New science standards bring curriculum change

Emma Gage, Managing and Copy Editor

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In the 2020-2021 school year, Bellevue West will replace its Environmental Education course with Earth and Space Science and will change the Medical Biology course to Medical Terminology for the health sciences.

On Sept. 8, 2017, the state of Nebraska approved new science education standards which has caused Bellevue Public Schools to reevaluate its science course offerings.

Made up of science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and cross-cutting concepts, Nebraska’s science education standards describe what questions and concepts students should be able to understand after completing a course at each grade level.

Because of the recent changes, BPS’s Environmental Education class no longer meets the state science standards.

“Earth Science lines up better with the new state science standards that we are introducing next year,” current Environmental Education teacher Austin Zeimet said. “So by making the change from Environmental Ed to Earth Science we’re making sure all the kids have met all the standard requirement for the state.”

High schools must change their Environmental Science courses because Earth Science standards that were previously covered in middle school are no longer being met at that level.

“There’s always been an Earth Science component, but there was an Earth Science class in middle school that fulfilled that requirement,” West science department chair Nicole Menard said. “Now middle school’s going to integrated science.”

The four main components covered in science courses are physics, chemistry, biology, and earth sciences. Integrated Science covers a small amount of each of those four different components. According to Menard, this results in the earth science standards no longer being met at the middle school level which means that they must now be covered in high school.

West’s current Environmental Education teachers will teach the new Earth and Space course next year. Robert Parks has taught the course for 15 years, and although he is sad to see it go, he believes it will be a positive change.

“My cooperating teacher when I first did my student teaching said you should change the courses you teach about every five or six years to keep things fresh,” Parks said. “This is a change dynamically that will actually probably reinvigorate my emotional energy in the teaching atmosphere.”

In addition to environmental education, medical biology will also be undergoing changes for the 2020-2021 school year. The class will now be called medical terminology for the health sciences.

In order to complete the necessary requirements for Nebraska’s health science career pathway, Bellevue Public Schools needs a class that covers medical terminology. By adding more medicine-based language into its curriculum, those requirements can be met.

“So we have health science and then you can go through sports med and end with anatomy and physiology,” Menard said. “We were missing that terminology piece.”

The new course curriculum will remain similar to what it currently looks like with a focus on the systems of the body. Menard also said that West hopes to gain the option to obtain college credit with this class through a local community college or other universities.

All changes to the science course offerings are intended to be made before the 2020-2021 school year.

“I’m excited to see what the new curriculum is and how the kids respond to it,” Zeimet said. “I think it’s gonna be a positive for our school.”