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Eye of the Tiger

District looks to revamp science

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(BRIAN NUEVO/EYEOFTHETIGER)

(BRIAN NUEVO/EYEOFTHETIGER)

(BRIAN NUEVO/EYEOFTHETIGER)

KAIA WHITNEY

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Roseville Joint Union High School District has introduced several new initiatives recently to expand the district’s science department – including the investment of roughly $200,000 to bring Project Lead the Way to Roseville High School – and now looks to bring in an integrated science curriculum for 2018-19. RJUHSD also seeks to develop a dedicated science wing at RHS.

The integrated science curriculum will come in the form of the Next Generation Science Standards, which focus on common scientific themes, rather than teaching by scientific subjects. The new curriculum would mainly be taught using project-based learning involving hands-on practice.

According to the NGSS website, NGSS primarily aims to educate students to be “scientifically literate, prepared to ask questions, define problems, analyze data, construct explanations and figure out solutions.”
“I think our science classes frequently stray from actually using the scientific principals and it’s more about getting information,” RHS science department head Mike Purvines said. “I think it’s better for students to not only know the information but actually be able to use it in that type of environment.”

Science teacher Katherine Nurss believes this new form of hands-on learning will better engage students and encourage them to want to participate in more science classes.

“It’s something that will be more of a learning curve for both teachers and students, but I think it will yield a lot more student engagement which makes everything a lot more exciting from a teacher’s perspective,” Nurss said.

Sophomore Grace Dittrich is excited about NGSS being incorporated in the science department.

“I like how we would be doing more labs and things instead of always doing worksheets,” Dettrich said. “I just hope it’s done well, and not like Integrated Math where it ruined math for most people.”
The new integrated science system is expected to be a two-course linear model followed by a keystone class that pulls from AP and IB structure.

This could create a need for a three-year science graduation requirement, instead of the two years that is currently required in RJUHSD.

“The initial conversation was [that] we got to require that third year of science, and every single student has to do it.” Byrd said. “[The district is] still trying to figure out how many students will that effect and how will it affect them.”

The introduction of this third course may not be an issue to students intrigued in scientific teachings, but it could come as a large dissapointment to those who would rather be taking something else.
Freshman Abby Joseph feels that this new requirement will not negatively affect her, and that this new learning style may boost her comprehension of the material.

“I believe that integrated science will be better for learning,” Joseph said. “At least for me I like being able to interact with the things I’m learning.”

When this new curriculum is implemented in the 2018-19 school year, elementary and middle schools that feed into the RJUHSD will need to begin teaching with NGSS influences as well. This process is expected to take longer as the district’s main priority as of now is getting high schools involved in this new criteria.

Training has already begun for science teachers, as they slowly begin to incorporate this new teaching style into their normal routines. They expect to be teaching in a complete integrated format by the 2018-19 school year.
Along with the addition of the new science curriculum, RHS principal David Byrd is hoping to transform more classrooms in the lower level of the 900 west wing into science lab classrooms by using the money Measure D granted to RHS.
This idea is still up in the air, but a definite possibility according to Byrd.

“What we’re kind of trying to predict and count up is: do we need to convert a regular classroom over in the 900s to a science lab? We probably need to convert at some point one more science class,” Byrd said. “We’re going to need one more lab class on our campus somehow, someway.”

Already, PLTW has expanded since its introduction in 2015 at RHS to include all three levels of BioMedical Science and Engineering. RHS admin has prepared for the faculty and technological requirements needed to offer the third level courses next school year.

Implementing new classes nearly every year since the start of the program, PLTW continues to expand rapidly.

Major investments have been made for the sake of PLTW, including the materials and supplies purchased to carry out the courses, as well as a money spent on teacher training.
In the 2015-16 year, $49,000 was spent on PLTW Biomedical and PLTW Engineering, in the following year an additional $39,000 was spent on each class.

This money has come from CRANE Grant, Roseville High’s annual site funds, and some district one-time funds.

On top of this large amount of money being spent on materials and supplies, around $20,000 has been spent in the past years on teacher training for PLTW.
RJUHSD superintendent Ron Severson feels this change being brought to the science department is a vast improvement and will help students grow in the future.
“Every kid needs a lot of science in order to be more effective and successful in life,” Severson said.

 

 

 

 

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