The mission of the Science Department at James River High School is to provide all students with a rigorous science curriculum that will prepare them for life after high school, whether that is career, technical school, or a university. We offer core subject courses in Earth and Space Science, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, and Physics and a range of electives that allow students to engage in real-world issues, explore career options, and experience college level courses. Our staff includes veteran teachers, recent graduates, award-winning educators, and career-switchers that have worked in the fields that they teach.

Our course offerings are designed so that every student can take a science class in a major discipline each year. Students interested in specific disciplines or that are pursuing careers in the sciences can take additional electives.

Science Course Offerings

Courses in Major Disciplines.
Course sequencing is normally a progression through Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.

Earth Science

EARTH/SPACE SCIENCE 1 Honors and Comprehensive Level

Earth/space science course connects the study of Earth’s composition, structure, processes, and history; its atmosphere, fresh water, and oceans; and its environment in space. The course emphasizes historical contributions in the development of scientific thought about Earth and space. Earth Science stresses the interpretation of maps, charts, tables, and profiles; the use of technology to collect, analyze, and report data; and science skills in systematic investigation. Problem solving and decision making are an integral part of the course, especially as they relate to the costs and benefits of utilizing Earth’s resources.


BIOLOGY 1 Honors and Comprehensive Level

Biology, the study of living things, is a laboratory course which includes the following major areas of study: experimental design, biochemistry, cellular structure, DNA and genetics, classification and kingdom, evolution, and ecology. These areas are developed within the framework of the principal biological theories with an emphasis on critical thinking and science process skills.


CHEMISTRY 1 Honors and Comprehensive Level

Chemistry students are introduced to basic chemical concepts including the composition of matter, atomic structure, periodic table, chemical bonding, formulas and equations, reacting quantities, and acid base theory. Laboratory experiments are used to teach conceptual themes through abstract reasoning and process skills.

Dual Enrollment CHEMISTRY Honors Level

This course is designed to be the equivalent of a first year general college chemistry course. It can be taken as an alternative to Chemistry 1 Honors for students taking Chemistry as Juniors. (JTCC, 8 Credits)


PHYSICS 1 Comprehensive Level

The Physics course emphasizes a more complex understanding of experimentation, the analysis of data, and the use of reasoning and logic to evaluate evidence. Students build on basic principles of physical science by exploring in depth the nature and characteristics of energy and its dynamic interaction with matter. Key areas covered include force and motion, kinetic molecular theory, energy transformations, wave phenomena and the electromagnetic spectrum, light, electricity and scientific investigation. The course stresses the practical application of physics in other areas of science and technology and how physics affects our world.


AP Physics 1 is an algebra-based, introductory college-level physics course that explores topics such as Newtonian mechanics (including rotational motion); work, energy, and power; mechanical waves and sound; and introductory, simple circuits. Through inquiry-based learning, students will develop scientific critical thinking and reasoning skills. AP Physics 1 prepares students for the AP Physics 1 exam.

Science Elective Offerings

Students usually start adding a Science elective to their schedule as a Junior.

Earth Science

EARTH SCIENCE 2 Comprehensive

This laboratory course provides an advanced survey of earth science topics chosen from oceanography, geology, astronomy and meteorology. The content is organized around thematic units and human activities and influences are explored.


AP Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary course designed to be the equivalent of an introductory college course in environmental science. This course will provide students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world. Environmental Science counts as earth science credit.


BIOLOGY 2 Comprehensive

This laboratory course provides a survey of life science topics chosen from molecular and cellular biology, the biology of organisms and ecology. Science, technology and societal issues are incorporated throughout.

ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY HONORS Anatomy/Physiology is designed to provide students with an in-depth study of the structure and function of the human body. The skeletal, muscular, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, excretory, nervous and endocrine systems are included.

Laboratory work includes dissections. This is an excellent elective for students interested in Health Sciences.


This course is designed to be equivalent of a college freshman general biology course. Students will explore the fundamental characteristics of living matter from the molecular level to the ecosystem level. The diversity of living organisms, their structure, function and evolution is emphasized.



This is a multidisciplinary laboratory course, with emphasis on advanced chemistry topics. Topics of study will include the history of forensic science and major forensic disciplines such as fingerprinting, questioned documents, entomology, anthropology, DNA analysis, serology, trace evidence, pathology, etc., as well as law and ethics and current legal issues affecting the field of forensic science.


This course is designed to be the equivalent of a first year college chemistry course. It differs qualitatively and quantitatively from the usual high school chemistry course with respect to the kind of textbook used; the scope, sequence, and detail of topics covered; the mathematical formulation of principles; the emphasis on calculations; and the nature and variety of laboratory work done by student.



AP Physics 2 is an algebra-based, introductory college-level physics course that explores topics such as fluid statics and dynamics; thermodynamics with kinetic theory; PV diagrams and probability; electrostatics; electrical circuits with capacitors; magnetic fields; electromagnetism; physical and geometric optics; and quantum, atomic, and nuclear physics. This course is offered at James River an independent studies course.

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