Dennis steps up to teach new Environmental Chemistry class at DV

S.H., News Editor

“Isn’t it so cute?” Ms. Karen Dennis gushed in front of the classroom, brandishing a heat resistant mitt for holding heated beakers. She playfully snapped the red rubber mitt like a hinged jaw while chuckling.

Her class, a small, sleepy first period in room 2201 with only 26 students, would use the mitts to handle beakers of heated salt water in a lab on ocean density.

The first and only period of Environmental Chemistry is piloting this year at Dougherty, taught by Dennis, who also teaches Honors Chemistry. The class is an unweighted alternative to Honors or regular Chemistry on the science course pathways.

Dennis described the class as the brainchild of Biotechnology and Honors Anatomy teacher Ms. Kathy Huang.

“We needed a pathway to APES and [Huang] knew I had an industry background,” Dennis said. Dennis designed the curriculum herself last year and is putting it to use for the first time this year.

The curriculum meets California standards for chemistry and includes topics like the weathering of rocks, formation of groundwater, ocean currents and the water cycle.

“The objective is to try to tie chemistry standards to environmental processes or issues,” Dennis said. The class, however, will not be interdisciplinary like AP Environmental Science and will simply adhere to chemistry with an environmental focus.

Dennis expressed her enthusiasm moving forward in the year with the new class.

“It’s fun to be a pioneer,“ she said.