December 22, 2015

It’s Time for AP Science

It’s Time for AP Science
Sam Russo ‘18

Anyone who has attended a GOA open house or promotional event in the last year knows that our school consistently emphasizes two things: the importance of student advocacy and the exciting new STEM initiatives. Now, advocacy and STEM are coming together in a new student campaign to introduce  an Advanced Placement science course to GOA.
Last year, a team of dedicated then-sophomores organized, wrote and circulated a petition encouraging the administration to create an AP science class for juniors to go along with the four other AP classes that are already offered. About 75 then-eighth graders and high school students signed the petition, but the administration has taken no public action for or against it since receiving the petition in March.
Junior Kim Robins, an organizer of the petition who is known for her passion on the matter, explained that the administration is still reviewing the proposal and that they have “been very receptive” to the idea. Robins expressed hope that there will be an AP science class at GOA in the coming years; however, a number of Robins’ peers don’t share her optimism.
Junior Emma Weiss expressed a feeling of hopelessness, saying “[The lack of progress on the issue] is annoying, but it’s not like there’s anything we can really do about it.”
Nevertheless, she agreed that although it seems unlikely, students should still work toward the goal of instituting AP science.
Many students are also frustrated and confused by the relationship between the new STEM center and the rest of GOA’s science curriculum.
Sophomore Lara Brown said that she didn't “really understand how we can have… this huge STEM building and keep advertising our STEM program and how great it is and yet lack something as basic as an AP science course.”
Of the ten students interviewed, the single voice of dissent against AP science came from senior Jacob Gutstein.
“The workload of an eleventh grader is hard enough as it is,” he said and added that he did not feel that AP courses were necessary at all.
This opinion, however, is refuted when one considers that AP classes are completely optional, and that the entire purpose of AP is to allow students to excel in certain subjects and become even more prepared for college. Any student taking an AP class acknowledges the extra work and responsibility that he or she will be assuming, but sees the tremendous benefit that can come out of it. The addition of an AP science class allows interested students to challenge themselves and be more competitive candidates to colleges and jobs, but places no obligation or stress on students who do not elect to take the course.
There will undoubtedly be challenges in implementing an AP science class at GOA. The school will need certified teachers, an understanding of student interest, and a well-managed budget.

As Robins said, however, none of these obstacles are really “insurmountable” for a school that places such value on students’ voices and the on the sciences.

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