The most prevalent areas of science offered in high school (or even middle school) include Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.
All of these courses have a few things in common:
1) Science explores how things work. This exploration takes place on many levels (listed from largest to smallest) - macroscopic objects, microscopic objects including cells, molecular objects such as atoms, and atomic particles like protons and electrons.
2) Scientists follow the scientific method, a step-by-step process for experimentation which involves making observations about the world around you, asking testable questions about how things work, attempting to explain or model them, and testing your theory in a repeatable way.
3) Scientists use the Metric System (grams, liters, and meters) rather than feet, pounds, or inches for recording measurements.
Each science also has some unique characteristics we'll describe below:
Earth science is the study of the components of our planet, including the land, water, and air. Earth science incorporates geology, meteorology, and oceanography. It may also include studying natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and hurricanes. Astronomy - the study of stars and outer space - is also sometimes a part of an earth science class. Earth science may also include environmental science, which is how humans interact with the natural world. If you find you like earth science, you may want to consider preparing for an AP Environmental Science
Biology is the study of living things. This includes plants, animals, cells, and the human body. It asks the essential question - what makes something "alive"? It also examines the physical structures (anatomy) and processes (physiology) that living things have in common. Some biology classes also include a discussion of the origins of living things and their evolution. If you find that you like biology, you may want to consider taking the SAT II - Molecular Biology
and SAT II - Ecological Biology
subject tests or preparing for an AP Biology
Chemistry is the study of how things work on a small scale. It teaches that all things are made of atoms. It also teaches the properties of elements and compounds. It focuses on how these properties can be changed by chemical reactions and physical changes such as changes of state. If you find you like chemistry, you may want to consider taking the SAT II - Chemistry
subject test or preparing for an AP Chemistry
Physics examines how things work on a larger scale. It includes the study of motion - a part of physics called mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and waves of light (optics) and sound (acoustics). If you find you like physics, you may want to consider taking the SAT II - Physics
test or preparing for an AP Physics 1
, AP Physics 2
, AP Physics C: Mechanics
, or AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
You might also take Physical Science - which is a mix of physics and chemistry, or living environment - which is a mix of biology and environmental science. Some schools offer other special science courses such as forensics, genetics, or astronomy.
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