Freshmen won’t be enrolling in biology next fall at Great Bend High School. Instead, they’ll be taking a one-semester introductory course in physics and chemistry, plus a semester of space and earth science. They’ll still need to take biology to graduate, but the overall requirement of three science credits for graduation will not change, school administrators said.
Science teachers and USD 428 administrators talked about the proposal Monday when the school board approved the next GBHS Program of Studies Book.
It turns out the reason behind offering biology to freshmen is one of tradition, Assistant Superintendent John Popp said. Most schools offer biology first and then chemistry because “B” comes before “C” in the alphabet. But biology involves some abstract thinking and a lot of students struggle with the concepts. That can turn them off from science altogether.
“We currently don’t even have an earth and space course,” Popp said. The addition will better prepare students for college or careers, he added.
GBHS science teachers applauded the new courses, and making students take biology after their freshman year.
“Biology doesn’t prepare them for other science courses,” instructor Andrea (Maxwell) Stalcup said.
“They will have a greater foundation,” instructor Jessica Nairn agreed. Students are missing some of the state standards by not having this information. Nairn graduated fifth in her class at GBHS but said she was unprepared for her first physics class at the University of Kansas. “I never had a background in it and I struggled a lot,” she said.
Superintendent Brad Reed said this will help students who struggle with science as well as students who are headed for college. “We’ll be better off and raise our standards all across the school.”
Other science teachers who attended the meeting to show they support the change were Mandy Charles, Travis McAtee and Bill Cook. They said they want to work with middle school instructors on the curriculum and they hope to generate excitement about science courses.
GBHS Principal Tim Fries said there are other new courses in the catalog. They include Advanced Placement (AP) Chemistry, AP History and AP Calculus, plus an introduction to engineering design.
Monday was the school board’s first reading of the GBHS Program of Studies Book. They agreed to skip a second reading in January and approved it so the catalog can go to press earlier. Fries said they’d like to have it by late January or early February when students enroll in their fall courses.
Administrators also noted that students continue to take dual credit courses that count toward high school and college. Issues with GBHS teachers’ credentials to teach college courses have been resolved.