It's not just about the classes here at FSHA. In addition to a full slate of class offerings, including 24 Advanced Placement classes and electives that cover all disciplines, learning extends throughout and beyond the classroom.

Research Program
Our innovative program.
Our Teachers
Meet our inspiring faculty.

Science Program Overview

The science department believes that science is fundamental and essential for the total development of all of our students. The diverse areas of study within the sciences work together to develop a practical knowledge of the universe and also to introduce students to methods of critical analysis. These skills are invaluable as the students face the process of informed and mature decision-making in today's technological society.

Science education at FSHA seeks to equip students with an awareness of the interdependence of all living organisms and their diverse environments, to instill in them a reverence for life, and to inspire a sense of wonder and challenge which motivates students to continue the search for new discoveries and insights.

Science Courses

List of 15 frequently asked questions.

  • Physical Education/Health

    Physical Education/Health is a comprehensive, year long, course for 9th Graders.  The Physical Education portion recognizes the individual needs of the students and strives to help each student develop her personal capabilities to her fullest potential.  A variety of physical activities are explored from the fundamental skills to game strategy, while helping each student achieve a healthy level of cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, and muscular endurance.  In addition to teaching the particular skills and strategies for specific sports,  students develop socialization and leadership skills through activities that foster cooperation, team building, and sportsmanship. The Health portion teaches students how to promote and maintain their physical, mental, and emotional health.  Emphasis is placed on values clarification and decision-making to help students develop communication and critical thinking skills.  The class is conversation-based and student-centered, using whole and small group discussions, role-plays, group projects to explore topics including teenage depression, bullying, healthy relationships, sexual decision making, nutrition, sustainability, and physical fitness.
  • Biology

    Prerequisite: None

    Biology is a one-year laboratory science course required for graduation. It serves as an introduction to the major concepts of modern biology, including biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, a survey of the six kingdoms, human biology, ecology and evolution. Laboratory opportunities include experience with light microscopes, dissections and designing controlled experiments.
  • Chemistry

    Prerequisites: C in Algebra I or C- in Adv. Algebra I; C in Biology recommended; minimum 2.8 cumulative GPA; departmental approval.

    Chemistry is a one-year course in the study of the structure of matter and the changes it undergoes. The areas of study form a progressive ladder of learning including discussions of descriptive, physical, analytical, inorganic, and organic chemistry. The course of study also includes industrial chemistry and applications of chemical technology, with an overall emphasis on problem solving and the development of logical thinking skills. The course includes regular laboratory experiences.
  • Chemistry - Honors

    Prerequisites: A in Algebra or Geometry or B+ in Adv. Algebra I or Honors Geometry; B+ in Biology and co-enrollment in H Alg II; minimum 3.8 cumulative GPA and departmental approval.

    This course is appropriate for highly motivated students that intend to major in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) discipline in college.    Honors chemistry is a rigorous, fast-paced course that covers laboratory safety, data analysis, atoms, atomic structure, stoichiometry, bonding, thermodynamics, chemical kinetics, equilibrium, acid-base chemistry and nuclear chemistry.    Students will develop process skills;  such as teamwork, critical thinking and communication through the instructor facilitated group-learning methods.  The students will frequently perform laboratory experiments.
  • Anatomy and Physiology

    Prerequisite: C in Biology; minimum 2.8 cumulative GPA; department approval.

    This is a one-year elective which deals with the anatomical structure and principal functions of the human body, including a study of muscle, skeletal, circulatory, nervous, digestive, respiratory, and endocrine systems, as well as a consideration of metabolism, excretion, and reproduction. Recommended for students interested in a health science career.
  • Environmental Science

    Prerequisites: C- or better in Biology and Chemistry

    Environmental Science, a one-year laboratory science course usually taken junior year, is the study of the natural sciences in an interdisciplinary context that includes consideration of people and how they have influenced the systems under examination. It includes many aspects of biology, earth and atmospheric sciences, fundamental principles of chemistry and physics, human population dynamics, and an appreciation for biological and natural resources. Fields like environmental economics, environmental policy, and sustainable choices for the future are often touched upon but are not a major component. The course includes a significant laboratory and field investigation component.
  • AP Environmental Science

    Prerequisites: B+ in Biology and Chemistry, or B- in Honors Chemistry; minimum 3.8 cumulative GPA, department approval.

    Advanced Placement Environmental Science, a one-year laboratory science course usually taken junior year, is the study of the natural sciences in an interdisciplinary context that includes consideration of people and how they have influenced the systems under examination. It includes many aspects of biology, earth and atmospheric sciences, fundamental principles of chemistry and physics, human population dynamics, and an appreciation for biological and natural resources. Fields like environmental economics, environmental policy, and sustainable choices for the future are often touched upon but are not a major component. The course includes a significant laboratory and field investigation component.
  • AP Biology

    Prerequisites: A- in Biology and B+ in Honors Chemistry; minimum 4.0 cumulative GPA; departmental approval.

    Advanced Placement Biology is a one-year laboratory course usually taken junior year. It covers many of the topics presented in Biology in greater detail. The course includes considerable independent study and 12 laboratory exercises. The curriculum covers a broad range of topics, including biochemistry, energy transformations, genetics, cellular/molecular biology, plant and animal structure and function, human biology, the origin of life, ecology and evolution.
  • Physics

    Prerequisite: B in Algebra II or C+ in Honors Algebra II/Trig; minimum 2.8 cumulative GPA and department approval.

    Physics is a one year course designed to address the interesting and important topics necessary for every modern citizen to know. The path taken through the field of physics covers energy, heat, gravity, forces, radioactivity, chain reactions, electricity, magnetism, sound, light and waves. As a result, by the end of the course students know more about global power production, alternative energy sources, explosions, spy satellites, nuclear weapons, radioactivity, electric circuits and motors, medical imaging and sound production and detection. The course places emphasis on understanding physics concepts, which can be demonstrated in lab experiments, written analysis of texts and observations in daily life.
  • Physics - Honors

    Prerequisites: A in Algebra II or B+ in Honors Algebra II/Trig; B+ in Honors Chemistry; minimum 3.8 cumulative GPA and department approval.

    Honor Physics is a one year course of study investigating fields of mechanics (force and motion), electricity, magnetism, and waves (sound and light). The course is designed to develop mastery of both skills (i.e. methods and strategies of investigation) and content (i.e. the behavior and structure of matter). The ultimate goal in this course is for students to learn to question their intuition about physical phenomena as they work to develop a scientific basis for intuition. Course methods will include scientific investigative skills, mathematical methods, descriptive and analytical writing, experimentation and data analysis.
  • Honors Scientific Research

    Prerequisite: A- or higher in Honors Chemistry; A- or higher in either AP Biology or AP Environmental Science; minimum 4.0 cumulative GPA and department approval.

    Corequisite: Honors Physics

    Students in this project-based course will have the opportunity to utilize cutting edge technology to design and implement an original scientific study with a focus on biotechnology. During the first semester, instruction will provide the background necessary to prepare students for their lab experiences, lab activities will teach students how to implement the technology, guest lectures from science professionals will give students perspectives on how and where the techniques and technologies can be applied in the field of science, and students will learn to read scientific articles and conduct literature reviews. By the end of the first semester, students will formulate an original research proposal. During the second semester, students will utilize the learned skills to design and implement their original study, write a research paper describing their study, and present their findings to the community.
  • Forensic Science

    Prerequisites: B- in Biology and/or department approval.

    Forensic Science is a one-semester elective course involving the study and application of science to examine and interpret criminal evidence. Crime lab techniques will be studied and practiced in lab activities. Relevant actual cases will be reviewed. Topics may include an introduction to Forensic Science; types of evidence; crime scene analysis; analysis of fingerprints, hair, fibers, drugs, poisons, trace evidence, blood, DNA, bones, soil, glass and handwriting.
  • Introduction to Sports Medicine

    Prerequisite: 9th grade P.E./Health

    This course is a one-semester elective that introduces the student to the many aspects of Athletic Training. Concepts in Kinesiology such as injury prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation will be covered. The student will learn taping techniques for bracing joints. Correct uses of modalities in the Training room are learned. Students are required to attend a set number of FSHA athletic events. This course is recommended for students interested in a sports medicine career.
  • Marine Science (Online School for Girls)

    Prerequisite: Successful completion of one year of high school biology. This course is an elective and not eligible for UC science credit.  It is offered through the Online School for Girls (OSG).

    Marine Science will introduce students to oceanography, and aid them in application of biological concepts to marine organisms.  Major topics of study will include the anatomy and behavior of marine organisms, the ecology of marine habitats, and the role of climate change in affecting the marine environments.  There are three goals for the course: 1) to develop a solid knowledge base and understanding of marine ecological systems, 2) to integrate that knowledge base into practical applications of science that affect students’ world and futures, and 3) perhaps most importantly, to foster critical thinking skills and a keen understanding of the scientific process necessary to become well-informed and scientifically aware citizens, whether students’ futures directly involve marine science or not. Coursework will include a variety of methods and mediums, including but not limited to: virtual and at-home laboratory exercises; scientific literature analysis; reading and video assignments; and research using online journals and current oceanographic data. This work will be largely collaborative as students engage with the teacher and with their classmates on projects and labs.  There will be a significant emphasis on the application of creativity and innovation in dealing with environmental challenges.
  • Neuroscience (Online School for Girls)

    Prerequisite: B+ or higher in Biology

    A spongy, three-pound mass of tissue -- the brain -- controls every aspect of the body, ranging from circulation and appetite to emotion and memory. Because the brain shapes our thoughts, beliefs, hopes, dreams, and imaginations, the brain is what makes us human.  By the end of the first semester, students understand the structure of the brain and how the brain senses, thinks, behaves, and creates memories for learning and language, as well as how the environment (stress, diet, exercise and time) impacts the brain.  We also explore brain diseases, disorders, and treatments. Armed with this solid foundation in neuroscience, students spend the second semester learning to think like doctors. In this project-based class, students engage in individual research projects and seminar-style problem solving. Utilizing neuroscience as a foundation to explore any human biology topic, students are guided through a self-designed, long-term research project.  This course is designed for students who are considering college majors in a medical or health related field, such as medicine, psychology, occupational therapy, neural or biomedical engineering, public health, lab neurobiology research, radiology or imaging, speech-language pathology, or kinesiology.  Meets UC “G” elective requirement.

8 Reasons to Explore a STEM Career According to a Girl

by Hannah Scott '17

As citizens of the digital age, our lives are increasingly dependent on technology— we cannot leave the house without our smartphones and if our WiFi connection is not strong enough, chaos ensues. However, the more we rely on our phones and computers, fewer people actually understand the principles that drive technology.

8 Reasons for a STEM Career
"As a teen girl entering the tech world, I can tell you that [choosing a STEM career] is the best decision you will ever make" —Hannah
My journey from an oblivious consumer to a producer of software was unexpected and unique. It all started when I signed up for Flintridge Sacred Heart’s Robotics I class. Inspired by the popular TV series Grey’s Anatomy, I was convinced that I would pursue medicine and become the next Dr. Christina Yang. Hoping to further my knowledge of the human anatomy, I signed up for sports medicine for my sophomore year. I needed to pick another semester-long elective to complete my schedule, so I decided on robotics because I had heard there was no homework.

Having no experience in technology and being the only sophomore in a class of juniors and seniors made me extremely nervous about this class. To my surprise, I immediately fell in love with robotics— the freedom to control a robot I had built to do whatever I wanted it to was extremely freeing. After only a few weeks of this class, my aspirations for the future had completely changed. No longer do I want to be Meredith Grey— I want to follow in the footsteps of women like Grace Hopper, Ada Lovelace and Helen Greiner. I want to study computer science and become a social entrepreneur and software engineer, or someone who innovates technology to help others and effect global change.

Read on for Hannah's reasons why you should consider a STEM career!

Honors Scientific Research Students Receive Grants

Our capstone course is an honors scientific research lab that focuses on biotechnology technique and research. With this course, students will develop and conduct their own experiments and present those results to the community. 

In 2020, our students in Honors Scientific Research (aka “Scisearch”) and Engineering for Social Good were awarded $2,750 in Archer STEM Research Grants, which is a STEM initiative sponsored by the Archer School for Girls on the west side.

The institutional support from Flintridge Sacred Heart is the primary source of funding for our students’ projects. 

Archer Stem Research Grant recipients
Meg Kalaw '20 and Emilie Nunn '20 in the lab

Honors Scientific Research

Margaret Kalaw, Carmen Kelley, Abigail Lewis, and Emilie Nunn

"Protection, Pollutants, and Pipes: Immobilization of P. tricornutum for Bioremediation in Wastewater"

Engineering for Social Good

Ann Krappman, Kristen Asmar, Leni Dai, Janna De Vera, Jaden Jones, Darcy Kelley, Alice Long, Lia Ramos, Kaitlyn Thomas, and Alexa Zuch

"Increasing creativity, confidence, and critical thinking skills in high school STEM students through a tech incubator"
"FSHA always challenged me to be a better student. The classes pushed me to expand my thinking and work hard. I'm ready for college because of the education I received here." —Kayla Grahn '15

Science Faculty

List of 11 members.

  • Leslie Miller 

    Science Dept. Chair / Science Teacher/ Advisor
    New College of Florida - B.A.
    University of Southern California - Masters of Public Policy
  • Michelle Amos 

  • Ty Buxman 

    Science Teacher
    University of Southern California - M.S.
    Cal Poly, Pomona - B.S.
  • Irene Chou 

    Science / PE and Health Teacher & Volleyball Coach
  • Samantha Herrick 

    Associate Director of Residential Life
  • Elizabeth Krider 

    Science Teacher
    California Institute of Technology - PhD
    Brigham Young University - BS
  • Diane Sarkarati 

    Science Teacher
    California State University, Los Angeles - Secondary Teaching Credential
    University of Illinois - M.A.
    University of Illinois - B.A.
  • Mary Schnieders Monohan 97

    Science Teacher/Coach/Advisor
    University of Montana - B.S.
  • Kayla Tennity 

    Science Teacher / Boarding Faculty
  • Christine Wheaton 

    Bryn Mawr College - B.A.
    Miami University - Master's Degree
  • Robert Sanderson 

    Physical Science Teacher
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy is an all girls' Catholic, Dominican, independent, college-preparatory day and boarding high school in the hills of La Cañada Flintridge. Overlooking Pasadena, FSHA educates girls from Los Angeles, Southern California and around the world for a life of faith, integrity and truth. 

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy

440 St. Katherine Drive
La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011
High School Office: 626-685-8300
Admissions: 626-685-8521

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