After a decade of teaching ninth grade physics, science and mathematics teacher Marcia Holwick now spends her time lesson planning for her new Algebra II classes. Regular and Honors Physics classes, which were previously required to be taken by incoming freshmen, are no longer a graduation requirement as of the 2019-20 school year.
Students are now required to take biology as freshmen, followed by chemistry as sophomores, then a choice of any two other science classes during their junior and senior years.
Holwick explained that physics was taught to freshmen as a result of a grant provided by the University of Missouri. However, she said it was “pretty evident that is was not really a good thing for most students.”
“I would always express that ninth grade physics was not good for kids,” Holwick said. “If a student had [already] completed Algebra I, then they were in a better position to do well in… physics. But to take Algebra I at the same time that [they’re] taking math-based science, that doesn’t make any sense at all.”
Physics and Honors Physics rely on a curriculum based around
Algebra I concepts, which is often times, the math class taken by freshmen. With Physics moved to an elective choice during junior or senior year, students will be able to take this science course with Algebra I and Geometry already taught to them. Junior Stefani Maricic, reflecting on her Physics class as a freshman, said she agrees.
“I remember having a very hard time with projectiles,” Maricic said. “The reason why I struggled with projectiles, and first semester as a whole, was because of all the math I had to do. I am not good at math and never really was, so physics was really hard for me because of how heavy-handed it was with math.”
Biology focuses on using vocabulary to further teach concepts that students were introduced to in middle school, making it a good choice for freshmen, Maricic said.
“The change is good because physics is really difficult for students who aren’t the best at math,” Maricic said. “Starting freshmen off with an easy class like Biology would also be less stress-inducing.”
However, this year’s juniors will still need to take Biology to satisfy their class graduation requirements. As a result, freshmen and juniors are mixed within the extra Biology classes.