Advice about Science at Berkeley High

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Next class in science progression at BHS

Feb 2014

I'd like some advice from you parents whose high schoolers have gone through the progression of science classes at BHS. My son is a sophomore in BIHS and will be choosing his classes for next year very soon.

Currently he is enrolled in AP Chemistry. He chose that class largely because that was what his friends were choosing; however, he is interested in the sciences and is enjoying the class. He studies with a tutor weekly and got a C grade at the end of the first semester. My take on his grade is that the course material is challenging, but he could have put more time into studying. He does OK in math. His grade at the end of the semester was a B.

He has an interest in anatomy and was thinking about taking the anatomy and physiology class (it is an honors class in IB) next year. However, many of his friends want to take AP Biology next year as juniors, and then take honors Anatomy/Physiology in their senior year, so again, he is also considering doing what his friends are doing.

Do you think this is a good science progression, to take AP Bio before Anatomy/Physiology, or should he take Anatomy/Physiology first, if he is interested in it?

Also, my high school science progression (back in the mid-80s) was biology-chemistry-physics-AP level bio/chem/physics (I took AP Bio). It seems that BHS doesn't require physics. How important do you think it is for one to take a physics class before graduating from high school?

Thanks. BHS parent

I am glad you are checking this now. It's been two years since my son applied to engineering schools, but I think most, if not all, wanted him to have physics along with chem and bio. A fourth science often was recommended. You may want to check with the college counselor and get online to a number of potential schools to find out the requirements for physics for his possible majors. Anon.

Hi! I don't have experience with BHS, but I don't think physics is necessary for the student that does not want to take it. My son (Sophomore at USC) went to high school in Marin and took 9th grade- Biology, 10th grade- Chemistry, 11th grade- Honors Biology, 12th grade- AP Environmental Science (score 5). He was not at all interested in taking physics. (He took Calculus & felt that was enough; he's a history/Poli Sci type). I don't think a lack of physics mattered at all in the college admission process. A lot depends on plans for college major. If your student is planning on taking 4 years of science & wants to take an honors anatomy/ physiology class, I personally think it's better for the student (and reflects interest to college admissions) to take senior year classes that he's really committed to- Parent of Poli Sci major

I think kids who are considering a science/engineering/medicine future would do well to take 4 years of science, including physics (or AP physics if they can handle it). That said, I don't know one kid who took it before senior year. It is very hard and taking that junior year seems a bit brutal. Also remember AP Environmental Science, which didn't exist in our day (says the dinosaur). It is fun, fascinating, and I know an unusual number of kids who decided to major in it in college after taking it at BHS. It is not brutally hard, making it a good choice for junior year when other classes are, and when college grades are so important. My very non-science daughter was glad to have one AP science on her record. I don't know anything about the anatomy class so no comment there. But my 2 cents is, save physics for senior year. former BHS mom