School desks arranged in rows, surrounded by science lab stations

The arrangement of this Plymouth High School science classroom, with the desks crammed in between the lab stations, makes teamwork and collaboration difficult

Facilities Planning: Enhanced science curriculum

Posted September 18, 2017

As the Plymouth School District conducts a thoughtful evaluation of its facilities, one top priority is improving the science classrooms at Plymouth High School.

In recent years, PHS has seen extensive remodeling of the technical education wing into the LTC-Plymouth Science & Technology Center, as well as construction of the Food Science & Agriculture Center.

“Science is the common foundation for both of these innovative areas, so we should offer a science curriculum that fosters team-based problem solving and scientific inquiry,” said Dan Mella, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

Those efforts are hampered by the existing classrooms, which have changed little since the building opened in 1966.

“Through diligent maintenance, we’ve been able to extend the life span of the lab facilities well beyond their expected age,” Mr. Mella said. “Updating the plumbing and the chemical tabletops will allow for reconfiguration of the classrooms as well.”

The rooms originally were designed for fewer students, which makes for crowded learning space. In addition, the rooms were set up with desks organized in rows amid the lab stations – great for listening to teacher lectures but not so conducive to team problem-solving.

“Today with more students and much more student collaborative work being done, we need more space to accommodate this more prevalent style of teaching,” said Jay Grosshuesch, chemistry teacher.

Accordingly, the district is considering moving some walls and incorporating teacher prep areas to make larger classrooms, which would better separate lab space (for conducting experiments) from workspace (for teams to gather to go over their findings). More efficient use of teacher prep rooms also would allow PHS to offer some smaller seminar and independent study classes, Mr. Grosshuesch said.

The district also wants to introduce more students to newer scientific technology, such as the digital probes used in the Food Science & Agriculture Center, Mr. Mella said.

Learn more:
• Visit the District Facilities Planning webpage.

Close-up of science lab countertop

The existing science labs are original to the building, which opened more than 50 years ago.