New physics, German and robotics courses considered for Duluth schoolsThree new courses are proposed for Duluth high school students to study next school year.
By: Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune
Three new courses are proposed for Duluth high school students to study next school year.
The Duluth School Board will vote next week to add introductory physics, German V and a robotics class to the course catalog. The board heard presentations from teachers at a Tuesday education committee meeting.
The physics class comes from a state requirement that high school students graduating in 2015 must have a physics or chemistry course along with biology and physical science. The district offers an introductory chemistry course but only more advanced physics classes.
“There is a high interest in physics; kids come up to me and say, ‘What’s a black hole?’ ” said Kevin Michalicek, a physics teacher at Denfeld High School.
But some students can’t handle the course because of the trigonometry and calculus involved, he said.
The chosen textbook uses less math than higher levels of physics, and the class would be hands-on and project-oriented, he said. Algebra would be a prerequisite.
The cost for the additional course is expected to be about $19,000 — $14,000 of which would go toward 100 textbooks; 50 for each high school, said Aaron Salmela, science curriculum coach for the district. Only a classroom set would be purchased with a few extra. The rest of the money would be for materials.
Assistant Superintendent Ed Crawford said the addition of the course might mean fewer students would take earth science because it no longer would help fulfill the science graduation requirement. That could mean the course might be eliminated because of a lack of students. The popular anatomy class also would have to be taken as an elective and no longer could be used as a requirement.
Board members Ann Wasson and Tom Kasper were concerned about students not being able to take books home to do work.
The class will be set up for less homework because it’s so hands-on, Salmela said, so there won’t be that need.
The robotics class, which would initially be offered at Denfeld, would be a semester class and cost $5,000 to start, using existing computer labs and used equipment, Crawford said.
“There’s been a lot of interest in pursuing that,” he said. “The club itself is very popular at East High School and it’s growing at Denfeld.”
The elective would be in pilot form at Denfeld, with a chance to expand to East depending on success.
Kasper encouraged adding the class to East, noting it would be popular at both schools.
German V, part of the district’s College in the Schools program wherein college credit can be earned from the University of Minnesota Duluth, would be offered to students who began taking German in middle school in 2008. When the district began offering German in middle schools then it was understood students would be able to continue their study of the language through German V. Next year is when those students reach that level.
Only a few juniors are enrolled in German IV this year, so principals would have to decide whether a teacher is available to teach a small number or whether the German V class could be combined with German IV, Crawford said. The cost of adding German V was not available Tuesday night.