PRICE: $650 per semester, Including all lab materials.

This comprehensive year-long course invites late add-ons, warmly welcoming all interested participants.
Biology, as the exploration of life, unfolds through a blend of lectures, discussions, activities, and laboratory exercises. The curriculum strongly emphasizes instilling proper laboratory procedures, honing qualitative and quantitative observation skills, and maintaining a meticulous biology notebook. These foundational skills enhance the learning experience and lay the groundwork for future scientific studies. The course is designed to underscore biology's vital role in the context of students' lives within contemporary society.
The first semester encompasses a range of topics, including biochemistry, cell structure and function, energy dynamics (covering photosynthesis and cellular respiration), and genetics. Each semester is enriched with at least one field trip to complement the theoretical learning.
Transitioning into the second semester, the focus shifts to anatomy, physiology, evolution, and ecology. Our syllabus aligns seamlessly with the approved a-g requirements, with Ocean Grove's endorsement supporting a-g credit for this course through the Santa Cruz Learning Center.

Students can choose registration, opting for a-g credit, non-a-g, or an honors designation based on their academic goals and aspirations.

Semester 1:

UNIT 1: Introduction to Biology and Ecology

Students will develop a comprehensive understanding that all living entities share fundamental characteristics, defining Biology as the intricate study of life itself. They will recognize the myriad benefits of studying biology, acknowledging the inherent connection between all life forms and the chemistry principles underpinning their existence.
A key aspect of their learning journey involves grasping the scientific method as an inquiry-based process, fostering critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Additionally, students will delve into Ecology, exploring the intricate relationships among living organisms and their dynamic interactions with the environment. They will adeptly define and discern between biotic and abiotic factors, recognizing their complex interplay within communities and ecosystems.
Moreover, students will unravel the intricate web of energy flow in ecosystems, understanding how autotrophs capture solar energy, rendering it accessible to all members of a food web. Proficiency in comprehending and diagramming models of energy flow will be honed. Furthermore, students will articulate the cycling of essential nutrients through biogeochemical processes, exhibiting their understanding by diagramming the water, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycles.
As their knowledge deepens, students will explore the Biosphere and gain insight into human impact on ecosystems. Through this comprehensive approach, students will emerge with a nuanced understanding of the intricate web of life and its interdependence on various ecological processes.

UNIT 2: The Cell

Students will delve into the fascinating history of scientific discovery, acknowledging that the invention of the microscope played a pivotal role in unraveling the mysteries of cells. The study will thoroughly explore cell theory, delving into the differentiation of essential plant and animal cells.
With a focus on cellular biology, students will comprehensively describe all cell structures and their respective functions, honing their skills in accurately diagramming these structures. Additionally, students will gain insight into the intricate processes of cellular transport, understanding how substances are moved within the cell and efficiently transported out of it. This holistic approach will provide students with a profound grasp of the intricacies of cellular life, from historical breakthroughs to the contemporary understanding of cellular structures and functions.

UNIT 3: Genetics

Students will grasp and apply their knowledge of mutation and sexual reproduction in organisms, elucidating how these processes contribute to genetic variation. This includes a comprehensive exploration of meiosis, fertilization, alleles, and the probability of alleles. Students will gain insights into how zygotes acquire their distinctive characteristics.
Furthermore, students will extend their understanding of the intricate processes governing the development of multicellular organisms. This involves delving into genotype, phenotype, pedigrees, Mendelian genetics, and the frequency of chromosomes. A thorough examination of DNA sequencing, encompassing RNA, DNA, reproduction, replication, amino acids, and genes, will be undertaken. Students will also be introduced to the latest research on genetics and genetic technology.
Building on the foundational knowledge acquired in Unit 2 about cells and cell replication, students will seamlessly transition their understanding to DNA and mitosis. Applying Mendelian genetics and Punnett squares will enable students to predict genotypes and phenotypes. Diagramming pedigrees and explaining the passage of traits from a cellular allele level will be integral to their learning experience.
In addition, students will model DNA transcription, translation, and replication, elucidating their significance in ensuring accurate information transfer. A practical application of genetic information to real-world health issues, coupled with an exploration of modern genetic technology and associated ethical considerations, will empower students to navigate the dynamic landscape of genetics in contemporary society. This multifaceted approach ensures that students understand the theoretical aspects of genetics and apply this knowledge to relevant, real-world scenarios.

Semester 2
UNIT 4: History of Biological Diversity

Students will delve into the profound insights of Charles Darwin, recognizing the development of an evidence-based theory of evolution grounded in natural selection. They will articulate how the concept of artificial selection contributed to Darwin's understanding of natural selection. Moreover, students will identify and provide examples of the four principles underlying natural selection. Wallace's noteworthy contribution to the theory of evolution will also be scrutinized, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the historical context.
Students will explore the multifaceted evidence supporting this theory to fortify their grasp of evolution. They will elucidate how fossils and biochemistry serve as compelling proof of evolutionary processes, showcasing the diverse lines of evidence substantiating the theory.
In biodiversity, students will employ a classification system to organize information about the diversity of living organisms systematically. They will articulate the significance of a biological classification system and briefly summarize the rules governing binomial nomenclature. A historical review of classification and exploring methods for determining species and phylogeny will enhance their understanding. Additionally, students will organize animals based on ascending complexity, providing a holistic perspective on the diversity of life.
Shifting focus, students will appreciate the diversity of Prokaryotes, recognizing their presence in nearly all environments. They will adeptly diagram a bacterium and understand that Prokaryotes belong to two domains. The dual nature of bacteria, with some causing diseases, while others prove beneficial to humans, will be comprehensively explored. This nuanced approach ensures students comprehend the intricacies of evolution and appreciate the diversity and significance of living organisms in various ecosystems.

UNIT 5: The Diversity of Life

Students will explore plant adaptations to diverse Earth environments, recognizing the specialized features that enable survival. They will articulate the scientific hypothesis proposing a common ancestor between green algae and plants, fostering an understanding of the evolutionary connections. Furthermore, students will categorize plants into divisions: nonvascular, vascular seedless, and vascular seed plants.
Building on this foundation, students will briefly summarize the characteristics of nonvascular plants. They will then delve into the attributes of seedless plant groups, drawing comparisons between the sporophyte and gametophyte generations of vascular and nonvascular plants. This comparative analysis will contribute to a nuanced understanding of plant kingdoms' intricate life cycles and adaptations.
Shifting the focus to the animal kingdom, students will recognize animals as multicellular, eukaryotic heterotrophs adept at thriving in diverse habitats. They will note the absence of cell walls in animal cells and appreciate the organization of cells into tissues. This holistic perspective on the characteristics of plants and animals enhances students' comprehension of the remarkable diversity and adaptations found within the living world.

Unit 6: The Human Body

In this comprehensive unit, students will acquire a thorough understanding of various human body systems, delving into the intricacies of the Integumentary, Skeletal, Muscular, Nervous, Circulatory, Respiratory, Excretory, Digestive, Endocrine, Immune, and Reproductive Systems. The exploration includes an in-depth study of their significance, characteristics, constituent structures and organs, functions, and their pivotal role in human survival. Students will grasp the intricate interactions between these systems, recognizing the interconnectedness that ensures optimal bodily function.
To reinforce their understanding, students will identify and model various body systems, fostering a tactile and visual approach to learning. Practical application will extend to observations from their bodies and mammal dissections, enriching their knowledge of human body systems. This hands-on experience will provide a tangible link between theoretical concepts and real-world anatomical structures.
Additionally, students will develop the ability to interpret data related to various systems and analyze body output. This analytical approach will empower them to formulate hypotheses based on the acquired data, promoting critical thinking and problem-solving skills. By the conclusion of this unit, students will possess a comprehensive understanding of the intricacies of the human body, enabling them to appreciate the seamless coordination between various systems that underpin human survival.
​CK-12 Biology is available here free of charge.

2560 Soquel Ave. Suites 201, 204, 205 Santa Cruz, CA 95062  |   831-331-5611  |​​​​

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