Physical science department designs a new curriculum

Emma ELdred

After applying for and receiving a grant from the OPUS foundation, the physical science teachers saw an opportunity to improve the course curriculum and make the class more engaging for students. By purchasing new technological tools and creating new projects, the teachers will have more time in class for hands-on activities.

In the past, physical science has been a class filled with many small projects throughout the year. These projects, though fewer in number, will now be larger and will combine more aspects of the curriculum. “A lot of [the projects] are what we already had, we’re just making them bigger and better,” said science teacher Ms. Abbi Baker.

To go along with the new class set-up, the physical science teachers also bought new lab equipment such as Vernier sensors with motion detectors to enhance data collection. Ms. Jennifer Roushar said that the department is trying to figure out ways to incorporate advanced data collection and to allow the students get more out of each project.

One of the larger projects physical science students will do is the machine project, where they will be asked to make a machine that will fit the given guidelines and perform the required task. Instead of using unreliable resources such as cardboard and duct tape as they have in the past, students will be given new K’NEX kits to make sturdier and more dependable machines.

An entirely new project to the physical science class this year is the sludge project. Given an unidentified mixture, the students will be asked to use all the skills they have learned to separate and identify each substance included, said new science teacher Ms. Lindsey Novak.

The physical science teachers hope that the new advanced equipment will also give their students a leg-up when it comes to testing later on. “Data analysis is a huge portion of the ACT, so we want to get [the students] started really analyzing data,” said Ms. Baker.

With all of the new technology in the classroom, the teachers have also decided to have the students use their laptops to record all of their data instead of writing it out by hand. “The culminating projects are going to be more emphasized with online portfolios to replace the written portion so more people can see it,” said Ms. Baker.

The physical science teachers have been trying to create this new curriculum plan for a while and when they received the grant, they were finally able to make it happen. “We needed to know what we wanted before we make big decisions, but in the end we’re happy with where it’s headed,” said Ms. Baker.