Principles science classes dropped

As students begin to flip through the course registration packets for next year, they might notice the absence of two popular classes in the science department. Ames High has recently cut its Principles of Chemistry and Principles of Physics classes, much to the dismay of many students. “Principles of Physics is one of my favorite classes this year, and I can’t believe they are getting rid of it,” junior Erinn Uhlmeyer said. Uhlmeyer decided to take the class because she felt that having four years of science was important, although she does not anticipate a future in physics. “It’s a great option for students who want to learn the basic concepts of physics, especially if science isn’t their main academic focus,” Uhlmeyer said. When junior Andrea Metzger realized Principles of Chemistry was no longer being offered, she became concerned. “I was planning on taking it, and now that I can’t, I have to rethink my entire schedule for next year,” Metzger said. With the option now gone, students are wondering why. According to physics teacher Mike Lazere, the decision to drop the courses was made by the science department, along with the school administration. Their reasoning was fueled by the feeling that students learn better in homogeneous situations, instead of being fragmented into groups based on ability and interest. Another reason for the change was the difficulty in developing a distinct curriculum for three separate courses within the same discipline. There are some concerns, however, regarding how to effectively combine regular and principles courses without losing the redeeming qualities of both. “We’re really going to need to refocus the current curriculum,” Lazere said. The department hopes to accomplish this by concentrating more on concepts and less on minute details. They would also like to engage the students more in real problems by “incorporating a more hands on approach.” While options in science are being taken away right now, the science department is looking into broadening the selection students will have in the future. Lazere mentioned a few possible electives, such as Botany and Environmental Science as potential additions to the science department. “It would be great if they added some fun science electives in the future,” Uhlmeyer said. “I think a lot of students would be very interested in that.” While the school seems confident that the transition will be successful next year, students still have some doubts. “I hope that they can make it work, but I guess we will just have to wait and see,” Metzger said.