Academics / Science, Technology and Mathematics

In the 21st century, science plays a powerful role in guiding the world’s decision-making and its progress toward sustainability. Under this paradigm, middle and high school science courses incorporate a focus on the health of the planet and on the individual.

The curriculum consists of a three-year introductory sequence in middle school, followed by a three-year lab sequence in high school. The program is both skills and content based, ensuring that all students completing the program understand the methodology of science and have a strong foundation in science. Curricula incorporate traditional content enhanced by contemporary research with each course emphasizing unifying concepts, inquiry-based approaches, and use of technology. All are based on National Science Education Standards and California State Education Standards.

Students also master the skills necessary to obtain scientific literacy in the modern world and are encouraged to use their skills and knowledge to make contributions to the local, national, and global community. Upon completion of the science program, students are able to explain natural processes using scientific evidence and knowledge, are proficient in writing both technical papers and those for a lay audience, and are adept at discussing scientific concepts relevant to current social and environmental issues.

Instruction combines lectures with guided problem solving and hands-on lab work. Students spend approximately 25% of class time working on laboratory exercises while upper-level science courses provide additional opportunities for original research. Many courses require longer-term research projects culminating in a usable process or product, community service, research paper, or oral presentation.

Students must acquire computer proficiency in order to succeed in the 21st century. A dedicated computer classroom is used for technology courses and is used to teach and incorporate technology by faculty of non-technology courses on a daily or long-term basis. Teachers also have access to over 100 chromebooks, which students can use for in-class research, paper writing, or online assessments. For independent student use, our Study Hall includes computer stations equipped with the latest software and technology, which students have free access to during school hours. In addition, a comprehensive audio-engineering lab provides state-of-the-art technology for the Audio Engineering, Video, and Digital Media courses.

Students enter the mathematics program based on their mathematical and academic skills and their developmental readiness. Assessment of these skills consists of an initial written test and observation of their problem-solving work, individually and in small groups; in exceptional cases the math faculty may interview a student and observe their work on one or two problems. Student grade level is not the sole factor determining course level. Hence, math classes generally contain students from a range of grades. The math faculty strive to deepen the understanding of a topic each time it is encountered, so even on subsequent exposure to a familiar topic, students have the opportunity (and are expected) to explore further extensions of that topic while building their social and academic skills and improving their writing in a mathematical context.

The course sequence permits most students entering in middle school to complete AP Calculus BC before graduation. However, this is not a requirement, and other elective pathways are available.  The mathematics program takes full advantage of our small class sizes, and instructors spend one-on-one time with students during regular problem-solving sessions.

The sequence of classes is taught primarily through a mix of student-centered problem solving and judicious use of direct instruction. In addition to working independently on assignments, students are expected to work cooperatively with classmates to gain valuable skills for solving problems in varied settings. The Algebra 1-Geometry-Algebra 2 sequence follows a traditional math sequence and includes a rich mix of application and modeling problems; students solve real-life problems through mathematics.

Students interested in a more in-depth course of study in Science, Technology and Mathematics are encouraged to pursue our Science and Technology Intensive Path.

Learn more from our Curriculum Catalog »