Science and Technology
The great challenges facing our world today will be solved, at least in part, with keen and compassionate scientific solutions. Our principal goal is to train students to be these leader-scientists.
The Science Department aims to equip students with methods of scientific research and inquiry and develop the ability to reason scientifically. The standard departmental course sequence begins with a study of the natural world and life in it, generally, and our unique place and its life here, specifically.
From the study of biology, the standard science path is for a student to take either chemistry or physics for an essential, formal laboratory science experience. Fulfillment of the three-course graduation requirement is then completed through any number of engaging electives.
The department has intentionally built “strands of study” that allow the avid science student to explore in depth an area of discovered passion. Strands include astronomy, biotechnology, chemistry, computer technology and science, marine science, physics, and robotics.
Our department and course of study allows any willing student the ability to attain the highest level of scientific work in the world available in a high school setting.
- Biology Honors
- AP Biology
- Marine Biology
- Chemistry Honors
- AP Chemistry
- AP Physics 1
- AP Physics 2
- AP Physics C
- AP Environmental Science
- Independent Science Research
- Physical Oceanography
AP Biology prepares students for success on the College Board’s AP Biology examination. Topics include cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, physiology, evolution, and ecology. Labs and activities complement lectures and readings. Upon demonstrating success on of the AP Biology exam, a student may be eligible to receive college credit for a one-year course in general biology. The prerequisite for this course is a teacher recommendation, completed year of biology and chemistry (previous or concurrent study).
Biotechnology is designed to give students a comprehensive introduction to the scientific concepts and laboratory research techniques currently used in the field of biotechnology. Students attain knowledge about the field of biotechnology and deeper understanding of the biological concepts on which these processes are based. In addition, students develop some of the basic laboratory skills, including pipette use. The objectives covered in this course are both academic and technical in nature and are presented in a progressively rigorous manner. The culminating and platform laboratory experience on which this course will be based is the creation of a DNA barcode of targeted organisms. Accurate completion of this relevant laboratory task may offer the exciting possibility for publication of the student's data into the Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD), a global genetic database. The prerequisite for this course is Biology. The course is open to Juniors and Seniors.
This course provides continued experience in select molecular DNA laboratory procedures. As a capstone course, and upon completion, students should be able to perform laboratory techniques and use instrumentation common to basic biotechnology and apply these skills in a laboratory investigation, actual or theoretical in design of solving a problem and/or creating a product.
Chemistry is a first year introductory chemistry course. Students are exposed to traditional topics covered in a first year chemistry course as well proper laboratory practice. In addition, students will explore applications of chemistry past and present through various readings, research and projects. This course is heavily lab-oriented, and counts towards one of two required lab science credits for graduation. As such, consistent attendance is a necessary condition for success. Students will be taught what to look for, the need to make their own observations, as well as record them appropriately in a laboratory notebook. Also, students will be required to develop process skills that will enable them to succeed in working collaboratively.
The prerequisite for this course is completion of or concurrent enrollment in Algebra II Trigonometry.
Chemistry Honors is a first year introductory chemistry course. Students are exposed to traditional topics covered in a first year chemistry course as well proper laboratory practice. Students who take Chemistry Honors will master the skills needed to transition to a second year of chemistry, AP Chemistry if they so choose. In addition, students will explore applications of chemistry past and present through various readings, research and projects. This course is heavily lab-oriented, and counts towards one of two required lab science credits for graduation. As such, consistent attendance is a necessary condition for success. Students will be taught what to look for, the need to make their own observations, as well as record them appropriately in a laboratory notebook. Also, students will be required to develop process skills that will enable them to succeed in working collaboratively. As an Honors level course, students should expect homework and assessments regularly. Successful students will have demonstrated a high level of mastery in previous science and math courses. Students should have a solid foundation in algebra at the minimum. The ability to manipulate data using formulas is critical to success in this course. The prerequisite for this course is completion of or concurrent in enrollment in Geometry Honors and a teacher recommendation.
a first course in high school chemistry. First year topics will be reviewed briefly prior to beginning new material. However, the pacing of AP Chemistry is very swift and there is little time for acquiring mastery of prerequisite knowledge. The AP Chemistry Curriculum includes a concept outline organized around six Big Ideas as well as a focus on a number of Science Practices that must be demonstrated through laboratory investigations. Students must sit for and earn a score greater than one on the AP Chemistry Exam in May in order to earn the AP Chemistry designation on their transcript. Course content is delivered via lecture and laboratory activities. Generally speaking, students can expect one period of lab for every three periods of lecture. Students should plan to spend at least one hour outside of class working on course material for every two hours of scheduled class time.
A grade average of 80% or greater in a first- year high school chemistry course is a prerequisite for enrollment in an AP Chemistry class. In addition, the mathematics prerequisite for AP Chemistry is the completion of a second-year algebra course with a grade of 80% or greater. Students must also receive a teacher recommendation from their previous chemistry and math teacher to enroll in AP Chemistry. Lastly, placement exams may be administered during the first weeks of class to assess prerequisite knowledge and/or summer work. The AP Chemistry teacher may make recommendations for schedule changes based on student performance on these entrance assessments.
AP Physics 1 is an algebra-based, introductory level university first semester physics course. Students cultivate their understanding of physics through inquiry-based investigations as they explore topics such as Newtonian mechanics (including rotational motion); work, energy, and power; mechanical waves and sound; and introductory, simple circuits. In this course, a significant amount of time will be spent in hands-on laboratory work, with an emphasis on inquiry-based investigations that provide students with opportunities to apply the science practices. This course culminates with all students taking the AP Physics 1 Exam at the end of the school year. Exam questions are based on learning objectives, which combine science practices with specific content. Students learn to: solve problems mathematically (including symbolically); design and describe experiments and analyze data and sources of error; explain, reason, or justify answers with emphasis on deeper, conceptual understanding; and interpret and develop conceptual and mathematical models. The prerequisite for this course is the successful completion of Pre-calculus, or concurrent enrollment in Algebra II Trigonometry Honors.
Sustainability is one of the fastest growing topics in the world today. We strive to investigate four global challenges: energy, water, food and culture. HPA’s Energy Lab and sustainability projects are unique resources in our study of Environmental Science. This course covers topics including renewable energy, resource depletion, pollution, population, global footprint, and sustainability among others. Colleges evaluate this course as equal to other college science courses, and successful completion should prepare students to be fluent in all major concepts and challenges facing the environment, and be an asset to any future work in this field and much more. This should also lead to an excellent score on the AP exams in May. The prerequisite for this course is Biology Honors, concurrently enrolled in Algebra II Trigonometry, and teacher recommendation
Independent Science Research (1.0) begins with students creating a project proposal, listing resources, needs and possible outcomes and impact on the student, the school and the world. Once accepted, students meet together for class, report daily on their weblog diary, and create a weekly report of progress, challenges and resources needed. A quarterly progress video and semester presentations enable students to develop skills in presentation and articulation. This is an advanced course that puts a great deal of responsibility on the student to create, develop and report on a project of their interest. Examples of ongoing projects include: brain wave research, 3D modeling, drone mapping, artificial intelligence, machine learning, 3D visualization, earthquakes and much more. The prerequisite for this course is Freshman standing and teacher recommendation. (ISR Wiki: http://physics.hpa.edu/groups/independentscienceresearch/)
Astronomy asks students to explore topics on a large scale: from the Earth to the outer reaches of the Cosmos. We begin with learning about the Earth and its place in the solar system before moving out of the solar system and studying distant stars and galaxies. Students learn how to use indirect measurement to find the size of the Earth, Moon, and Sun as well as their distances from each other. Likewise, we use similar measurement skills to find distances to stars both near and distant as well as very distant galaxies. There are several lab experiences in Astronomy as well as regular night viewing and trips to Hale Pohaku on Mauna Kea and Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo. Students can also work in conjunction with professional astronomers on projects that are of both interest and import to the astronomical community with the ultimate goal of having their work published. Although Astronomy does not require mathematics beyond basic algebra and trigonometry, mathematics is used on a daily basis and students are advised to be ready to apply their skills. The prerequisite for this course is completion of or concurrent enrollment in Algebra II Trigonometry.
Physical Oceanography asks students to explore the physics of the ocean, from surface to abyss, from ice ages until present and into the future. The course will emphasize the original research you will conduct using data from the Hawaii area. You will learn how physics, chemistry and geology play key roles in tsunamis, surfing waves, currents and climate. Oceanography is a new science, where open questions abound: How long does it take waters to stabilize after a hurricane? How deep into the water does ocean acidification reach? How are oxygen concentrations affected by sunshine? Do tsunamis generate measurable mixing? You'll use data to conduct original research into questions, of your choosing, like these. The ocean influences the development of civilizations, climate, politics, economics. This class will teach you how mainstream oceanographers see the world ocean, and how they go about seeking answers to questions lurking in waters of the world. Open to all juniors and seniors.
Electronics is a project-based exploration of the related fields of Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Computer Science that emphasizes hands-on work with electrical and computer systems. Over the semester, this course will take students from the basic principles of electricity up to designing and constructing smart devices based off the Arduino microcontroller. This course aims to help you better understand the electronics and computer technology that suffuses our modern world while learning tech skills such as circuit design, soldering, testing, and programming. The prerequisite for this course is Geometry.
Robotics builds off the knowledge and approaches learned in Electronics by applying these skills to mechanical problems. Students will become fluent in designing and building robotic systems that integrate mechanics, electronics, and programming, using the Arduino microcontroller as the brain to control Lego and aluminum-frame robots. This course will use team-based projects to develop these skills while introducing students to current developments in the field, such as driverless cars, automated manufacturing, and artificial intelligence. The course will culminate in an open-ended project where students use their robotics knowledge to tackle an engineering problem on campus. The prerequisites for this course are Geometry and Electronics.