Rochester Public Schools starts planning for new environmental science course to meet state standards
The course will be required of ninth-graders starting in the year 2024-25.
ROCHESTER — Future high school freshmen in Rochester will have a new science requirement starting two years down the road.
That's because Rochester Public Schools is in the process of developing a new Environmental Science course to account for the updated state science standards.
"We really want this to be a class that is unique to Rochester, focusing on the Earth and space science standards but making sure we're using all the things that are unique to our area," said Heather Willman, principal on special assignment with secondary curriculum and instruction.
That vision Willman outlined is being built right into the course description, part of which reads: "a high importance will be placed on understanding Earth's systems, the impact of human involvement, and the relationship to our local community."
The course will be required of ninth-graders starting in the year 2024-25. Willman said the district considered folding the requirements outlined in the new standards into existing science classes. But, she said, the team working on the project wasn't able to find a way to do that well.
School Board member Justin Cook praised the course as being a way to spark curiosity among students about the world — and worlds — around them.
"This is a huge opportunity, potentially," Cook said. "It is hard to look up at the night sky and not be blown away with awe and wonder."
Even though the upcoming course is the result of mandated state standards, the subject matter is increasingly relevant to the current generation of students. As part of a recent YouTube video, Superintendent Kent Pekel asked a handful of students various questions, including, "What do you think will be the biggest problem your generation will have to solve?" The majority of the students' answers related to climate change.
"It seems like our students are very excited about this topic," Willman said.