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Breaking Educational Barriers: Non-Traditional Science Courses at CHS

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Addiction and the Brain song analysis poster assignments

Non-traditional science classes are beneficial because they offer students a unique opportunity to explore science in a way that goes beyond the typical classroom setting. These classes allow students to apply their understanding of scientific principles and theory to real-world problems, engaging them in hands-on activities and projects that can be both challenging and rewarding. 

Forensics is a particularly beneficial non-traditional science class that Camas High School (CHS) offers because it emphasizes critical thinking, problem-solving and analysis, which requires students to analyze evidence and interpret data. These skills are essential in any field but are especially important in science, where they are necessary to make informed decisions based on evidence. In this class, students can apply traditional science skills to things that align with their interests. 

Fingerprint sheet from a Forensics murder mystery assignment, courtesy of Anna Caine

“Forensics has caused me to become more observant of my surroundings and given me the ability to determine what is true and what isn’t. I can now determine fictionalized crime scene procedures from real ones,” CHS senior Dalila Drugovic said.

Subjects such as chemistry, biology, and physics are applied to the curriculum in creative and innovative ways. Chemistry is used heavily in the toxicology and arson units, biology is needed for the fingerprinting and blood units and physics is necessary for the ballistics unit. In this way, students can apply scientific techniques and knowledge in a real-world context.

“A lot of students are interested in the toxicology unit because there is a general curiosity surrounding drugs. The criminal psychology unit is also popular because many people find it interesting to analyze the brain of a killer,” CHS Forensics teacher Ali Coker said.

The class has become a favorite among CHS students. It was once only offered every other year, but there are now six sections. Students can take forensics with various degrees of knowledge in science. 

Addiction and the Brain is another beneficial, non-traditional science course at CHS. Through this class, students can gain a deeper understanding of the science behind addiction and the chemical changes in the brain that occur. Students can learn about the complex interplay between genetics, environment and addiction. 

“People should take Addiction and the Brain because it combines multiple sciences to create a nuanced view of society and personal health. You can learn much about yourself and your philosophy through group discussions,” CHS junior Salami McConneha said.

Understanding the science behind addiction can help students develop empathy and a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by those struggling with addiction. It also allows them to gain insight into practical treatment approaches for people suffering from this disease. For many students, a look into the effects of addiction has led them to make better decisions regarding drugs and alcohol. 

“The class has been helpful to me personally when making my own decisions with drugs and alcohol, as well as being compassionate for the struggling addicts in my life,” said McConneha.

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Rachel Hill, Staff Writer

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