Eager to get students to look beyond their textbooks, Anne Arundel County school officials will offer high school credit next fall at some schools to those who conduct cutting-edge research.
With the change, students who have taken biology or will be enrolled in biology as freshmen will be able to take the science research class. Students also will be able to explore topics in mathematics, computer science, engineering or social sciences, said Rochelle Slutskin, coordinator of science for Anne Arundel schools.
The course is intended to help prepare students to enter regional and national science competitions.
Students, parents and teachers had sought opportunities for students to build research skills outside core science courses, Slutskin said.
The course will be offered based on student interest and would count as half a science elective credit, she said. It would follow the guidelines of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, which is affiliated with local and regional science fairs.
Offering the class would support Superintendent Eric J. Smith's goal of having 20 percent of county 11th-graders participate in a regional, state or national competition by 2007.
Independent research courses teach students how to write and present their projects, said Melanie Jacobs Krieger, a Long Island, N.Y., school district administrator. She taught research courses for 20 years and wrote a book for school leaders about starting science research programs.
"This is not a course where you sit in your seats and take notes," she said.
Most school districts in the Baltimore area offer similar courses for credit, although some are open only to those at magnet schools or in gifted-and-talented programs.