Science class offers alternative grading system

Drew Mutchnik, Staff Writer

Students conduct an experiment in a sophomore chemistry class.
Photo by Natalie Sandlow

A new science class, Integrating Physics and Chemistry, is designed to have no homework or tests. Instead, grades will be composed mostly of projects and labs.

Science teacher Bryan Musolf, who created the class, said he plans to begin the class with different material than what would normally be taught in a physics or chemistry class. Then, a project or lab would be assigned that applies the material taught in class to a real-life problem. 

Musolf plans on having a daily participation grade in addition to grading projects and labs. 

Science teacher Anthony DiCristofano, who worked with Musolf in creating the class, said he finds the project-based approach to science particularly helpful for students.

“I taught at Ridgewood High School in Norridge, and I was teaching freshman physics primarily,” said DiCristofano. “I had to make physics manageable for freshmen, which is crazy hard, so I had to stop and think of another way rather than test to assess these kids, so I started doing some project-based stuff.

“The kids that I saw that weren’t turning in their homework, weren’t doing well on tests, those were the kids that were surprisingly stepping up and doing the projects.” 

Junior Zach Mendo, who plans to take the class next year, said, “I’m not a big test and quiz guy and I …  love doing labs, and that’s basically the basis of the class and there’s not gonna be much homework.”

According to DiCristofano, a project-based science class can help students truly understand and be able to apply scientific principles.

“Kids can learn a science concept and apply it to something, rather than sit down and take a test, and [those concepts] will be a lot more memorable,” DiCristofano said.