The Science Department at Asheville School believes that a basic knowledge of science is an important part of being an informed citizen. The Science Department also believes that students should strive to master a set of skills and practices in science in order to be prepared for challenges in college and professional careers. Though courses differ in content and material, our curriculum expectation is that all courses foster opportunities to demonstrate skills in several areas. In no particular order, students should be able to solve scientific problems using diagrams, models and representations, demonstrate the use of mathematics in a variety of scenarios, be able to pose scientific questions, analyze and apply data, work with scientific theories, pose questions, and connect a multitude of scientific concepts that demonstrate a greater understanding of scientific principles and theory. Whether students are studying biology, chemistry, or physics, the focus is on cultivating these essential skills and practices.

First Year Biology

Third form (9th grade) students begin their study of science with a course that allows for active participation in the investigation of fundamental biological principles. Students in first year Biology learn using the curriculum developed by the American Modeling Institute. Students are coached to construct their own understanding of biological principles through structured activities that require effective group work and communication skills. Units studied include Experimental Design, Evolution, Energy, Cell Structure and Function, Growth and Reproduction, and Heredity.

Advanced Placement Biology

Fifth and Sixth Form (11th and 12th grade) students may continue their study of biology in this second-year course, which is equivalent to an introductory college biology course with laboratories. Students study biology at every level as it relates to four “big ideas” which include Evolution, Information, Energy, and Interactions. Laboratory work is also more advanced and emphasizes independent experimental design. At the conclusion of this course, students are prepared to take the AP examination.

First Year Chemistry (Regular and Honors)

Utilizing practical knowledge learned within a conceptual framework, students gain an understanding of modern atomic theory as it applies to the chemical interaction of matter. Students examine the nature of matter, atomic structure, a variety of aspects of chemical reactions, solutions and equilibrium, and are introduced to both organic and nuclear chemistry. All discussions, lectures, and lab work relate to the general theme of how matter and energy work together to produce interactions in the natural world.

Advanced Placement Chemistry

This second-year course in chemistry develops a deep conceptual understanding of chemical principles such as atomic structure, chemical bonding, molecular modeling, multi-phase stoichiometry, chemical reactions, solution chemistry, kinetics, equilibria, and thermodynamics of reactions. The classroom structure, combining daily work and class discussions with laboratory experimentation and the completion of problem sets, gives students solid preparation for the AP examination.

Physics (Regular)

Students in this course will work together to build models (mathematical, verbal, diagrammatic, graphical, and computational) to represent types of motion and interactions and use them to make predictions to test hypotheses. Throughout the course, the students will build models for the following physics topics: Constant Velocity; Constant Acceleration; Balanced Forces; Unbalanced Forces; 2-dimensional motion; Momentum; Energy; Electricity, and Magnetism. The Modeling Methodology employs a cycle of learning that consists of a paradigm laboratory investigation, student presentation of results, consensus model building, model deployment and verification. Collaboration, Socratic dialogue, and presentations to peers using whiteboards are key tools used in this cycle. Students assemble their own reference materials (their toolbox) from laboratory results, worksheets and informational handouts.

Physics Honors

Students gain a basic knowledge of physical phenomena through the study of the major topics in physics: Newtonian mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and waves. All physics courses explore the physical world while emphasizing systematic thinking, problem solving, and experimentation. Students in the Honors course apply mathematical principles learned in Algebra II to aid in problem solving.

Physics AP 1 and AP C

AP Physics 1 is a first-year course which examines, in detail, topics in classical mechanics and introduces topics in electricity. Physics AP-C is a second-year course in which classical mechanics and electricity and magnetism are studied in greater detail through calculus-based problem solving and individually designed laboratory experiments. Students in both of these courses become skilled problem-solvers and thoughtful experimenters such that they are prepared to succeed on an AP examination.

Anatomy and Physiology

Anatomy and Physiology is offered as an elective course available after successful completion of courses in biology, chemistry, and physics (or biology, chemistry, and AP Biology and AP Chemistry). Through a conceptual framework, students learn major organ systems in the human body. Instruction in this course is varied and includes laboratory exercises, animal dissections, and inquiry into fundamental physiological principles. Students develop skills that can be used to evaluate current medical and health issues.

Engineering (semester course)

Engineering students will study four threads throughout the semester: mechanical design, electronics, programming, and career. New skills will be put into practice in a variety of short- and long-term projects. The mechanical design thread, will review aspects of physics courses, as well as new skills including the EPICS and Design Thinking. The electronics thread will progress from basic electrical circuits to interfacing sensors and motors to Arduino microcontrollers (computers-on-a-chip). Programming will be learned by programming those microcontrollers. The career thread will examine the different fields of engineering, history (including case studies of major engineering successes and failures) and engineering ethics and sustainability.

AP Environmental Science

Environmental Science is an elective course designed to be a culminating experience for students who have completed the department requirement of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics (or Biology, Chemistry, and AP Biology or AP Chemistry). Students will be expected to apply concepts from the fields of biology and chemistry to environmental issues. During the first semester, students will study the concept of environmental sustainability as it applies to human health, ecology and biodiversity. In the second semester, environmental sustainability as it applies to the use of natural resources is the major area of study. Throughout the course, students will analyze case studies, discuss the impact of human activity on the environment, and participate in labs, research, and projects in order to deepen their understanding of the natural environment.


Psychology is offered as an elective course available after successful completion of courses in biology, chemistry, and physics (or biology, chemistry, and AP Biology and AP Chemistry). Topics may include research methods and scientific experiments, the brain and nervous system, learning and behavior, personality development, memory and intelligence, social psychology, and disorders and treatment, among others. Instruction in this course is varied and includes laboratory exercises, case studies, group projects and scientific research. Students develop skills that include data analyzation, working with scientific explanations, connecting concepts and posing and evaluating questions to expand understanding.