Changes to Science Curriculum Aim to Benefit Students and Teachers


Kaya Boettcher, Student of Journalism

Change is making its way to the science curriculum at NHS, arriving with the beginning of the 2021-’22 school year. 

“I am in support of this change,” Scott Hertting, physics teacher and chair of the science department, said. 

The adjustments that will take place include the replacement of the Physical Science course with a new course called Foundations of Physics, in which teachers will use the Modelling Method Instead of the traditional teaching style used in classrooms today.

Hertting, along with the NHS science department and administration, came to the consensus that making these tweaks to the curriculum and teaching style would be beneficial majorly.

Ample evidence proves the modelling method’s effectiveness in the classroom. According to the American Modelling Teachers Association, “Scientists . . . learn by doing: they construct and deploy models of the real world and test their ability to predict new phenomena . . . The Modeling Method has been intentionally developed to correct many weaknesses of the lecture-demonstration method of instruction… weaknesses include the fragmentation of knowledge, student passivity, and the persistence of naive beliefs about the physical world.” On a standard assessment, high school students “average more than two standard deviations higher” than students who were taught by the traditional teaching method. The goal of the Modelling Method is to let students use processes that scientists use to solve problems, ultimately transforming the students into scientists.

Hertting says that evidence from case studies of teachers putting the Modelling Method into practice show student improvements in both math and reasoning and ACT scores.

Students are not the only people at NHS who will benefit from the new curriculum. Teachers will also reap the benefits of the shift. Hertting explains that teachers will be able to practice the Modelling Method professionally. Additionally, students will enter future science classes with a base-knowledge of Physics, widening the teaching scope of all science teachers, who will be able to skip teaching some of the entry level information that students already understand.

Ultimately, “studying the research supporting a Physics first approach and knowing the strength of the physical science teachers indicated this change could strengthen our overall science program,” Hertting said.