Science Department


Coming soon


Coming soon

Course Offerings

Below are the detailed descriptions of the science courses being offered for the 2022-2023. Refer to the course offerings page for an overview of which courses are available for each grade level.

510 Science
1.0 credit

This course lays a solid foundation in the physical and earth sciences, developing scientific literacy in all students. Students are prepared to use scientific principles and processes appropriately in making personal decisions; to experience the richness and excitement of knowing about and understanding the natural world; and how to engage intelligently in public discourse and debate about matters of scientific and technological concerns.

Text: Physical Science with Earth and Space Science. Holt, Reinhart and Winston, 2008 (ISBN 10: 0-03-067213-9; ISBN 13: 978-0-03-067213-2)

520 Biology
1.0 credit
Prerequisite: Science (510) or Admissions Committee Approval

Biology provides the student with a general introduction to life around him in all the areas of biology, including lower animal biology, vertebrates, cell biology, biochemistry, and genetics. The course includes lectures and lab work in the classroom. The goal of this course is to prepare students for college work in biology as well as everyday life. Organisms to be dissected are frogs, fish and crawfish.

Text: Modern Biology. Holt, Reinhart and Winston, 2002. (ISBN: 0-03-056541-3)

521 AP Biology
1.0 credit
Prerequisite: Department Approval, B or higher in Chemistry II (534) or AP Chemistry (532), and B or higher in Biology (520).

AP Biology is a course designed to afford high school students the potential to gain college credit and/or advanced placement above the introductory course in the college they attend. Students will gain an understanding of advanced concepts associated with molecules and cells, genetics and evolution, and organisms and populations. An additional goal will be to improve individual laboratory skills and establish advance understanding of scientific methodology, research technology and technique while preparing for the AP Biology exam. Success in this course will depend on individual motivation and organization, ability to read for comprehension, and ability to scientifically communicate in writing.

Text: Reece, et al. Campbell Biology, 10th edition. Pearson Education, 2014. (ISBN: 978-0-321-77565-8)

530 Applied Chemistry
1.0 credit
Prerequisite: Biology (520)

This course is not a college preparatory course. The content covers the basic concepts of chemistry including periodic table, chemical equations and nomenclature, atomic structure, states of matter through practical applications. Throughout the course, usefulness and application of chemistry in everyday life is stressed. Large and small labs are an integral part of the course and hands-on activities are frequent.

Texts: Addison-Wesley. Chemistry, 5th Edition. Prentice Hall, 2000. (ISBN: 0-201-32142-4)

531 Chemistry
1.0 credit
Prerequisite: Biology (520) and Algebra I (312 or 314 or 315)

This course is a college preparatory course, which covers matter and energy, atomic structure, bonding, the periodic table, mole concept, and the reactions, names and formulas of ionic and molecular compounds, Kinetic Theory, Gas Laws, and Thermo Chemistry. Large and small-scale labs are used with each chapter to help the students visualize and grasp abstract concepts.

Texts: Addison-Wesley. Chemistry, 5th Edition. Prentice Hall, 2000. (ISBN: 0-201-32142-4), Holt McDougal. Modern Chemistry. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. (ISBN 978-0-547-58663-2)

533 Chemistry IA (Honors)
1.0 credit
Prerequisite: Recommendation of the Biology teacher and A averages in science and math courses.

This course is an accelerated first year chemistry course which will cover the following topics: chemical formulas, equations and nomenclature, the periodic table, classification of matter, measurements in chemistry, stoichiometry, colutions, gases, thermodynamics, atomic structure, bonding, redox reactions and electrochemistry, kinetics and equilibrium, acid-bases, nuclear and organic chemistry. This is a lab course and requires 5 to 6 hours of homework per week. It is a rigorous fast-paced course for the student with a superior ability in problem solving and algebra.

Successful completion of this course will prepare the students for AP Chemistry.

Texts: Addison-Wesley. Chemistry, 5th Edition. Prentice Hall, 2000. (ISBN: 0-201-32142-4), Holt McDougal. Modern Chemistry. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. (ISBN 978-0-547-58663-2)

534 Chemistry II
1.0 credit
Prerequisite: Chemistry (531) with a B or better.

This course is a college preparatory course, which covers aqueous systems, rates of reaction equilibrium, acids and bases, oxidation-reduction reactions, electrochemistry, organic reactions and nuclear chemistry. Large and small-scale labs are used with each chapter to help the student visualize and grasp abstract concepts. Students who successfully complete this course with a B or better will be eligible to take AP Chemistry.

Texts: Addison-Wesley. Chemistry, 5th Edition. Prentice Hall, 2000. (ISBN: 0-201-32142-4), Holt McDougal. Modern Chemistry. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. (ISBN 978-0-547-58663-2)

532 AP Chemistry
1.0 credit
Prerequisite: Department Approval and Chemistry IA (533)

AP Chemistry is designed to be taken only after the successful completion of a first course in high school chemistry. The course requires approximately 6 to 8 hours of homework per week. Topics studied include the structure of matter, kinetic theory of gases, chemical equilibrium, chemical kinetics, and concepts of thermodynamics. Problem solving is an integral part of the course; students will be expected to work independently and in group situations. Successful completion of the AP exam will earn advanced placement and up to 11 semester hours credit at most colleges and Universities.

Texts: Brown, Lemay and Bursten. Chemistry, the Central Science. Pearson Education, 2006. (ISBN: 0-13-193719-7)

540 Anatomy/Physiology
1.0 credit
Prerequisite: Chemistry (531 or 533) and B average in previous science courses, or Department Approval.

Anatomy and Physiology is a challenging branch of Biology providing students with an understanding of the structure and functions of the human body. The emphasis of the course is familiarity with physiology in order to understand disease processes and homeostatic mechanisms. The laboratory exercises include a dissection, a student-learning guide, and coloring guides for students. A comprehensive final is not given.

Text: Tortora, Derrickson. Introduction to the Human Body: The Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology, 9th Edition. Biological Sciences Textbook, 2012. (ISBN: 978-0470-59892-4)

547 Physics
1.0 credit
Prerequisite: Chemistry (531 or 533), and Algebra II Analysis (322) or Advanced Algebra & Trigonometry (331), or Department Approval.

This is a college preparatory physics course that covers kinematics, force, universal gravitation, momentum and its conservation, work, energy, simple/complex machines, thermodynamics, kinetic theory, the states of matter, waves and sound. Labs are a regular part of the course. A firm understanding and ability to use formulas is essential. Problem solving is an integral part of the course; students will be expected to work independently and in-group situations.

Text: Physics: Principles and Problems. Glencoe-McGraw Hill, 1995. (ISBN: 0-02-826721-4)

560 Ecology
0.5 credit
Prerequisite: Biology (520); Juniors/Seniors only. This course runs concurrently with Environmental Biology.

This course will cover the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. This includes the study of biotic and abiotic factors as well as biomes and ecosystems within the biosphere.

Text: Environmental Science. Addison Wesley Longman, 1999. (ISBN: 0-201-32133-5)

570 Environmental Biology
0.5 credit
Prerequisite: Biology (520); Juniors/Seniors only. This course runs concurrently with Ecology.

This course will cover the study of man’s interaction with the environment. It will include the study of air, water and land pollution, as well as energy alternatives, resource depletion, global climate changes and population.

Text: Environmental Science. Addison Wesley Longman, 1999. (ISBN: 0-201-32133-5)

580 Nuclear Chemistry (not currently offered for the 2022-2023 school year)
0.5 credit
Prerequisite: Chemistry (531or 533), Algebra II Analysis (322) or Advanced Trigonometry (331), and Department Approval

Nuclear Chemistry is the study of nuclear reactions, with an emphasis on their uses in chemistry and their effects on biological systems. This course will study the theory and practical applications including medical applications, fusion and fission in nuclear reactors and in nuclear weapons. The book, Full Body Burden, about Rocky Flats in Arvada, Co will be an integral part of the course. Labs will include radon testing, use of a radiation detector to determine the difference between alpha, beta and gamma radiation, and a cloud chamber study. Chernobyl and Fukishima disasters will also be studied.

Text: Iverson, Kristen. Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats. Random House Inc, 2013. (ISBN: 978-0-307-95565-4)

581 Microbiology (Honors)
0.5 credit
Prerequisite: Chemistry (531 or 533)

Microbiology is the study of microorganisms, with an emphasis on classification of bacteria and their effects on the human body. The course will cover gram+ and gram – organisms and their cell walls. They will perform labs that would require culturing, isolating and identifying the organisms.

Text: Microbiology an Introduction, 10th Ed; Tortora Funke Case; (ISBN 10:0-321-55007-2)

582 Marine Biology
1.0 credit
Prerequisite: Must have a B in Biology (520)

This course will investigate the physical characteristics of marine habitats and how they influence the living communities that inhabit them. It then will center on specific marine life groups, their structure and function, and their interdependence on each other and their environment. A common thread will be human interactions and the impact it has on marine ecosystems. Biology will be a prerequisite. Labs will include one or two dissections and various other labs that can be done in either the Biology or Chemistry Labs.

Text: Marine Science. McGraw-Hill Education, 2016. (ISBN: 978-0-02-142265-4)



Mrs. Maxine Hennessey

Department Chair

Maxine Hennessey has been teaching for the past 17 years. She taught middle school science for 15 years and is entering her third year of teaching high school science. Maxine has a B.S. degree in pre-med biology and a M.Ed. degree in curriculum and instruction. Prior to her teaching career, she was a research associate in the area of toxicology and has co-authored several articles in peer-reviewed journals and co-authored two book chapters. Maxine is a member of the National Science Teachers Association and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. This year she will be teaching AP Biology, Microbiology, Anatomy and Physiology, AP Physics, and College Prep Physics. Maxine and her husband, John, have 4 children, three of whom have graduated from St. Mary’s and one who will graduate in 2024. In her spare time, Maxine loves to watch her kids participate in their different events, walk her dogs on the Black Forest Trail, and cheer on her favorite football team - the Pittsburgh Steelers.

2022-2023 courses: Anatomy, Biology, Microbiology, Physics, AP Physics


Mr. Al Hartzell

I’m Al Hartzell, and I have been teaching the sciences for 19 years. This is the start of my 17th year at St Mary’s, and you will find that I’m somewhat of a “Jack of all trades” when it comes to science.  I am currently teaching several classes which will undoubtedly include contact with most students during their four year tenure.  I teach the following classes:  biology, marine biology, ecology, environmental biology, physical science, and previously fundamentals of engineering.  My love of the sciences spans over 50 years and began with my formative years in high school.  I am a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia (and yes I’m a Philly boy), where I earned my BS in biomedical engineering. After college, I entered the US Air Force and spent 30 years as an Aerospace Physiologist.  This included training aircrew about the environmental hazards of flight (thus the teaching urge).  This training included high altitude exposure in flight and in hypobaric chambers.  Additional fun was had in hyperbaric chambers, spatial disorientation trainers, the centrifuge for high-G training, high and low altitude airdrop, and our reconnaissance mission.  During this time, the Air Force sent me to get my master’s degree and I graduated from the University of Arizona in Tucson with a degree in Exercise Physiology.  I have certifications as an Aerospace Physiologist through the Aerospace Physiology Society and as an Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine.  I served for three years at the US Air Force Academy Biology Department and I was an adjunct professor at the Uniformed Services School of Medicine.  Eventually I became the senior officer within my career field and finally retired in 2004.  Not ready to completely leave the Air Force, I worked in a JROTC for one year.  Then I moved back to Colorado Springs and worked at Pine Creek HS for one year and then moved over to St Mary’s HS after that.  I am here because I love the kids and I love the sciences.  As for my personal life, I am married, have two grown children and three grandchildren.  All of my family is still in the Philly area and during the fall, there will be much boosting (or crying) about the Philadelphia Eagles.  I love to work out nearly every day.  I bike, swim, lift, and do the elliptical.  I use to run but accidents have ended that part for me.  My hobbies include reading, movies, and music.  So if you love science, sports, cheese steaks, cheesy movies, and the Beach Boys, then you will find it easy to get to know me. 

2022-2023 courses: Physical Science, Biology, Marine Biology, Ecology & Environmental Science


Dr. Marlena Pinner

Dr. Marlena Pinner enjoys teaching science and chemistry in particular. Her instructional background includes teaching chemistry at the high school and college levels. Her graduate degree in biochemistry and doctorate in education fuel her passion to energize students to explore and appreciate the intricacies of God’s creation. She has five grandchildren who fill her life with joy and excitement and two cats who are good at cuddling.

2022-2023 courses: Applied Chemistry, Chemistry I/IA, Chemistry II, AP Chemistry