This past summer, Broadalbin-Perth science teachers Gary Osarczuk and Brian Henry joined forces to create a course that would offer their senior students a creative and different way to learn science and provide them with a fun and memorable highlight for their last year in high school.
Their collaboration resulted in the creation of “Star Wars: The Course Awakens,” an out-of-this-world STEM-themed senior elective that uses the “Star Wars” saga as the platform to teach a variety of different concepts.
The course was created specifically for B-P students and is offered exclusively at Broadalbin-Perth Senior High School. Osarczuk and Henry co-teach two sections of the class, with 12 students in each section.
So what exactly do you learn in “Star Wars” class?
The course covers science from many unique angles, including the topic of space travel and light waves to see if a lightsaber could exist in the real world. Students have studied the planets and creatures featured in the Star Wars Universe to assess if they were modeled after real ecosystems and animals on Earth. They have also learned about the science of cloning and discussed its real-world applications. Upcoming topics in the Star Wars-themed class will include learning about variations in body armor strength, robotics and biodiversity.
Henry said the course unexpectedly evolved into something “way beyond STEM” to include elements of video production, script writing, filmmaking, pop culture and even some business and marketing. “We are looking at STEM through the Hollywood lens,” Henry said.
“We didn’t expect the course to take us in that direction but it became clear, especially with so much online learning, that this course could act as a platform for us to combine forces with the students to brainstorm, script, edit, and publish small video clips,” Osarczuk said.
In fact, the students have created their own green screen studio at the school in order to incorporate special effects into their photos and video projects. The class also has a public YouTube channel where they post their “Star Wars” class projects.
Henry and Osarczuk admit that they came up with the idea for the course because of their mutual love for the “Star Wars” saga. However, their main motivation was to be able to give something back to their senior students who had a tough ending to their junior year and are having anything but a traditional senior year.
“Our seniors are missing out on a lot, from sports, to the prom, to even being in class with their friends, so we thought, why not have this course be an opportunity for the kids to have a little bit of fun this year,” Henry said. “The students have been so above and beyond for what our expectations have been for this class and I’m so happy that we’ve provided this opportunity for them.”
Henry and Osarczuk say they are just scratching the surface with the possibilities of what they can teach in their “Star Wars” course. “It’s only the first year, but we’re really excited about the future of this course at B-P,” Osarczuk said.