Conceptual Physics set me up incredibly well for all the physics I took down the line, both at Bay and now in college.
The science courses at Bay have forged a unique approach that prepares students to both understand the world from a scientific perspective and to excel should they pursue the sciences in college.
We require four years of science to graduate (more than the minimum for the University of California), and because of the range of elective and Immersive courses offered, most students are engaged far beyond what’s required.
The Core: Physics, Chemistry, Biology
Our program begins by creating a firm foundation in the skills of scientific practice and the central concepts regarding interactions between energy and matter. Students in 9th grade take Conceptual Physics, followed by Chemistry 1A and B in 10th grade. They quickly go to the deep end as they are asked to build—and break—models based on their own observations of phenomena. Students collect and analyze data to support their models, and vigorously defend them during critical debate. Their teachers continually challenge them to examine and refine their processes, mimicking the real-world process of scientific inquiry.
In my thermodynamics class, all the math is new—advanced probability stuff—but because of the mini labs we did in gas laws my first year [at Bay], I have an ingrained, intuitive understanding of what’s going on.
So I feel really solid in my understanding even though all the math is new.
With this foundation in place, juniors are prepared for the rigorous curriculum they will discover in our Biology sequence. These courses explore the complexity of biological systems and highlight skills that students will need to thrive in college-level science courses. These include the efficient use of textbooks, effective note-taking, and practice writing in the form used in peer-reviewed journal articles.
Science Electives and Immersives
This is where we go supernova. During their junior and senior years, students may choose from a wide variety of semester and Immersive-term electives to delve deeper into topics of interest. Semester courses include Climate Change, Human Health and Disease, and Biological Psychology, along with honors classes in physics, chemistry, and biology.
In the Immersive terms, science comes alive in a deep, multifaceted way. The many science Immersives are designed according to Bay’s philosophy that learning must be seen within real-world contexts. In a broad variety of subjects, students live the life of a scientist—from field geologist to experimental biochemist to chef in the kitchen. The perfect hollandaise? It comes down to chemistry, and they’ll learn the science behind the sauce and more in Applied Chemistry. Atmospheric Science has some real nail-biter moments as students build their own near-space weather balloons, launch them as the winds dictate, and then chase them down (no matter where they land).
- Climate Change
- Water in the American West
- Atmospheric Science
- Applied Chemistry
- Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical Design
For our students, the intense lab and field work, the community-based education, and the many hours spent collaborating (and sometimes cohabitating) with their peers distill into experiences that are genuinely transformative personally and intellectually.