By Jamie Moddelmog,
Two new science classes have been added to Davis High’s course catalog for the 2017-18 school year. A new “Life Sciences” class taught by Linda Husmann and “Advanced Interdisciplinary Science for Sustainable Agriculture” taught by Alexander Hess have been instituted to fill perceived gaps in the Science and Agriculture departments.
The life science courses are intended to help students without the pre-requisites or the passion to take a normal biology class and still earn credits toward graduation.
“There are students at our school who don’t have the skill level for heavy duty biology class or they don’t have an interest or they don’t have the math prerequisites and those students are having a hard time getting their life science credits,” Husmann said.
The main difference between the life sciences class and regular biology is the labs. Life Sciences is not a lab-based class, which Husmann says makes it easier than normal biology. In addition, although it covers the same topics, it does not go as in depth as a normal biology course.
“It’s more for people who don’t like science or are not planning to go on in science or for people who need to bump up their skill levels in scientific reading and working with scientific equipment,” Husmann said. “I would not think someone who was gung-ho into doing as much science as possible would be happy in this course.”
In previous years without the class, those students without interest in science or the math experience required for biology still had to take to take biology or another lab-based course to obtain their life science credits, even if they were ill prepared.
The course currently has significant enrollment with sophomores, juniors and seniors in similar numbers.
The school saw something lacking in the Agricultural Sciences department as well and added a new course to fully round out the program. “Advanced Interdisciplinary Science for Sustainable Agriculture” is the new class on the O-Block and was implemented to better prepare students for careers in agricultural science.
It is considered a “capstone” course and meant for mainly juniors and seniors.
“The capstone is gonna bring together everything you’ve learned in your earlier classes,” Hess said. “We have an amazing array of science classes available to all students, but not necessarily one that brings together all the sciences in an applied setting.”
Because agriculture is an applied science requiring knowledge of a vast amount of scientific concepts, the Agricultural Science department’s advisory board recommended that an interdisciplinary course be added. According to Hess, the state education department has also changed its standards, requiring more application of material in agriculture classes.
“We’re getting students to think about what they’re doing in a different way than maybe they’re used to,” Hess said. “It’s allowing the students to follow their questions in an inquiry based approach, […] where there’s not always a right answer but you’re gonna have to come up with the best answer that’s scientifically sound.”
Because of the unique nature of the course, even students without an interest in a career in science or agriculture are drawn to it.
“I heard it was a lot of hands on stuff and work outside of school,” senior Ayush Malik said. “I think we have to do two big projects outside of school and that accounts for most of our grade. These can be anything from doing a research project or raising an animal and selling it at the fair or you could even try to get some work experience at an internship.”
Senior Bradley Kishaba was also interested by the unconventional style of the class and said he took it to try something new his senior year.
“There’s a lot of outside time required and you also join the [Future Farmers of America] which is pretty cool,” Kishaba said.
The class is another addition to a well-rounded agricultural program at DHS, which students hold in high regard.
“I heard a lot of good things about taking [agricultural] engineering and the whole [agriculture] program so I think I wanted to try out an [agricultural] class at the high school,” Malik said.
Although the course hopes to improve preparedness for future work in agricultural sciences, Hess explains that it is “for anyone who is going anywhere after [DHS].”