WHS’s New Science Career Emphasis Program Cultivates Community Connections and Hands-On, Service Learning
Launched in 2022, the goal of Westlake High School’s Science Career Emphasis Program is to engage all students in career development opportunities. Unique to Westlake High, the purpose of this program is to incentivize students to complete activities that promote a deeper focus in an area of science, develop skills associated with careers, incorporate careers into the curriculum, make the content more relevant and to provide context for completing the Science and Engineering Practices that are part of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
Since its inception in 2022, the program has continued to grow. Students take a sequence of three science courses in an emphasis and complete Career Emphasis Opportunities (CEO) in three categories:
Category 1: Campus Community Connections
Goal: Students with similar interests to find and create a community cohort with social connection through clubs and interest groups.
Category 2: Career/Service Learning
Goal: Give students a chance to reflect upon various activities such as guest speakers, field trips, internships, and community service to see how each is connected to a possible future career.
Category 3: Project Based Learning
Goal: Ask students to connect what they are doing in other subject areas to their science career interest. For example, an essay or research project in another class could count as a point in this category.
Each CEO is worth one point and the points accumulate over all four years of high school.
At graduation, students who have earned the required points (Class of 2025 and beyond: 20 points) across the three categories are recognized for going above and beyond what was required in their science classes. The expected outcome for students who complete this program is that they will have built strong connections with their peers, provided a service to our community, taken active steps towards researching a possible future career, and made interdisciplinary connections between various subject areas.
The Program in Action:
During the last week of November, students enrolled in Jenn Boyd’s Honors Environmental Field Studies class went on a field trip to Good Farms in Oxnard. This is a farm that grows celery and strawberries and is currently testing out new technology in agriculture. Through their visit, students were able to see how agriculture is a business and the unique considerations that are being made to protect the workers and the environment. Students had the opportunity to ask questions and inquired about the day to day operations and efficacy of the farm.
This field trip aligned with learnings from the class's recently finished project where they designed their own company to address food waste. Through their work, the students needed to explain how they planned to make a profit, protect the environment, and the well-being of people. Their questions for the Good Farms site manager were spot on and circled around these three big ideas.
For more information on the Career Emphasis Program, please click here to visit the Science CEP website.