The York science curriculum helps students develop critical thinking skills grounded in a broad knowledge of the major concepts of science and the scientific method. Students learn to understand and interpret natural phenomena through extensive laboratory work, class discussions, field trips, guest lectures, and experimental research projects.

All students are required to take Biology, Chemistry or Physics, and one other science course, so that a basic competence is developed across the range of natural phenomena. Secondary elective courses, some at the AP level, are offered in all three areas. Students with special interests in science have many opportunities to further develop their general knowledge and their research skills in preparation for college majors in science. Other significant features of the science curriculum include the following:
  • York’s own Science Fair, judged by over 40 local scientists, which allows students to develop independence and furthers understanding of the scientific method;
  • Our “green” science building, which helps students to achieve a sense of global awareness and responsibility;
  • The Outdoor Lab and Design Shop, where students can easily conduct field work to advance their understanding of science.
Requirements. In Grade 8, students enroll in Science 8 for the full year. In Grades 9-12, three years of science are required for graduation: Biology (usually taken in 9th grade), Chemistry or Physics, and one other science course.
  • Anatomy & Physiology

    Offered in alternating years
    Students are introduced to the basic concepts of anatomy and physiology, with an emphasis on humans, while using the comparative anatomy approach to show relationships between all vertebrates. Approximately 40% of class time is devoted to laboratory activities. These laboratory investigations include both hands-on dissection and computer simulations as well as computer-assisted sensory probes for monitoring various physiological parameters. Through lectures, discussions, and labs, students develop a strong sense of how structure and function are related.
  • AP Biology

    This course is designed to be the equivalent of a college introductory biology course taken by biology majors during their first year. The textbook, reading assignments, writing assignments, and written examinations are equivalent to those found in major college biology programs. Lectures, discussions, chapter study questions, laboratory investigations, and written examinations are used for instruction and student evaluation. Students become extraordinarily adept at tying various concepts together, and in the world of modern biology, this is definitely a skill necessary for success. The course will include the material that will appear on the AP Biology exam, and all students enrolled in the course will be expected to take this exam in May.
  • AP Chemistry

    The lectures and laboratory work in this course go significantly beyond first-year chemistry in the depth and detail with which topics are covered. The testing format simulates the AP Chemistry exam, which all students are expected to take in May. Topics covered include stoichiometry, aqueous reactions, electronic structure, chemical bonding, gases, liquids and solids, solutions, thermodynamics, kinetics, equilibrium, acids and bases, precipitation reactions, electrochemistry, and nuclear chemistry.
  • AP Physics C - Mechanics

    This calculus-based course is designed to build on the foundation of the first-year physics course and covers topics in mechanics and in electricity and magnetism. Both the lecture and laboratory work go significantly beyond first-year physics in the depth and detail with which topics are covered. The course is taught through a variety of techniques, including: lectures, classroom discussions, demonstrations (in-class and video), computer simulations, homework problems, problem-solving sessions, and hands-on laboratories. In addition to learning physics, this class emphasizes the art of problem solving. To support this objective, the bulk of assigned homework emphasize reasoning rather than rote memorization and single-step plug-and-chug problems. Students are encouraged to work collaboratively. The course will include the material that will appear on the AP Physics C - Mechanics exam, and all students enrolled in the course will be expected to take this exam in May.
  • Biology

    With scientists unraveling the mysteries of life faster than ever before, this introductory survey course provides a foundation for students to understand the living world around them. It covers introductory biological principles, including chemistry of life, cellular structure and function, heredity and molecular genetics, evolution, ecology, and classification. Students are encouraged to approach science both critically and with curiosity, utilizing lectures, discussion, readings, and a significant laboratory component. In addition, all students complete an individual research project based on the scientific method, enabling them to make their own science connections to the real world. Also, field work and environmental studies can be conducted easily in the 100-acre York Outdoor Laboratory.
  • Chemistry

    The course exposes the student to the major topics of chemistry, including classification and measurement of matter, atomic theory, nomenclature, stoichiometry, electronic structure, chemical bonding, gases, liquids and solids, and solutions. Additional topics may include thermochemistry, nuclear and organic chemistry. Laboratory work familiarizes students with lab equipment and techniques, and reinforces the topics covered in lectures and class discussions.
  • Environmental Science

    This course introduces students to a variety of environmental issues both locally and globally. The emphasis is on solutions for living sustainably. Issues are considered from many perspectives to help students realize it takes compromise and understanding from many groups to solve today’s environmental problems. The students use critical thinking skills and examine the “big picture.” Field trips to local areas of interest, work in the field, and laboratory exercises help to reinforce what they learn in class. Also, field work and environmental studies can be conducted easily in the 100-acre York Outdoor Laboratory.
  • Marine Biology & Oceanography

    Offered in alternating years
    This course introduces students to the basic concepts of oceanography, marine ecology, marine zoology, and marine botany. Field trips to local areas of interest and laboratory exercises give students an appreciation for and knowledge of the dynamics of the marine ecosystem both locally and globally. Laboratory investigations include both hands-on dissections and computer simulations as well as work with live specimens to study their physiology.
  • Physics

    This introductory physics class is aimed at promoting student understanding of the motion and behavior of matter through space and time, what physicists call “classical mechanics.” The curriculum is delivered with a student-centered focus and hands-on learning through labs and design challenges, with an active, social course design. One of the main goals of the course is to have students gain a better understanding of how the universe behaves, and to integrate the application and power of mathematics to model and predict that behavior.
  • Psychology: Neuroscience & Ethics - YAS

    Not offered in 2022-23
    Only 150 years old, psychology is a relatively young science, and the fledgling study of neuroscience has been around for less than half a century. Suddenly, however, humanity finds itself in a world where the potential to influence the brain and thereby behavior is changing radically and quickly. This course is meant to help students identify how we perceive, process and react to our world as well as evaluate the impact of neuroscientific advances, knowing they may bring great improvement and carry potential dangers. We look at topics ranging from cognitive enhancement of perception and memory to “brain fingerprinting” as it relates to psychiatric diagnosis/treatment and criminal investigations, considering legal, military, consumer and social applications and implications throughout. This junior/senior year elective is offered as part of our school's "Advanced Studies" series. Courses in this series are designed to be as rigorous as traditional AP courses while allowing for more depth, rather than breadth, of study.
  • Science 8

    The goal of this course is twofold. First is to give the students a conceptual (non-mathematical) overview of the major topics in physical science. Second is to teach the scientific method and help students develop the ability to use this tool as a logical approach to problem solving. Understanding scientific measurement using the metric system and teaching critical thinking skills add to their science skill set. The material focuses on fundamental concepts in the subjects, including some of the following: astronomy (a detailed look at the solar system and other objects in the universe), physics (Newton’s laws, simple machines, work and energy), chemistry (atoms, the elements and chemical bonding), and earth science (geology and climatology). Hands-on learning activities help highlight each topic along with field research in the York Outdoor Laboratory.


  • Photo of Jeff Hanna
    Jeff Hanna
    Math/Science Department Chair
  • Photo of Pam Durkee
    Pam Durkee
    Math/Science; 9th Grade Dean
  • Photo of Scot Johnson
    Scot Johnson
    Math/Science; 11th Grade Dean
  • Photo of Kim Kiest
    Kim Kiest
    Math/Science; 10th Grade Dean
  • Photo of Kande Williston
    Kande Williston


York School

9501 York Road
Monterey, CA 93940
Phone: 831-372-7338
Fax: 831-372-8055
We inspire and prepare a diverse community of creative, independent thinkers.
Since 1959, York School has created an exceptional college-prep experience for our youth: inspiring them to develop intellectual curiosity; challenging them to create and try new things; and preparing them to be passionate contributors in college and in life.