Thinking & Learning

What to Expect from High School Science

Many high schools will follow a similar path through science courses, but your high schooler will likely also have quite a bit of choice when it comes to advanced courses. Here’s what you can expect as they snap on those safety goggles.

Your kid has probably gotten a taste of many different science disciplines already, but high school is really the time they’ll dig deeper into science learning. Depending on their school’s graduation requirements, they might only need to take two or three years of science. But if they’re interested in pursuing a field that requires advanced science coursework—including jobs in healthcare, technology, and vocational professions—they should strongly consider studying science for all four years of high school.

Here’s what you can expect your child to tackle in high school science:

1

They’ll progress through core science disciplines like earth science, life science, chemistry, and physics. They should spend more time in these subject areas than they did in middle school, and they should be reading, writing, and conducting hands-on experiments in the context of their learning.

2

They’ll understand the scientific method and design experiments based on their questions. High school is where they’ll build the lab skills that will be required in college science courses. They’ll learn not only the steps of the scientific method, but how to apply it in more advanced ways. Gone are the days of making simple volcanoes from baking soda and vinegar. Now they might use baking soda and vinegar to propel a race car. They might dissect frogs, analyze water samples for different types of bacteria, or build their own bridges in Physics. There’s a ton of cool stuff to do in high school science, and hopefully your teen’s curiosity will be sparked.

3

They’ll use the periodic table. They’ll understand how elements react to each other and be able to make predictions based on their knowledge.

4

They’ll use science to inform their understanding of real-world problems. For example, they might be delving into climate change and the impact of fossil fuels, or talking about how pandemics occur and the science behind vaccines.

5

They’ll have the chance to do advanced coursework in an area of their choosing. After they meet their school’s basic science requirements, they should have the chance to opt into advanced courses on science subjects of their choosing. They might find themselves interested in the social sciences as well, and have the opportunity to study those as an elective.