Christian Fogarazzo, Director
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The Half Hollow Hills science curriculum is shaped by a vision of the lasting knowledge and skills that students should acquire by the time they become adults. This is based on the concept of a common core of learning from grades K-12 that addresses the particular needs and interests of the students within our District. Our Science Department has been making a concerted effort to provide for the District a program is exciting, enriching and engaging for students.
Science Program Designed to Maximize Learning
All of our Regents, accelerated and Advanced Placement courses take place in fully equipped lab classrooms with access to high-technology equipment, and are offered for seven and a half-periods per week. We can take great pride in knowing that our commitment to lab instruction is of the highest caliber. While surrounding and similar districts may short-cut either the lab program or the concept of Advanced Placement as a true second-year program, we do not. At High School East, four chemistry classrooms and four biology classrooms were redesigned and outfitted with new cabinetry and laboratory hardware.
High Percentage of Students Take Four Years of Science
An indicator for success in any program is student involvement. Our program boasts an unusually high number of students taking four years of science. In fact, since 2001, over 50 percent of our students, based on average enrollment, successfully completed at least four full years of laboratory science (more than twice the NY State average). The four-year Regents sequence comprises The Physical Setting – Earth Science, The Living Environment, Biology, The Physical Setting – Chemistry, and The Physical Setting - Physics. The science teaching staff believes that our students are highly capable and that they should be expected to take the full complement of program offerings whenever possible. The June 2012 Regents results districtwide were excellent. Of the 2700 students that sat for the Regents examinations in science, 94 percent passed with over 60 percent achieving mastery.
Significant Percentage of Students Take Five Years or More of Science
The diverse and complete Advanced Placement program offerings in science include AP Environmental Science, AP Psychology, AP Biology, AP Chemistry and AP Physics B and C. Excellent results and the addition of the nine-period day has given students the opportunity to opt to take a fifth, sixth or even a seventh year of science. These students take the Advanced Placement examinations offered by the College Board. This results in our students having a “leg up” when they enter college, and also may provide for substantial monetary savings through placement out of similar freshman course work in college science.
The Nature and Scope of Our Elective Program
Our elective program is dynamic in nature. Teachers propose and develop electives pertinent to the expanding interest in science and in fostering better understanding of the world around us. Electives such as Anatomy and Physiology, Principles of Engineering, Genetics, Marine Science, Forensic Science, Meteorology, and Astronomy (which utilizes our on-site planetarium). The science staff is dedicated to fostering a strong elective program.
The Nature and Scope of Our Extended Science Program
With a fully equipped molecular biology laboratory in each high school, all of our students enrolled in Living Environment and upper-level biology classes have the opportunity to expand their knowledge and interests in this cutting-edge biotechnology area. Other unique aspects of the Half Hollow Hills K-12 science program include a fully operational planetarium at High School East and the Discovery Center in Central Office. In the planetarium, experienced and trained science staff work with curricular issues and present lessons designed specifically for each grade level, culminating with high-level work with our entire earth science student population. Students in grades K-5 are also presented with outstanding hands-on opportunities in the Discovery Center. Mechanics, rocketry, electricity and other aspects of physical science are explored in this dynamic lab setting. Students in the fifth grade have a unique opportunity to study the local environment in their science classes. Students venture to Caleb Smith Park and participate in an outdoor education program specifically designed to the curriculum used in Half Hollow Hills. Our District has also been nationally cited and used as a model for success by the DNA Learning Center at the world class Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories for our work with the sixth grade. All of the sixth-grade students in Half Hollow Hills are presented with a program that focuses on an introduction to DNA. Students learn about cell development, genetic impact, DNA structure and recombination, and all are treated to a wonderful culminating lab experience at the DNA Learning Center. Our seventh grade students at both middle schools continue to participate in an authentic scientific investigation of the local environment. In the fall, they explored the various ecosystems of the Sunken Forest on Fire Island and in the spring investigated the ecosystems of Sunken Meadow Sate Park. The project offers students an opportunity to experience and reinforce the diversity and complexity of Long Island’s ecosystems . At the high school level, physics students again participated in Physics Day where they applied the formulas and concepts they learned in class to real examples. The students in Anatomy and Physiology experienced the Bodies Exhibit in Manhattan and used it as a basis for their final projects.