Grosse Pointe Schools to offer unique science pilot

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published February 4, 2015

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GROSSE POINTES — It’s not typical for science students in the metro Detroit area to delve into organic chemistry as a high school class, but the Grosse Pointes are proving they’re anything but typical by launching a new pilot course.

The organic chemistry course will be offered in the fall at both Grosse Pointe North and South. The Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education approved the proposal by a 7-0 vote Jan. 26.

“This is exciting because not many high schools in the tri-county area offer such a course, as well as it increases the number of electives for physical sciences that our students may be able to take,” Director of Instruction Maureen Bur said.

The proposal was scheduled under the discussion portion of the meeting with plans for consideration and approval at the Feb. 9 meeting. However, trustee Ahmed Ismail made a motion to approve it at the Jan. 26 meeting after school officials said that considerations were now underway for the student scheduling process.

“Obviously, sooner is better,” Bur said of the approval.

This class will help students with organic chemistry in college by providing exposure to the content.

“Where better to take your first exposure into organic chemistry than in the halls of North and South with our very talented teachers?” Bur said.

“We have so many students looking to go into careers where organic chemistry is going to be something that they’re going to have to pass,” South teacher Jessica Wieseler said.

Wieseler said she has heard complaints from college students that organic chemistry is like a foreign language.

The cost to run the course is $5,100 for lab equipment.

Board members expressed their enthusiasm about the new course.

President Judy Gafa, who is a nurse, said she remembers taking organic chemistry in college.

“It was one of my favorite classes in college,” she said. “I’m excited to see this come to our high school students so they can start on their career path. I’m really excited.”

Ismail also was excited about the course.

“Doctors that I know call it the great separator,” he said of the college course.

He added that his son, who tutors in college, said he wished organic chemistry was taught in high school.

Board Treasurer Brian Summerfield asked how they will determine if the pilot is a success.

Bur explained that they will take a look at the data in one year and also in two years, which will allow them to make any necessary tweaks to the class.

“I like the idea of the formative evaluation at the two-year point,” Vice President Dan Roeske said.

He also asked about the flipped class component that was noted in the proposal.

Wieseler said that she isn’t planning to flip the class entirely, but she does offer information at times that is available to students at night. That way, they can apply the information in class the next day so that she is available to work with them. So, some lessons will be flipped.

“I love the concept,” Roeske said of flipped coursework. “I think it should be integrated in many of the classes. I was encouraged to see some of those new ideas in lieu of a textbook. I think that’s great.”

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