BVR-X courses embody the non-linear, interdisciplinary nature of teaching and learning at Beaver. They allow students to delve deeper into the inquiry process, grapple with authentic and complex questions, and to consider the interrelationships of these issues.
BVR-X courses not only draw from different disciplines but also from a variety of fields like technology, media, entrepreneurship, science, art, and design.
In addition to the courses listed below, you can also find courses with the BVR-X designation within other subjects.
To graduate, a typical Beaver Upper School student will take 45 elective credits (9 one-term elective courses), these courses count towards those electives credits.
You can create beautiful things by writing code! In this project-based course, you will learn coding fundamentals, and how to apply them to create visual art. This course treats coding as a tool, rather than a goal in and of itself – similar to an art studio that focuses on a specific medium such as charcoal or oil paint. You will learn how to write code, and the focus will be on exploring creative ideas, and the processes involved in creating both code and art. No prior coding experience is needed – coding fundamentals will be covered, and the creative, open-ended projects will provide a challenge for all experience levels.
Data can tell us fascinating, compelling, and sometimes surprising stories. Athletes and coaches use data to inform their training, politicians and lobbyists use data to sway public opinion, activists use data to recruit for their causes. In this class, we will explore some of the different stories that data can tell us, and create some stories of our own. We’ll learn how to find high quality datasets related to our topics, analysis methods which help us explore essential questions, and visual presentation techniques to help tell the stories we discover. The class will focus on data through the lens of a different real-world topic, guided by student interest.
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.
How do the cultural, economic, social, geopolitical, environmental, and other factors impact the people and groups who are the guardians of knowledge associated with land, foods, ethnomedicine, and spirituality? In this course, students will examine the practices of various ethnic groups in the New England region and throughout the United States while also learning about the history and storytelling associated with them. They will examine the symbiotic relationship between conservation, environmental stewardship, and the practices of groups historically marginalized but held onto their traditions. Students will participate in field studies, talk with practitioners, and participate in hands-on learning activities.
How does design impact how we think, learn and interact? In this course we will investigate these questions as we explore how graphic communication is woven into our daily lives. Students will gain insight into a range of graphic design applications such as branding and advertising, illustration, typography, information design, and editorial publication. Working primarily with Adobe Illustrator, students will develop their digital drawing and design skills while establishing a workflow between Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop.
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.
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.
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.
Have you ever wondered about the meaning of life, your place in the world, social justice, or even what it would mean to have a superpower? Have you ever played the game, “Would you rather…?” Then you have done philosophy! Yes, philosophy means the love of wisdom. It also gives you skills to use logical reasoning and think critically to assess the world around you. 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 about how we should live our lives. Then this is your class. Philosophy offers the tools to understand and navigate the world, problem-solve real-life challenges, and make wise decisions. Take a class to not only think about what is but also what might be!
This class counts for English credits. Students can opt to take this class at the Honors level.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are cropping up in seemingly every part of our lives – from personalized feeds in social media apps, to Alexa and Siri, to ChatGPT. In this course, we will explore and analyze a wide range of AI/ML-related topics, guided by student interest. Possible topics include: how AI and ML work; what the technologies are (and are not!) capable of; how ethics and social justice intersect with AI; current trends in AI, and how the future could look if those trends continue.
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.
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.
In this course, students will explore the role of stories in video games as they set out to design their own game. They will research, brainstorm, plan, write, write some more, revise and then ultimately use the story to launch, test, and refine their own video games. What makes a ‘good’ game good? How does the story support the game design? What story elements are needed? How much does the game design actually dictate the story? Students will connect with experts in the game design field as well as other users in their own writing and game design process.
You may feel confident writing a paper, 3-D printing and laser cutting, or making an oral presentation. How about managing finances, changing a flat tire, cooking and baking, writing a resume, or doing self-care? From housekeeping to repairing and from survival skills to money management, this class will help you build a “how-to guide to everyday life.” We will also analyze how some of those important skills have been historically gender- and class-assigned. We will look at cooking, managing finances, basic first aid, negotiation skills, among many others. Students will also participate in brainstorming skills they want to learn and add to this course. This class will be co-taught by different faculty/staff members and will involve collaborating with experts in these areas.
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