One of the cornerstones of LASA is the group of courses known as
Signature Courses. These innovative classes are collaborative in
nature. Student groups research, design, implement and present
projects in the sciences and humanities.
LASA freshmen take Electronic Magazine and Science and
Technology; sophomores take Planet Earth and Great Ideas. Each of
these classes counts as an advanced academic measure, which are
required under the AISD Distinguished Academic Program graduation
In Electronic Magazine, students work in groups to create a
print and digital version of a magazine. Students write a variety
of journalistic pieces, relevant to audience and theme. Students
also learn graphic design principles as they design an entire
magazine and blog around an issue.
Professional graphic designers mentor students for the semester,
making the magazine production process relevant for students.
Science & Technology
Science and Technology (a.k.a. SciTech), recognized as a
National Best Practice by the American Society of Mechanical
Engineers, is an accelerated block science course that is completed
in one semester but yields one full year of academic credit.
The course is a student-centered problem-solving curricula that
develops skills in mechanical engineering, physics, engineering
graphics, teaming, math modeling, manufacturing (using power and
hand tools) and computer processing.
Each student group is given a design and engineering challenge,
and evaluation is based on the successful completion of the course
goals, creation of the mechanical device, developed design
documentation, and maintenance of a personal logbook about design
The SciTech course activity evolves from a four-step design
sequence used throughout science, engineering and technology.
Planet Earth focuses on the complex, dynamic relationship
between the planet and its life, tracing it through the Earths
geologic history. This emerging, integrative science is being
referred to as geobiology at the college level.
The course is project-based with major components including a
semester-long biodiversity study and geologic mapping exercises,
through which students experience hands-on geologic and biologic
field work. In fact, it is one of only two courses in the district
that is being observed by the University of Texas Project-based
Instruction class (the other being LASA's SciTech).
This interdisciplinary course relies on reading and discussion
of primary source material rather than a textbook, and writing and
public-speaking skills are enhanced through essay-writing and
student presentations. The semester-long biodiversity study is a
chance to complete authentic scientific research -- a chance for a
student to do real science!
LASA's newest signature course builds on the skills learned in
freshman and sophomore English and social studies classes and
guides students through writing full-length analyses and research
papers. We will consider a variety of works in the fields of
literature, philosophy, history, psychology, art, architecture,
anthropology, film, theater and music areas of study known
collectively as the humanities.
Works will be considered in context, discussing author intent
and the characteristics of major literary movements. However, this
class will also connect thematic elements between texts of widely
differing time periods and geographic regions in order to examine
how peoples throughout history have thought about some of the
fundamental experiences of human life.