Obstacles to Variety in High School Science Classes


High school students often choose classes to meet graduation criteria without giving much thought to their interests. Basic sciences, such as biology, physics, and chemistry, are usually a part of the core in most high schools. In an attempt to maintain educational standards, change has come slowly. New varieties are becoming available in many areas, and they are also counting as credit towards the degree. A better variety of science classes helps older students find their interests before they head off to college. There are a few complications that contribute to limiting this variety.

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Qualified Staff
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An increase in staff is necessary to add specialized science classes. Some classes may be able to be taught by existing teachers in the schools, if they hold the correct degree. Otherwise, new teachers may need to be brought in. For example, forensics classes are often taught by police officers. A marine biology class may, however, be able to be covered by the existing biology teacher. Qualified staff increases the possibility of class variety, yet it also costs more money.

Funding and Approval 

Before extra funding is provided to expand the science program, it must be available in the first place. Some school districts simply do not have the budget to expand programs. Money can be moved around, however, this often takes away from other important classes. Funds also cannot be distributed until the class selection is approved. The approval process can take quite a bit of time and research. There may be tests to determine how popular the class would be if offered.

Location

The location of the school may also affect the success of some classes. Tropical environments may lend a more natural environment for botany, oceanography, and marine biology. Rural areas may offer more agricultural type classes. A class that works well with the environment can lift some of the financial responsibility off of the district. The use of natural resources offers useful learning tools without the extra cost.

Charter and magnet schools are often built for certain purposes, as well. These schools still use public funding, but may also pull from private resources that support interests. These schools, however, are often built in locations that make it easy to teach to their specifications. Science schools may be near the museum district, while a school with forensics courses may be downtown near police stations and labs. Location can be a big factor in the ability to add extra courses.

Some Recent Additions

Even with the limitations, many schools have added a wide variety of courses. There are some excellent specialized science classes that can help high school students prepare for their future careers. Forensics classes have been helpful for students that wish to pursue scientific careers, such as forensic science and anthropology. Environmental sciences have been added to many schools in the wake of increased concern about the world we live in. Preparation for jobs in these areas is pertinent to research and clean-up efforts. Funding may also be easier to secure if the job force shows a high need for certain types of scientists. Other classes offered at some schools are astronomy, zoology, and geology.

Science is an interest that, unfortunately, often gets laid to rest after the required classes are taken for graduation. This may be because the specialties that students are interested in are not offered. A wider range of classes may give students the extra motivation they need to pursue their interests. Funding, and competent staff are common obstacles. Some geographical locations may be helpful for some classes, but not others. Thankfully, the course selection is improving in many areas. A more widespread change to science programs could help to fuel our future scientists.

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