Oak Park and River Forest High School
Integrated Laboratory Science
Frequently Asked Questions
Why a new science course?
- We need to meet the needs of all students.
- Students need more lab science because colleges expect it and careers demand it.
- New state and national standards require new ways to teach and broader content coverage.
- We need to encourage interest and enthusiasm in science.
How is this different from other courses?
- We are going to teach a three-year lab science curriculum without the artificial boundaries of the traditional courses. For some students, this will mean exposure to physics, chemistry and earth science that they might not get otherwise. It also means that ideas flow logically - studying each idea thoroughly. We won't have to stop at some point to say, "You'll learn the rest of this next year."
- We are also going to use creative new (and the best of older, proven) teaching methods.
Who is eligible?
- Freshman and sophomores enrolled in Algebra 1-2 or beyond should be successful in this course.
How do colleges view this course?
- All colleges responding were enthusiastic (including: University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, DePaul University, Eastern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University, and Northern Illinois University). Each said that these courses meet the lab science requirement for admissions to their school.
- "This sounds like an exciting program. Best wishes as you move forward on this educational endeavor."
- -University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- "Your plan sounds very interesting and we congratulate you for your enterprise."
- -University of Chicago
Where will this course fit?
- This is a regular-level college prep course with no pre-requisites. Students will be able to move easily between the integrated course and the traditional regular Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Earth Science, (or, in some cases, Honors level).
How does the community view this course?
- Over 170 people attended the informational meeting. Overwhelming response was positive.
"Scientists are strong supporters of this kind of program - they see a real world need to apply high school learning to integrate the different sciences."
"I am very happy that OPRFHS is helping to pioneer improved education especially in science."
"Students developing the habit of learning science on their own is a great idea - we can't deny that if they start practicing it it is going to help them a lot in the long run even if they don't become scientists."
What science options are available for the 4th year?
- As a fourth year, students could take any of the following optional courses: Astronomy, Environmental Science, or Anthropology
- In the future, a fourth year integrated course may be developed.
What about kids who want to take honors track and AP courses?
- This course has been designed for the regular track student. While an honors level student would be successful, they cannot receive a weighted grade. To be successful in AP Science courses it is recommended that students take honors level science courses. In the future, if there is a demand for an honors level of integrated science, we would consider creating such a course.
What happens if you quit after 1 or 2 years, or if you transfer into integrated?
- If you quit after one year of integrated science, we recommend that you take biology as a second year, chemistry or earth science as a third year and physics, chemistry, or earth science as a fourth year.
- If you quit after two years of integrated science, we recommend that you take geology or physics as a third year and/or fourth year.
- If you have taken one year of laboratory science and wish to enter the integrated program, we recommend that you start with the first year.
- If you have taken two years of laboratory science and wish to enter the integrated program, we recommend that you start with the second year.
Can students learn the wrong facts from an experiment or group learning?
- Teachers will act as facilitators and guide the students in the right direction. By constructing their own knowledge, students are less likely to learn the wrong information than in traditional courses.
Are there textbooks? If not then what types of resources will be available?
- We are currently in a selection process for a textbook, and plan to have many reference materials in the room as well as having internet access.
Isn't physics after chemistry after biology because of difficulty and math skills. Will the students be able to learn physics without math?
- We can certainly teach physics concepts to freshmen. As the math skills increase over the successive years we can teach additional concepts not only in physics, but also in chemistry, biology and earth science. Students should be taking Algebra 1-2 or higher when they begin the program.
How many class periods required per day?
- This is a normal course, with 5 periods/week, 2 credits/year.
Will students have the same teacher for three years? Will it be team taught?
- Teaching assignments will be determined when the course enrollment is known. There are four teachers who will be teaching the courses. We are considering options for the best method of teaching for student learning.
How will the performance of students be assessed?
- We are putting the curriculum together and will be developing appropriate assessment alternatives.
Does this only replace the lab part of the science program or the entire science program?
- This course is an alternative laboratory science to Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Earth science.
How will you provide basic materials for the course syllabus and for tests and handouts?
- We will be using textbooks, reference books, activities, journals, the internet, etc.
How far are materials developed?
- The course outline is developed and we are currently selecting the best activities and materials to use.
Can science be taught with labs only?
- We will be using the best of all techniques, not just labs.
Will it be heterogeneous classes or ability grouped?
- This will be a heterogeneous mix of regular level students.
How available would internet access be for research?
- We plan on using the internet and other technologies available. It will be in the room.
What does ARISE stand for?
- American Renaissance in Science Education.
How many sections do you anticipate forming?
- This is an administrative decision based on the enrollment. We are placing no restrictions on the number of sections.
Are you going to talk to the kids in Jr High to explain the program?
- Yes we will be explaining the program and welcome any questions.
What about students who prefer to work independently?
- There will be opportunities to work independently, but we will also encourage learning to work with groups.
Will sophomores who have already taken biology get full credits for 4 years of science?
- If the student completes the three years of integrated science, then they will get credit for four years of science.
Will there be field trips?
Will there be a loss of learning of some of the fundamentals of science?
- We are concentrating on teaching the fundamentals of all the sciences, but may lose some of the trivia, or special topics.
I think it is good to teach kids how to think for themselves, but sometimes you need a foundation of facts and concepts. Don't you?
- Constructing knowledge is better for understanding and retention. Misconceptions can be disproven.
Will this be the only science program offered other than the honors program?
- No. Regular Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Earth science will still be offered.
How will students taught this way respond to traditional instruction at the college level?
- There is evidence that they will do well.
How different from Jr High method/curriculum?
- There is articulation between the High School and the Jr Highs to make a smooth transition.
What is your recommendation for my student?
- Individuals should talk to deans to make the final decision. We do recommend that students take three years of laboratory science for college admissions.
Because the focus of the course is so applied to on specific problem, can we expect students to be able to generalize what they learn here to other domains - specifically what about advanced placement tests, first year college chem etc.?
- This course is not designed to prepare for AP courses. This is a good background to college science. The knowledge to address the problems are broad and the skills are universal.
Has anyone else run a similar program and evaluated its success in terms of students college interests and performance or performance on advanced placements tests.
- Bravard County , Florida currently runs a similar program, but it includes K-12. It has been very successful.
Will you be building in a clear evaluation of this program's success( e.g. scientists should collect data and evidence of the efficacy of the program)
- Yes, we are constructing evaluative criteria and instruments. We will be evaluating short and long term objectives and goals.
What are the disadvantages of the program?
- There are not weighted grades and the course is not geared for students wishing to continue on in AP courses.
How do you integrate statistical concepts(e.g. uncertainty) with the science program?
- Statistical concepts will be incorporated into the student projects.
If the students need materials, such as current journals, how will they get them?
- Utilization of the information resource center will be an integral part of the course.
Can students actually go to a scientist's laboratory and do hands-on research as part of this program?
- Yes, the students will have many opportunities available.
How do we choose a student?
- We are not involved in the initial placement of students. This decision is determined by the student, parents, counselors and former science teachers.
How would students get into science fields?
- Students would be able to make a more informed decision because they will be exposed to all four areas.
How would the teachers split our time between the courses(ARISE vs. traditional)?
- We are accustomed to preparing for more than one course. It won't affect our time and we hope to apply many of the techniques used in ARISE in our traditional courses.
How would someone set up independent research projects?
- There will probably be more opportunities to do independent projects and their research skills will be developed so they can do more effective research.