Hixson High School will be the first school in Hamilton County to offer a Plant Biotechnology academic pathway, beginning this fall.
"Our students have a strong interest in science," said HHS curriculum coach Joyce Perdue. "So we are trying to build on that."
The new pathway will add more science opportunities to the existing classes of Biology, Ecology, Genetics, Chemistry, Microbiology and Environmental Science.
This fall the school will launch the first in a series of classes titled Agriscience. Perdue said the class will teach about ecology, biological processes, sexual and asexual reproduction and study the chemical and physical laws of life processes.
Hydroponics or Aquaculture, Greenhouse Management and Plant Biotechnology classes will be offered in future semesters.
She said the Hydroponics or Aquaculture course will discuss one of the fastest-growing fields in the food industry, which consists of producing food in water in an environment without soil. Students will use less space for food production and test water quality.
"We have less and less land that's being used to produce food and more and more people around the world," said Perdue, adding that students will learn to raise shrimp and tilapia and grow fruits and vegetables without the use of soil.
Perdue said the Greenhouse Management course is designed to prepare students to manage a greenhouse operation.
"Students in this class will learn to produce various ornamental crops and food crops," she said. "An understanding of structures, crop selection and growing systems will be explored."
The final course to complete the pathway will be a Plant Biotechnology class for students with interests in higher-level science-based plant agriculture. Perdue said the course will teach principles of plant growth, cell structure and functions, heredity and genetics, plant breeding and improvement, hormones and growth regulators, chemical nature of plant life, flower structure and function, seed formation and germination.
All the new courses will incorporate science research and writing in preparation for college, she said.
"It all stemmed from the students wanting to create sustainability in our world," Perdue said of the new courses.
The school has an Eco Club, which started a recycling program that grew into an organic gardening project. Lettuce, onions, sunflowers, buckwheat, carrots, radishes, peas, broccoli and cabbage are grown behind the school. The club uses a compost pile of cafeteria food scraps to fertilize the garden.