Is Chemistry Required in High School in California?
According to the California Department of Education, students are required to complete at least two (2) courses in science. Of these two courses, one must be physical sciences. There is no specific law requiring chemistry to be offered in California high schools. This means local high schools may offer chemistry or another topic that satisfies the requirement, such as physics or earth science.
Based on the NGSS standards, California minimum Physical Sciences curriculum must include the following:
HS-PS1 Matter and Its Interactions
Students who demonstrate understanding can:
Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms. [Clarification Statement: Examples of properties that could be predicted from patterns could include reactivity of metals, types of bonds formed, numbers of bonds formed, and reactions with oxygen.]
Construct and revise an explanation for the outcome of a simple chemical reaction based on the outermost electron states of atoms, trends in the periodic table, and knowledge of the patterns of chemical properties. [Clarification Statement: Examples of chemical reactions could include the reaction of sodium and chlorine, of carbon and oxygen, or of carbon and hydrogen.]
Plan and conduct an investigation to gather evidence to compare the structure of substances at the bulk scale to infer the strength of electrical forces between particles. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on understanding the strengths of forces between particles, not on naming specific intermolecular forces (such as dipole-dipole). Examples of particles could include ions, atoms, molecules, and networked materials (such as graphite). Examples of bulk properties of substances could include the melting point and boiling point, vapor pressure, and surface tension.]
Develop a model to illustrate that the release or absorption of energy from a chemical reaction system depends upon the changes in total bond energy. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the idea that a chemical reaction is a system that affects the energy change. Examples of models could include molecular-level drawings and diagrams of reactions, graphs showing the relative energies of reactants and products, and representations showing energy is conserved.]
Apply scientific principles and evidence to provide an explanation about the effects of changing the temperature or concentration of the reacting particles on the rate at which a reaction occurs. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on student reasoning that focuses on the number and energy of collisions between molecules.]
Refine the design of a chemical system by specifying a change in conditions that would produce increased amounts of products at equilibrium.* [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the application of Le Chatelier's Principle and on refining designs of chemical reaction systems, including descriptions of the connection between changes made at the macroscopic level and what happens at the molecular level. Examples of designs could include different ways to increase product formation including adding reactants or removing products.]
Use mathematical representations to support the claim that atoms, and therefore mass, are conserved during a chemical reaction. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on using mathematical ideas to communicate the proportional relationships between masses of atoms in the reactants and the products, and the translation of these relationships to the macroscopic scale using the mole as the conversion from the atomic to the macroscopic scale. Emphasis is on assessing students’ use of mathematical thinking and not on memorization and rote application of problem-solving techniques.]
Develop models to illustrate the changes in the composition of the nucleus of the atom and the energy released during the processes of fission, fusion, and radioactive decay. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on simple qualitative models, such as pictures or diagrams, and on the scale of energy released in nuclear processes relative to other kinds of transformations.]