Integrated Science program limits class options

Shauna Perigo

As I begin to apply to colleges and consider what I want to study, I have noticed an inefficiency in our school’s science program.

When we are freshmen and sophomores, we are forced to take Integrated Science, a program intended to introduce us to topics in different science fields: biology, earth science, chemistry, and physics. The program, while well-intentioned, misses the mark. Instead of opening student’s eyes to different subjects, it forces students to double up on science in their later high school years if they wish to study multiple branches of science during their time at Redwood.

After speaking to students at other schools in Marin and across the country, I’ve found that most high schoolers take biology, chemistry, physics, and another science by the time they graduate from high school. This, however, is not possible at Redwood unless we take more than one science class at once, which is inconvenient, time-consuming, and very difficult for those of us enrolled in another elective such as Advanced Journalism, Band, or Drama.

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The Integrated Science program should be phased out or cut down to one year so that students can take full advantage of the various science classes that Redwood offers without having to sacrifice their interests in drama, music, or art.

Many colleges require at least three years of lab science and recommend that students take four. However, Integrated Science 1-2 does not fulfill the University of California lab science requirement because it is not recognized as a lab science class. This leaves us with three possible years to take lab science, once again making it impossible for us to reach the recommended four years without doubling up. Because of this, we are at a disadvantage when applying to colleges.

Not only does the Integrated Science program make the college application process more difficult, but it also leaves those of us who wish to study science in college behind. For example, I would like to study something related to chemistry in college, and therefore I am taking AP Chemistry this year. However, in addition to the required Integrated Science courses, the only other science class I have been able to fit into my schedule is Chemistry because I take Advanced Journalism and Spanish. While AP Chemistry will prepare me well to study chemistry in college, I will be at a disadvantage when it comes to studying physics, biology, or any other science that I have not yet studied.

This is not a problem unique to me. While other students may decide to double up on science, everyone faces the same challenge of trying to fit multiple years of lab science classes into their last two years at Redwood. There are many interesting science classes available to us; however, many of us will never be able to take them because the mandatory Integrated Science classes fill those spots in our schedules and we do not want to give up our electives.

The goal of the Integrated Science program, as stated by the course description on the department website, is to expose students to all the different fields of science so that they have a taste of what they might like to study in the future. However, if the program didn’t exist, students would be able to take separate years of earth science, chemistry, physics, and biology instead of just “sampling” all four in the same class. Students would be able to go more in depth in specific topics instead of just studying them for one unit in a combined class.

Not only did Integrated Science prevent me from taking more science classes, but it was also much easier than my eighth grade science class. Instead of inspiring students to choose a science in which they are interested, the program convinces students that science is boring.

If students were allowed to pick their science classes as freshmen and sophomores, they would be able to better cater their class choices to their plans after high school, or simply take a wider variety of courses if they don’t yet know what they want to study. Additionally, because students spend four years at Redwood, they would be able to expose themselves to at least four different science subjects without cramming them all into two years.

As students, we should not have to choose between an ample amount of lab science classes and electives that interest us. If we eliminate or cut down the Integrated Science program to one year, students will be able to take advantage of more individual science classes while taking other enjoyable courses at the same time.