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Courses Geometry and Chemistry Together

  1. Sep 22, 2016 #1
    Hello,

    My 14 year-old son just started ninth grade. Last year in eighth grade in middle school, he completed a Regents ninth grade level science (living environment) class and its corresponding lab and a Regents ninth grade level advanced algebra class. He passed both Regents exams both of which go toward the Regents requirements in high school.

    This year, he opted to take an earth science along with honors global history, geometry (a 10th grade class), Spanish 2, honors English, gym, concert choir, and orchestra. He does not feel sufficiently challenged in earth science (Most of the students in his class are 10th graders and goof offs.) and visited his counselor today to ask to be changed to chemistry. She told him his parents need to contact the K-12 Director of Math & Science Instructional Services for our district because the director does not feel taking geometry in combination with chemistry is a good idea.

    I would really like some feedback here so I am prepared to discuss this with the director when she gets back to me. I called and left a message so when she returns my call, I'd like to be able to either see her point of view or be able to disagree with her intelligently with some back-up information as to why it's not such a bad idea to take geometry and chemistry together.

    A bit of background on my son: He made honor roll every quarter for all three years in middle school and is an overachiever who pushes himself so that my husband nor I need suggest any improvements in quality of work or study habits. He exceeds expectations across the board. In fact, he opted to skip lunch this year as he wanted to be able to take concert choir and orchestra- the arts in which he's interested. He's also not certain what he'll study in college. Right now, he says he is interested in entrepreneurship and politics so he may not even go into a scientific field. Still, he has his mind set on chemistry. Should we encourage this?

    Thank you in advance.
     
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  3. Sep 22, 2016 #2

    phinds

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    Perhaps I'm missing something but I cannot imagine any possible rationale for such a statement other than possibly the broad assumption that all students are idiots these days and could not possibly handle two challenging courses at the same time.

    If you son likes math, geometry is likely to be WAY more fun than it is work and although it would be weird to me personally, he might even feel the same way about chem (actually, come to think of it I rather enjoyed high school chem, it was college chem that I did not like).
     
  4. Sep 22, 2016 #3

    micromass

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    I don't see any problem really. It's not that the two interact in any way. I guess the only complaint is that the workload would get much. But you should know better than anyone whether he can handle it.
     
  5. Sep 22, 2016 #4

    Bystander

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    You have been "brushed off," given the "run-around."
     
  6. Sep 22, 2016 #5
    Thank you so much, phinds, micromass and Bystander. Much, much appreciated. I did suspect that I am being given the run around and I do know that it is all too common that less is expected from the students and that expectations are geared toward the least common denominator. One would think my son's academic career up until now as well as his unbridled enthusiasm would count for something. I am incensed that this district director is trying to wield the upper hand when it comes to what courses my son can and can't take in this public education setting. I foresee a battle and I'm not too thrilled about it.

    *My son does love geometry and is already having fun in that class. I do believe he likes it better than algebra, too.
     
  7. Sep 22, 2016 #6

    Evo

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    Geometry was my favorite class in school and the easiest, I see no reason, if your son likes it, that he shouldn't take it with chemistry (my daughter's favorite) I got a certificate in the mail, she won National Honors in chemistry for having the highest chemistry score on whatever national tests they take. She was all honors and AP, sadly I didn't pay any attention. Sounds like you are a much better mom than I was. Let your son decide and give him your support.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
  8. Sep 22, 2016 #7

    phinds

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    +1 on that and tell that district director that he's an embarrassment to education.
     
  9. Sep 23, 2016 #8
    Thank you so much, Evo, and thank you again, phinds. Evo, your daughter sounds brilliant, and I assure you that I've gotten the "Mom of the Year" award (sarcasm here) quite a few times.

    Update: The district director did not phone me back, but I am going to email her now just to underscore the importance of my intent-- to let my son take chemistry if he so desires.

    I did just remember, too, that when his eighth grade counselor was scheduling his ninth grade classes last year, and he said he might want to take chemistry, she said that would be fine but that he would have to go through the director as she wants all incoming ninth graders to take earth science. We decided at the time that he would just take earth science and see how he liked it and how his workload would be with the honors courses/10th grade geometry and no lunch or study hall.

    My husband and I are just incredulous that the director can make a blanket assessment of the students in the district. I also wrote my son's counselor yesterday and let her know my husband and I stand behind him on his attempts to transfer from earth science to chemistry. I was pleasantly surprised that the counselor said she supports my son's request and has no doubts he can take chemistry and do well, but I was also quite disheartened when she said she'll change his class once the director gives the OK.

    Anyway, thank you to this forum and its members for your kind support and your responses to my initial query. It is all much appreciated.
     
  10. Sep 24, 2016 #9
    An update on the conundrum, which is no longer a problem: I was wrong about the entire issue, I believe, as I spoke to the director yesterday morning. She was incredibly nice and helpful and told me the rationale behind her decision to encourage all ninth graders to take earth science before anything else. She said statistics show that most students who take chemistry in ninth grade either fail or do poorly in the class and especially on the Regents exam. Her reasoning is because the students don't yet have the knowledge imparted in Algebra II, which they will take in tenth grade, to do well in a chemistry course. Why do the course recommendations progress from Algebra I to geometry to Algebra II? Why not Algebra I, Algebra II and geometry? Does anyone know? Also, since my son will be taking chemistry with Algebra II next year, I was assured that the courses are taught in such a way that they complement each other and the students' understanding of each subject.

    Furthermore, the director said that she doesn't believe my son would fail or do poorly if he switched to chemistry now, but she said it would probably put undue stress on him. While she said she would okay his transfer to chemistry, if he still feels strongly about it, she said she strongly recommends against it and told me I could "dangle the carrot of AP Chemistry in front of him" for tenth grade, as long as he does well this year, which we have no doubt about. She said she thinks earth science would be an easy way to boost one's GPA and said she believes my son will graduate in the top 10 or 20% of the 2020 graduating class with his ability. This made me feel good.

    So, I spoke with my son when he arrived home from school, and he said he would stay in earth science and then take AP Chemistry in tenth grade. He's also excited as the director told me to encourage him to submit a science fair project in 2017 as she believes he has a shot at the district competition. This all worked out well, I believe. Thank you again to those on the board who offered their guidance and suggestions. Much appreciated.
     
  11. Sep 24, 2016 #10

    phinds

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    Glad this worked out well and the lady is much more reasonable than we all originally thought, based on your understanding at the time.
     
  12. Sep 24, 2016 #11

    micromass

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    I don't really get why algebra II would be necessary for chemistry. You need to be able to solve systems of equations and do basic word problems. I would like to know what of algebra II is really necessary. This seems very weird to me.
     
  13. Sep 24, 2016 #12

    Student100

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    Maybe logs for pH scale? That's all that really comes to mind. Or graphing when you need to do log-log plots or something.

    Geometry is maybe important, if they study various bond geometries. Not sure if they do that in HS or not though.
     
  14. Sep 24, 2016 #13

    symbolipoint

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    Briefly without even trying to explain, Chemistry uses a great deal of Algebra-2 level concepts.
     
  15. Sep 24, 2016 #14

    symbolipoint

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    betweenthelens,
    Algebra 1 and Geometry are both "Foundation Courses" in Mathematics. Otherwise, nothing really justifies requiring Geometry to be studied before Algebra 2. Geometry as a course typical in high school is very different from Algebra 1 and 2. On one hand, Algebra 1 flows naturally into Algebra 2 when these two follow in consecutive direct sequence. On the other hand, when a student spends about a year studying Geometry before Algebra 2, another year of maturity and growth have occurred while he at least used a little bit of Algebra 1 material during that time (applied in the Geometry course). Actually Algebra 2 and Geometry do overlap a little bit, but this is not enough justification to force Geometry to be considered as prerequisite for Algebra 2.

    In fact, there is nothing wrong with taking the sequence: Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, PreCalculus.

    Some students, like at community colleges may very well do the sequence Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry..., and with no disadvantageous results.

    About Earth Science compared to Chemistry: The Earth Science course is probably a lighter course, easier to learn and earn a nice grade. Most ninth graders might still be in their Algebra 1 and may then be able to use their Algebra skills in tenth grade when then enrolled in Chemistry. In case the student is able to finish Algebra 2 BEFORE Chemistry, then better; since several topics of Chemistry depend on Intermediate Algebra. The teacher might be able to teach some of the Mathematical skills with the course, but much better to have already learned them.
     
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