12465 Warwick Boulevard, Newport News, VA - Phone: (757)591-4500



Secondary Science (Grades 6-12)

Secondary Science News

Congratulations to all students who competed in the All-City Science Fair. The competition reflects hard work and committment from teachers, families, community members, and our students. We wish all who are competing at the next level the best.

Science Department Goal

The Goal of the science department is to help our students become scientifically literate citizens and to expose students to a wide variety of field and hands on activities that will engage them in real world experiences. According to the National Science Education Standards, "students cannot achieve high levels of performance without access to skilled professional teachers, adequate classroom time, a rich array of learning materials, accommodating work spaces, and the resources of the communities surrounding their schools." The science department is helping to provide this support with interactive hands on activities in conjunction with a reflective experience and a rich curriculum.

A main focus for the Newport News Public Schools Science department is to excite our students about Science with interactive hands-on labs. We strive to challenge our students with a reflective piece to ensure that learning takes hold and students are not merely participating in a fun activity.

Program Description

The secondary science course of study in Newport News public schools is designed to develop the knowledge and skills of the environment, physical and chemical aspects of life. The students pursue these three basic blocks of science through scientific inquiry and working with the scientific method to solve a problem that will enable students to put into perspective people, places, ideas, and events that have shaped our state, our nation, and our world. 

In grades six through twelve, students will develop an understanding of the world of science and how science plays a role in the industry and their lives with respect to the past, present, and future of our world. As the students study the environment, they will develop an understanding of the impact animals and plants have on the environment. Students will develop an understanding of how different groups interact with their environment, and how our communities and nations are affected by conditions and events in other places.  Studying the physical aspects of our world will students understand the basic principals of engineering and physical properties of the world around in order to be informed citizens and to participate in the public life of our community, state, and nation.  Studying the chemical properties of the world around us will help students understand the interactions on a molecular and macro level of the world that surrounds them and help them to understand the impact of humans as a producer, or consumer; and their role in the global environment. 

In addition, the courses in the science program are designed to develop the following skills and proficiencies:

  • Recognizing and understanding cause and effect
  • Analyzing the relationship between the past and the present
  • Understanding and analyzing change over time
  • Problem solving and decision-making
  • Studying and comparing people, places, ideas, events
  • Recognizing and analyzing multiple perspectives
  • Making inferences and generalizations and drawing conclusions
  • Gathering, classifying, sequencing & interpreting information and visual data
  • Recognizing and interpreting spatial relationships .

Science Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions

Secondary Science Course of Study

Students take a sequence of science courses in grades 6 thru 12. For a Standard Diploma,  the student must take and receive three credits from two different science disciplines (including Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry or Physics). One credit needs to be verified by the State.

For an Advanced Diploma, students must take and receive credit for four high school science courses (including Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry or Physics) in order to earn an advanced studies diploma. Four credits from three different science disciplines. Two credits need to be verified by the State.

High School science courses required for graduation are offered at average, honors, and advanced (AP, IB) levels.

In addition to required courses, high school students may choose from the following courses: AP Environmental Science, Physics, Biology and Chemistry.

Secondary Science Course Descriptions


James River Association (JRA)
The James River Association's main focus is to continually increase the health of the James River by educating the public. Part of this mission includes introducing students in the James River watershed and educating the through meaning watershed educational experiences (MWEE). JRA has two ecology schools; one located in Williamsburg on the Colonial Parkway and one on Presquile Island in Hopewell.

Grade 6:

  • On water experiences for all students
  • Water quality testing
  • Field Research
  • Identification of native and invasive flora and fauna

Virginia Living Museum
The newly remodeled and greatly expanded Virginia Living Museum is located in Newport News just off of J. Clyde Morris Blvd. Because it is in our own backyard and the quality of its offerings Newport News Schools has a service contract agreement with the Virginia Living Museum . In that contract the following services are included and free to students, teachers and chaperones.

Grade 7:

All 7th grade students have the opportunity to visit the VLM and participate in an extensive lab program that allows students to investigate local watersheds and perform research on native plants and animals.

  • Students will complete a 10 station Chesapeake Bay lab experience.
  • Students will investigate a research question related to Virginia's flora and fauna while touring the museum.

Sandy Bottom Nature Park:
Sandy Bottom Nature Park is located in Hampton and offers many opportunities for life science and ecology students. The center is also the site of many professional development classes throughout the year.

Children's Museum of Virginia:
They offer specific programs for each grade and target their science SOLs. This museum is highly recommended.

Hampton University:
Hampton University has worked with Newport News Public Schools to offer teacher training workshops throughout the year as well as special summer programs for students.

Description of the Middle School Science program:

  • Grade 6 General Science with an emphasis on scientific investigation
  • Grade 7 Life Science
  • Grade 8 Physical Science

High School science courses offered:

  • Earth Science
  • Marine Science
  • Zoology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Genetics
  • Physics
  • Oceanography
  • Ecology
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • AP Biology
  • AP Environmental Science
  • AP Physics
  • IB Biology ( Warwick HS)
  • IB Chemistry ( Warwick HS)

Curriculum and Instruction

Newport News Public Schools has begun a major curriculum redesign that is expected to last for several years. The goal of the redesign process is to create a standards-based curriculum that provides all students with rigorous, high quality learning activities, regardless of grade or subject.

During the redesign, each course is to be the subject of a 'backward design' model. Our curriculum will evolve from a list of topics to be covered to a much more dynamic document that clearly indicates what students should know, understand, and be able to do. In backward design, the state and national standards are used to determine the big ideas or major understandings that students should learn. The overarching goal to the backwards design model is to develop a curriculum that fosters dynamic, child centered instruction in the classroom. This will require the identification of discipline level concepts and enduring understandings that will drive the development of essential questions that in turn will promote a more inquiry-based approach to instruction. Once the big ideas are identified, appropriate assessment and learning activities are created to provide students with problems and situations that mirror those found in the world at large. Instructional strategies are chosen to challenge and engage students deeply while keeping the focus on learning. The curriculum design as well as the instructional strategies it contains are composed of the best practices identified to date by current research on learning theory. The most important concepts and skills will be covered in more depth and students will be exposed to more authentic forms of assessment. Students will also learn to apply the knowledge and skills that they have learned in new and unique ways.