Letter to the Editors: June 6, 2017

Letter to the Editor:

After reading the Staff Editorial in the Panther Prowler dated June 2, 2017 “Learning by doing: NPHS Students deserve more support for their science projects,” I am really disappointed at the lack of research that went into writing it. At no time did the writer ask if there were any reasons why we don’t have an Advanced Studies and Research class on our campus. The writer also did not explain what goes into running that class and if it is feasible to run that class at this time at NPHS. This class does allow students class time to plan their independent research project but the reality is they are not completing their research during that allotted amount of time. There are students from the class coming in every weekend in order to gather the data they need, which requires the teacher of record to be present and volunteer their time. Just because one teacher has agreed to donate this amount of time should not lead our students to harshly judge and criticize other teachers who don’t because they want to spend time with their own families and children. I don’t think any of our science teachers can be accused of not wanting the best for our students or for not going out of our way to support them. I would also like to point out that we have had students from NPHS go to science fair and win. You do not have to have a class in order to ask a teacher to help you, let you use lab equipment, or to give you advice about a science fair project. As part of the IB program, we have also had students who completed their Extended Essay in Science and needed help getting access to a specific type of lab equipment needed in order to complete their in-depth independent research and we have helped them make those connections at CSUCI or other local colleges.

In addition to the lack of information about the Advanced Studies and Research class, the writer complains that students have to choose between IB Biology and IB Chemistry without providing any background information as to why students have to make that choice. The Master Schedule is set up this way in order to provide all students access to an IB Higher Level Science of their choice. Based on the number of students who have signed up to take IB Biology, IB Chemistry and IB Math Studies, there is one section offered of each. If IB Biology and IB Chemistry were offered on opposing rotator days (one on an A day and one on a B day) there would be a small number of Calculus students who could then take both, but then there would be many students who would be forced into IB Biology and would not have the choice of taking IB Chemistry. Forcing students to take a specific science class that they may not want to take just so that a couple of students can take both is not a good trade in my opinion. Our goal at NPHS has always been to allow students as much choice as possible as further evidenced by the fact that we have our IB juniors take IB Chemistry/Biology 1. Most IB schools force their students to choose in the spring of their sophomore year: Biology or Chemistry? These students then take IB 1 in their junior year and IB 2 in their senior year of either Biology or Chemistry. A student at the end of their junior year cannot go from IB Biology 1 to IB Chemistry 2 if they decide they don’t really like Biology as much as they thought they would.

As I hope I have clarified, there are reasons that classes are offered or not offered just as there are reasons the Master Schedule is set up the way it is. A lot of discussion and weighing of pros and cons goes into these decisions. No schedule or department is ever going to be perfect, but to imply that NPHS Science is lacking in some way shows a clear misunderstanding of the department. In the future, I would hope that if students want to know why something is the way that it is, that they would just ask.

Sincerely,

Ms. Lockwood

NPHS Science Department Chair

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