field and classroom studies. While not required, students who undergo scuba certification may have opportunities for enrichment activities. Due to the rigor and pace of this course, there is an additional required time commitment which may include fieldwork. Limited space available; students will be required to prioritize course requests during registration. Open to juniors and seniors who have demonstrated high achievement science and a strong interest in ocean studies. Seniors who have completed a previous Advanced Biology course will be given preference.

Prerequisite: High achievement in Chemistry and Biology and departmental permission.
Co-Requisite: Integrated Algebra 2 and Trigonometry (Math 30), or higher.

Winter trimester. Human Population, Toxicology, and Health is a rigorous second year, college-level biology course, with additional lab requirements. In this course students will analyze the science behind the prevailing models of human population dynamics, pollution and toxicology, and human developmental biology. Emphasis will be placed on how pollution affects human health. The course explores current understanding of the molecular mechanisms that regulate animal development (embryology). Evolutionary mechanisms are emphasized as well as the discussion of pollution and diseases. Due to the rigor and pace of this course, there is an additional required time commitment. Limited space available; students will be required to prioritize course requests during registration. Open to juniors and seniors who have demonstrated high achievement and interest in science coursework. Seniors who have completed a previous Advanced Biology course will be given preference.

Prerequisite: High achievement in Chemistry and Biology and departmental permission.
Co-Requisite: Integrated Algebra 2 and Trigonometry (Math 30), or higher.

Spring trimester. Using authentic scientific research as a driver, this course uses Yale’s Small World Iniative (smallworldinitiative.org) addressing a worldwide health threat, the diminishing supply of effective antibiotics. Cate students will contribute to the hunt to discover new antibiotics from soil bacteria in the Santa Barbara area through hands-on field and laboratory microbiology research. This course will foster the development of critical thinking skills including hypothesis testing, experimental design, data analysis and science communication.  The research course will also apply a vareirty of advanced biology concepts including ecology, evolution, biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, and organismal biology and will provide the venue for the investigation of biological and chemical soil diversity. This is a rigorous second year, college-level biology course, with additional lab requirements. Limited space available; students will be required to prioritize course requests during registration. Open to juniors and seniors who have demonstrated high achievement science, strong lab skills, high-level scientific practices, and a keen interest in hunting for microbes and, potentially, contributing to the scientific endeavor. Seniors who have completed a previous Advanced Biology course will be given preference.

Prerequisite: High achievement in Chemistry and Biology and departmental permission.
Co-Requisite: Integrated Algebra 2 and Trigonometry (Math 30), or higher.

Spring trimester. Marine Biology is a rigorous second year, college-level biology course, with additional field and lab requirements, that examines species of The Pacific. Focusing on marine organisms and their adaptations to life in the sea, students will investigate the physiology, behaviour and biodiversity of species found in the Pacific Ocean. Students will use computational methods to investigate evolutionary relationships between species and construct phylogenetic trees using molecular and morphological evidence. While not required, students who undergo scuba certification may have opportunities for enrichment activities. Due to the rigor and pace of this course, there is an additional required time commitment which may include fieldwork, frequent dissections and independent research. Limited space available; students will be required to prioritize course requests during registration. Open to juniors and seniors who have demonstrated high achievement science and a strong interest in ocean studies. Seniors who have completed a previous Advanced Biology course will be given preference.

Prerequisite: High achievement in Chemistry and Biology and departmental permission.
Co-Requisite: Integrated Algebra 2 and Trigonometry (Math 30), or higher.

Spring trimester. Human Biology is a rigorous second year, college-level biology course that offers an introduction to the basic mechanisms that control the organ systems of the human body, including the nervous, cardiovascular, immune, and reproductive systems. Emphasis is on how the body works normally, but includes how these processes fail in disease. Due to the rigor and pace of this course, there is an additional required time commitment. Limited space available; students will be required to prioritize course requests during registration. Open to juniors and seniors who have demonstrated high achievement and interest in science coursework. Seniors who have completed a previous Advanced Biology course will be given preference.

Prerequisite: High achievement in Biology and departmental permission.
Co-Requisite: Integrated Algebra 2 and Trigonometry (Math 30), or higher.

Year course. This course is the equivalent of a first-year college course. Each unit begins with a quick review of topics studied in Honors Chemistry and moves quickly to in-depth examinations of atomic and molecular structure, thermochemistry, states of matter, kinetics, equilibrium, oxidation and reduction, and thermodynamics. Emphases are on further developing scientific inquiry practices and developing problem-solving skills to understand the experimental basis of theories. The course has an extensive laboratory component, with many of the labs being guided inquiry. Successful students, with a commitment to practicing standardized tests outside of the course, will be positioned well to take the SAT Subject Test and the AP Chemistry examination. Due to the rigor and pace of this course, there is an extended laboratory commitment one period each week. Open to juniors and seniors who have demonstrated high achievement and interest in their previous science coursework.

Prerequisites: High achievement in Physics, Chemistry, and departmental permission.
Co-Requisite: Pre-Calculus: Integrated Functions (Math 40), or higher.

Fall trimester. This course is modeled after an introductory, college-level, calculus-based college course and requires a two-term (Fall and Winter) commitment. It explores kinematics; Newton’s laws of motion; work, energy, and power; systems of particles and linear momentum; circular motion and rotation; and oscillations and gravitation. Open to juniors and seniors who have demonstrated high achievement and interest in their previous science coursework.

Winter trimester. This course, following Advanced Physics: Mechanics 1, completes the calculus-based mechanics portion of the course. The successful student, with some additional work outside of the course and a commitment to test preparation in the spring, will be positioned to perform well on the AP Physics: C Exam in May. Open to juniors and seniors who have demonstrated high achievement and interest in their previous science coursework.

Prerequisite: Advanced Physics: Mechanics 1.
Co-Requisites: Advanced Physics and Advanced Calculus 1 (AB) (Math 50), or higher

Fall trimester. This course is modeled after an introductory, college-level, calculus-based college course and requires a two-term (Fall and Winter) commitment. It explores kinematics; Newton’s laws of motion; work, energy, and power; systems of particles and linear momentum; circular motion and rotation; and oscillations and gravitation. Open to juniors and seniors who have demonstrated high achievement and interest in their previous science coursework.

Prerequisite: Physics and departmental permission.
Co-Requisites: Advanced Physics and Advanced Calculus 1 (AB) (Math 50), or higher.


Winter trimester. This course, following Advanced Physics: Mechanics 1, completes the calculus-based mechanics portion of the course. The successful student, with some additional work outside of the course and a commitment to test preparation in the spring, will be positioned to perform well on the AP Physics: C Exam in May. Open to juniors and seniors who have demonstrated high achievement and interest in their previous science coursework.

Prerequisite: Advanced Physics: Mechanics 1.
Co-Requisites: Advanced Physics and Advanced Calculus 1 (AB) (Math 50), or higher.

 

Spring trimester. This course, following Advanced Physics with Calculus: Mechanics 1 and 2, is modeled after an introductory calculus-based college course and explores the principles and mathematical implementation of two revolutionary developments of the 20th century – Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. The resulting understanding of everything from the structure of the atom to the evolution of the universe will be investigated.

Prerequisite: Advanced Physics: Mechanics 1 & 2
Co-Requisites: Advanced Physics and Advanced Calculus 1 (AB) (Math 50), or higher.

Year course. This advanced course in computational thinking will provide students with the programming skills to ask and answer a broader class of questions than can be addressed by conventional means. Assuming no prior background in programming, students will learn the core concepts of variables, loops, functions, recursion, and conditional execution. Smaller projects draw from physics and mathematics, but the trimester concludes in a weeks-long video game development project. In the second term, students build on the skills of the first trimester as they extend into string manipulation, lists, dictionaries, and object-oriented design. Cryptography figures prominently as a context in which these skills are applied. Students also develop an understanding of algorithmic design, focusing on classic algorithms of searching and sorting. This winter trimester culminates in an interdisciplinary project of the student’s own design. For the third trimester, the most interested and self-motivated student of computer science, will delve more deeply into data structures, algorithms, and other more advanced topics. Object-oriented design and the concepts of encapsulation and inheritance are fleshed out more completely. Students are given considerable leeway to pursue specific interests, for example learning a new language or scientific programming. Open to juniors and seniors. Minimal two-term (F & W) commitment required.

Open to juniors and seniors.

Prerequisite: Pre-Calculus: Integrated Functions (Math 40) and permission of the department.

Fall trimester. The world ocean is the defining feature of our planet and makes it habitable. This senior elective examines the major physical and chemical properties of the ocean and the essential understandings needed to understand this dynamic system. Students will explore the physical properties of our one big, largely unexplored, ocean that shape many of the Earth’s features. Beginning with early explorers and their understanding of our planet and the important concepts in earth structure and plate tectonics, students will investigate the influence of weather, climate, and atmospheric circulation, in addition to the ocean floor, structure, and circulation, on Earth. Students will make use of big data, satellite images, and other graphical imagery, in addition to laboratory experimentation, to understand and analyze the interaction of the hydrosphere with the atmosphere, lithosphere, and ultimately the biosphere, to deeply understand, analyze, and solve problems associated with the ocean. Students will also be introduced to engineering and design principles through a ROV project.

Open to seniors.
Prerequisites: Chemistry and Biology.

Winter trimester. This senior elective explores the scientific story of the Southern California coast: the story of its beaches, islands, waves, faults, and other natural phenomena. Through the topics of surf, sand, and stone, this course examines the coastal boundary of unrelenting geological and oceanographic processes that have shaped California’s coast and created its unique surf spots, beaches, islands, and coastal ecology. Ideally an outdoor science course, students will explore Cate’s coastal classroom. The big ideas of the course will make the most sense when learning is transferred from the classroom to the beaches, the bluffs, the islands, the mountains, and the salt marsh. The course values the adventure and fun of scientifically investigating intriguing and beautiful places on our coast. If sand grains are caught between our toes and falling from the binding our books with saltwater-stained pages, then we will know that we are doing it right! Open to seniors. Students will also be introduced to engineering and design principles through a ROV project.

Prerequisites: Chemistry and Biology.

Spring semester. The world ocean supports the human population and a great diversity of life that are inextricably linked. This senior elective examines the marine environment as a vast interconnected living space with diverse and unique ecosystems distributed horizontally by latitude as well as vertically through the water column – from the pelagic surface to the abyssal depths. The course begins with looking at the ocean’s past and compares it to its present state. Big topics include ocean acidification, sea level rise, climate change, overfishing, dead zones, and pollution (biological, synthetic, and noise). Through the lens of stewardship and Servons, the course will look to the future and changing course by asking compelling questions and offering solutions: How do we sustainably farm, cleanup, and renew life in the sea? What would a New Deal for the ocean look like and how do we proceed? Taking advantage of Cate’s Cate’s coastal classroom, students will investigate near-shore communities (kelp forests, tide pools, etc) while focusing on global solutions and ways to promote a more ocean-literate society. Open to seniors.

Prerequisites: Chemistry and Biology.

Fall trimester. This course will serve as a basic introduction to the fields of human anatomy and physiology. Exploration of body systems and their interactive nature will lead to a greater understanding of the overall function of the human organism. Laboratory study will include experiential learning opportunities in the fields of athletic training, exercise physiology, physical therapy, emergency management and orthopedic medicine. Through a variety of hands-on activities and laboratory inquiries, students will be exposed to the basic skills and concepts relating to the prevention, recognition, and management of athletic injury, as well as the collaborative healthcare approach utilized by sports medicine professionals. Students will increase their knowledge and awareness of human anatomy and physiology, pathology, and histology in addition to basic first aid and emergency management procedures (American Red Cross CPR/AED and First Aid Certification). Opportunities for specialized practical experience with the Athletic Trainer and Cate School team physicians will also be available.
Open to juniors and seniors.
Prerequisite: Chemistry. Co-requisite: Biology

Winter trimester. Anatomy and Physiology 2 will allow students the opportunity to increase the depth of their knowledge and understanding of several body systems. Students will embark on research and laboratory study relating primarily to the cardiac and nervous systems. This course will also provide independent enrichment through a series of self-directed inquiry-based projects which may include scientific research, journal reviews, oral presentations and debate. Laboratory study will include units in nutrition, neuroscience, psychology and general fitness. Opportunities for specialized practical experience with the Athletic Trainer and Cate School team physicians will also be available. Prerequisite: Anatomy and Physiology: Sports Medicine 1