Skip To Main Content

Liberal Arts for the Math and Science Student

Liberal Arts for the Math and Science Student

March 24, 2020 by Herron-Riverside High School

When it comes to a liberal arts curriculum, people tend to think of humanities and soft sciences. But what about those students who wish to study engineering? How does the liberal arts and sciences curriculum at Herron and Riverside adequately prepare students to succeed in the rigorous engineering programs in college?

Advanced, Upper Level Courses

We offer several Advanced Placement courses that provide foundational content for the engineering student: AP Chemistry (generally taken as an elective Junior year), AP Physics (algebra-based), AP Environmental Science, and AP Biology. A student interested in mechanical engineering might study AP Chemistry and AP Physics, whereas a student interested in biomedical engineering might take more of the biologically-related AP courses.

We have had advanced students study for the AP Physics calculus-based exam, and also have had students complete AP Physics Electricity and Magnetism as an independent study course.

Qualified students can easily commute to the IUPUI campus as Juniors or Seniors to take courses on campus at IUPUI through the SPAN program. These courses must be taken at the students’ expense, but the opportunity to take college-level courses with actual college students on campus has been a tremendous benefit for our strongest math students, in particular. In the past, we have had students complete two years of college-level math beyond AP Calculus B/C on the IUPUI campus.

Additional AP courses offered at our schools that directly contribute to a strong foundation for an engineering degree include AP Computer Science A, AP Calculus A/B and B/C, and AP Statistics.

Strong Teachers

AP Chemistry, AP Environmental Science, and AP Biology are taught by teachers who have master’s degrees in content areas (earned as full-time on-campus students with a strong laboratory research component; two of our teachers have published scientific papers). Our current AP Physics teacher has also taught at the university level.

Physics First Curriculum

Our Physics First curriculum lays a solid foundation for engineering because students start in conceptual algebra-based physics as freshmen, study chemistry as sophomores, and then take biology as juniors. Physics teaches foundational knowledge such as the electromagnetic spectrum, kinetic and potential energy, how to use math in scientific applications, and how to do unit conversions. Chemistry builds on this foundation, and biology again builds on the foundation laid in chemistry. The current Indiana State Standards and AP requirements for biology require a great deal of understanding of chemistry, and since our students have had both chemistry and physics in an order that allows them to deeply understand the material, they excel in AP Biology. (Most schools teach biology first (to freshmen), then chemistry, and then physics).

Robotics Team

Herron High School and Riverside High School have VEX robotics teams that meet after school most days during the week. Students learn how to build and program a robot and compete in robotics meets.

Well-rounded Overall Curriculum

Engineers need to be able to communicate and be a part of a team. Our curriculum is very strong in English, with AP courses in AP Literature and AP Language. In addition, all students are required to take four years of Latin. Latin is the foundation of many scientific terms, and the analytical foundation students gain in Latin assists students in understanding the construction of the English language and grammar. Finally, many engineers are also musicians, and we offer a full array of vocal and instrumental music classes.