The sense of reverence and wonder for the natural world are a foundation of the high school years. Students are challenged both intellectually and in their observational skills. The development of critical thinking and the ability to compare and contrast and to analyze and synthesize are trained. The students learn gradually to look at a scientific problem from different points of view. We ask, “What is nature trying to teach us?”
To answer this question, the students are trained to observe natural phenomena honestly and with an open mind. Rather than trying immediately to confirm their observations in pre‐given abstract models, they first learn to become more aware of the natural world around them, and to enjoy it. This approach leads naturally to many questions that can be investigated. A phenomenological approach to science, which always reaches a conceptual understanding starting from the observation of phenomena, helps the students to ground the many scientific concepts in the concrete realty of the natural world, thus leading to a greater appreciation for nature, the process of scientific investigation, and the discovery of natural laws.
The teacher can then help the students to focus on specific topics. The derivation of scientific principles follows as much as possible from the observations, through intense class discussions where observations are compared and contrasted, and the students are guided in the search for fundamental principles. In this way, a sense of wonder for the universe around us is continuously nourished, and the students learn to become more independent in their thinking.
Each year, students have blocks in each of the scientific disciplines with the subject material following the developmental thrust of each year. Thus, in biology, ninth graders study Anatomy and Physiology, tenth graders study Embryology and Heredity, eleventh graders study Botany and Cell Biology, and twelfth graders study Zoology and Evolution.