West Michigan Aviation Academy’s science goal is to prepare students to be ready for career and college science requirements and to be scientifically literate adults that are able to understand the world around them. We follow the Michigan Merit Curriculum requirement of three science credits and strongly recommend four years of science.
WMAA seeks to have students learn to think and act like scientists and fosters a strong focus on inquiry, utilizing the QPOE2 process of scientific inquiry developed by the VanAndel Education Institute of Grand Rapids. QPOE2 elements include Question, Prediction, Observation, Explanation, Evaluation and Application.
Another focus for the science department is learning to model scientific concepts in order to create a visual representation for clearer understanding. Student misconceptions of a given scientific concept can impair correct understanding of related concepts. Research has shown that developing scientific models can help students overcome their misconceptions.
West Michigan Aviation Academy offers an approach to science called Physics First, which follows a sequence of Physics in ninth grade, Chemistry in 10th grade, and Biology in 11th grade. The rationale for this approach is that concepts in physics are the foundation for chemistry, and concepts in both physics and chemistry are the basis for modern biology. Additionally, this sequence lays a foundation for an understanding of physical laws governing flight which are important for all aspects of our aviation curriculum. The Physics First sequence also allows interested students to pursue advanced physics and other advanced science courses during their senior year.
Next Generation Science Standards
WMAA is in the process of aligning its curriculum to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which are planned to be adopted in Michigan. The NGSS is based on A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas, published in 2012 by the National Academies Press.
One feature of the NGSS that fits very well with WMAA’s curriculum is its inclusion of engineering as an important aspect of science education. The four primary content areas of the NGSS are Physical Sciences; Life Sciences; Earth and Space Sciences; and Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science.
An Aviation/Engineering Connection
Additionally, our science program is closely connected to our aviation program, because so many science concepts are applied in flight, technology, and engineering and utilize technology for instruction and learning. Truly, we do have a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) program, at WMAA!