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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 21, 2017

Washington High School partnering with University of Iowa

By Xiomara Levsen, The Washington Evening Journal | Sep 21, 2017

WASHINGTON, IOWA (GTNS) — The Washington High School science department is partnering with the University of Iowa this year to teach new curriculum in the science department.

The University of Iowa was looking for a school district they already had a relationship established with to develop materials to teach the new science curriculum standards through the College of Education, said Washington High School science teacher and department chair Nick Scheetz. They will do a critical-thinking inventory on the students to see how the students are adapting to the new teaching method.

“We’re the only group doing that, so it’s like we’re the pilot for this,” said Scheetz. “For us it’s exciting.”

Three teachers in the department came from the University of Iowa, which gave them the connection to the university, Scheetz said. The state has new science teaching standards every school will have to initiate in the next couple of years. This is why the science department is implementing a new course for the freshmen called Science One.

“Next year it will be Science Two,” Scheetz said. “Then, it will be Science Three.”

Science One teaches physics first and is more conceptual, he added. This also teaches students critical-thinking skills earlier and helps them develop that for other courses.

Each course has six categories taught during the year. This term students have had to use their critical-thinking skills to defend their answer, such as why they chose to buy a specific vehicle, investigating changes in momentum over time and impulse theory.

Last week, students threw eggs at objects in class. Some eggs broke and others that hit a sheet didn’t.

“Instead of me giving them an answer with just an equation on the board, they had to come up with the ‘why,’” Scheetz said.

The students figured out the sheet gave, which was the change in momentum over time, he added.

“A lot of it is science and engineering concepts built into the new curriculum.

Board president Eric Turner asked if this was an elective.

“No, all freshmen will be taking this course,” Sheetz replied.

Next year, students will take Science Two, which has more of a biology focus, he said.

“The biggest change is going to be year three,” Scheetz added. “It’s going to be more earth science-related.”

After the third year of science, students can pick an additional science course to take, such as chemistry.

“Is there a standard physics course?” board member Stephanie Ellingson asked Scheetz.

“Currently, Mr. [Kurtis] Trout, who’s the other teacher teaching this with me, has a standard physics course also,” Scheetz replied.

Ellingson asked Scheetz if students would take that during their junior or senior year. Scheetz said yes after they finish taking Science Three.

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