As rising upperclassmen register for science courses, there is a common pressure for them to choose AP and AT(advanced topics) classes. Students automatically assume that semester-long science courses are not academically challenging, and are initially hesitant to sign up for them. While it is true that mostly upperclassmen take semester courses to ease up their stressful schedules, this does not in any way mean that semester science courses are less demanding and interesting for students.
I admit, taking forensics and biotechnology class as a junior was a bit random. While my friends were preparing for rigorous AP chemistry and biology exams, I was throwing fake blood spatters with a paint brush in the middle of the High School foyer; while they were mapping out complex data onto a detailed graph, I was busy observing tire marks. As expected, the usual responses I received for taking these classes were : “you actually have to study for that class?” or get told that it was a ‘cash course’. Both biotechnology and forensics class, however, has taught me knowledge that are applicable to my life, as well as current events. For example, biotechnology class revolved around basic biology lessons and its application to the Covid-19 virus. Likewise, forensics taught me captivating crime investigation techniques and topics like ‘the best way to get away with murder’. I’m sure most students at Singapore American School did not know that using sharp icicles are the best way to get away with murder, without a forensics lesson. Despite the fact that these classes offer an incredible amount of useful insight, there are still negative assumptions about the courses among students. No, I cannot force students to take semester science courses, but I have proof to why the undermining and misconception of these classes need to end.
Students’ View of Semester Science Courses
Most students that have sat through semester science courses have had positive responses towards their experience in their classes. To view the truth behind these courses, I interviewed students at Singapore American School who took various semester science classes.
I enjoyed being able to explore both marine biology and forensics in each semester. They have taught me things that I would have never learned in a regular science course. Semester science courses are actually very informative and interesting, since they narrow down on specific topics, while regular science courses tend to jump from one unit to the other.Becky Schlesinger, JUnior at singapore American school
Semester science courses have gained positive responses for the depth of each unit they explore. Instead of branching out into many different units, semester courses concentrate on precise topics within each unit. For example, in the blood unit for forensics class, students learned the basic concept of blood in forensics, then learned its applications: velocity of blood spatters, its cause and effects, and ways to identify them. Additionally, students were given the opportunity to watch numerous documentaries, then perform thought-provoking experiments.
Taking semester science courses was the right choice for me because I was able to learn at a self-pace outside of class when I needed to catch-up with work. Also, I was actively engaged in class because there were lots of experiments and projects in both biotechnology and forensics class.Jacquelene Chang, junior at singapore american school
Furthermore, most semester science courses allow for students to move around in and out of the classroom for small experiments and projects. This not only provokes students’ creativity and thinking, it essentially creates a less stressful and more engaging class environment. While projects and experiments may seem less academically challenging for students, the information gained from them are later applied to more new lessons and later tested traditionally.
Despite these upsides of semester-long science courses, there is still skepticism among students regarding these classes. Hee Jae Park, a senior that took both biotechnology and forensics class this year, explains why she believes students may have a misconception that semester science courses are effortless.
While taking semester science courses this year, it was quite noticeable that there were negative attitudes towards the courses. Some students didn’t approve them as having the same difficulty as regular science courses. I think that it is mainly because semester science courses are based on topics that are not so common in academics, like forensics and zoology. Also, lots of upperclassmen tend to take AP and AT science classes, so it’s easy for them look down upon semester science courses.Heejae park, senior at singapore american school
While her AP science courses were more rigorous study wise, semester science courses are equally demanding and intriguing. Students at Singapore American School ought to be less hesitant to register for semester science courses and debunk the common assumption that the offered classes are unavailing.