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Staff Directory

Bana, Sushma 366-7600 x8850 AP Physics 1, Pre-Calculus Honors
Birdsong, Jim 366-7600 x8808 AP Physics 1, AP Physics C
Choi, Julie 366-7600 AP Physics 1, AP Chemistry
Chow, Pam 366-7600 x8897 AP Biology, Biology
Fallon, Renee 366-7600 x8893 AP Biology, STEM Research
Gan, Ken 366-7600 x8836 Biology, AP Environmental Science
Gupta, Kavita 366-7600 x8844 AP Chemistry
Hajjarian, Pooya 366-7600 x8879 Department Chair, Biology, Sheltered Biology
Irvine, Jennifer 366-7600 x 7624 Science Lab Assistant
Jones, Kyle 366-7600 x8853 Biology, AP Environmental Science
Lerner, Lora 366-7600 x8870 Biology
Lordan, Michael 366-7600 x8899 AP Physics 1, Physics
McCracken, Elizabeth 366-7600 x8862 Chemistry Honors, AVID 9
Moore, Supriya 366-7600 x8802 Chemistry, Chemistry Honors
Onodera, Mia 366-7600 x8871 Chemistry, Sheltered Chemistry
Smith, Jenna 366-7600 x8854 Physiology, Leadership

Course Information & Resources

Title Description Document
Science Core Curriculum Presentation - 2018 A presentation about the science curriculum at Monta Vista. This includes an overview of FUHSD graduation requirements, UC and CSU admissions requirements, and recommended class sequences. The courses that follow Biology, including Chemistry, Physics, and Physiology, are discussed. The difference between non-honors, honors, and AP is reviewed. Science Presentation
Which Science Class Should I Take Next Year? Prerequisite courses, along with corresponding grade ranges, key events, main ideas, and more are compared in this table. Science Course Selection Guide
Information about Physics Courses A slide presentation comparing the physics options and a diagram showing paths to the different physics courses. Physics Course Comparison 

Physics Course recommendation diagram
Textbook List - Science Courses A list of all primary textbooks for Monta Vista science courses. Includes author(s), edition number, publisher, ISBN number, and replacement cost. Science Textbook List
Science Content Standards for California Public Schools Interested in looking at the source for Monta Vista's science curriculum? Take a look at the state standards for Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and more. Next Generation Science Standards
SAT II Testing for UC Schools While SAT Subject Tests are not required, some campuses recommend that students vying for slots in competitive majors take the tests to demonstrate subject proficiency. Check out the following the link to learn more. UC Admission - SAT II Subject Tests
STAR Testing The California Standards Tests are given each spring. If you'd like to learn more about these exams and STAR testing, follow the link. STAR Testing Information

High School Graduation & College Entrance Requirements

High School Graduation Requirements

There is a two-year requirement for graduation. One year must be a physical science and the other a life science; Environmental Science may be used to satisfy either year.

UC Eligibility 

d. Laboratory Science - 2 year required, 3 years recommended. A student must earn 20 credits and a grade of 'C' or higher in approved laboratory science courses.


I'd like to take two science classes, how do I do that?

With the current budget status, students are limited to taking one science class for the upcoming school year. Engineering does not count as a second science, which means a student could take physics (or any other science course) and Engineering.

Does Engineering count towards FUHSD science requirements for graduation?

Engineering Tech DOES count towards the physical science requirement for high school graduation.

How much science is required for graduation from Monta Vista?

A student must take at least two science courses to graduate. One of these science courses must be a life science (Biology, AP Biology, or Physiology) and one of these science courses must be a physical science (ISC, Chemistry, Chemistry Honors, AP Chemistry, Physics, Physics Honors, AP Physics, or ROP Engineering Tech). 

Is there a minimum grade in science for UC/CSU admission?

Yes, you must receive at least a "C" in your classes for it to count towards admission. 

For the UC Requirements, do they have to be one life science and one physical science?

The two "D" level courses must fall into at least two of the three "fundamental disciplines" (chemistry, physics, or biology). Their literature says, "Two years of laboratory science providing fundamental knowledge in at least two of these three disciplines: biology (which includes anatomy, physiology, marine biology, aquatic biology, etc.), chemistry and physics." 

Is there a way other than taking a class to meet UC science requirements?

Students should take the class or repeat if necessary. However, students MAY be able to meet UC requirements by SAT II examination alone. You can check the requirements on the UC Reference Site. Be sure to contact the UC system for your specific situation. 

Should I make sure that I take all three types of science courses (biology, chemistry, and physics) before graduation?

Your first priority is to ensure that you fulfill the MV graduation requirements (one life and one physical science). Then you want to ensure you fulfill the requirements for the college to which you might want to apply. If you are applying to a School of Engineering or Computer Science, then you should definitely take some physics in high school. If you are applying to a School of Biological Sciences, then biology and possibly AP Biology is/are recommended. The best thing for you to do is visit the Career Center and look at the specific recommendations for the schools that you are applying for. The UC material states the following, "The University requires two years of laboratory science in high school, but many majors require additional science courses. Programs in the biological sciences and some natural resource fields require high school biology, chemistry and physics. Programs in the physical sciences, mathematics, engineering, agriculture and the health sciences require chemistry and physics, and recommend biology." This comes from their UC Quick Reference Site. 

How does taking a summer prep course compare to MV courses?

Summer prep courses offered at other, non-FUHSD schools are an imperfect substitute for MV courses, particularly in the depth of the curriculum and the time spent in learning. Also, courses taken at other schools, unless they are pre-approved by an MV assistant principal, will not appear on a student's MV transcript, and will not earn credit toward graduation. Check with your MV assistant principal for more details.

Can a student take Chemistry Honors after having taken Chemistry, or take Physics Honors after having taken Physics?

These would be considered REPEAT classes. Courses that are repeated earn units only once, unless otherwise noted in the course description. Example: A student earns a D in Chemistry and then takes Chemistry the next year earning a B. The first Chemistry will remain on the transcript and will have a "repeat" notation next to it but will earn no units. The class with the higher grade (the Chemistry with the B grade) will earn the units and that new grade will be the one calculated in the GPA. A minimum grade of C is required for college eligibility. 

Why is the recommended math requirement for Physics Honors concurrent enrollment in Precalculus?

Students that have taken Precalculus have familiarity with trigonometry. Physics Honors students constantly use trigonometry, vector addition, analysis of slopes and areas of graphs and multivariable algebra. Experience in Precalculus is also recommended because the students will have additional experience in applying math concepts to physical situations and will have extra practice with word problems. Concurrent enrollment in Precalculus will help because students will be more successful with the additional math experience and more understanding of slopes and areas. 

Should I take Chemistry or Chemistry Honors?

To be successful in Chemistry Honors, you should have received a B or better in Biology. Also, you should have received a B or better in Geometry. Students that receive a C in Biology should not consider taking Chemistry Honors.

I'm not sure what science class to take, how should I decide?

There are four major factors that should go into the decision. First, be sure that you are fulfilling your graduation requirements and admission requirements for the college you want to go to. Second, consider your interests and goals. What kinds of sciences do you enjoy - life or physical? Third, consider the teacher's recommendation for which science course to go into. Your teachers want you to succeed and will try to make a recommendation based on your strengths and interests. Finally, consider what other classes and commitments that you'll have next year. Try to balance academic and extracurricular commitments. 

Is it possible to take AP Biology without taking Biology, AP Chemistry without taking Chemistry/Chemistry Honors, or AP Physics without taking Physics/Physics Honors?

It is not recommended. The AP science courses are designed as SECOND year courses. Students are expected to know and understand the material from the first course. Students that try to skip and go directly to the AP course will not have the adequate background knowledge to succeed as well as students that have had the previous experience. For this reason, we recommend you take the first year for each of our AP science courses. 

Will I be prepared to take AP Chemistry if I took regular Chemistry instead of Chemistry Honors?

Chemistry students have, historically, struggled in AP Chemistry, primarily because of their lack of exposure to challenging and detailed topics. Chemistry Honors students are much better prepared for AP Chemistry, having "heard about" these difficult topics once before. Furthermore, the pace of AP Chemistry is quite fast, closer to that of Chemistry Honors. Please review Chem AP Grade data to help you make your decision. 

Will I be prepared to take AP Physics if I took regular Physics instead of Physics Honors?

In the past, students who have taken AP Physics after having taken regular Physics were significantly outperformed by students whose preparation included Physics Honors. Over the past three years, approximately ten students have taken AP Physics after having taken regular physics. The typical grade for these students is a C, with D grades being quite common. Taking Physics Honors will give you much more preparation for AP Physics. 

I am struggling in one of my science classes, what can I do?

First, all teachers have office hours - talk to your teacher, attend tutorial sessions, or use some of the resources your teacher may provide you (websites, practice materials, etc). If you are a Chemistry student, there is a special tutoring program that you can join. Chemistry tutoring is a peer tutoring program that involves collaboration between Chemistry AP, Chemistry Honors and Chemistry students where the Chemistry AP students will tutor Chemistry Honors students and Chemistry students, once a week, at lunch, under teacher supervision, on various concepts of Chemistry . Please talk to your Chemistry teacher if you are interested in this. 

How do I find out what designation (A-G) the UC system gives for a certain course?

If you go to the UC Course Search Website and type in "Monta Vista", you will see the current list. 

What is the equivalent DeAnza Course to our Physics AP class?

Physics AP as taught at MV is calculus-based physics, which is equivalent to the DeAnza classes Physics 4A and 4B. The Physics 50 class is algebra-based physics, which would be roughly equivalent to Physics or Physics Honors. Please note that DeAnza courses will not appear on a student's MV transcript, and will not earn credit toward graduation. However, if taken after completing the 10th grade and before beginning the 12th grade year, the classes can earn college credit. Check with your MV assistant principal for more details. 

What is the equivalent DeAnza Course to our Chemistry AP class?

Chemistry AP is probably most equivalent to the Chemistry 1 series at DeAnza (1A,1B,1C). 

What type of summer school does our district offer?

Traditionally our district has offered summer school Biology for those students that failed during the school year. Second preference is then given to students with a "D." The course is not for students that want to take an enrichment course or take Biology early. Final information on what we'll offer and who can take the classes will be distributed by the District around April/May. 

When is the best time to take the SATII for Biology - after Biology or after AP Biology?

The best time to take the SATII for Biology would be after taking the AP Biology course. Most of the topics are introduced in 9th grade biology, but the SATII goes into more depth - so a student will be more successful if they take it after the AP course. For the Biology SATII, there are two options that you can take: E or M. E is for Ecology, M is for Molecular. The Monta Vista AP Biology program is more molecularly-focused, so you may want to take that section. Based on the 2002 scores, students that took the M version had an average score that was 81 points higher than the E version. If a student did NOT take AP Biology and would like to take the SATII, then we would recommend the E version - since this information is fully covered in the 9th grade course and a student that didn't take AP wouldn't have some of the M information. Remember, though, that it is your choice on what to take and you should look over practice materials to help you make your decision. 

Do Honors and AP Classes have a different 'weighting' for the GPA?

The transcript that our high school provides does not weight classes. That means an A in chem honors is worth the same as an A in chemistry in our district's GPA calculation. Some colleges will "weight" a certain number of honors/AP courses. For example, the UC system assigns extra grade points for up to four yearlong honors level or AP courses taken in grades 10, 11, and 12. (An A=5 points, B=4 points, C=3 points). A maximum of two yearlong courses taken in grade 10 are assigned honors points. Grades of D are not assigned extra honors points and are not recognized as "completion of course." 

Summer Opportunities

Science Research, Experiences & Enrichment Programs

Alfred University (NY) Summer Session: a summer academic institute that introduces students to the college experience.

Boston University Summer Challenge Program and High School Honors Program: SCP is a two-week preview of college life and coursework. In the HSHP, students will gain the intellectual challenge of a true undergraduate experience as teh undertake for-credit coursework.

California State Summer School for Mathematics & Science (COSMOS): for Summer 2009: Three UC campuses, Davis, Irvine, and Santa Cruz, will again be welcoming high school students who excel in mathematics and science to a four-week residential summer program. During the program, students have the opportunity to work with renowned university faculty and researchers studying topics not traditionally taught in high schools. Some of this year's courses include: Astronomy, Robotics, Cryptography, and Veterinary Medicine. The class size is relatively small, providing an environment conducive to educating the individual

City of Hope Medical Center: There is a summer program at the City of Hope Medical Center that is open to high school and college students. Students work under a research scientist there and typically have their own research project. Ms. Tsai did this program...ask her about it.

Cornell University Summer College: Offers one-, three-, four-, and six-week programs for academically talented students to experience life at Cornell, and learn about engineering, medicine, and veterinary and biological research.

Earthwatch: Amazing expeditions all over the world. Also has a program specifically for 11th graders - spend two weeks visiting laboratories and field stations throughout the entire US, like Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Kitt Peak National Observatory, and Stanford Human Genome Center.

Exploratorium: The Explainer Program is one of the most exciting programs at the Exploratorium. It focuses on bay area youth between the ages of 15-20. The Explainer program involves students directly in the process of learning by making them part of the museum staff and giving them the important responsibility of being our primary point of contact with the general public.

Frontiers: This two week residential program is for soon-to-be juniors and seniors. Frontiers blends academic coursework in topics such as mechanical engineering, physics, robotics, computer science, and biotechnology, with diverse social activities, communication workshops, team-building exercises, and field trips. $1900 tuition.

George Hagan Memorial Summer Science Fellowship Program: This fellowship offers an opportunity for high school juniors and seniors to participate in hands-on scientific research at highly regarded laboratories in the San Francisco Bay Area. Students work full time for eight weeks and receive stipends of $1500 to $2000. To receive an application, you need to call the Arthritis Foundation (Northern California Chapter) at 1-800-464-6240 or

Harvard Summer Session: Every summer Harvard Summer School offers current high school juniors and seniors a chance to sample college--to take college classes taught by college instructors, to meet students from around the world, and to take part in many activities.

Johns Hopkins University: Center for Talented Youth: This summer program is designed to support and nurture academic talent by giving motivated, gifted students a chance to study at a pace to match their abilities. Their programs are offered at universities throughout the country. Students range from grades 2-11.

Lawrence Hall of Science Summer Research Experiences: At Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) summer science camps, the mountains, forests, and seashore become exciting places to explore science and nature in ways not possible inside a classroom.

Legacy Heritage Programming LLC: comprehensive summer science research internship, combined with exploration nad elaboration of one's experience with Judaism.

Michigan Technological University: Week long explorations into astronomy, space science, genetics, and robotics. Summer sessions take place in the North Woods of Michigan. Open to all high school students.

MIT: Women's Technology Program: This is a four week summer residential program to introduce high school girls to Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). Students attend WTP in the summer directly after 11th grade. Applications are due January 15.

National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine: intensive 10-day program at various cities throughout the country, including seminars and hands-on experiences.

National Youth Science Camp: Two high school seniors will receive a full scholarship to exchange ideas with scientists and other professionals from the academic and corporate worlds. The nearly month-long experience includes lectures and hands-on research projects presented by scientists from across the nation; overnight expeditions into the National Forest; and a visit to Washington D.C. The selected delegates must not only demonstrate academic achievement in science, but also show potential for thoughtful scientific leadership. Application deadline is in February.

Santa Clara University SES (Summer Engineering Seminar): Week long sessions at Santa Clara University are designed to motivate young people to enter science and engineering majors in college. Participants eat their meals in University dining facilities, they attend special classes, visit labs, and do some engineering themselves. Applications are due.

Science Research Training Program (SRTP): 8-week summer science research internship and academic program for motivated, science-oriented students who have completed their sophomore or junior year of high school.

St George's University Camp Medicine: Two week program with the School of Medicine in July, where High School and College students attend lectures, lab work, and case studies with field trips to local clinics and hospitals.The island of Grenada provides the perfect setting to expose students to coral reefs, the rainforest, and other bio-diverse environments.

Stanford Medical Youth Science Program: This summer educational opportunity is geared towards economically disadvantaged/low-income high school students who are academically oriented, mature and inquisitive about science and medicine.

Stanford Summer Session: This program allows high school students to experience college life by living in dorms and taking real Stanford classes. Students must apply with an essay, reccomendations and test scores.

Summer Oceanography Adventure: the Tall Ship Education Academy and SFSU bring you an environmental field study of the diverse systems that make up the San Francisco Bay.  Girls only.

Summer Science Program (SSP): Talented juniors and seniors from around the world are invited to attend this prestigious program to attend college level lectures in physics, astronomy, math, and computer programming. At night students will have the oppurtunity to determine the orbit of certain asteroids using their own methods. Emphasis is on teamwork and cooperation. No grades given. Located in California's Ojai valley.

UC Davis Young Scholars Program: Offers High-Achieving and High-Potential Juniors and Sophomores an opportunity to do mentored research in University laboratories. Program information and application can be found at:

UCSD Summer Academic Connections: Academic Connections is an opportunity for young students (grades 9 -12) to explore the best the University of California, San Diego has to offer. Their goal is to help young people touch the future by exposing them to some of the most exciting fields of research.

UCSD Summer Session: This is an opportunity for young students to explore the best the University of California, San Diego has to offer. It is only for 11th and 12th graders.

University of Pennsylvania's Summer Science Academies: an academic experience to help prepare for success in the university and admissions process, and a foundation for a flourishing college career, focussing on physics, biomedical research, or forensic science.

University of Pennsylvania Summer Academy in Applied Science and Technology (SAAST): Run by the Univ. of Pennsylvania Engineering Department, SAAST offers six intensive, rigorous, three-week courses that combine sophisticated theory with hands-on practical experience in cutting-edge technologies.

Wildlife Biology Research Camp: a one-week UC-Berkeley program to participate in wildlife investigations near Lake Tahoe

YSI (Youth Science Institute): local science camps afterschool and over the summer, of various lengths and for various age groups.  

Math Programs

MathCamp: For Mathematically Talented High School Students from around the World. Held at a different university on the North American Continent every year. Camp conducted by the Mathematics Foundation of America

PROMYS: Six weeks of rigorous mathematics activity! Does this sound like a good time to you? Then you should look at the PROMYS websites

SUMaC: The Stanford University Math Camp; Application information available on-line.

SWT Honors Math Camp: The SWT Honors Summer Math Camp is an intensive summer program for outstanding high school students who are excited about doing mathematics  

Job Experiences

 Breakthrough: High school and college-age students work with underserved  middle school students to teach them the academic skills they will need to enter into and succeed in college-preparatory high schools. You will have an opportunity to serve as a summer school teacher.

Youth at Work: A free, online service that links job seeking youth with hiring employers throughout Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties.