The science curriculum was greatly shaped by the Industrial Revolution. This shifted education from the agrarian society to a technical or industrial society. There was a massive migration of people to the cities, making aspects of science and math in the work place necessary.
Faculty at the Colleges and Universities required physics and chemistry for college admission. In 1872, Harvard required physics for admission. High School texts were made from abbreviated college texts.
Physics was most important
Chemistry was second
Biology was added, composed of Botany, Zoology, and Physiology
Labs were introduced, but were usually dull and stereotyped