Highlander (7/19/2007)

Summer science

Rowland students get head start in high school

By Richard Irwin, Highlander Staff Writer

July 19, 2007

How much does a 100-pound student weigh on Mars?

A tough question for most, but one that students in the accelerated summer science program can answer.

More than 200 teens are hitting the science books this summer in the Rowland Unified School District. The students are getting a head start on the eighth grade by taking earth science now.

"All students are required to take earth sciences to graduate, by taking the class now, these students will free up their schedules for other science classes in high school," explained curriculum specialist Fern Sheldon.

The free classes are offered at Alvarado, Giano and Rincon intermediate schools in partnership with Mount San Antonio College in Walnut.

"Mt. SAC pays district teachers and accredits them, we provide the classrooms and textbooks," Sheldon said.

The district specialist chuckled that the kids had a whole day off before returning to the classroom for the special course.

The students will cover the regular high school course in six weeks. A lot of ground to cover, but not bad when you can concentrate all day on one subject.

And what a subject earth sciences is.

The teens will study changing climates (can you spell global warming?), as well as plate tectonics (can you spell earthquakes?) and many other fascinating physical sciences.

On a recent visit to Rincon school in West Covina, Christina Bryant's class was investigating the angle of incidence in craters by dropping marbles in plaster of Paris.

Nikki Le of West Covina and Mandy Leung of Walnut were glad they were taking the summer class. The 13-year-olds thought it was good to get ahead.

Bryant, who teaches honors biology during school year, noted that many of the kids were honors and AVID students. She was happy to see so many teens interested in pursuing a career in science.

In the computer lab, Jessica O'Hanian's class was doing research on the Internet. The Nogales instructor usually teaches high school math.

"But I'm also accredited to teach science, so I thought it would be interesting to teach this summer course," O'Hanian said.

Henry Han, 12, and Karl Santotome, 13, both of Walnut concentrated on their studies of planetary bodies.

Nearby, Francisco Ibara and Anand Panchal were just as intense. The 13-year-olds from West Covina seemed excited about their summer classes.

"I'd be bored at home, this is fun," said Panchal. "I'd like to become a computer engineer, so it's important for me to study science."

Ibara agreed, noting that he would like to study engineering later in college.

Meanwhile, the teens were enjoying their first high school course even if it means giving up part of their summer vacation. They will still have the month of August to kick back and relax.

And they'll always know that a 100-pound person only weighs 38 pounds on Mars.

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