Whitney Young Magnet High School


ARISE Physics
ARISE Chemistry
ARISE Biology

The ARISE program at Whitney Young H.S. closely reflects Dr. Leon Lederman's vision of a reversed sequence of the science curriculum. Provided they have adequate math skills, any student may choose to take physics as a freshman in a course we are calling ARISE physics. These students proceed to ARISE chemistry during the sophomore year and finish the science requirement with ARISE biology during the junior year. Aside from the novel sequence there are several other significant differences between ARISE courses and traditional science courses.

Common Strands

The most import advantage in the ARISE program is the increased opportunities for building continuity and integration throughout the three year sequence. The most obvious example is simply the opportunity for the ARISE teachers to interact with each other about the students as well as the curriculum. On the latter concern, we envision several common conceptual strands that will be reinforced and furthered from year to year. A few of these strands are given below:

Course specifics In addition to the common strands, some things should be stated about the individual courses. The conversion from junior level Honors physics course at Whitney Young to freshmen ARISE physics required fairly little revision for content and teaching methods. Identified as exemplary by the NSTA it is already very comprehensive and involves a great deal of student inquiry using lots of engaging hands-on activities. It is an algebra-based course in which a few scattered freshmen have been successful for years. Now, for the last 2 years, freshmen are being programmed all together in what we are calling ARISE physics.

Some changes to the original course have been made. Our ARISE physics teacher, Michael Gallo, has incorporated using student journals and has found this to be very helpful for gauging what students understand and helping students to think more about what they are learning. As a review exercise he also asks students to prepare presentations reviewing the major concepts of the units. These student-taught lessons have been very effective for the presenters. Mr. Gallo also incorporated a unit on global warming that called for groups of students to investigate particular physics aspects of this controversial ecological phenomenon and assess whether they believe it is a real threat to the earth. The test for this unit was compiled from questions submitted by each group as well as an article on global warming with which students had to interact

The ARISE chemistry as taught by Mrs. Rehak emphasizes inquiry based learning. The teacher never lectures for a whole period. Most lecture days are class discussions of various formats. Often the teacher begins by drawing out of students what they have learned the previous year in physics. Many demonstrations are used as a focus of discussion as well. Chemistry labs have an important role in process of discovery of new concepts and reinforcement of learned concepts. At least one lab in every unit (approximately 2 weeks each) requires students to come up with their own procedures. In the density unit, for example, the students are given samples of aluminum foil and told to determine its thickness by the end of the period. According to Mrs. Rehak, most of them struggle with not being told exactly how to do it.

The ARISE biology is as yet untested and still in development. This effort represents the greatest departure from standard curriculum in the ARISE program. Apart from AP Biology, there simply is no junior level biology curriculum available. We are trying to create an advanced biology course that draws on a physics and chemistry background. Each unit will be introduced with explicit reference to these foundational concepts. It is our goal that students will leave the ARISE program better prepared to engage in the important biological issues of the new millennium.

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Last Update: August 24, 2001