High School Curriculum — Science

Oak Grove offers four years of college-preparatory laboratory science. Beginning with Environmental Science and progressing through Biology, Chemistry, and ending with Physics, each course gradually builds in rigor and expectations, corresponding with the age, brain development, and needs of our students. Science naturally supports project-based, kinesthetic learning, and Oak Grove’s curriculum is no exception. Our students are often asked to discover answers to questions through experimentation using the techniques of Argument Driven Inquiry. Seminars and lectures supplement the labs to build note-taking and fact-finding skills and to prepare students for the teaching styles of many post-high school science courses. The instructor facilitates students learning with a teacher-as-coach model, encouraging questioning and depth over breadth. The Arts of Living and Learning are woven throughout the curriculum in each science course to create a safe environment for inquiry, discussion, and learning. Students are encouraged to ask questions, observe the world around them, explain in depth with justifications, and self reflect. By incorporating the Arts of Living and Learning, students graduate from this four-year course sequence with the tools to succeed in the most rigorous of universities.

Environmental Science

Oak Grove’s science course sequence begins with Environmental Science. Students work inside the laboratory and outside in the field to study topics related to humans and our environment including ecology, industry and agriculture, population growth, climate change, and resource management. Students are supported as they learn to navigate a textbook, follow the steps in a scientific investigation to draw conclusions, organize and take useful notes, and develop best practices in an inquiry-based science classroom. Students work individually as well as in groups, learning communication and time-management strategies. As with most Oak Grove courses, students are assessed using multiple methods including projects, laboratory experiments, homework assignments, quizzes, tests, and oral presentations. Students complete the course with a better understanding of the natural world around them in addition to their role and impact within it.


This course is a yearlong introduction to the field of Biology. It is UC-approved and meets the laboratory requirement for both Oak Grove graduation and college acceptance. Students work inside the laboratory and outside in the field to study topics related to the living parts of our world. Topics include cell structure and processes, DNA and protein synthesis, genetics, Earth’s history, and the human body. As with most courses at Oak Grove, the curriculum is shared and explored using a variety methods including discussion, lecture, inquiry-based labs and projects, small group work, presentations, and more. Students will leave the course having practiced and developed skills necessary to navigate dense vocabulary and challenging topics that are often difficult to conceptualize.


Chemistry at Oak Grove is designed to not only introduce students to the topic, but also to develop a new way of thinking and processing information. It is a UC-approved laboratory science that is heavily math-based. Within Chemistry, students know what they are given to start with and what they are looking to produce, but the challenge is determining the process needed to get between the two. We enter a world where there are not always equations and definitions that can just be memorized. Rather, students need to understand where they are trying to go and build a road map of their own. The Basic Chemistry textbook uses specific real world applications as an umbrella under which different concepts can be studied. Students are assessed using multiple methods including projects, laboratory experiments, homework assignments, quizzes, tests and oral presentations. Honors options are also available to qualified and interested students.


The CPO Science program Foundations of Physics is a hands-on and inquiry based instructional approach to Physics. Each new concept is introduced through connections to real world applications, either in the lab or through the reading in the text. The program combines this conceptual understanding with mathematical instruction as students use equations to analyze data and solve quantitative problems. During the first semester of Physics students learn about measurement and units, motion and force (Newton’s laws), Hooke’s law, gravity and circular motion. In the second semester torque, rotational inertia, work, magnetism and electricity, electric circuits and power, semiconductors and digital electronics are studied. Students review homework, solve problems and are introduced to new topics (typically through lab work) in class.  Students’ progress is assessed using homework, quizzes, class participation and labs, notebooks and tests, as well as a final exam.

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