Teachers at Sudbrook Magnet Middle School, a high-performing school in northwest Baltimore County, are revising a magnet program this summer to focus on environmental and earth sciences.
The new curriculum will replace a general science and math program, which was called computer applications in science and math. The school's other three magnets - in the visual arts, performing arts and foreign languages - will remain the same.
The new magnet will give pupils the opportunity to gain high school credits in environmental and earth sciences, so they can take more advanced classes in high school, said Tom Miley, one of the teachers revising the program.
"We're doing this to enhance the student experience at Sudbrook," said Miley, who has been working on the curriculum this week.
Among the issues that are explored in environmental and earth sciences are the effects of pollution, the nature of lead poisoning and the impact of farming and industrialization.
Miley and other teachers said the new magnet curriculum will emphasize solving problems, not memorizing facts; working in groups; using technology more in classroom instruction; and incorporating science into all classes, including English.
Katy Stanton, an English and social studies teacher, said her classes will read books related to environmental and earth science, such as Silent Spring, Rachel Carson's 1962 work that exposed the danger of pesticides. And, Stanton added, "Now I have materials to take home to them that are cutting edge."
About 320 pupils have enrolled in the environmental and earth sciences magnet next school year.
The changes to Sudbrook's magnet program have been in the works since last summer.
They are made possible through a partnership with Maryland Public Television and the Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health, which have obtained a federal grant to improve middle school instruction in environmental science.
The Sudbrook teachers are finishing a weeklong workshop at the Bloomberg School - called the EnviroHealth Connections Summer Institute - on developing lesson plans about human environmental health issues.