student-drawn map of chinaThe University Scholars Program Curriculum focuses on synapse building through problem-solving, rich experiences, and challenging content.  Lessons are designed to be interdisciplinary, engaging, project-based, and to spark intellectual curiosity.  The customized, compacted scope and sequence is designed to prepare students with the necessary skills and background knowledge to begin Advanced Placement coursework.  Recognizing the unique needs of each child, readiness for advanced coursework is determined by the academic precocity of each child, regardless of biological age or grade level classification.

The University Scholars Program course offerings are driven each year by the academic needs and unique interests of our student population.  The course offerings listed below may or may not be available for the 2018-2019 school year, either on-site or virtually, as a result of this student-centric approach.


The aim of the University Scholars Program English scope and sequence is to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to critically interpret, analyze, and respond to literary works, identify literary elements, and create fiction and non-fiction that applies these elements. Students also receive instruction and practice in all forms of oral and written exposition.

English Course Offerings

Middle School

Prerequisite: Advanced reading comprehension skills, advanced writing skills, and strong critical thinking skills.

The course focuses on strengthening students’ critical thinking skills through the exploration of various literary genres and non-fiction text. Students read trade books, short stories, plays, poetry and writing selections from a literature text. Grammar and writing skills (Step-Up to Writing) are incorporated into the lessons via the literature. Spelling, vocabulary, presentation, and research skills are perpetually strengthened.

Given the amount of reading assigned to students during the school year, students are encouraged to spend the summer reading books of personal interest. Cyber weekend work is assigned for this course.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Seminar Language Arts I or demonstrated knowledge and skill equivalent.

A variety of challenging texts, including novels, short stories, plays and poetry, as well as non-fiction texts develop students’ knowledge of literary elements. The course seeks to strike a balance between encouraging creativity and requiring correct use of conventions. Students are given many opportunities to write both creative and expository pieces, some that are also linked to the social studies curriculum. Writing assignments include all of the following: summaries, comparative essays, biography, literary analysis essays, original poetry, stories, and a standard business letter. Students develop or enhance their working understanding of correctness of expression, the parts of a sentence, clauses, punctuation, and sentence variety and are able to use this understanding to discuss and analyze writing. Spelling, vocabulary, presentation, research, and listening skills are continuously developed and strengthened.

Given the amount of reading assigned to students during the school year, students are encouraged to spend the summer reading books of personal interest. Cyber weekend work is assigned for this course.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Seminar Language Arts II or demonstrated knowledge and skill equivalent and/or teacher recommendation.

In this course, students work to dually master relevant elements of literary analysis, while strengthening and building their understandings of writing conventions. Exploration of literary elements in novels, short fiction, poetry, and drama facilitate the competency required for upper level literature courses. Expository, persuasive, argumentative, and creative writing are practiced with an emphasis on composition and revision, the research process, and standard MLA parenthetical documentation.

Given the amount of reading assigned to students during the school year, students are encouraged to spend the summer reading books of personal interest. Cyber weekend work is assigned for this course.

Seminar courses are middle school honors level courses and do not get weighed into a student’s transcript. While courses may be marked middle school and high school on this page, students in the University Scholars Program are placed according to ability and are not confined by grade level.

High School
1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Seminar Language Arts III or demonstrated knowledge and skill equivalent, and/or teacher recommendation.

In this course, students engage in an in-depth exploration of literary representations of the American experience and the quest for the “American Dream.” Analysis of language manipulation and elements of literature accompany a thematic approach to American authors’ representations of the following: Issues of Gender, Issues of Class, Issues of Religion, and Issues of Race. Fiction and nonfiction literary texts include works by Franklin, Cather, Wharton, Sinclair, Fitzgerald, Perkins Gilman, Douglass, and Twain. Dramatic texts include works by Wilder, Hansberry, and Miller. Poetic texts include poems by Dickinson, Whitman, Hughes, Giovanni, Wong, Angelou, Mora, and Shihab-Nye. Strong emphasis is placed on the writing process in both personal analysis and research/argument forms.

Given the amount of reading assigned to students during the school year, students are encouraged to spend the summer reading books of personal interest. Cyber weekend work is assigned for this course.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Honors University Scholars American Literature or demonstrated knowledge and skill equivalent, and/or teacher recommendation.

The aim of the course is to develop in students an understanding and enjoyment of selected works of British literature from the Anglo-Saxon Period through the Contemporary Voices of the late 20th century. Students engage in the perpetual question of what qualifies a particular work for inclusion in a cultural canon, in this case the British Canon. Emphasis is placed on historical background, cultural context, genre-specific authorial techniques, and literary analysis of selected prose, poetry, and drama. Among the writers emphasized are The Beowulf and Pearl poets, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne, Swift, Keats, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Shelley, Blake, Byron, Austen, Carroll, Stoker, and Woolf. Strong emphasis is placed on multiple modes of writing, emulating or responding to the highlighted British authors.

This course will also include the necessary prep work for the Keystone Literature Exam, which will be administered and scored separately from this course.

Given the amount of reading assigned to students during the school year, students are encouraged to spend the summer reading books of personal interest. Cyber weekend work is assigned for this course.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Teacher Recommendation.

This college level English course is designed to finesse student understanding of composition, authorial intent, rhetorical strategies, and manipulation of language in primarily nonfiction and fiction texts, as well as to prepare students for success on the Advanced Placement exam given in May. Special emphasis on how authors write guides students through an exploration of essays, memoirs, fiction, drama, and literary criticism by historically and culturally diverse authors. Nonfiction texts include works by Twain, Carol Oates, DuBois, Eliot, Stein, Frost, White, McCarthy, James, Welty, Sontag, Hurston, Perelman, Momaday, Ozick, Ehrlich, Bellow, Didion, McCourt, and Krakauer. Fiction and dramatic texts include works by O’Brien, Austen, Beckett, and Woolf. Literary criticism by various authors is discussed. Writing assignments emphasize multiple modes of composition and revision.

Given the amount of reading assigned to students during the school year, students are encouraged to spend the summer reading books of personal interest. Cyber weekend work is assigned for this course.

 

1 credit

Prerequisite: Teacher Recommendation.

This college level literature course is designed to finesse reading and writing skills, prepare students to critically read both literature and the outside world, and prepare students for success on the Advanced Placement exam given in May. Analysis of language manipulation and elements of literature accompanies a thematic approach to literatures from diverse authorial, historical, and cultural contexts. Fall Semester (Secrets and Circumstances) texts include works by Ishiguro, Dahl, Bronte, Rhys, Sophocles, and Shakespeare. Spring Semester (Ambiguity of Good and Evil) texts include works by Marlowe, Wilde, and Vonnegut. Poetic texts include poems by Herrick, Marvell, Browning, Coleridge, Eliot, Frost, Plath, Cummings, Larkin, Dickinson, Williams, and Koch. Writing assignments are diverse and frequent, with especial emphasis on advanced literary analysis.

Given the amount of reading assigned to students during the school year, students are encouraged to spend the summer reading books of personal interest. Cyber weekend work is assigned for this course.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Honors American Literature and demonstration of a strong interest in creative writing forms and a willingness to compose, share, collaborate, and revise.

Students will collaborate as a community of readers and writers to experiment with creative forms of writing. Projects and assignments will be grounded in the reading of examples by established authors and exploration of effective creative writing strategies and techniques. The genres of fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry will all be studied and practice by students. Revision through writers’ workshops will emphasize the perpetually-changing nature of a writer’s craft.

Depending on student interest and staffing, this course may or may not be offered on-site and/or cyber/virtually.


The University Scholars math curriculum is designed to provide a solid foundation in computational skills, and also to promote creative problem solving and a curiosity about why basic algorithms work. Extensive research and experience have demonstrated that no one math curriculum meets the needs of every learner. Therefore, the courses include a variety of different approaches to learning. An appreciation for the mathematical connections to all branches of knowledge is developed through project-based learning. Discovery and inquiry activities are also incorporated to enhance self-confidence in the ability to learn and improve at mathematical problem solving.
The courses differ from traditional mathematics courses in that they go beyond the memorization of algorithms to explore the underlying concepts and connections between branches of mathematics. The collection of all of these different aspects of the curriculum mold the students into confident, independent mathematical scholars.

Math Course Offerings

Middle School

Prerequisite: Demonstrated skills necessary and/or teacher recommendation.

This course emphasizes the use of tables, graphs, and symbolic notation to represent observed mathematical patterns and relationships. Students investigate problem situations and then generalize their findings in order to predict and describe theoretical outcomes for similar circumstances. Students derive important insights into understanding the power of an algebraic representation when they see how it relates to actual calculations. They also explore the historical development of mathematical thinking in order to establish their understanding that mathematics is not a collection of rules to be memorized but a continuously evolving language created by imaginative and thoughtful men and women (such as they are becoming) to solve the problems of their day. As the students transition to this more abstract level of mathematical thinking, they discover and examine important nuances and extensions in the mathematical vocabulary such as the fact that besides standing for an unknown value, the term variable can be used to represent a varying quantity (as it is in functions), a set of values (as it is in inequalities), and to illustrate general properties of numbers.

Major topics addressed in this course:

  • History of mathematics
  • Number sense and computation
  • Fractions
  • Exponents
  • Ratios, proportions, and percent
  • Evaluating expressions
  • Solving equations and inequalities
  • Absolute value
  • Graphing in the coordinate plane
  • Measurement, Area, Volume, and Right Triangles
  • An introduction to linear equations
  • Statistics and probability

Class work includes both individual and small group activities. Students complete significant independent reading, investigations, and skill practice on days when they are not in class. Students are to have a scientific calculator (can be virtual), such as the TI-30, for home use. TI-30 calculators will be available in class for students to use.

Summer review material and cyber weekend work are assigned for this course.

Seminar courses are middle school honors level courses and do not get weighed into a student’s transcript. While courses may be marked middle school and high school on this page, students in the University Scholars Program are placed according to ability and are not confined by grade level.

High School

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Pre-Algebra.

Algebra I emphasizes the analysis of patterns and the use of functions to represent and analyze mathematical relationships among quantities. Functional relationships can be expressed by using symbolic notation, which allows complex mathematical ideas to be expressed succinctly and change to be analyzed efficiently. Algebraic understanding and competence is a crucial prerequisite for all subsequent math courses and has numerous practical applications in fields as diverse as business, technology, politics, social services and the arts. Therefore, this course provides frequent opportunities for students to translate real-life situations into linear, quadratic, and exponential mathematical models as well as interpret and apply the results of algebraic analysis into the context of real-life applications.

Major topics addressed in this course:

  • Mathematical relations and functions
  • Number sense and computation
  • Scatterplots and trend lines
  • Characteristics of linear functions
  • Solving linear equations and inequalities
  • Solving systems of linear equations and inequalities
  • Classifying, evaluating, simplifying and factoring polynomials
  • Characteristics of quadratic functions
  • Solving and graphing quadratic equations and inequalities
  • Characteristics of exponential and radical functions
  • Simplifying radical expressions
  • Direct and inverse variation
  • Simplifying rational expressions

Class work includes both individual and small group activities. Students complete significant independent reading, investigations, and skill practice on days when they are not in class.

This course will also include the necessary prep work for the Keystone Algebra I Exam, which will be administered and scored separately from this course.

Students are to have use of a TI-83 or TI-84 graphing calculator for both at home and in class use.

Summer review material and cyber weekend work may be assigned for this course.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Algebra I.

Through the study of geometry, students learn to understand and apply the mathematical vocabulary and symbols that have been developed to analyze the characteristics and patterns of shapes and structures in two- and three-dimensional space. Geometric modeling and spatial reasoning offer ways to interpret and describe physical environments and can be important tools in problem solving. This course also includes a strong focus on the development of careful reasoning and proof, guiding students to an understanding and appreciation for the axiomatic structure of formal mathematics. Students undertake a series of investigations in order to develop their own conjectures (hypotheses) about patterns they observe. Using precise definitions, established facts, and logical reasoning, they work individually and in small groups to establish the validity of their conjectures through informal and formal proof. Though the explorations begin with the basic tools of straightedge, compass and paper, extensive use of computer-based sketches is required. Additionally, students are encouraged to discover and explore connections between geometry and their personal areas of interest such as art, science, technology, literature, history, etc.

Major topics addressed in this course:

  • Inductive and deductive reasoning
  • Angle relationships
  • Congruence and similarity
  • Geometric constructions
  • Polygon properties
  • Circle properties
  • Transformations
  • Coordinate Geometry
  • Area and volume
  • Geometric probability
  • Right Triangle Trigonometry

Class work includes both individual and small group activities. Students complete significant independent reading, investigations, and skill practice on days when they are not in class.

Students are to have use of a TI-83 or TI-84 graphing calculator for both at home and in class use.

Summer review material and cyber weekend work may be assigned for this course.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Honors Algebra I and teacher recommendation.

Algebra II extends students’ established abilities to model mathematical relationships using symbols, graphs, and words. Building upon a solid understanding of systems of linear equations, students learn to solve complex systems of linear inequalities through the use of matrices and linear programming techniques. The concept of imaginary numbers is introduced and applied to finding complex roots of quadratic functions. Students then explore many additional function families including polynomial, exponential, logarithmic, rational, and radical, adding new mathematical symbols and vocabulary that they can use to analyze and communicate about mathematical relationships. Skills for transforming functions and generating regression models for making predictions based on sets of real-life data are practiced throughout the course. The course also includes units on conic sections, trigonometry, probability and statistics, and arithmetic and geometric sequences and series.

Class work includes both individual and small group activities. Students complete significant independent reading, investigations, and skill practice on days when they are not in class.

Students are to have use of a TI-83 or TI-84 graphing calculator for both at home and in class use.

Summer review material and cyber weekend work may be assigned for this course.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Honors Algebra II and Honors Geometry and teacher recommendation.

Pre-AP Calculus solidifies students’ abilities to work with symbolic representations, preparing students to continue their study of advanced mathematics through AP Calculus the following year.

Building upon a solid foundation of the techniques of algebra, students formalize procedures for analyzing functional relationships. They develop practical and theoretic concepts of trigonometric functions and equations.

This course is for students of established exceptional ability and interest, and provides a thorough preparation for AP Calculus.

Major topics addressed in this course:

  • Functions and Inverses
  • Polynomial, Rational, Exponential, and Logarithmic Functions
  • Trigonometric Problem Solving
  • Analytic Trigonometry
  • Vectors
  • Systems of Equations
  • Matrix Operations
  • Infinite Sequences and Series

Students are to have use of a TI-83, TI-84, TI-89, or TI-Nspire graphing calculator for both at home and in class use.

Summer review material and cyber weekend work may be assigned for this course.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Honors Pre-Calculus & Trigonometry and teacher recommendation.

Calculus AB is primarily concerned with developing students’ understanding of the concepts of calculus and providing experience with its methods and applications. The course emphasizes a multi-representational approach to calculus, with concepts, results, and problems being expressed graphically, numerically, analytically, and verbally. Students develop the meaning of the derivative in terms of a rate of change and local linear approximation, and use derivatives to solve a variety of problems. They work with definite integrals both as a limit of Riemann sums and as the net accumulation of change, and are able to use integrals to solve a variety of problems. As students recognize the relationship between the derivative and the definite integral as expressed in both parts of the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, they develop an appreciation of calculus as a coherent body of knowledge.

Students are to have use of a TI-83, TI-84, TI-89, or TI-Nspire calculator for both at home and in class use.

Summer review material and cyber weekend work are assigned for this course.

1/2 credit | Fall

Prerequisite: Successful completion of AP Calculus AB or Honors Calculus and teacher recommendation.

This one semester course is considered to be a college level course, and the expectation is for serious and sustained effort at that level. Students will extend their knowledge of procedures of differentiation and integration gained through their study of AP Calculus AB.

Major topics addressed in this course:

  • Formalizing the definition of limit for proof of various theorems
  • Finding arc lengths and surface areas created from functions or parametric curves
  • Finding areas and arc lengths in polar coordinates
  • Performing advanced techiniques of integration, including trigonometric substitution and integration by parts
  • Modeling physical situations with differential equations
  • Exploring the convergence/divergence of infinite series
  • Using power series to represent functions, approximate physical constants, and approximate solutions to differential equations

Students are to have use of a TI-83, TI-84, TI-89, or TI-Nspire calculator for both at home and in class use.

Summer review material and cyber weekend work are assigned for this course.

1/2 credit | Spring

Prerequisite: Successful completion of AP Calculus AB and BC and teacher recommendation.

This one semester course is considered a college level course, and the expectation is for serious and sustained effort at that level. This course covers vector and multi-variable calculus.

Major topics covered in this course include:

  • Vectors and Matrices
  • Partial Derivatives
  • Double and Triple Integrals
  • Vector Calculus in 2 and 3-space

Students are to have use of a TI-83, TI-84, TI-89, or TI-Nspire calculator for both at home and in class use.

Cyber weekend work is assigned for this course.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, Multi-Variable Calculus and teacher recommendation.

This course is considered a college level course, and the expectation is for serious and sustained effort at that level.

Major topics covered in this course include:

  • Linear Equations
  • Matrix Algebra
  • Determinants
  • Vector Spaces
  • Eigenvalues
  • Orthogonality
  • Least Squares
  • Symmetric Matrices
  • Quadratic Forms

    Students are to have use of a TI-83, TI-84, TI-89, or TI-Nspire calculator for both at home and in class use.

    Cyber weekend work may be assigned for this course.

Depending on student interest and staffing, this course may or may not be offered on-site and/or cyber/virtually.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Honors Pre-Calculus & Trigonometry and teacher recommendation.

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the major concepts and tools for collecting, analyzing, and drawing conclusions from data.

In this course, students will:

  • Explore data by describing patterns and departures from patterns.
  • Practice sampling and experimentation by planning and conducting a study.
  • Anticipating Patterns by exploring random phenomena using probability and simulation.
  • Make statistical inferences by estimating population parameters and testing hypotheses.

    Students are to have use of a TI-83 or TI-84 calculator for both at home and in class use.

Depending on student interest and staffing, this course may or may not be offered on-site and/or cyber/virtually.

1 credit

Prerequisite: B or higher in Algebra 2 and teacher recommendation.

AP Computer Science A introduces students to computer science with fundamental topics that include problem solving, design strategies and methodologies, organization of data (data structures), approaches to processing data (algorithms), analysis of potential solutions, and the ethical and social implications of computing. The course emphasizes both object-oriented and imperative problem solving and design using Java language.

Cyber weekend work may be assigned for this course.


The science courses emphasize scientific inquiry and utilize a discovery learning approach. Students step into the shoes of scientists to face their challenges and problem-solve the real-life scientific questions of history and today. Project-based, problem-based, and inquiry-based learning is used for the delivery of a curriculum which stimulates questioning, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Using an inquiry-based approach to science, students assume the role of scientists by observing the environment around them, establishing the issues present, asking questions, and conducting experiments to test ideas and verify results.

Science Course Offerings

Middle School

Prerequisite: Demonstrated skills necessary and/or teacher recommendation.

This science course immerses students in hands-on learning as they examine how and why the world around them works. Students learn how humanity has developed the science of astronomy, as well as how Earth interacts with various objects in space to create phenomena such as the seasons and the tides. Students examine the world from an environmental standpoint, exploring watersheds and wetlands. Students also delve into the inner workings of the Earth to understand how many natural disasters are created, and they work with the physical properties of the Earth’s lithosphere to locate the epicenter of earthquakes. In addition, students closely study the Earth’s Biosphere, Hydrosphere, and Atmosphere to gain a firm understanding of how the ocean affects the climatology and meteorology of Earth.

Prerequisite: Demonstrated skills necessary and/or teacher recommendation.

In this survey science course, some of the ecological, physical, and chemical principals that govern the world are unveiled. Students will be introduced to the history and nature of science. They also study the theories and scientific laws of physics and chemistry that include such topics as the periodic table, light and sound, forces and motion, properties and structure of matter, and chemical bonding and reactions.

Prerequisite: Teacher recommendation.

The Middle School STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) course allows students to delve into the concepts of STEM and how the disciplines are interconnected through methods, research, and experimentation. Presented with hands-on opportunities to explore the scientific method in the context of everyday life, students participate in a variety of projects that develop and expand upon the basic tools and confidence needed to approach real-world problems in a logical and scientific manner.

Seminar courses are middle school honors level courses and do not get weighed into a student’s transcript. While courses may be marked middle school and high school on this page, students in the University Scholars Program are placed according to ability and are not confined by grade level.

High School
1 credit

Prerequisite: Demonstrated skills necessary and/or teacher recommendation.

This science course is designed to teach students the fundamental concepts and principles of biology, such that students could transition into AP Biology. Students develop a conceptual framework for modern biology and recognize unifying themes that integrate the major topics of biology. Laboratory activities and a science fair requirement stress the development of important skills such as detailed observation, accurate recording, experimental design, and data interpretation and analysis. Students develop critical thinking skills through research and discussions about issues relating to current advancements in biology. This course is aligned with the Keystone Biology Exam’s curriculum.

Major topics addressed in this course:

  • Basic Biological Principles
  • The Chemical Basis of Life
  • Bioenergetics
  • Homeostasis and Transport
  • Cell Growth and Reproduction
  • Genetics
  • Evolution
  • Ecology

Class work includes both individual and small group activities. Students complete significant independent reading, investigations, and skill practice on days when they are not in class.

This course will also include the necessary prep work for the Keystone Biology Exam, which will be administered and scored separately from this course.

Cyber weekend work is assigned for this course.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of, or concurrent enrollment in, Honors Algebra II and/or teacher recommendation.

Honors Chemistry is a full-year survey of the fundamental principles of atoms, compounds, and their interactions. Successful completion of this course prepares students for AP Chemistry, AP Biology, AP Environmental Science, Honors Physics, and Honors Human Anatomy & Physiology. Onsite class work includes individual and small group activities with a heavy emphasis on laboratory work. Students complete significant independent study, lab report writing, and quantitative skill practice on cyber days.

Major topics addressed in this course:

  • Measuring, Analyzing, and Communicating Scientific Data
  • Matter and Energy
  • Phases of Matter
  • Atomic Structure and Nuclear Chemistry
  • Periodicity
  • Bonding, Compounds, and Intermolecular Forces
  • Chemical Reactions
  • Kinetics, Equilibrium, and Thermodynamics
  • Solutions
  • Acids and Bases
  • Electrochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry

Cyber weekend work is assigned for this course.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Honors Algebra II, Honors Biology, and Honors Chemistry, plus teacher recommendation.

AP Biology is a full-year survey of biological concepts equivalent to a full-year introductory college course for biology majors. This course differs sharply from Honors Biology with regard to the range and complexity of the material, the textbook used, the difficulty of the laboratory work, and the time and effort required for students to be successful in the course. In addition to developing a deeper understanding of life science, students who take AP Biology will develop advanced inquiry and reasoning skills such as designing plans for collecting data, performing qualitative and quantitative analysis of data, and making connections across the curriculum.

Four big ideas studied over the course of the year. First, students will learn how the process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life. Second, they will study how biological systems utilize free energy and molecular building blocks to grow, reproduce, and maintain homeostasis. Third, students will explore how living systems store, retrieve, transmit, and respond to information essential to life processes. Finally, students will learn how biological systems interact, and that these systems and their interactions possess complex properties.

Summer review material and cyber weekend work are assigned for this course.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Honors Algebra II, Honors Biology, and Honors Chemistry, as well as teacher recommendation.

AP Chemistry is a complete survey of chemical principles on a college introductory level. Topics are similar to those covered in Honors Chemistry expanded to advance students’ understanding of the topics. The course will place special emphasis on applying mathematics to problem solving as a means of expressing and modeling scientific inquiry. The course has a strong focus on chemistry laboratory techniques and write-ups.

Six big ideas are studied per the required AP Chemistry curriculum. The first is that chemical elements are fundamental building materials of matter, and all matter can be understood in terms of arrangements of atoms. These atoms retain their identity in chemical reactions. Second, chemical and physical properties of materials can be explained by the structure and the arrangement of atoms, ions, or molecules and the forces between them. Third, changes in matter involve the rearrangement and/or reorganization of atoms and/or the transfer of electrons. Fourth, rates of chemical reactions are determined by details of the molecular collisions. Fifth, the laws of thermodynamics describe the essential role of energy and explain and predict the direction of changes in matter. Sixth, any bond or intermolecular attraction that can be formed can be broken. These two processes are in a dynamic competition, sensitive to initial conditions and external perturbations.

Summer review material and cyber weekend work are assigned for this course.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Honors Pre-Calculus and teacher recommendation.

This course is intended to provide students with a fundamental study of physics. Students focus on developing and understanding the mathematical relationships between matter, energy, space, and time that enables them to solve college-level problems.

Major topics addressed in this course:

  • Measurement and Vector Representations
  • Motion (in one, two, and three dimensions)
  • Newton’s Three Laws
  • Friction
  • Circular Motion
  • Work and Energy
  • Momentum
  • Rotational Dynamics
  • Torque and Angular Momentum
  • Equilibrium
  • Circular Motion and Gravitation
  • Oscillation and Waves
  • Sound
  • Static and Current Electricity
  • Electric Circuits
  • Magnetism

Cyber weekend work is assigned for this course.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Honors Physics and previous or concurrent enrollment in Honors Calculus, AP Calculus AB, or AP Calculus BC, and teacher recommendation.

This advanced course is intended to provide students with a detailed study of classical mechanics and electromagnetism. The focus includes the use of calculus to solve college-level physics problems by applying fundamental principles. Note that this course prepares students for two AP exams: Mechanics and Electricity and Magnetism.

Major topics addressed in this course:

  • Kinematics
  • Dynamics
  • Gravitation
  • Work, Energy, and Power
  • Linear Momentum
  • Circular Motion
  • Angular Momentum
  • Oscillatory Motion
  • Systems of Particles
  • Electrostatics
  • Conductors, Capacitors, & Dielectrics
  • Electric Circuits
  • Magnetic Fields
  • Electromagnetism

Summer review material and cyber weekend work are assigned for this course.

 

1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Honors Biology, Honors Chemistry, and teacher recommendation.

Elements of biology, chemistry, earth science, and ecology intertwine to create the study of environmental science. This advanced course provides students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world, to identify and analyze environmental problems, both natural and human-made, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving and/or preventing them. Students complete projects, presentations, laboratory exercises, and field investigations.

Major topics addressed in this course:

  • Earth Systems and Resources
  • The Living World
  • Population
  • Land and Water Use
  • Energy Resources and Consumption
  • Pollution
  • Global Change

Cyber weekend work is assigned for this course.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Honors Algebra, Honors Biology, and Honors Chemistry, plus teacher recommendation.

This course, which is equivalent in breadth and depth to an introductory college course, is designed to provide students with a strong foundation in human biology. This includes a familiarity with the basic anatomical and histological organization of the human body and an understanding of how the various organs of the body interact with one another to contribute to the overall functioning of the body. Clinical cases and pathologies are studied as examples of disruption to normal body homeostasis.

Major topics addressed in this course:

  • Anatomical Positions and Medical Terminology
  • Histology
  • Skin and Body Membranes
  • Musculoskeletal Anatomy and Physiology
  • The Nervous System and Special Senses
  • The Endocrine System
  • Blood
  • The Circulatory System
  • The Lymphatic System and Immunity
  • The Respiratory System
  • The Digestive System and Body Metabolism
  • The Urinary and Reproductive Systems

This course is especially recommended for students considering a career in fields such as medicine, nursing, physician assistance, dentistry, physical therapy, occupational therapy, athletic training, and biomedical engineering.

Cyber weekend work is assigned for this course.

1/2 credit

Prerequisite: Teacher recommendation.

The University Scholars STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) course allows students to delve further into material presented in the higher science and mathematical courses. The goal is to help students realize their potential for success in STEM careers by supporting their exploration of STEM related fields, encouraging the development of STEM related skills, and by providing them with a head start in pursuing their post-secondary educations.


The social studies courses combine historical content with the exploration of fundamental concepts of the human experience. There is a strong emphasis on higher order critical thinking skills. These courses differ from traditional history courses in that they go beyond the memorization of facts to define the cause and effect of watershed decisions and ideas. There is an emphasis on how ideas both reflected and contested the changes that defined their historical contexts. Students read historical novels, fiction, and non-fiction books to enrich their understanding of intellectual history. The historical content is explored through not only literature, but also simulations and discovery learning projects.

Social Studies Course Offerings

Middle School

Prerequisite: Demonstrated advanced reading comprehension skills, writing skills, and critical thinking skills.

Civilizations I is a course that covers a variety of ancient and classical cultures. The course begins with an overview of world regional geography and key geographic concepts. During the first semester, students study ancient civilizations in China, India, Mesopotamia, and Egypt using a comparative approach that emphasizes geography, culture, and economic and social relationships. The second semester of the course focuses on the development of Western Civilization in classical Greece and Rome. Students begin to develop skills of historical inquiry such as analyzing primary sources, constructing written arguments, and conducting discussions and debates.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Seminar Civilizations I or demonstrated knowledge and skill equivalent, and/or teacher recommendation.

Civilizations II builds on the previous course by continuing a study of Western Civilization through the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Scientific Revolution, Industrial Revolution, Immigration, and American Imperialism. Middle Eastern Religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are also covered as foundations for understanding the evolution of Western Civilization. Students continue to hone skills of historical inquiry such as analyzing primary sources, constructing thesis-driven written arguments, and conducting discussions, debates and mock trials. In addition, throughout the course, students study and reflect upon their own heritage through an ancestry project.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Seminar Civilizations II or demonstrated knowledge and skill equivalent, and/or teacher recommendation.

This course begins with the founding of the United States, during which students debate the American Revolution and the constitutional order. The focus is on the principles and structure of the American Republic, with a special focus on liberty and democracy. Students then move on to study World War I, the 1920s, the Great Depression, and World War II (examining the collapse of both liberty and democracy in Nazi Germany). This course prepares students with the thinking skills and historical perspective necessary for success in AP Social Studies courses.

Seminar courses are middle school honors level courses and do not get weighed into a student’s transcript. While courses may be marked middle school and high school on this page, students in the University Scholars Program are placed according to ability and are not confined by grade level.

High School
1 credit

This year-long honors level course will focus on modern conflicts and explore how recent events affect the lives of people around the world. The Honors Contemporary World course will be require students to complete rigorous, primary and secondary source analysis. Students will complete a variety of reading and writing assessments.This course will cover 20th and 21st century events that help our understanding of political, economic, and social trends in the world we live in. The primary goal is to provide students with new and wider perspectives beyond formulaic narratives and to evaluate contemporary issues in hopes of arriving at a greater understanding about the current state of the world. The course is designed to prepare students for college level work in the humanities to develop their reading, writing, and research skills.

Depending on student enrollment, this course may or may not be offered.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Teacher recommendation.

In this college-level course, students will build on American History content presented at the middle school level by critically exploring problems in United States History to create sound conclusions based on informed and well supported judgments. Students will learn to present reasons and evidence in a clear and concise way. They will formulate their reason and evidence based on these targeted historical skills. Students will participate in experiential learning lessons which involve simulations, projects, role playing, and discussion.

Historical skills that will be developed throughout the course include argumentation and comparison, tracing topics over time, placing events in historical context, identifying the author, and intended audience’s point of view, the purpose, cause and effect of a resource, bringing outside content into their argument, and synthesizing the consequences of a topic by relating it to a different time period.

Major topics addressed in this course:

  • Identity
  • Work exchange, and technology
  • Peopling
  • Politics and Power
  • America in the World
  • Environment and Geography – physical and human
  • Ideas, Beliefs and Culture

Summer reading and cyber weekend work are assigned for this course.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Honors or AP United States History and teacher recommendation.

In this year-long, college-level course, students interpret and analyze the American government structure from its creation through to today. Students become familiar with the various institutions, groups, beliefs, and ideas that embody U.S. politics. An understanding of the typical patterns of political processes (how they behave and what their consequences are) is also covered. Research and writing are emphasized. Students are encouraged to enhance their understanding of concepts by listening to or reading the news, and as opportunities are available by spending time outside of class experiencing politics and government in action.

As part of the on-site section of this course, students are encouraged to participate in the Mock Trial and/or Moot Court Competitions to enhance their understanding of the law, public speaking abilities, and critical thinking skills.

Cyber weekend work is assigned for this course.

Depending on student enrollment, this course may or may not be offered. If enrollment is low, those students needing to move forward with the course will be able to do so via a PALCS cyber course.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Honors or AP United States History and teacher recommendation.

This course is devoted to modern Europe and the movements and major figures in politics, economics, the arts, science and thought, religion, and social change that have shaped the society in which we live. The curriculum covers centuries of development in half a dozen major cultures acting across a complex, ever-shifting map of nation-states. This knowledge provides the context for understanding the development of contemporary institutions, the role of continuity and change in present-day society and politics, and the evolution of current forms of artistic expression and intellectual discourse. Students develop a fuller comprehension of the emergence and growth of the modern world.

European History is taught through a two-year sequence, the first year addressing 1346-1814 and the second year covering 1815-present. Each year provides a full one-year social studies credit at the AP level. The two years of curriculum may be taken in any order. Each year may also be taken as a stand-alone course.

In 2018-19, we will study Europe and its impact on the world from 1815 to the present day.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Pre-calculus.

This is a year-long course covering college-level microeconomics. Microeconomics is the study of how individuals and firms make decisions and the impact that those decisions have. Major topics include market forces and types, international trade, the impact of government intervention on the market, and poverty and inequality. Central concepts include incentives, efficiency, equity, and unintended consequences. Course assignments involve readings, tests, research, projects, forums, debates, problem sets, and written analysis. Students are expected not only to know the material but also to apply critical thinking skills.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Honors Biology and Honors Chemistry.

The purpose of the AP course in Psychology is to introduce the systematic and scientific study of the complex mechanisms that influence behavior and mental processes of human beings and other animals. Included is a consideration of the psychological facts, principles, and phenomena associated with each of the major subfields within psychology. Students also learn about the ethics and methods psychologists use in their science and practice.

Major topics addressed in this course:

  • Research Methods
  • Biology of the Mind
  • Life Span Development, Gender, and Sexuality
  • Consciousness and the Two-track Mind
  • Nature, Nurture, and Human Diversity
  • Sensation and Perception
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Thinking and Language
  • Intelligence
  • Motivation and Work
  • Personality
  • Emotions, Stress and Health
  • Personality
  • Psychological Disorders
  • Therapy
  • Social Psychology

Depending on student interest and staffing, this course may or may not be offered on-site and/or cyber/virtually.

1 credit

Prerequisite: Successful completion of two high school social studies credits and/or teacher recommendation.

In this course, great works of nonfiction serve as a springboard for discussions of the most important questions life has to offer. In the years when our theme is “Knowledge”, we ask: how we can know anything for certain; what is a human being; and what makes for a satisfying life; and how does reality work. In the years when our theme is “Value”, we ask: how we may understand good and evil; how to live a virtuous life; what makes something valuable or beautiful; and what makes the world worth living in. Class meetings consist of open discussion in a seminar format accompanied by periodic writing assignments. As we discuss each text, we also consider the impact of historical context and rhetorical technique on groundbreaking ideas in the development of human thought. The course allows students to integrate ideas and examples from many different disciplines, not only the humanities but also math and the sciences, thus facilitating a synthesis of knowledge around meaningful and perplexing questions.

The two years of curriculum may be taken in any order. Each year may also be taken as a stand-alone course. For 2018-19, our theme will be “Knowledge”.


Additional Courses

Students enrolled in the University Scholars Program may also take any available course from the PA Leadership Charter School. The complete list of our curriculum can either be viewed on the Academics page of our site, or via complete course catalog .pdf download.
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Graduation Requirements

To graduate from the PA Leadership Charter School, high school students participating in the University Scholars Program must complete standard PALCS graduation requirements. High-achieving students will likely surpass these credit requirements. The PALCS guidance department and USP guidance counselor will work individually with students to ensure a solid academic portfolio, catered to student career goals.

Graduation Requirements

Next Steps

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