Contemporary Issues in Science Fiction

The work of science  fiction is imagining what is possible. A necessary part of this undertaking includes deciding how race, gender, and class  function in a new world. In this course, we will explore the works of authors such as Octavia Butler, Nnedi Okorafor, N.K. Jemison and Tananarive Due in order to examine how race and gender constructs shift and intersect in new and different ways when characters are forced into radically different situations. We will examine images, film, fiction, and nonfiction. We will read one common text as a class, and students will read additional texts in small reading groups and independently. We will complete reading reflections and write creatively as well as analytically.

Crime Literature

Starting with the birth of detective fiction, one of the most popular literary genres, and moving to creative nonfiction, we will consider the appeal of stories about grisly murders and trace an arc from a more comfortable belief in the nature of justice to suspicion about police powers. Coinciding with this increased suspicion is a movement away from white detectives and white victims, to crimes targeting people of color, who were legally barred from giving testimony (and thus seeking legal redress) for much of the country’s history. Do stories give us cathartic release when a bad guy is punished? Is there some sort of poetic justice in exposing the inequities of the past even if the murderers have gone free? And what does crime fiction’s popularity suggest about our relationship to our criminal justice system, about our perception of its workings, and about the larger American tenet of equality before the law?

Great Books

When was the last time you were responsible for picking your reading for a course? At the beginning of this class, you will generate a list of books you want to read, and then you will campaign for your favorite; after the campaign season ends, you’ll vote, and several books will win. We’ll spend the term reading them, examining them for character, theme, structure, style, and message. How does choosing the text intersect with investment in the reading? Is the text a great book? Ultimately, you decide whether the books deserve spots on the shelf and how you go about choosing your next read. You will respond to the reading in various forms of writing, class discussions, projects, and presentations.

Previous winners: 1984, Room, Lolita, Brave New World, Catch 22, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Lord of the Flies, Scarlet Letter, On the Road, The Kite Runner, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Gone Girl, Fight Club.

Literature and Film

Did you like the movie or the book better? Is this a sensible question, or are we being asked to compare unlike genres? In this course we will investigate these two art forms, comparing the narrative possibilities — and limitations — of each. How do these modes of storytelling differ in terms of their effects? What can film achieve that a novel or play cannot, and vice versa? What is lost in the translation of literature into film, and what makes a “good” adaptation? We will read novels and plays, and we will study a film based on each. You will think and write critically about how these stories are told on the printed page and on the screen, analyzing the cultural impact of each medium.

Literature of Food

For millennia, humans have had a unique and ever-shifting relationship with their food. From growing vegetables in the soiled ground to buying a Big Mac at the drive-through, we all relate to and connect with food and tastes in varied ways. Additionally, from Fatima Ali to Rebecca May Johnson to Will Guidara, chefs and authors have explored what we eat, how we eat, and how our relationship with food matters. In this class, we will read, write, cook, and eat. Using a range of narratives, we’ll examine the politics of food, food insecurity, and how our relationship to what we eat and how we eat informs, nourishes, and shapes our lives.

Melville’s Moby Dick or The Whale

When Herman Melville published Moby Dick, the novel was a commercial failure, met with critical disdain.  Melville did not live to see the 20th century turnaround for what would be considered his greatest work. More modern critics deemed Moby Dick “The Great American Novel.”  Come read this big novel, this story of Ahab, the monomaniacal captain and his quest to kill the white whale. We’ll also read what the critics wrote and visit the Whaling Museum in New Bedford.

Money, Money, Money (BVR-X)

What is money’s place in society? What is the correlation between money and power? What do money and power reveal about inequity in society? Everything from politics to education to professional sports to technology to the economy to media sends, reinforces, and challenges messages about money and power, and in this class students will examine these intersections and consider their own roles in the systems around them. Students will read fiction and non-fiction, write, watch, and listen; and question, research, collaborate, and present.

Road Trip

As Ursula Le Guin said, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Why is that? What makes a journey an adventure, and why do journeys seem to yield so much challenge and disaster and surprise and beauty? Whose road trips are allowed and whose aren’t? Together, through novels, film, history, politics, and art, we’ll explore everything from the archetypes to the dangers to the history of ‘hitting the road’ to the road itself. These are indelible stories, and we hope you join us for the ride.

Screenwriting (BVR-X)

How do the stories that we write change when we know that they will be interpreted visually and audibly? In this course, students will craft compelling narratives written in the form of scripts.  This class will also collaborate with Video Production. Together, we will view and critique film and brainstorm and workshop ideas, and students in Video Production will work with students in Screenwriting to adapt their screenplays to film. With an emphasis on dialogue and indirect characterization, students will learn how to use screenwriting programs to develop short films or television episodes. Over the course of the term, students will storyboard, pitch, workshop, iterate, and see their ideas be reinterpreted through the production and acting of fellow collaborators. Think you have the next great idea for a (short) screenplay? Now is your chance to give it life.

Short Stories

How does something so small pack such a big punch? Such is the nature of a short story. You’ll hone in on story elements by investigating a variety of stories and writers. Everyone has a story to tell. You’ll experiment with turning your own stories into short fiction, and you will continue to develop analytical essay writing skills.

Sports Literature

How can sports’ narratives illuminate human experiences? How have sports been used to establish and connect with shared and individual identity? And how can examining the role of sports-in both fiction and real life-give us greater insight into our society? These are just some of the questions we’ll address through themes of triumph, determination, teamwork, pursuit of perfection, sacrifice, defeat, and identity. Digging into works that focus on various team and individual sports-from basketball to figure skating, swimming to soccer, baseball to rugby–we’ll examine the words of athletes, coaches, and fans to explore sports as allegory, how sports history has shaped our contemporary understanding of place and self, and how storytelling in sports contributes to national mythology. From the allegory of the game to the ethical questions raised in our society, this course invites students to critically engage with the myriad ways sports’ narratives illuminate the human experience.


Each of us has an inner world of images, memories, and dreams. This internal landscape holds unlimited possibilities for storytelling. This course will help you explore your personal mythology, discover your own voices, and polish your writing skills. Through a variety of exercises, you will shape memory and imagination into elements of the short story: character, setting, dramatic structure, point of view, and theme. You will workshop your work both in class and by making use of Buzzword, a web-based program that offers a comprehensive editing platform.

Possible texts: stories and essays by Angelou, Boyle, Burnham, Cheever, Cunningham, Fondation, Forché, Miller, Minot, Oppenheimer, Painter, Salinger, Shae, Tolstoy, Updike, and Wolff.

Virtual Realities: Navigating Social Media Landscapes (BVR-X)

In this course, we will explore the profound impact of social media on society. The goal is to empower you to navigate the digital landscape critically and foster a deeper understanding of the broader implications of your online interactions. The course goes beyond surface-level understanding, encouraging you to analyze evolving trends in social media through various lenses. Through interactive discussions, case studies, and collaborative projects, you will develop a nuanced perspective on the role of social media and social media influencers in shaping culture, communication, and societal dynamics. We will actively engage in hands-on projects that require you to apply your analytical skills in real-world scenarios. As you develop a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness between technology and society, you will emerge from the course with a heightened awareness of your role as an informed contributor to the ongoing discourse surrounding social media’s impact on our lives. This course is cross listed as an English class and will incorporate regular reading and writing assignments of various lengths. 

This class counts for English credits. Students can opt to take this class at the Honors level. 
Open to Grade Levels: 11, 12


PreCalculus - Functions

In this course, students will take a deeper look at various families of functions: rational, radical, exponential, logarithmic, and polynomial. Students will learn about the ways in which domain, range, continuity, inverses, composition and transformation apply to those functions. Students will also have opportunities to analyze real-world data and generate predictive models. Topics from data science are often included in this course, as well.

Prerequisites: Integrated Math 2 and Integrated Math 3. Offered at the Honors and Standard levels. Honors level requires departmental recommendation.

PreCalculus - Trigonometry

Students in this course will learn about angle measurement, periodic behavior, and a range of applications related to both right triangle and circular trigonometry. Analytic geometry and polar coordinates are often included in this course, as well. Prerequisites: Algebra II and Geometry. Honors level requires departmental permission.

Prerequisites: Integrated Math 2 and Integrated Math 3. Offered at the Honors and Standard levels. Honors level requires departmental recommendation.

Calculus - Derivatives & Integrals

The Derivatives course includes all of the topics of an introductory Calculus course including limits, derivatives and their applications.
The Integrals course includes all of the topics of an introductory Calculus course including definite integrals, indefinite integrals and their applications.

Prerequisite: Precalculus. Offered at the Honors and Standard levels. Honors level requires departmental recommendation.

Advanced Calculus - Derivatives & Integrals (Honors)

This course covers all of the topics of an introductory Calculus course, exploring concepts in depth with a greater emphasis on both the abstract aspects of calculus and its various applications in the real world. Students will be expected to enter the class with a firm grasp of all concepts covered in previous math courses.

Prerequisite: Precalculus and departmental recommendation. Offered at the Honors level only.

Mathematics Electives

Advanced Topics

In this course, students will be asked to grapple with a range of different and challenging problems. Topics covered may include but are not limited to fair division, voting systems, graph theory, chaos theory, and non-Euclidean geometry. Students will be asked to think creatively and apply their knowledge to complex real-world problems and will also have the opportunity to explore topics of their own interest and curiosity.

Students can opt to take this class at the Honors level. 
Prerequisites: Integrated Math 3 or Algebra 2 and Geometry

Discrete Mathematics

In this course, students will have the chance to learn a range of discrete math topics that fall outside the spectrum of traditional high school mathematics. Topics covered may include finite sets and partitions, enumeration, probability, expectation, random variables, and elementary number theory, with an emphasis on applications of discrete mathematics. Students will be able to answer questions like: “how many beaver students are involved in a theater production and in an athletic sport throughout the school year?”, “what is the probability of picking at least 3 red marbles out of a bag of 7 white marbles and 5 red marbles?”, “find the value of 7 mod 4”, “if there is a car accident, what is the probability the person is between the ages of 16-21?, and “what states have both a pro basketball team and a pro hockey team?”

Students can opt to take this class at the Honors level. 
Prerequisites: Integrated Math 3 or Algebra 2 and Geometry

Matrices and Linear Algebra (BVR-X)

This course focuses on the theory and techniques of linear algebra. Topics include vectors in n-dimensional space, matrix theory, systems of linear equations, vector space theory, linear transformations, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, and optimization. This course includes economics and computer science applications. 

Students can opt to take this class at the Honors level. 
Prerequisites: Integrated Math 2 or Algebra 1

Probability and Combinatorics (BVR-X)

How likely is an event likely to happen? This is an essential question that is asked by professionals in a host of different fields. Probability helps to quantify a response, often relying on algorithms of combinatorics to count the number of favorable outcomes in a given scenario. Maybe you want to understand the efficacy of a revolutionary cancer treatment better, or think more critically about the P-values that deem a trial successful or unsuccessful. Maybe you are curious about the decision-making of professional poker players, or are interested to explore how meteorologists use this same theoretical math in their daily forecast of the weather. Maybe you see probability in sports, or combinatorics in computer science. Whatever the application is that interests you, here you will develop the advanced algorithms for counting which provide the groundwork for probability theory. In this course, you will develop an understanding of mathematics that helps to inform the decisions we make every day. 

Students can opt to take this class at the Honors level 
Prerequisites: Integrated Math 3 or Algebra 2 and Geometry

Statistics/Data Science (BVR-X)

This course includes the gathering of data and a variety of sampling techniques, hypothesis testing, frequency distribution, normal distribution, correlation, linear regression, theoretical distributions, and inferential statistics. This course asks students to consider questions such as these: How is data summarized so that it is intelligible? How should statistical data be interpreted? How can we measure the inherent uncertainty built into statistical data? Students will be asked to collect, analyze and interpret real data to answer real questions in their areas of interest. 

Students can opt to take this class at the Honors level. 
Prerequisites: Integrated Math 3 or Algebra 2 and Geometry



Advanced History: Independent Research (Honors)

An intensive, inquiry-based course that will require students to pursue an advanced independent course of research on a topic of their choice. Students in this small section will be expected to work through a number of multi-step research assignments that will include producing research based papers, research based presentations, and participate in a number of research challenges and research projects.  This course is designed to hone the research skills of critical thinking, problem-solving, analysis, and dissemination and is designed for the student who is interested in possibly pursuing advanced humanities research in college.
Limit per class: 14 students.

Governments From Around the World

How do governments of the world work together in dealing with geopolitical issues? This course will explore the various governmental systems of the world in existence today. It will also examine why democracy thrives in some areas of the world and what factors hinder it in others. Over the course of a term, students will be exposed to governmental systems from all corners of the globe. Ultimately, through those explorations, students will critically engage with global contemporary issues and the challenges associated with the various governments in existence.

Identity, Race, and Class

How have we been socialized to perpetuate stereotypes and biases toward groups of people? How do gender and identity intersect with race and class? Students will examine the work of some of the most important thinkers on race, class consciousness, and identity. Students will be encouraged to engage in authentic, personal discussions and to connect their experiences to other global voices.

Religions and Beliefs

Ever wonder why, despite ideals of religious freedom and acceptance, different religious groups and religions of the world unite or lead into conflict? In this course, students will explore a wide range of religious and spiritual ideologies including their origins, beliefs/practices, and adaptations over time. Investigations into how belief systems shape contemporary politics, government, and conflict will also be explored.

The Media and Its Influences

From the printing press to widespread use of social media, the creation of news content has been defined and redefined by the technology of its historical time. Using today’s media landscape, students will examine what qualifies as news, what ethical questions are presented in journalism, and how we are impacted today by those that craft, manipulate, and distribute the message. Students will use different media tools and platforms to question, challenge, and deconstruct media messages and their biases. Students will become better equipped to read the world and understand the news.

Theories of Justice (BVR-X)

Is economic inequality unjust? Is the government justified in restricting your freedom if it does so to improve your life? Using philosophical ideas by which one might understand justice, students will engage in conversations with experts and take part in a series of project-based learning activities as they examine complex problems and develop solutions to issues that challenge some of their perspectives on fairness and the meaning of societal justice. In this course, students will explore a range of topics related to affirmative action, artificial intelligence, distribution of resources, euthanasia,, drug policy, corporate social responsibility, and environmental justice.

Open to 11th and 12th graders 

Advanced History: Theories of Punishment (Honors)

What aspects of culture and politics promote criminal justice reform? How can the United States achieve an effective justice system that protects public safety while also confronting issues related to restoration for those impacted by crime, both the victim and the accused? Is the prison industrial complex used by the government and industry to address social, political and economic challenges? In this course, students are introduced to criminology and penology.  Students will examine historical trends, current programs related to reform, and examine the psychological impact and role that poverty, lack of mental health services, addiction, trauma, and education has had on the lives of incarcerated people. They will participate in forums led by people whose work or volunteerism is connected to addressing existing issues within the system and engage in field-based experiences. Students will explore topics of choice and design viable solutions.

Open to 12th graders only.


Biology Applications - DNA and Genetics

DNA is often referred to as the “code of life”. This course seeks to explore what we know about how our bodies interpret and utilize our genetic code and how our understanding has changed in recent years. Included in this course will be discussions of the evolving concept of what a gene is, DNA structure, function, and replication, and how DNA is used to shed light on evolutionary relationships among organisms. In addition, students will be introduced to laboratory techniques that have driven our understanding of these topics, including DNA extraction, gel electrophoresis, PCR, and bacterial transformation. Emphasis on effective communication of experimental design and findings through primary source research, formal reports and presentations will also be an integral part of this course.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations and Biology Foundations.

Biology Applications - Marine Ecology

Ecology is all about relationships and interconnections. In this course, students will focus on the interdependence of living marine organisms (biotic factors) and their ocean environment (abiotic factors) and how energy flows through Earth’s systems and connects us to all living things. Topics interwoven throughout the course include: biodiversity, food webs, population biology, predation, competition, symbiosis, climate change and human impacts while closely analyzing coral reefs, kelp forests, sharks and whales. We will use collaborative modeling, experimental design, current research, and field experiences to deepen our understanding of ecological concepts. Field trip experiences to places such as New England Aquarium and/or a Whale Watch will help support our learning by exposing students to real world marine research.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations and Biology Foundations.

Biology Applications - Neuroscience

The most basic function of the brain is to keep you alive. Your 100 billion neurons regulate breathing, heart rate, hunger and sleep cycle. But perhaps what fascinates us the most about the human brain is how it goes beyond these basic functions and generates emotions, perceptions, and thoughts that guide behavior. In this course, we will take a deep dive into brain science, exploring everything from the biochemistry of a neuron, to the latest research on psychological disorders such as depression and addiction. Topics in this course include neural anatomy and physiology, synaptic transmission and action potential, neurochemistry, and the impact of substances on the brain. Students have the opportunity to attend the Harvard MEDscience program to participate in the Nervous System patient simulation as part of this course.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations and Biology Foundations.

Chemistry Applications - Biochemistry

Biochemistry explores the fascinating intersections of chemistry and biology This course delves into the molecular processes reactions necessary for life. Students will first review the foundations of chemistry while looking at the connection between photosynthesis and cellular respiration. In this lab based course, students will explore the structure and function of carbohydrates and proteins, molecules with critical biological functions in nutrition and metabolism. Other themes will include natural product extraction, exploration of bioactive molecules, and food chemistry. Students will gain exposure to lab based methodologies such as gel electrophoresis, and protein purification. Students get the chance to do an independent research project to learn about a personal interest. Honors has an expectation to do deeper level content, more autonomous work and self-learning, and application of mathematics to solve problem sets. 

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations and Biology Foundations.

Chemistry Applications - Physical Chemistry

This interdisciplinary course will explore the physical and chemical properties of matter using two main themes: electron structure and thermodynamics. Students will cover in this course the challenging fields of thermodynamics, thermal and chemical equilibrium, and quantum mechanics. A thorough understanding of how chemical systems behave will be gained through hands-on laboratory experiences, and students observe how these systems will respond to external stress. Students will spend the last part of the course discussing advanced electron structures using the principles of quantum mechanics. Throughout the course, lab skills and writing will be emphasized in order to practice effective scientific communication and inquiry-based design challenges.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations and Biology Foundations.

Chemistry Applications - Quantitative Analysis

In Quantitative Analysis, students build on the basic chemical concepts and skills learned in the foundations course. The concept of a mole is explored and students learn to predict the products of chemical reactions. In this lab-based course, students will conduct a variety of experiments and use stoichiometry to quantitatively analyze their findings and the efficiency of their experimentation. Finally, students explore solution chemistry, including acids and bases, through both conceptual and quantitative lenses.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations and Biology Foundations.

Physics Applications - Sustainable Energy

This course explores the fundamental principles of thermodynamics, with a focus on understanding climate change and its implications for sustainable energy solutions. This interdisciplinary course will delve into the intricate relationship between energy, environment, and society. Through an interdisciplinary approach, students will analyze Earth’s energy budget and the mechanisms driving climate change, evaluating the scientific evidence behind global warming and its consequences. They will delve into various sustainable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, and biomass energy, investigating the physics principles underlying each source and assessing their environmental impact and scalability. By examining real-world case studies, students will gain insights into the practical applications of sustainable energy systems and the challenges and opportunities associated with transitioning to a low-carbon economy. Through collaborative projects and presentations, students will develop critical thinking skills and propose innovative solutions to enhance energy sustainability and address the impacts of climate change on a local and global scale. 

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations. Open to 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students

Advanced Biology - Anatomy and Physiology (Honors)

In this lab-based course, we will explore the integrated systems that make up the incredible human body and learn about how the structures of the body perform the functions necessary to maintain the balance of life (homeostasis). Students will continue to investigate the relationship between structure and function through dissections, projects, and discussions. We will look into the pathophysiology of diseases and disorders that compromise the functioning of our body systems and visit Harvard Medical School MedScience program once a week to apply this content to hands-on medical simulations and skill labs. 

Prerequisites: any Chemistry or Biology Applications course at the Honors level and with departmental permission. Offered at the Honors level only.
***Open ONLY to students who have NOT attended the Harvard HMS Summer simulation program.

Advanced Biology - Molecular Research Techniques (Honors)

This course will provide students an opportunity to learn advanced techniques in molecular biology and their applications in biotechnology. Students will delve deeply into advanced topics such as genetic engineering and synthetic biology and the ways in which they can be used to solve real-world problems in medicine, agriculture, and more. Students will travel to the BioBuilder learning lab at Ginkgo Bioworks for an immersive experience in which students learn the skills and tools of molecular research through an ongoing research project. 

Prerequisites: any Chemistry or Biology Applications course at the Honors level and with departmental permission. Offered at the Honors level only.

Advanced Chemistry – Organic Chemistry (Honors)

Organic molecules are the building blocks of all life on Earth, and the carbon atom is central to the formation of this class of molecules. The importance of chemistry in biological systems will be the focus of the course. Students will investigate the chemistry of key functional groups including alcohols, carboxylic acids, amines and ethers and their role in the behavior of three primary macromolecules: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. There will be a strong emphasis on laboratory work and students will engage in experiments including the oxidation of Vitamin C, organic extraction of caffeine from tea, and the hydrogenation of unsaturated fatty acids.

Prerequisites: Any Chemistry or Biology Applications course at the Honors level. Departmental permission required. Offered at the Honors level only.

Advanced Engineering Design - Project Studio (Honors)

This course is intended to give students a more challenging and demanding environment to apply the skills they learned in either Engineering Applications: Robotics (formerly Engineering Design Foundations) or at NuVu and allow them to continue to wrestle and build on solutions to real problems. This course is largely project-based, and students will be expected to use the time to research and design solutions to engineering design challenges. All projects will be teacher guided but studentled with the goal of learning and using the tools and approaches of the engineering mindset.

Open to 11th and 12th graders.
Prerequisites: Engineering Design Foundations: Tools and Process or NuVu. Departmental permission required. Offered at the Honors level only.

Advanced Physics – Electricity & Magnetism (Honors)

Advanced Electricity and Magnetism is an extension of the skills and concepts learned in Conceptual Physics. These concepts will be more rigorously explored and use more sophisticated mathematical tools than were used in conceptual physics (geometry, trigonometry, functions, pre-calculus, and some calculus). The goal is to develop tools and intuition capable of describing the physical world at a very general level. The topics studied during this term include electricity, electrostatics and electric fields, magnetic fields, and the interplay between electric and magnetic fields. This course is extensively laboratory based while developing the theoretical ideas of an introductory college physics course. Students will be required to draw conclusions based on evidence gathered with such devices as batteries, bulbs, capacitors, wires, hand generators, and motors. If time allows, the course may also include electromagnetic radiation (light, x-rays, microwaves, etc.) as an extension.

Prerequisites: Physics Foundations and Physics Applications: Engineering (previously Conceptual Physics) or equivalent AND departmental permission. Offered at the Honors level only.

Advanced Physics – Mechanics (Honors)

Advanced Mechanics is an extension of the skills and concepts learned in Conceptual Physics. These concepts will be more rigorously explored and use much more sophisticated mathematical tools than were used freshman year (geometry, trigonometry, functions, pre-calculus, and some calculus). The goal is to develop tools and intuition capable of describing the physical world at a very general level. The topics studied during this term can be tailored to student interest but will likely draw from a list of topics including accelerated motion, vectors and projectile motion, Newton’s Laws, 2-D statics and dynamics, rotational motion, torque, and special relativity. This course includes at least one large research project in which students are required to explore a topic of interest and use their mechanics knowledge to analyze and make calculation-supported predictions for a physical situation.

Prerequisites: Physics Foundations and Physics Applications: Engineering (previously Conceptual Physics) or equivalent AND departmental permission. Offered at the Honors level only.

Astronomy (BVR-X)

In this class, you will explore the Universe from where we are today back to the beginning. As a part of our work, we will grow our knowledge of astronomy done throughout history and from multiple civilizations, use mathematics to calculate the expansion of the universe and the search for extrasolar planets, learn about the biology needed for life on other worlds, and grapple with societal issues from funding to privatization of space exploration. We will start by looking at and exploring the heavens the people have done for thousands of years. This will help us discover why we think things like, “The Earth is spinning at 1000 mph” or “The Earth goes around the Sun” are true. Afterward, we will examine each planetary system in our solar system extensively, including its composition, its moons, and its relationship with the rest of the solar system. Finally, we will discuss and explore outside the Solar System: our star the Sun, other stars, galaxies, black holes, the Big Bang, and the fate of our Universe. 

Open to 11th and 12th graders

Forensic Science - CSI BVR (BVR-X)

Forensics is the application of science to solve crimes using evidence that will be admissible in a court of law. A multidisciplinary approach that encourages analytical thinking and problem solving in biology, chemistry, and physics will be used. Students may cover the following topics: deductive reasoning, fingerprinting, qualitative analysis of substances such as fingerprints, blood, DNA, document analysis, and ballistics. Along with lab work, students may do research projects, look at the legal aspects of forensic science, take field trips, and solve mock crimes.

Open to 11th and 12th graders
Prerequisites: Biology Foundations

Modern Languages
Students are not placed in a specific level based on year, but rather by proficiency, meaning students from several different grades may be in the same class. Click here to see all our Modern Language offerings.

Students are not placed in a specific level based on year, but rather by interest, meaning students from several different grades may be in the same class. Students can choose to take classes in either or both of the Performing Arts and Visual Arts departments.
Click here to see the Performing Arts offerings.
Click here to see the Visual Arts offerings.


AI and Language Learning

Ever wanted to learn a language not offered at school or a specific topic that might not be included in the offered curriculum? In this course, students will create customized language learning materials to help develop their communicative ability. Students will combine their research into foreign language programs in their language of choice with language acquisition theory, different language learning methods, and an exploration of ChatGPT features to create lessons that target their level and interest areas. Lastly, students will learn how to assess their own progress and goal set by looking at American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages standards. 

Open to Grade Levels: 10, 11, 12

Computer Science Principles

Computing is everywhere – it powers your phone and laptop, it’s behind every purchase you make, it powers your car, it’s even in your refrigerator! Understanding the principles of computing is essential for navigating the modern world. This course will examine foundational concepts in computer science, including computational thinking, programming fundamentals, algorithms, and cybersecurity. We will also examine critical questions about the ethical and societal implications of technology. This class involves some light coding, but is mainly focused on computer science concepts and principles. No prior coding experience is required.

Open to Grade Levels: 10, 11, 12

Data Analysis and Coding Lab

Did you know that the average person generates 1.7 megabytes of information or that it would take 181 million years to download all the data from the internet? Data drives our world but most of us don’t understand what it means, why we need it, and how it works. In this self-paced course, you will complete a variety of interest-based projects that deepen your understanding of coding and data analysis. Through examining real-world case studies from healthcare to social media and from education to culture, you will explore different types of data, identify biases, and apply your data literacy and coding skills to communicate and deconstruct underlying messages. You will be better equipped to be critical consumers of information, read your “data world,” and make informed decisions about your personal life. This course is open to all students, no prior coding knowledge required.

Dialogue and Rhetoric

Have you ever been in a heated argument with a friend or relative and felt like you were misunderstood? Feeling overwhelmed by the polarizing opinions and would prefer to build bridges? Then why not learn the art of effective and eloquent communication in this hands-on, student-directed public thinking and speaking class? You will delve into current event topics of your choice, get to the crux of an issue, and build compelling arguments using logic, emotions and evidence. You will learn to navigate and manage difficult conversations with grace, empathy, and understanding, and will participate in dialogues through open exchanges of ideas, listening, and mutual respect. This is not about how much and how loud you can talk, this is about the quality and persuasiveness of your argumentation. An element of this class will be class dialogues and conversations with students in different countries around the world to learn about their perspectives.

Students can opt to take this class at the Honors level.
Open to Grade Levels: 10, 11, 12

Entrepreneurship with a Purpose

Can entrepreneurship be the response to local and global challenges? Can it serve a purpose beyond being just a money-making endeavor? In this class, you will learn about how businesses are created and why some thrive and others fail. You will also design ideas to start your own business with empathy and a purpose in mind; business ideas that can have a meaningful, positive impact on others. This social entrepreneurship course will look at the change-making potential of people to pursue ideas, solutions, philanthropy and advocacy. You will hear from experts; analyze how businesses operate; explore Boston’s thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem; and brainstorm your own startup idea. This class will allow you to present your ideas to investors and organizations that look for purposeful social entrepreneurs to make a difference.

Open to Grade Levels: 10, 11, 12

Human Communication

This course will explore the ways that humans communicate, and the ways that this communication affects society. Students will explore a variety of language systems including Sign Language and Braille. The class will discuss historical and current issues of communication such as colonial legacies, the influence of technology, and cultural differences. Students will be asked to think deeply about what it means to communicate, why it’s necessary, and how we do it effectively.

Open to Grade Levels: 10, 11, 12

Intro to Investing

Should you invest in the common stock of Apple Inc. or Exxon Mobil? How do you decide whether to get a car loan or a lease? How do you determine how much a small business is worth? In this course, we will learn about (a) the fundamentals of the stock market, investment vehicles, and basic principles of investing, (b) key aspects of personal finance, including budgeting, credit cards, and investing for retirement, and (c) the time value of money and risk as it applies to analyzing these personal finance questions. Students will learn to create and maintain a diversified portfolio through a virtual stock exchange, and there will be opportunities for research and other projects based on student interest.

Open to Grade Levels: 11, 12 

Introduction to Problem Solving in Python

Python is one of the most widely used programming languages, for everything from AI and Machine Learning to web development. In this course, you’ll learn the fundamentals needed to solve a wide variety of real-life problems with code—whether that’s solving a math problem with code, building a video game, or making your own website. This course is designed for students with no prior coding experience.

Open to Grade Levels: 10, 11, 12

Leadership and Social Change

Have you ever wondered why and how effective leaders, past and present, take action for social good? This course will explore different psychological theories of what guides or motivates an individual to act when confronted with issues of justice, equity, and humanity. We will look at past and current figures across multiple identities and delve into the societal, cultural, geopolitical landscape which influence and shape an individual’s conscience and actions to benefit their community. Through immersive experiences with the focus on the specific leadership styles, the course aims to determine the concrete and tangible skills social change leaders have relied on to not only implement positive long-term impacts but also, whether they are able to sustain a sense of health and well-being.

Students can opt to take this class at the Honors level.
Open to Grade Levels: 10, 11, 12

Philosophy: The Meaning of Life through Moral Dilemmas (BVR-X)

Have you ever wondered what the meaning of life is or if a decision you made was the right one? Have you ever played the game, “Would you rather…?” Then you have done philosophy! Philosophy equips us with critical thinking and logic to navigate the world around us. Every day, we are faced with taking a stand on difficult moral questions and accept judgment on how we should lead our lives. You want to learn why people think, debate, love, hate, have emotions, and make (sometimes bizarre) decisions; or why people follow religions, search for truth, vote conservative or liberal; or you just want to learn how to make difficult decisions and how we should live our lives. Then this is your class. Be prepared to tackle challenging, real-life situations, consider alternative perspectives, understand how our brain makes decisions, and rethink your notion of morality, right and wrong, and what we ought to do to find the meaning of life. Take a class and discover not just what is, but also what could be!

This class counts for English credits. Students can opt to take this class at the Honors level. 

Open to Grade Levels: 11, 12

Social Psychology: To be is to be perceived!

How is our behavior influenced by our social environment? How does our perception of others affect what we do and our sense of identity? Whether we want it or not, people (others) influence how we act or behave (how we dress, what we say or don’t say, what we feel). In this social psychology course, we will aim to get a deep understanding of human behavior, especially interpersonal relationships. We will look at theories and findings in psychology and social psychology, will learn about key ideas, and explore some recent research and unanswered questions. This course will be driven by student interests, and will also include topics such as biases, attitudes, obedience, mental health, social identity, and prejudice, among others. We will try to understand how others affect who we are and how we behave, and if indeed “hell is other people.” 

Students can opt to take this class at the Honors level. 

Open to Grade Levels: 10,11, 12

Socio-Economics of Sports

Sports are everywhere! We love and support our teams. But what role do sports play in society and how do they influence it? Sports teams generate billions of dollars every year, and sports events gather huge crowds in celebration akin to religious rituals. This BVR-X course will look into the workings of different sports; their teams; their business models; their impact on society and how sports have reacted to societal changes and political movements. Part of this class will include meeting with sports experts, athletes, and investors to get an authentic understanding of their perspectives. To connect the theory to its reality, this course will also involve organizing and participating in different sports tournaments, and attending and/or watching some sports games throughout the term to learn more about sports rules and practices.

Students can opt to take this class at the Honors level. 

Open to Grade Levels: 10, 11, 12

Urbanism + the Built Environment

Using Boston’s landscape, students in this course will investigate the role of cities in shaping ecological and cultural systems that will influence the built environment in future design. Students will research and examine the history and legacy of social, cultural, and economic inequalities as they consider how today’s built environment addresses contemporary issues by reinventing, reimagining, and planning design spaces that will impact the relationship between people and their environment. Students will meet with experts and connect with peers in other schools to discuss, question, and critically analyze issues facing metropolitan areas in the near future. Travel may be an opportunity that exists as part of taking this class. Students will engage in the design process by constructing their ideas and solutions for conceptualizing future cities using physical materials and digital technologies to create 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional models to showcase their work. 

This class counts for History credits. 
Open to Grade Levels: 11, 12

Student-Directed Project (SDPs)

Student Directed Project - SDP

A Student-Directed Project empowers students to do an in-depth exploration of a topic of interest throughout the term.

The student designs, plans, and leads their research project in collaboration and with the guidance and support of a coach (faculty advisor). It allows students to delve deeper into their passion and to be the designer of their own learning. There is a wide range of Student-Directed Projects; they are multi-disciplinary, non-linear, and most importantly, student-created and led.

That’s what makes them so interesting.

Here are some examples of past projects:

  • Creating an architectural model using 3D architectural software
  • Through their eyes: Photo and interview series of veterans
  • Robosub electromagnetic linear accelerator
  • Acoustic pinger for Robosub
  • Virtual Reality game for visually-impaired persons
  • Creating a concept album
  • Dispute: Landlord-tenant board game
  • Multimedia journalism: Producing a podcast series
  • Perplex: English and Theater Study
  • Sensors and fiber optics: Building a fiber optic dress
  • Haptic technologies: Force-Feedback Virtual Reality
  • Applications of integrals to analytical continuation of functions