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Westlake High School Gets A New Science Building

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

November 2nd, 2020:


We have put men on the moon, designed computers that we can carry in our hands, developed the internet, and so much more. Accomplishments like these have their roots in our knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, otherwise known as STEM. STEM has changed the way we view and experience ourselves and the world around us.

In our increasingly digital world, math and science skills are more important than ever. Needless to say, STEM is also where the jobs are. In fact, STEM employment is expected to grow 13% between 2017 and 2027 and has grown 79% since 1990. All this has prompted some K-12 schools to take another step forward in order to design their campuses around this particular field of study so they can prepare their students.

Westlake High School in Thousand Oaks, California, a school known for their science program, is doing just that. Scheduled to be completed in December of 2021, a brand-new building dedicated to STEM-related subjects is being built. It will consist of 11 classrooms total, four labs designed for chemistry and then seven general lab classrooms that can be modified for multiple science classes ranging from biology to environmental science.

For one thing, this building will be a massive change from the limited amount of currently available classrooms that weren’t designed for the large class sizes that Westlake High School handles. The building will allow for more space for the different collaborative activities that many labs require.

“If we really wanted to do the labs and do the things that we're going to be able to do in this new building, effectively in our existing rooms, our class sizes would have to probably be between 20 to 22 students,” says Jason Branham, the principal at Westlake High School. “But our class sizes are really 36 to 40, so that kind of gives an idea of how tight things are.”

Addie Craig, a senior at Westlake High School who hopes to pursue a career in environmental science and public policy, combining her passion for science and the humanities, has also expressed her hope about the new building, even though she won’t be around for it when it is finished.

“With the [current] AP chemistry classroom, it’s not technically a lab. So, a lot of my friends last year would have to go to the sophomore chemistry classrooms to use their labs and their sinks,” says Craig. “If I were to be here [at Westlake High School] next year, just the resources and space in the classroom environment is what I’d be most excited for.”

More importantly, the evidence-based reasoning and other critical thinking skills that STEM has to offer are very important in a world that is becoming more technological by the second. In addition, STEM skills are important for success in any area of study, even if some of those skills aren’t emphasized or used as much in other areas of study like liberal arts.

“I think that our future challenges are going to require some solutions, so developing those skills of critical thinking, analyzing data, collecting data, it’s so important,” says Jenn Boyd, environmental science teacher and head of the science department at Westlake High School. “[Environmental science] is very interconnected with all the other subjects. So, when I teach environmental science, I’m not just teaching science."


Sources:

Jenn Boyd: Head of the science department at Westlake High School: jboyd@conejousd.org

Principal of Westlake High School: Jason Branham: jasonbranham@conejousd.org

Head of CVUSD Board: Cindy Goldberg: CGoldberg@conejousd.org

Addie Craig, senior at Westlake High School: addie.craig636@gmail.com

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