Is Chemistry the New Algebra?
More than 90 percent of Fairfax high school students take chemistry. That's a number Fairfax educators are proud of.
Nationally, the average is 54 percent, up from about 44 percent in 1990, according to the National Science Foundation. As states continue to increase their graduation requirements, we are likely to see the participation rates climb every where.
Why? It's a hard course. Colleges like to see it on transcripts. And more kids are supposed to be going to college these days.
"It truly is in a sense a gateway to college, just like algebra is," said Peter Noonan, assistant superintendent for instruction in Fairfax County, to explain why the county wants to keep increasing the number of students who graduate having taken the course.
There are plenty of tough science courses, though. I asked why chemistry should be the goal for all students, and not, say, physics.
Noonan said the way the course emphasizes the scientific method gives it an edge. It helps teach the critical thinking and problem solving skills that all students will need even if they never plan to refer to another periodic table of elements for the rest of their lives.
Which, I might add, I have not.
Did you take high school chemistry? Do you think it gave you an edge?
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