Whitney Young Magnet High School
ARISE SCIENCE PROGRAM - How We Are Different
ARISE WY Home Vision 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.
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.
- Science Projects/scientific method- Science projects are required for all honors science students at Whitney Young. For most students this tends to be a distinct and often burdensome annual assignment. Instead in the ARISE program, we see the project requirement as natural vehicle for reinforcing the scientific method. One way to make it into a more meaningful experience for more students is to encourage more students to continue to build on and improve their work from year to year. Among the ARISE teachers, the projects done in one year are actually saved and passed on to the succeeding teacher the next year. With this goal in mind, Mrs. Rehak (ARISE chem) allowed students to pursue the bridge contest, which was offered as one option for meeting the requirement in ARISE physics. This proved to be a great success. By being allowed to do the build a bridge a second time, students could learn from their mistakes from the previous year. Mrs. Rehak has reported a much greater enthusiasm for the science project among her ARISE students than others.
- Technology- There are at least three common technologies that we are building into the ARISE program: computer graphing (discussed below), computer interfacing, and Internet research. The goal of including such common technologies is to decrease student frustration level in having to learn a different set of equipment and software in each class and result in a gain in instruction time. Physics is an ideal subject area to incorporate the use of computer interfacing and the physics department has been using PASCO probes and software (Science workshop) more and more each year. These will be used to a lesser extent in chemistry and biology. (Although the PASCO probes were not used in ARISE chemistry at all this year, Mrs. Rehak did notice that the ARISE kids exhibited a lesser degree of technophobia than others when introduced to new technologies such as the Spec20 apparatus.) The use of the World Wide Web as a research tool will be another common expectation. But this is subject to ongoing computer facility improvements and teacher training. The Internet was used in at least two assignments in the ARISE physics course: the global warming project (see below) and a nuclear scavenger hunt (www.neiu.edu/~mfgallo/physics.html). In ARISE chemistry a monthly extra credit assignment is to search the web for an assigned topic. Students must turn in a printout along with a brief summary of what they learned.
- Graphing- We feel that the reversed sequence offers a more natural means of teaching graphing skills. It is important that students learn to generate graphs using computer software, but pedagogically it is equally important that they know how to graph by hand. Of the three disciplines, physics offers the most opportunity to learn and practice these skills. Students begin by constructing most of their graphs by hand, but some computer-generated graphs are also done. These skills are reinforced in chemistry. (Not surprisingly, Mrs. Rehak (ARISE chem) has reported a greater facility for graphing among her ARISE students than others.) By the third year in biology, we expect that all graphing should be computer generated.
- Error analysis- Here is another important scientific skill that needs to be addressed and deepened from year to year. Students will begin in physics by estimating error bounds when taking measurements, calculating percent errors, and getting a feel for significant digits. This will better prepare them for chemistry where these concepts are traditionally required in more depth. Such skills are generally not as important in biology but we are working on ways to capitalize on what students will have learned in the previous two years.
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.