STEM + Humanities

Philly High School Adds Research Course to Combine STEM, Writing

George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science has ditched the curriculum to help younger students begin thinking like scientists.

The school used to require freshman students to take a half-year course on environmental science and a half year on engineering. Those have been replaced this year with a science research class that brings together writing, STEM topics and research.

"They were really nice classes and they went really well," said Principal Ted Domers in a report about the new course, "but what we realized is that the kids needed more support with how to think like scientists, how science impacts their world every day and how to do an independent research project."

"We started last March and we redesigned this course," added Domers. "It's really about teaching ninth-graders how to be science literate and how to build from an inquiry-based perspective. There is no curriculum and we're building it from scratch. We're also pushing research and writing in those classes."

Teacher Kevin Latchford is teaching the class and has students looking for science articles that interest them and exploring interests and careers in science through Green 360.

"In this class, we're using science literacy as a vehicle to improve students' reading and writing skills," Latchford told the Philadelphia Tribune. "Instead of reading articles from a textbook the students are going to be picking topics that they connect to. The goal is to have them be an expert on the topic of their choice."

"The most important thing I want the students to take away from my class is the ability to be critical and ask more questions about what they are reading," Latchford added.

Sebastian Kennedy, a student in the class, is exploring space as part of his project.

"I'm currently looking at Cassini, which is a spacecraft that's flying around Saturn," Kennedy said in a news report. "I'm trying to see if that would be a good article for me to check up on. I really like the class so far. I'm not good at researching, so I think this class will be very useful for me in the future."

Nyashia McAllister also told the newspaper she expects the course to help her throughout her academic career.

"Learning how to research, cite and summarize science articles is something that I think will help us all in the long run because it's something we will have to do throughout high school and college," McAllister said. "My interests include medicine, engineering and animals, so I'm currently searching the New York Times for articles based around those interests."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].