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Bond Election 2019: Science classroom improvements
Bond Election 2019: Science classroom improvements
Posted on 09/18/2019
Bond Election 2019: Dedicated Science spaces

There is one thing Emerald Ridge has that the three other high schools do not.

The Emerald Ridge science lab was designed as a state-of-the-art learning facility for students when the school was built in 2000. The sweeping 4,000 square foot room boasts four color-coded areas where multiple classes can learn at the same time. Students enter and exit the lab through doors that lead directly to the area they are assigned for the period.

ER Science Lab
Providing upgraded science facilities at Puyallup, Rogers, and Walker was important to the Bond Advisory Committee when they recommended high school improvement bond projects to the school board last June.

Voters will be asked to consider the $273 million high school improvements bond on November 5, 2019. If approved, the bond will increase safety and security, construct additional classroom space, and ensure instructional spaces are appropriately configured to support educational program needs.

The bond would fund the construction of large science labs at Puyallup and Rogers configured to provide the same opportunities as Emerald Ridge. Walker would receive a science classroom with lab stations.

The impact to science lab opportunities would be significant

The Emerald Ridge science lab is unique in that it is a centralized lab where teachers schedule lab time and then just show up with their students. The lab is prepped and ready for them, and they don’t worry about having to spend time before or after school working on it. This allows teachers to do labs more frequently. They find the lab setup an efficient, safe, and high-quality space for students to experiment and learn.

The Emerald Ridge science lab is used for biology, chemistry, physics, anatomy, marine biology classes, and the aviation program uses it for physics of flight.

In addition to the lab equipment, there are high tech sensors, small computers, periodic table calculators, blue tooth temperature probes, and graphing calculators. The data collected can be used to analyze the lab. Using these tools helps prepare students for post-secondary courses.

While each of the Puyallup high schools has a lab technician, Puyallup and Rogers do not have science labs. For example, at Puyallup High biology takes place in the pool building. There are three chemistry classrooms in three different buildings.

Technicians gather materials on carts and travel from classroom to classroom. Depending on other science lab needs around the school, the lab tech may not stay in the classroom during the lab.

Safety procedures and Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations are followed in all lab environments. However, there are certain things that cannot be done at Puyallup and Rogers that can be done at Emerald Ridge due to the lab environment. For example, certain chemicals are not allowed in a classroom.

Chief Academic Officer Cari Ake says, “It’s not just about a lot of stuff in a lab — it really is about students and providing equity for all students. Science is ‘doing.’ Our goal is to ensure all students learn the standards and have an opportunity to demonstrate them.” She says science education has changed through the years. Today the discussion about scientific findings takes place after students have had a chance to perform an experiment and use critical thinking skills to understand the results. “We want the students at Puyallup, Rogers, and Walker to have the same opportunities,” she adds.