About two dozen Republic High School students got a taste of college last week in their AP (advanced placement) science class. Republic teamed up with the science faculty at Missouri State University to offer college-level labs and lectures for two days.
Science Department head Ryan Lacson says it’s about giving the students the college-level experience they’ve asked for.
On Wednesday, an MSU biology professor visited Republic to lead a lab with two sections of AP biology students.
“Students historically have had no exposure to plants, and now they’re expected to know quite a bit of it on the AP exam,” Lacson says. “So I thought, ‘What better way to get them to learn this stuff than to expose them to several experts?'”
On Thursday, the students traveled to MSU to participate in a botany lab with Dr. Michelle Bowe, an expert in plant systematics. Students examined various types of plants and their structures, covering the same material that Bowe’s own students will cover this week.
Bowe says she enjoyed working with the Republic students.
“What they know is not that different” from college students, Bowe says. And she says research indicates that advanced science in high school is an important part of college success.
“It has actually been shown that the more biology they have closer to college, the better they’ll do once they get to college,” Bowe says. “If students have only had freshman biology in high school, then it’s three years before they get anything else, they forget everything. So the more science the better. And the closer to going to college they take it, the better.”
Lacson says his students also get a boost of confidence from the exposure to college-level work.
“From what I’m hearing, they feel like AP is the closest to college they’ll get. It’s not completely college, because they’re still getting a little bit of scaffolding along the way,” he says. “But by the time AP is over, they’re going to think, ‘Okay, I can do this now.’ It won’t be such a shock to them.”