Science at PMHS

A Guide to Science Course Selection

According to the Program of Studies at Patchogue-Medford High School, only 3 credits of science are necessary to achieve the 22-credit graduation requirement.  However, proper obtention of these credits is difficult, as must include a life science course and a physical science course within them.  In addition, the requirements for science courses depend on the type of diploma you are planning on getting.  So, it is crucial to be meticulous when selecting each class in the science category.

One key factor in the pathway determination for a science student is whether Earth Science was taken in 8th grade.  This is a program offered to 8th graders who display the necessary scientific skills to handle a high school level course with the respective Regents examination.  Successful completion of this course with a passing grade on the Regents exam will be able to use this course as one of their three required science credits in high school. 

When planning out schedules in 9th-12th grade, this is helpful for some as two credits/courses remain to be taken, spread out over 4 years.  If Earth Science was not the path taken in 8th grade, there is no reason for regret, as it is offered at the high school in the same format.  The Class of 2021 was the last grade level to be offered another unique science pathway: the option to take Chemistry (Honors) in 9th grade.  Unfortunately, this program was dismantled after the grade finished their freshman year, these courses are only offered for grades 10-12.  

Physical sciences are generally labeled the chemistry and physics courses, whereas the life sciences are generally the biology and environmental science courses.  Of course, there are several AP, honors, and elective classes that fit into both categories, so there is plenty of variety when selecting.  The key in selection is communication with the guidance department and knowledge of one’s own abilities in science. 

A first step that may help make a science path more secure and feasible is addressing with one’s guidance counselor which diploma is being sought after.  An Advanced Regents Diploma possesses a specific requirement in addition to those of general graduation.  In order to achieve this elite diploma, one must take and pass both a life science and physical science Regents exam.

For instance, Earth Science, Chemistry, and Marine Science 1 and 2 will not qualify for an Advanced Regents Diploma.  Although Marine Science 1 and 2 both cover the life science course requirement, since these elective courses do not include end-of-year Regents examinations, they do not count for this diploma.  The only way to get the life science Regents examination is through AP Biology or Living Environment (Honors).  So, it is vital that those who intend on graduating with the Advanced Regents Diploma plan their life science courses accordingly.

Another important aspect of selecting science courses is knowing whether or not to take an AP Science course.  If Living Environment or Forensic Science does not seem like the right fit, it is not as difficult to drop the course as it is to drop an AP Science.  Since there are several AP Science courses, and not all students take science for all four years, enrollment in an AP science course is crucial to determining the logistics of the entire department.  What this means for a student in science is before signing up for an AP course, it is necessary to understand how difficult and demanding the course will be.  The process of dropping out of an AP Science can be grueling and often result in a 0 or a withdrawal on high school transcripts.  

If science courses are generally positive experiences (a bit of proton humor for all of the chemists out there), then an elective may be a good choice for some extra scientific learning. The high school currently offers about 10 elective science courses, which provides for many options.  One popular elective course, taught by Mr. Schuster, is Marine Science (1 and 2).  This course, according to the Patchogue-Medford High School Program of Studies 2020-2021, “focuses on various aspects of oceanography,” … “focuses on marine biology,” and emphasizes “study of marine vertebrates and their interrelationships within the marine environment,” depending on the level selected. 

High school senior Kayleigh Malone, in a recent episode of Let’s List on the PMHS Red and Black, states it, “is a very involved class.”  Many of the electives offered at Pat-Med allow for this lab-heavy style due to a lack of required curriculum/exams.  

Overall, whether science surrounds one’s future career or is just a subject required for one’s diploma, careful selection of courses will determine the type of scientific experiences will be had at the high school.  With several courses to choose from besides the required ones, making it to graduation is accessible in terms of science courses.