Biology First

Biology First

Biology First

Biology Courses

BIOLOGY CONCEPTS 7 per cycle – 5 credits

4003, 4004 Freshmen - Soph. Year

Prerequisite: Instructor and department chair recommendation.


This is a co-taught course between the science and special education departments. This course places emphasis on constructing, reflecting on, and using biology knowledge. Themes covered in this course include energy, change, scale, interaction, and systems as they relate to cells, heredity, evolution of living things and ecosystems. Work students complete will prepare them for the Massachusetts Biology MCAS exam, and will expand and improve their skill with scientific and biology-related vocabulary, reading, writing and laboratory investigation.



BIOLOGY - 10 per cycle – 6 credits

4021 Freshman – Soph. Year Prerequisite: A or better in Physical Science 4011 or A or better in 8th grade science, and level 1 math courses. Recommendation of science review committee required.


Level 1 Biology is an advanced course intended to introduce students to the major areas of biology. Students should have demonstrated high motivation, capacity for independent study and sustained hard work, and strong conceptual, analytical and reading skills. Substantial independent work is expected. The general orientation of this course is on the molecular level. Living processes are viewed within this conceptual framework. The course is augmented by as much chemical detail as is necessary to provide an adequate understanding of biological principles. Recent advances in the field are pursued to a depth sufficient to develop an appreciation for modern research and techniques.



BIOLOGY - 9 per cycle – 6 credits

4022, 4023 Sophomore Year

Prerequisite: C or higher in level I or II Physical Science or recommendation from science review committee.


In order to stimulate the interest and challenge the ability of students, emphasis in this course is placed on scientific inquiry, in both class work and through intensive laboratory experimentation. This college preparatory course requires that the enrolling student have good reading skills, high motivation, and a willingness to work with consistency and independence. Among the areas of study are the following: general introduction to biology and basic chemistry, animal and plant structures and their functions,  human anatomy and physiology, reproduction and development, genetics, evolution, the diversity of living things, and ecology. Laboratory investigations, audio-visuals, worksheets, and other means are utilized in developing and reinforcing important biological concepts. The scientific method is stressed in both class and lab work.



AP BIOLOGY 10 per cycle – 6 credits

4341 Senior Year

Prerequisite: B+ or better in Biology 4021, (or an A in Biology 4022) and a B or better in Chemistry 4031.


The purpose of this course is to provide students with a rigorous course in Biology that will lead to an understanding of the concepts and principles required for success on the AP Biology exam as well as future studies in Biology. The curriculum includes an in-depth study of the living systems of the cell, the organism, and the biosphere. Several required Advanced Placement labs form a major emphasis by which scientific information about these living systems is obtained. The most current developments in the field of biology are also covered and their impact on the future of medicine, genetics, and the environment are discussed. Upon passing the Advanced Placement Exam in Biology, the student may receive college credit, depending on the policy of the individual college.

It is expected that students enrolled in this course will take the AP exam.

In line with our belief statements generated by the science department and after considerable review of research and course offerings in a variety of communities, the Westwood Science Department has elected to offer Biology first to all incoming freshmen beginning in 2019-20.  The new course sequence is Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and science electives. 


We believe that the Physical Science curriculum has served our community well for years; however, two major factors initiated this change.  First, the Next Generation Science Standards, along with the new Massachusetts State Standards, promote a more rigorous exploration of science that can be better captured by increasing our elective offerings.  Second, the middle school has more closely aligned with State Standards which has created a greater vertical pathway which will culminate with richer science electives by senior year. 


Biology first for all freshmen will offer a more equitable approach to science at Westwood High School.  Further, students will have greater autonomy in selecting electives that best suit their interests by senior year.  The Westwood Science Department is making the necessary preparations to facilitate a meaningful and smooth transition to the new science sequence.