BHS Student-developed Course Exmaines Environmental Science and Society
Last year, a group of Brookline High School AP Environmental Science students wanted a science class that is more hands-on and addresses the environmental issues shaping the world today. So what does a group of high school students do when they want to create a new course? This group approached BHS science teacher Dr. Brianna Brown and proposed a new class that would allow them to more actively investigate the intersection of environmental science and policy. Dr. Brown and the students worked together to create a new Environmental Science and Society course that is proving to be very successful in its first year.
This term, students are making personal ethics statements on environmental policies that they will revisit and reflect on at the end of the year. As the year progresses students will dive into topics like climate change, water resources, and waste. Students will create public service announcements geared towards their peers to create awareness and spur action. Dr. Brown also hopes to have students periodically host documentaries and discussions to educate peers on environmental issues. For example, when the course covers climate change, students will examine legislative proposals in Massachusetts on renewable energy and carbon emissions. They are working on having a guest speaker or two to discuss lobbying and political activism, and learn how citizens can effectively lobby their lawmakers.
In addition to understanding policy, students are also creating projects to deepen their learning about biological diversity. When studying biomes, students will work in pairs to teach one another about ecological diversity. Students will create marketing materials for the specific biomes they are studying to highlight organisms and environmental features of their assigned biome. Each pair has a different biome, and students will give a "sales pitch" for their biome to convince others to visit. After these projects the students will move on to learning how biodiversity is threatened by human activities, as well as strategies for conservation.
The Environmental Science and Society course is more project-based than the AP Environmental Science course, because student success is not tied to the highly prescribed AP exam. Students are finding success in this structure, which allows for flexibility and deeper, more hands-on exploration.