I’ve recently heard some disturbing stories about the advice math- and science-oriented 8th graders are getting regarding their choices of freshman year science courses.

So here is mine – starting from 7th grade. I will note specifically that AP Environmental Science – apparently the course being sold as a great freshman year science course to many Leon County 8th graders – doesn’t belong in the academic program for *any *student who might pursue a career in the physical sciences or engineering. It only takes time away from learning more math, chemistry and physics, which are the key subjects in the most promising careers of the future.

It is a necessity for students to take Algebra 1 in middle school if they are to be on track for college majors in physics and engineering. For students who are ready to take Algebra 1 in 7^{th} grade, taking it then instead of waiting until 8^{th} grade provides time to learn more calculus and physics in high school. But parents and students should recognize that coming to college with credit in Advanced Placement Calculus AB and physics (preferably AP Physics) is the new normal for physics and engineering majors, and a student must take Algebra 1 no later than 8^{th} grade to complete those courses in high school.

Here are the standard academic sequences for students who take Algebra 1 in 7^{th} and 8^{th} grades:

*For students taking Algebra 1 in 7 ^{th} grade:*

**8 ^{th} grade: **Honors Geometry and High school-level Honors Biology 1, Honors Physical Science or Honors Earth/Space Science.

**9 ^{th} grade: **Honors Algebra 2 and Honors Biology 1 or Honors Chemistry 1.

**10 ^{th} grade: **Honors Precalculus and Honors Chemistry 1 or Honors Physics 1.

**11 ^{th} grade: **AP Calculus AB or AP Calculus BC, and Honors Physics 1 or AP Physics B.

**12 ^{th} grade: **AP Calculus BC or Dual Enrollment courses in Calculus 3 and Ordinary Differential Equations, and AP Physics C or AP Chemistry.

*For students taking Algebra 1 in 8 ^{th} grade:*

**8 ^{th} grade: **Honors Algebra 1 and High school-level Honors Biology 1, Honors Physical Science or Honors Earth/Space Science.

**9 ^{th} grade: **Honors Geometry and Honors Biology 1 or Honors Chemistry 1.

**10 ^{th} grade: **Honors Algebra 2 and Honors Chemistry 1 or Honors Physics 1.

**11 ^{th} grade: **Honors Precalculus and Honors Physics 1.

**12 ^{th} grade: **AP Calculus AB and AP Physics B.

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