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Rochelle Zell gives students a firm foundation in science with a traditionally sequenced biology, chemistry, and physics program. Students begin together in a heterogeneous classroom, giving each freshman the opportunity to develop new study skills in science. Tracking begins to be an option sophomore and junior year with chemistry and physics classes selected by interest level and appropriate prerequisites in math.


All freshmen begin together with biology, a molecular-based curriculum incorporating units on cellular structures, plant life, human systems, and basic genetics. Students learn organization, lab techniques, and scientific reasoning that will prepare them for more advanced work. Biology enables our freshmen to appreciate the diversity of living things and to better understand their environment and the processes that maintain all life and the consequences involved in making decisions for our world. We start the year out investigating the trees of Illinois using an amazing Dendrology Web program checking out the trees that should be familiar to us, and then we take a "walk-about" on our beautiful Rochelle Zell campus, and identify the many species of deciduous trees surrounding us every day. Later in the fall, we do a chromatography lab to actually separate the pigments in the trees we studied in UNIT1, and view the fall colors in the lab right before our eyes. A second semester highlight is studying genetics, ethics and medicine, vaccinations, genetic technologies and controversies.


Chemistry includes studying properties of matter, chemical formulas, equations, periodic table, gas laws, thermochemistry, atomic structure, bonding, acids and bases, and equilibrium. Students may choose the honors option, which incorporates a more extensive laboratory experience and requires a higher level of problem solving. Students refine their experimental techniques and data analysis, writing more extensive observations and lab reports.


Physics begins with a semester of mechanics (kinematics Newton's Laws, conservation of momentum, conservation of energy, and rotational dynamics), then continues on into second semester with electricity and magnetism, sound waves, and electromagnetic wave behavior. Students interested in more intensive mathematical content may choose the honors option; those with interests in electronics, computer programming, and 3D design (CAD) can specialize in engineering instead. The climax of this program is the annual Rochelle Zell Physics Expo, where students present 15-minute films and live demonstrations on the research topics of their choice.



The following science classes are available for senior year:

  • Human Anatomy and Physiology provides an overview of the systems of the human body with a focus on health careers. Students learn practical skills such as how to take their blood pressure, type blood, read a basic electrocardiogram, test their reflexes, and design a workout. They gain experience with "surgical techniques" by performing several precise dissections. Students also develop valuable communication skills through frequent oral and multimedia presentations on various diseases and conditions.
  • AP Chemistry will prepare students to deal with the scientific problems of today. We will emphasize the contemporary aspects of chemistry, as well as the history and theory involved in chemistry. Through this course students will gain general knowledge of chemistry, as well as problem solving, critical thinking and decision making that will relate to their daily lives and assist them in the future. This is a college level course that requires extensive lab research. Students will: determine the % of sodium hypochlorite in bleach utilizing the titration method, analyze the group 2A metallic ions and Group 7A Halides and then perform a qualitative analysis to determine an unknown salt, perform a Kinetics Inquiry Lab to determine how the reactants affect the rate of a chemical reaction, use spectrophotometers to determine the equilibrium constant for a iron-containing chemical reaction, and analyze electrochemical cells and predict voltages of various redox reactions. As you will see, chemistry can be fun and exciting!
  • AP Biology offers students a solid foundation in Biology through the process of inquiry in college-level laboratory work and using critical thinking skills. Students will investigate chlorophyll fluorescence, use gel electrophoresis as a crime solving tool, transform bacteria so they glow under UV light, as well as performing a dissection. Students will leave AP Biology aware of the integration of other sciences in the study of Biology and as responsible citizens in understanding biological issues that could impact their lives. This course is a specialized adaptation of the AP Biology class as offered through the College Board. Students who wish to take the AP Biology exam should contact the instructor.
  • AP Physics C: Mechanics is a college-level course in kinematics, dynamics, rotational dynamics, conservation laws, gravitational fields, and harmonic oscillators. In addition to preparing for the AP Exam, this course prepares students for an intensive course of study in Physics For Scientists and Engineers at university.

"RZJHS taught me how to be an individual, how to think critically, and to how contribute to a larger community." - Sydni C., '09