February 7, 2021. By Selina Rong '24, Audrey Tam '22, Aiden Wong '22

With class selections coming up, you might have heard of the infamous AP science classes. But what exactly are they about? Luckily for you, AP Chemistry teacher Mr. Stecher, AP Physics teacher Ms. Kellar, and AP Biology teacher Ms. Shorrock Chen are here to tell you all about their classes.

Before you start, you’ll need to have completed biology, chemistry, and physics with a science GPA and overall GPA of at least 3.3 (Students who don’t meet these requirements can submit an appeal. See Science - St. Ignatius College Prep). A corresponding AP Science Laboratory class must also be taken concurrently.

Mr. Stecher (AP Chemistry)

1. What is your favorite part about teaching this class?

“My favorite part of AP Chem is getting to teach highly motivated students who are eager to learn new material… and also blowing stuff up.”

2. Why should students choose this class?

“AP Chem isn’t just about Chemistry. It teaches us a lot about how the world around us works. It’s also a great introduction to critical thinking, especially in relation to science, and teaches students how to overcome challenges.

3. What type of student will thrive in your class?

“An AP Chem student needs to be curious. Students don’t have to be good at science or math, but they have to wonder about how and why the things around us work.”

4. What type of student will not thrive?

“That’s a tough question. I think students who don’t put in the work and don’t use their time wisely—those are the students who should reconsider taking AP Chem. In other words, procrastinators.”

5. What is an example of a typical assignment or project?

“A typical project would be an inquiry lab where students come up with their own data and procedures. An AP Chem student won’t be reading out of a textbook; projects will be about applying knowledge to new circumstances.”

6. Which careers/majors will the class help students pursue?

“AP Chemistry definitely helps with science, chemistry, biology, medicine, anything like that. But it also teaches critical thinking skills that can even help with humanities and other degrees.”

7. Any advice for prospective students?

“I would say… be informed. Talk to former students, get opinions on the class. Be prepared and willing to put in work because AP Chem isn’t an easy class. And definitely don’t be shy about advocating for yourself.”

Ms. Kellar (AP Physics)

1. What is your favorite part about teaching your class?

“My favorite part about teaching AP Physics is getting to know my students and solving physics problems with them. In particular, I like doing hands-on activities and labs with my students, so they can discover and test out the laws of physics themselves.”

2. Why should students choose this class?

“Students should choose to take AP Physics because learning about physics allows you to understand both the world around you and the entire universe. In AP Physics class, you will discover how the same fundamental laws of physics can be used to describe diverse phenomena, such as, the motion of a soccer ball, how a car engine works, black holes, and even the formation of the universe. One of the most exciting things about this class is that students learn about some of the unanswered questions in physics and the research that physicists are currently doing to try to answer those questions.”

3. What type of student will thrive in your class?

“Students, who are curious about the world around them and the universe, will thrive in this class. Also, students, who enjoy problem solving, will like this class.”

4. What type of student will not?

“I strongly believe that ALL students have the potential to be successful in AP Physics. I would encourage any student that is interested in taking the class, to sign up for it (as long as they are concurrently enrolled in calculus). Also, students should feel free to stop by the physics office if they have any questions about the AP Physics class.”

5. What is an example of a typical assignment or project?

“During our energy unit, students work in groups to design an experiment in which potential energy is transferred into kinetic energy. This is fun lab because it is very open-ended and students are able to use any of the lab equipment to design their own experiment.”

6. Which careers/majors will the class help students pursue? “Knowledge of physics is useful for a wide range of careers/majors, including: physics, engineering, economics, medicine, computer science, mathematics, and music.”

7. Any advice for prospective students?

“Ask lots of questions, and be creative when solving problems.”

Ms. Shorrock Chen (AP Biology)

Are you thinking about taking AP biology for the 2021-2022 school year? Here we have a quick summary and guide of what class will be like and whether or not the class is right for you.

As a freshman, you were introduced to biology. This class is a deep dive into subjects you’ve already heard about. Content this class covers includes viewing the microscopic level of biochemistry, learning about the molecules that make up and allow cells to function, and understanding processes like photosynthesis, protein production, gene expression and regulation, communication pattern of cells, cellular respiration, and gene inheritance. If you’d like to explore patterns of inheritance and the creation of Earth’s diverse life, this is the class for you!

This class is not easy. Many students consider it difficult and challenging, but interesting and intriguing. It requires a good amount of work, about 45 minutes to an hour of homework assignments after each class. This class moves fast and you acquire a lot of information after every class. If you like this part of science and are interested in the topics of how organisms are alive or how creatures are able to live, definitely check out AP Biology. If you're interested in a career in STEM or science requiring some of the topics described above, I encourage you to be brave and take it. It will be a college-level class.