Academy Courses

Academy Courses

 

Abundant Life Forms: Welcome to the World of Microbial Ecology (4th-8th Grade)

Have you ever wondered what life is like for microbes, the smallest and most abundant form of life on our planet? In this class we will explore the fascinating world of microbial ecology and attempt to answer that very question. Topics will include: What is a microbe? Are microbes more than just germs? What unique challenges do microbes face? What is the history of microbial life on Earth, and how prevalent are they today? How do scientists study organisms too small to see by eye? How does DNA sequencing work, and what do scientists learn from it? How do microbes interact with each other and with us? In answering these questions, we will dive in to worlds of science, into facets of biology, chemistry, physics, and geology. Students will leave with an appreciation for the diversity of life on Earth and critical thinking skills developed by considering a mode of life which, although too small to seen by the eye, has proven to be the most abundant, durable, and prolific in our planet’s history. Mastery will be demonstrated by designing a fully playable board game in which the game mechanics are based on learned aspects of microbial ecology.

Prerequisites: Love of science and some working knowledge of the periodic table.

 

Adaptation and Interaction: Life, the Environment & Evolution (3rd-8th Grade)

Unlike humans who have learned to shape the world around them, plants and animals have evolved over the course of millions of the years to survive in their environments and alongside one another. In this course we will explore the basic principles of evolution and study, through discussion, reading and experimentation, how evolutionary principles have led animals to adapt and form symbiotic relationships. Mastery will be demonstrated through class participation and in the form of a creative project.

Prerequisites: basic knowledge of biology will be helpful, but not necessary.

 

Adventures in Algebra (1st-3rd Grade)

This class is for younger learners who are ready to expand their math knowledge! Students will learn Algebra through math games, independent practice, and fun lessons. Students will learn number patterns, integers, order of operations, and variables as well as have the opportunity to practice all four basic operations in conjunction with algebra. As we progress, we will compare and order positive and negative integers; add, subtract, multiply, and divide with positive and negative integers; solve for powers; write in expanded form and know how to solve; solve for square roots; solve equations with variables; and solve for variables in open math sentences. Mastery will be demonstrated by regular problem-solving tasks as well as a cumulative task-based assessment.

Prerequisites: Students must be able to read math word problems. Students must be fluent in addition and subtraction and basic multiplication and division.

 

Adventures in Planetary Science

Who are we? Where did the Earth come from? Are we alone? In this course, we will investigate these profound questions using the vantage of astronomy and discover the astounding answers that await us when we take a cosmic perspective. We’ll start small, with Earth’s neighbors in the Solar System, and gradually move outward into the final frontier. With each step into the depths of the cosmos, we’ll encounter wild new phenomena, each of which is not only beautiful in its own right, but provides a clue to our past and a sliver of meaning to our present. We’ll understand and have hands-on experience with some of the scientific methods and tools used by practicing planetary scientists today, as they try to make sense of the Earth’s noisy neighbors and far off galaxies. By the end of this course, we will locate ourselves—in both space and time—on this grand cosmic stage, and by doing so come to understand our place in the Universe a little better.

Mastery will be demonstrated by each student’s composition of “The Time Capsule;” this will include a letter to your future self, describing the nature of the cosmos and explaining the significance of your existence.

 

“All the World’s a Stage” : The Pun & Performance of Shakespeare’s Comedies

Shakespearian comedies are full of intertwining plots, unexpected twists, witty banter, but most importantly, a happy ending! In this class, students will dive in to the Bard’s most side-splitting comedic plays, translating wordplay, uncovering elements of slapstick and dry humor, and tracking patterns and theme in order to answer the question: what makes a good comedy in Shakespeare’s day? Students will also immerse themselves in the world of 1592, learning the history and importance of theater in Elizabethan society compared to entertainment today. By familiarizing themselves with the language, cadence, and meaning of the plays, students will practice the craft of Shakespearian performance, blocking and delivering scenes from the reading for an audience of their own “groundlings.” Mastery will be demonstrated by a written scene “remix” to be performed for peers, parents, and IEA staff.

Prerequisites: Students must have a 4th grade reading level and feel confident speaking in front of peers.

 

Algebra: Enrichment and Science Applications (4th-8th Grade)

Students will enrich their current algebra knowledge and look ahead into future curriculum by learning via hands-on methods with a focus on real-life application. This course will allow students to apply their strengthened understanding of linear relationships to graphically and mathematically predict results to scientific experimental-based questions. Since physical and life science material is deeply rooted in math concepts such as dimension analysis, linear formulas, and ratios, students will become more advanced in and prepared for both mathematics and science courses in the future.

Mastery will be demonstrated through the formation of accurate predictions based on linear relationships between two variables in specific experimental situations.

Prerequisites: Background knowledge of and success in most algebra concepts, especially plotting coordinates and lines given a formula and determining the slope and y-intercept given either a formula or graph. Should also be able to carefully follow an experimental procedure and work well in groups.

 

Algebraic Chemistry

This class uses algebra to quantitatively study the world of chemistry. Students will study physical quantities, develop math skills, and gain a greater understanding of chemistry. The focus of this class will be on the conservation of mass! Students will learn about: balancing chemical reactions, the ideal gas law, the concept of the mole, stoichiometry, percent composition, empirical and molecular formulas, molarity, and equilibrium. They will use math equations involving multiple variables to understand the relationships of these topics. Students will be responsible for the units of these measurements and their meaning in chemistry. Mastery in our class is demonstrated by: solving math-based problems in class and in homework assignments, completing a pre- and post-diagnostic, and playing the algebraic chemistry bowl on the last day. These exercises, along with participation in class, will be used to evaluate students’ understanding of chemistry and math.

Prerequisites: Students must be comfortable multiplying and dividing and have some experience with fractions.

 

Ancient Rome: Exploration through Artistic Expression

In this class, students will explore the rich and vibrant history of Ancient Rome, with an artistic twist. Students will learn techniques in mixed media art to create representations of their investigations into ancient Roman life. This class will focus on the culture, customs, religion, politics, art, and literature of the Roman Empire, particularly the Julio-Claudian Dynasty. Through our investigation into a culture rich in symbolism, students will begin to incorporate these concepts into their artwork, as they are encouraged to find their own artistic “voice.” Some of the themes for art projects will include: a day in the life of an ancient Roman citizen, Roman myths, and social and political commentary in selected works of Augustan literature. This is a class designed to stimulate creativity and expression within an investigative setting. Mastery will be demonstrated through a culminating project, accompanied by an artist’s statement (written or oral) describing their work and the themes and symbolism represented.

Prerequisites: Students should be comfortable reading both independently and aloud. Students should also be comfortable presenting their work to a group.

 

The Art of Haiku (3rd-6th Grade)

Haikus are easy                                                                                Even in a single blade of grass

                But sometimes they don’t make sense                   the cool breeze

                Refrigerator                                                                                       finds a home

                                -Rolf Nelson                                                                                       -Issa

What exactly is haiku? Many Americans are taught to write haiku in grade school, but most lessons fail to convey the true depth and technique involved in this Japanese artform, which leads many to dismiss it as a meaningless formula of syllables. In reality, haiku is a complex art, practiced for over three hundred years, and yet still fully accessible to any child. The object of this class is to give students the tools to enjoy reading and writing haiku on their own, and to submit their haiku for publishing. In this workshop-based class, students will learn the history, structure, language and mindset of a haiku poet. Each class will include readings of great haiku, time to write haiku of one’s own, and sharing of the results amongst peers. Students will also have the opportunity to write haiku outdoors and try their hand at the related Japanese forms of renga, senryu, haibun and haiga. Mastery will be demonstrated by preparation of the student’s favorite work for submission to a haiku magazine of choice.

 

Art of Musical Creation (K-3rd Graders)

In this class students will learn about many components of the musical world: performing, composing, conducting, instrumentation, and the history of styles. We will explore musical concepts, such as melody, harmony, rhythm, meter, timbre, and reading staff notation. These concepts will be taught from a compositional standpoint, allowing students the opportunity to deal with them creatively. The class does not require performance, but the material learned is readily applicable to playing an instrument and will allow students to perform as more informed musicians.

Mastery will be demonstrated through completion of short musical assignments and a final project of the student’s choice such as writing a short composition, performing a song, making an instrument, or doing a musical presentation. There are no prerequisites for this class.

 

The Art of Persuasion: Rhetoric & Speech I (2nd-4th grade)

Rhetoric is simply the way we persuade others through speaking and writing. Through the understanding and practice of rhetorical language, students can learn to become meaningful, purposeful, and effective communicators. In this class, students will dive into the history of classical rhetoric with Plato and Aristotle as they familiarize themselves with the building blocks of rhetorical argument: ethos, logos, and pathos, identifying the key fallacies present in everyday speech and society, analyzing and distinguishing between “good” and “bad” persuasion in advertisement, television, and every day conversation. During their speech writing, students will develop argumentative claims, establish reasoning, craft convincing language, and consider audience awareness while learning tips for purposeful delivery, engaging with audience, and quelling speech anxiety. Mastery will be demonstrated by the successful delivery of a persuasive speech to the class.

 

The Art of Public Debate: Rhetoric II (5th – 8th grade)

Rhetoric, the art of persuasion, can be used to motivate others into action. Through the understanding and practice of rhetorical language, students can learn to become meaningful, purposeful, and effective communicators with the ability to change the world. In this class, students will dive into the history of classical rhetoric with Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero, as they familiarize themselves with the integration of the building blocks of rhetorical argument: ethos, logos, and pathos, while identifying the dangers of rhetorical fallacy. Students will rhetorically analyze landmark speakers and advocates for change such as Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and even Emma Watson as they engage in ethical issues within their school and community, develop argumentative claims through research and debate with peers, and formulate a realistic plan for advocacy. Mastery will be demonstrated by the social advocacy speech, delivered to and debated by the class.

 

Astronomy

This class will provide a conceptual appreciation of the universe. Students will learn about the Big Bang theory, stars and constellations, black holes, planets, the solar system, and the structure and evolution of galaxies. In addition, this course will teach the scientific method and physical principles through the use of astronomy: we will go into the details of telescopes, CCD cameras, photometry, magnetism, and gravity. Distances and parallaxes, black body radiation, and an appreciation of science fiction will round off our experience. A supplemental field trip, guided by the teacher, will include a visit to the Griffith Observatory. Mastery will be demonstrated by participation throughout the course along with individual student presentations.

 

Biochemistry

It’s time to focus our chemistry knowledge inward and explore the world of biochemistry! We will study the chemistry that takes place in living organisms, such as metabolism, respiration, and photosynthesis. There is an emphasis on the molecular structure of life (DNA, RNA, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids) and how such large and complex molecules can be created and used in pathways and cycles that happen in the cell. We will explore the structure and function of Adenosine Tri Phosphate (ATP), the citric acid cycle, and the importance of enzymes in the inner workings of a typical organism – humans like us, for instance! Mastery will be demonstrated through assignments and reviews.

Prerequisites: Students should have an understanding of general chemistry, organic chemistry, and/or molecular biology.

 

Bouncing Back: Building Resiliency for Gifted Kids (Grades 6-8)

During this course, students will have the unique opportunity to develop the essential life skills necessary to bounce back from difficult situations. Students will gain empowering tools on how to approach their academic and personal lives with a sense of purpose, passion, and fulfillment. We will cover topics such as learning styles, motivation styles, time management, stress, effective leadership, communication, and how to break down goals into positive, sustainable action steps within the student’s control. With increased self-awareness, students can gain the confidence needed to be able to better handle the academic and personal challenges of middle school and high school.

Mastery will be demonstrated through an independent study project. This project includes activities and assignments that require students to research and compile biographical information on influential people drawn from multiple disciplines and diverse backgrounds. It is designed for rising 6th through 8th graders.

 

Brain Science (3rd-8th Grade)

The great unknown: what do we actually know about the brain, and how do scientists study the brain? Over the course of this class, students will become familiar with the anatomy and physiology of the brain and the nervous system. Students will be able to identify key structures of the brain and their function, as well as be able to identify what happens when an area of the brain is damaged. Students will also have the opportunity to learn about the neuron, the chemical signaling between neurons, and how the signal is propagated neuron to neuron. We will also learn, in detail, about sensory input, perception, and motor function. Mastery will be demonstrated by the ability to identify and model brain structures and their associated functions, applying the correct terminology.

 

Building with Electrical Circuits (3rd-8th Grade)

This introduction to electrical circuits will cover the basics of electricity and the main components that are used in everyday electronics. Not only will students learn the function of resistances, capacitors and transistors, they will also be introduced to how they work and the physics behind them. By building our own, we will learn how to make practical circuits, ranging from motion detectors, light arrays and whatever the imagination will allow us. Mastery will be demonstrated by the construction of a working radio to be taken home at the end of the session. Electrical safety will also be addressed on the first day.

Prerequisites: Basic understanding of multiplication, division, and calculator use.

 

Budding Botanists (K-2nd Grade)

This class is designed to encourage children to explore, discover, and learn about the amazing world of plants. Their journey will begin with plant exploration, where they will learn about how plants grow and function as well as develop an understanding of the parts of flowers and life-cycles. Through various hands-on activities and series of experimentation they will understand germination and the fascinating world of “bug-eating plants.” Next they will consider the role plants play in our day-to-day lives, from the fragrant, smelly, and outrageous flavors of “Spice World” through an appreciation of the environment and our local challenges. Students should come and be a budding botanist or an environmental detective in this exciting class! Mastery will be demonstrated through journal writing and active participation in group learning.

Prerequisites: Children should be eager to learn and explore with open minds! As the class involves hands-on working and learning about plants, the teacher should be notified of any kind of allergies or sensitivities.

 

Building the Female Bildungsroman (6th-8th Grade Girls)

“Bildungsroman” is the German term for what we call the “coming of age” novel, a winding path of challenges, conflict, and self-discovery. In this class, students will define what it means for our heroines to “come of age,” exploring the pattern of plot, the psychological and moral growth of our plucky protagonists, such as Jane from Jane Eyre and Francie from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and the literary riches of the novel. Discussing concepts like our roles and responsibilities in society, the female relationship in family, and overcoming difficulties as a means for gaining experience in the world will draw students toward a greater understanding of the nature of personal identity. Mastery will be demonstrated by comparative understanding of the texts and a personal identity scrapbook.

 

Carpe Diem! Introduction to Latin (3rd-5th Grade)

Salvete amici! This course is designed to give students a thorough and energetic introduction to the language of the ancient Romans. By emphasizing vocabulary in our learning, students will be given a thorough preview of the major concepts found in Latin 1. Students will discover the etymology of words, the major grammatical structures of Latin, Roman culture, and Greek and Roman mythology. Whether you are starting Latin in the fall, are hoping to get a jump-start on the SAT/ACT, or are passionate about learning an ancient language, this class is for everyone! Mastery will be demonstrated by an understanding of key vocabulary and grammatical structures and through active class participation.

 

Chemistry I: Introduction to Chemistry

This class covers many important concepts in chemistry such as atoms, molecules, the periodic table and its trends, orbitals, chemical bonding, and the forces between molecules. Students learn to use molecular model kits to build molecules and to help them understand their bonding and molecular shape. Students learn how to balance chemical equations, determine the type of chemical reaction, and identify when a chemical reaction has occurred. Several demonstrations and reactions will be performed in class to help students understand these concepts. Mastery in our class is demonstrated by: participating in class, completing homework assignments along with a pre- and post-diagnostic, using molecular model kits correctly, running chemical reactions, and playing the chemistry trivia bowl.

 

Chemistry Lab

Students examine the interactions of matter at the molecular and atomic levels, often using common substances that may be found in their own kitchens. Emphases are on hands-on experience with both common and specialized materials and tools, organization of thought using the appropriate technical vocabulary, and practicing systematic observation habits. Major topics include: chemical versus physical changes, acid-base interactions, and biopolymers.

 

Chills and Thrills in American Gothic Literature

Gothic fiction is like a haunted house at a theme park—spooky and terrifying, but thrilling at the same time. Through masters of American short stories such as Edgar Allen Poe and Nathanial Hawthorne, students will travel into the darkness of abandoned houses and murderous schemes to learn what makes a story a gothic story: organizing plot, identifying and differentiating point of view, analyzing archetypes of characters, and examining how setting and descriptive words contribute to mood and atmosphere. Mastery will be demonstrated by an understanding of literary concepts and terms and by a final creative writing project—writing their own gothic short story or poem—to be shared with the class.

Prerequisites: This class has a creative writing component. Students must enjoy writing and be ready for the challenge of writing multi-paragraph responses. Responses may be handwritten or word-processed.

 

Coding from Scratch (2nd-4th Grade)

It’s never too early to start learning how to code. Specifically for younger students who aren’t quite ready for the advanced concepts (and lots of typing) that “regular” programming entails, but really want to start learning how to code. Using the Scratch language from MIT, students will drag-and-drop “program blocks” to build up instructions – allowing them to focus on their goals instead of hunting for the right key. Through the course of the class, they’ll create animations, interactive stories, and simple games to challenge their friends (and parents). Mastery will be demonstrated through understanding of fundamental programming concepts and the ability to create and customize new Scratch projects.

 

Crazy Conversions: Fun with Math!

This class is designed for younger learners who are ready to convert anything to anything else! Whether we are converting lengths, temperature, speed, volume, weight, or even money, students will have fun learning how to go from inches to feet, meters to kilometers, ounces to pounds, and kilometers per hour to miles per hour.  We also use conversions in cooking.  How do we go from teaspoon to tablespoon?   How many pints are in a quart?   Given a recipe, how much of each ingredient do we prepare a meal for a family or for a whole class?   Students will learn through real‐world applications and problem‐solving tasks.

Mastery will be demonstrated by class participation and ongoing assessments of learning.

Prerequisites: Students must be comfortable multiplying and dividing and have experience with fractions.

 

Creative Writing Workshop: Short Fiction (5th-8th Grade)

Fiction is a carefully constructed system of literary elements—plot, point of view, character, setting, mood, symbols, diction, and theme. Somehow, like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, all these parts come together to create stories and characters that feel alive to the reader! Students will exercise and experiment with these separate parts of the writing process, apply their creativity and original ideas, and ultimately create a peer-critiqued piece of short, modern fiction. This course, modeled after a college-level workshop, will give students experience drafting, integrating edits, and formulating constructive peer critique. Mastery will be demonstrated by the penning and presentation of a piece of short, original fiction to the class.

Prerequisites: Students must be comfortable writing independently and reading aloud.

 

Debating on a Global Stage: International Relations & Justice (5th-8th Grade)

In this course we will explore the challenges that countries face when they try to solve problems that affect all of us. Students will take on the role of diplomats and prepare themselves for a meeting in the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. Each session we will work together to find answers to the following important questions: What are the interests of my country? How can I defend my position? How can I convince other countries to support me? The course adopts some elements of the successful Model United Nations. Students will be introduced to the exciting world of international politics and improve vital research and communication skills.

Mastery will be demonstrated through a mini simulation of a United Nation’s meeting to combat piracy, during which the students will present their position, take a vote, and adopt a resolution.

Pre-requisites:
Basic knowledge of the political system would be helpful, students should be comfortable speaking in front of a class and engaging in role play.

 

Dinosaur Life (2nd-8th Grade)

Get ready for an in-­‐depth investigation of everything dinosaur! From the ancient world of 220 million years ago to the staggering variety of dinosaur species to the theories behind their demise, prepare to discover the secrets of the prehistoric titans. This class will take allow students to gain a better understanding of dinosaurs on an anatomical, behavioral, ecological, and evolutionary level, while interacting with real fossils. Mastery will be demonstrated through active class participation/group discussion, including detailed morphological comparisons between species, observations of animal behavior, and written assessments of acquired zoological knowledge.

 

Discovering the Brain: Brainiacs for Brainiacs

Does your child often wonder how the brain works? Neuroscientists are still solving this problem, and this class will introduce students to the science of neurobiology from single neurons to an understanding of some overall brain compartments. Students will learn about neurons and how are they connected and delve into more challenging areas of inquiry such as how the brain computes drawing examples from vision, audition, memory, motor control, and other modalities. Mastery will be demonstrated through fun assignments and a short final project.

Prerequisites: Students must be familiar with multiplication and division.

 

Disease Detectives! (5th-8th Grade)

Every year common diseases like the flu and food poisoning sicken thousands of people, and occasionally less common microbes like Ebola create major health problems in various parts of the world. In this class we will learn about the exciting work of infectious disease epidemiologists who investigate disease outbreaks with the goal of controlling and preventing disease. We will learn about the Epidemiologic Triangle, an important tool to help epidemiologists understand the microorganism that causes a disease and factors that promote and inhibit the way the disease spreads. We will look at the historical impact of some infectious diseases and take a trip to the Beautiful Science exhibit at The Huntington to discuss the development of the germ-theory of disease. We will also learn about the many types of scientists who get involved when there is an outbreak of a serious infectious disease, and we will use our new knowledge of epidemiology to do an in-depth study of a familiar infectious disease and become Disease Detectives! Mastery will be demonstrated through active participation in class discussions and completion of class activities.

 

Dissecting Dystopia Book Club (6th-8th Grade)

In the dark and not-so-distant futures of dystopian film and literature, citizens of earth endure repressive regimes, insane anarchies, social conformity, and the terrors of technology in their quest for utopia. By exploring literature of the past, like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Lois Lowry’s The Giver, with more modern representations, like Hunger Games and even some wild cards, we can identify and analyze how dystopian authors turn an inquisitive eye on society, ultimately attempting to answer the question: can a perfect society ever exist? Mastery will be demonstrated by a problem-solving case study analysis and through creative writing opportunities.

Students must enjoy and want to read a selection of key texts.

 

Drawing by Observation (5th-8th Grade)

In this class students learn the basics of drawing by observation and fundamental techniques using common drawing media. When drawing by observation students work with real life 3D-objects, transforming these objects into 2D-drawings.  Students will draw portraits, full body drawings and still life – exploring both perspective and form. They will try different media, including pencil, charcoal and ink, learning techniques appropriate for the given medium. The primary objective of drawing by observation is training the eye to see and identify shape. These skills are crucial for any artist, making the class just as relevant for students interested art forms other than drawing. Mastery will be demonstrated by building a portfolio of drawings and discussing pictures and progress with each other during class.

 

Ecology

Students will explore concepts of ecology and environmental science with an emphasis on Southern California plants and animals. Students will delve deeper in to areas including botany, ornithology, and entomology as well as taxonomy, ecoregions, and ecological theories. Learning will focus on a hands-on approach and guided discovery of the natural world and conservation. Students will also gain experience in creating and conducting field studies in ecology.

 

Ecology – Ecosystems and How to Preserve Them! (3rd-8th Grade)

Students will learn about different ecosystems found in their local area and learn to identify their distinguishing living and nonliving aspects. They will also gain knowledge of other relevant ecological topics – climate, symbiotic relationships, etc. – and conclude with practical applications in conservation. Knowledge will be gained via hands-on activities, discussions of conservation issues, and observation of different ecosystems both at a local hiking trail and at the different biome areas of The Huntington Gardens.

Mastery will be demonstrated when students form conclusions based on observations from ecological experiments, create their own ecosystem and corresponding animal adaptations, and present to each other case studies of specific plant and animal adaptations.

Pre-requisites – Students should have some knowledge of ecosystems, be comfortable in nature, be able to solve math problems with exponents, and be curious observers of the world around them!

 

Euclidean Constructions: Introduction to Geometry (2nd -4th Grade)

In this class students will explore the Euclidean world of geometric constructions. They will analyze, apply, and prove geometrical theorems using straightedge, compass, string, and paper-folding. Students will be guided through these challenging models of geometric inquiry while engaging in a hands-on learning experience that appeals to visual and kinesthetic learning modalities. This will aid in the development of spatial thinking and logical reasoning. Mastery will be demonstrated by creating constructions that prove the truths of geometry and a final construction that the students design and decorate themselves with accompanying step by step instructions for others to complete the construction.

Mastery will be demonstrated by being able to create constructions as modeled by the instructor and outlined in step by step instructions as well as creating written two-column proofs to accompany instructions.

Prerequisites: students should have a grasp of Pre-algebra.

 

Exploring French Culture (Grades 1-3)

Parlez-vous français? This class is designed for students who wish to learn how to speak French, while simultaneously learning about French culture and its different regional specialties. We will explore French films, books, art, architecture, and food as well as learn more about the symbols and national identity of France. With minimum classroom usage of English, this course will also teach students the grammar and vocabulary necessary to carry on a basic conversation in French and discuss the cultural topics covered throughout the course. By the end of the session, students will have fundamental knowledge of French and the cultural identity of the French Republic. Mastery will be demonstrated through the creation of a short thematic video recorded in French demonstrating knowledge of one of the cultural topics covered in class.

 

Freedom to Read: Exploring Banned Books and Literary Censorship (5th-8th grade)

Judy Blume once said, ”Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won’t have as much censorship because we won’t have as much fear.” Every year, dozens of books are banned by a country’s government, school system, or library, and are swiftly removed from the shelf. Little Red Riding Hood was banned for a drawing of a bottle of wine in the basket she took to her grandmother’s house! More than 17,700 challenges have been filed to the American Library Association since 1990—but why? In this class, students will rebelliously engage in broader discussions of censorship and exposure to new ideas as they study kid’s favorites like Harriet the Spy, Huckleberry Finn, Harry Potter, and James and the Giant Peach, and the works of Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein, to classics like Lord of the Flies. Mastery will be demonstrated by a banned book defense case and presentation.

 

Forensics Fun!

Over the course of this class, students will become modern day forensic scientists and detectives. Utilizing forensic science techniques along with the powers of observation and deductive reasoning, they will work to find the criminals in this fun-filled, action-packed class. Students will learn how to extract and analyze DNA, fingerprints, fibers, footprints, and other evidence from our fictitious crime scenes! Concepts covered in this class include DNA restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) via electrophoresis, punnet squares and genealogy maps for determining lineage, paper chromatography, and microscopy!

Prerequisites: Students should have some basic understanding of probabilities. Basic or non-scientific calculators will be helpful.

 

Fractals: Worlds of Mathematical Patterns & Patterning (6th-8th)

A fractal is a natural phenomenon or a mathematical set that exhibits a repeating pattern. The mathematical roots of the idea of fractals have fascinated academics since at least the 17th century. Today, biology, chemistry, and physics utilize mathematical concepts in identifying algorithmic patterns and trends. By considering fractals and through arithmetic, although strenuous and time consuming, we can aim to solve some of our world’s problems. In this class, let us use the scientific and mathematical knowledge of our predecessors and exploring algebraic and geometric concepts in application. We will dive in to and explore the patterns in nature and use math to unravel some mysteries. Mastery will be demonstrated through creation and development of an explanation with an algorithmic or geometrical pattern of structure that occurs in nature.

Prerequisites: Students must be able to think abstractly and have basic knowledge of algebraic and geometric concepts. In particular, students should be able to define the associative property of addition and understand the characteristics of parallelograms.

 

France and the Holocaust (Grades 6-8)

Until recently, the French role in the Holocaust has been a rather taboo subject. Contemporary films such as “La Rafle” and “Sarah’s Key” have helped bring French involvement in the Jewish deportations to light, though this checkered past has been quite difficult for the French Republic to reconcile. This class will focus on the field of memory studies, specifically memory transformations in postwar France and the ethical implications of contemporary Holocaust films and literature. We will engage with both the problematic politics of memory and the ethical debate surrounding the representability and pedagogical function of the Holocaust in recent film, literature, and testimonials. The class will be reading excerpts from relevant novels, watching video clips from recent Holocaust films, and taking part in a field trip to Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation Institute at USC, which is home to nearly 52,000 testimonials from Holocaust survivors and witnesses. Mastery will be demonstrated by completing both a written and oral presentation on a Holocaust survivor from France.

 

From Latin to Spanish and French: Watch Languages Grow!

We speak and write every day, but where exactly does language come from? Join us on an adventure where we discover where languages are born and how they grow! This is more than a foreign language class – it is an exploration of comparative linguistics! Not only will students develop their linguistic skills in both Spanish and French, but they will also explore the nature of languages, language development, and the historical interrelationships between Spanish and French and their Latinate origins. In doing so, we will begin to appreciate the dynamism of human communication. Students will demonstrate mastery through a language family tree project, short videos recorded in Spanish and French, and a homemade Spanish-French dictionary.

Recommended prerequisites: A familiarity with either basic Spanish or basic French.

 

Games, Problems, and Coding (4th-8th Grade)

Just because a computer can do a lot of work does not mean you should make it do all of the work! In this class we will learn how to be smart about reusable, modular code by connecting mathematical games and puzzle solving through computer programming. We will begin our journey through the interlinked mathematical concepts of sets, probability, and the nature of primes. We will apply our mathematical knowledge and learn how never to lose at many simple two-person games like tic-tac-toe and nim and hex as well as winning strategies for more complex games. We will introduce a treasure-trove of contributions from such stalwarts as Martin Gardner, Ian Stewart, as well as older and more recent experts. Finally we will use real and pseudo-code to tackle problems and to understand the potential and the limitations of Python. Mastery will be demonstrated through student understanding of various mathematical concepts and improved programming with Python.

Prerequisites: Previous experience working with Python and proficiency in division and multiplication.

 

Genes & Genetics (4th-8th Grade)

This class will provide students with knowledge of genetics through an overview of the history of the study of inheritance, a discussion of the origins of genetic variation and diversity, analysis of experimental results, and real-life applications and observations. Students will learn how to predict the results of a cross as well as determine the parental genotypes from observing the phenotypes of the offspring. Finally, we will discuss modern genetic technologies and their implications for the future.

Mastery will be demonstrated by accurate predictions and conclusions based on genetic data, fluency in genetic terminology, and an understanding of both the positive implications and potential problems associated with genetic engineering techniques.

Prerequisites: comfortable with higher levels of probability math problems, general knowledge of DNA as the mechanism for inheritance

 

Geology and the World Around Us

Many people think of geology as the study of rocks – the truth is it is so much more! At the heart of geological science is learning how to understand the Earth through observation and the application of different sciences. This class will focus on the scientific knowledge as well as the techniques a geologist uses to study a landscape. We will go on to apply the knowledge and the skills to understand our local environment: Southern California. Come and join this fascinating class and learn how to identify rocks, engage in geologic mapping, and get acquainted with plate tectonics and the associated phenomena of volcanoes, faults, earthquakes, hazard assessment, as well as the action of water, wind, and ice on the Earth’s surface. The class will also include some field trips so that students can work like a geologist in the field. Mastery will be demonstrated by the writing of a report consisting of the student’s geological observations and inferences concerning a place with which the student is familiar (their backyard, neighborhood, school, local park, etc.).

Prerequisites: Students should be comfortable with multiplication and division and be able to read at the 5th grade level. As the class involves field work, please be aware of any allergies or conditions that might be a concern.

 

Global Awareness: Our Shared World Through Geography, History and Culture (4th-8th Grade)

In the 21st Century, it is more important than ever to understand that events around the world can affect us here in the United States. Global Awareness is a class that makes students aware of what is happening globally and also learn geography and a little history to clarify why these events happened. For example, it’s very hard to understand the Russian justification for annexing the parts of Ukraine without seeing that the two countries share a border, and learning how the Ukrainian capital of Kiev was once Kievan Rus, the predecessor of both the Russian and Ukrainian nations. At the end of the class, students will be able to locate countries that influence global affairs, label their capitals, and give a short summary about why they are in the news.

 

Imagining through Moving Image & Narrative Writing (2nd-4th)

Using film shorts as our starting point, this class will inspire the creative imagination. Film shorts will have an historical theme so that students can delve into history and dare to be writers of historical fiction. Moving image, supplemented with the reading of challenging texts, will enable students to understand and manipulate the narrative form so that they can produce, with confidence, a text of their own, in a voice of their own choosing.

Prerequisites: Ability to read chapter books independently and with fluency and an ability and desire to write multi-paragraph narratives.

 

The Invisible Universe (4th-8th Grade)

How do astronomers see the invisible universe? Not with their eyes. To see infrared light from glowing interstellar dust and radio waves from the spinning corpses of stars, astronomers must build telescopes, like the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Very Large Array (VLA) of radio telescopes in New Mexico. In this class, students will learn about some of the beautiful and violent celestial phenomena that light up the universe in all its invisible colors, as well as the techniques and telescopes that astronomers use to reveal them. Mastery will be demonstrated by a class presentation on multi-wavelength multi-color view of their chosen planet.

 

Jane Austen & Emily Bronte: Comparative Literary Ladies (6th – 8th grade)

Comparative literature allows students to discover new meaning of texts across national borders, time periods, languages, and genres, fostering a whole new level of interdisciplinary thinking. In this class, students will dive into two seminal novels from Regency and Victorian Era England, Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, comparatively analyzing the well-loved stories. The new student “comparatists” will explore the characterization of the heroines, the differences and development of regional settings, and historical representations of English society as they ultimately investigate the evolving roles of women in the 18th and 19th centuries. Mastery will be demonstrated by a character-driven creative writing assignment.

 

Jazz Music: History, Culture, Improvisation, and the Los Angeles Scene

This class will explore the various meanings and functions of jazz music from past to present. You will learn about the evolution of jazz music and question what it means to be a jazz musician at different points throughout history. We will explore the connections between jazz music and critical moments in history, in particular the connections s between jazz and the civil rights movement. Uniquely, our case study will focus on the local Los Angeles jazz scene. We will hone our understanding by listening and by creative experimentation; while there are no musical prerequisites for this class, if students do play an instrument they are encouraged to bring them when learning songs and engaging in the all-important improvisational activities.

Mastery of the class will be demonstrated through active participation in small class presentations, short jazz songs, and a final group improvisational activity where students will make musical choices in real time.

 

Kitchen Chemistry (K-2nd Grade)

You don’t need an expensive laboratory to challenge your chemistry skills—look no further than your kitchen cabinet! By combining everyday ingredients, you can create exciting colors, weird sounds, creepy textures, and sometimes—explosions! In this class, students will learn essential scientific equations and elements, conduct safe and fun experiments, and watch different materials react in surprising ways as they explore the exciting world of science! Mastery will be demonstrated by a project using the processes of the Scientific Method: Hypothesis, Observations, Experiment, Analysis, Results, Conclusions and discussions.

 

Latin for Science and Law (4th-8th Grade)

Salve! Are you preparing for a scientific field of study like medicine, dentistry, biology, botany, or research? Are you hoping to jump into the field of law and criminal justice? This course is designed to introduce students with little or no prior Latin knowledge to the ancient language behind today’s scientific, medical and legal fields. This course provides an overview of the etymology of words and major grammatical structures of Latin, with a special focus on the vernacular in scientific and legal language. Students will discover the most common Latin prefixes and suffixes, general Latin vocabulary, Latin numerals and common phrases. Expect to use phrases like quid pro quo and deoxyribonucleic acid in everyday conversation after taking this course! Mastery will be demonstrated through active class participation and applying Latin terminology to a creative group project.

 

Literary Ladies of Americana: A Paean to the Female Pen (Ladies only, 6-8th grade)

Women make up 51% of the population—while this percentage may not be represented in textbooks and anthologies, the rich tapestry of American history and literature is interwoven with powerful women writers. In this course, we celebrate the Female Pen, examining the portrayal of women’s lives and changing roles, the expression of multi-cultural developments, and major movements in American literature alongside new perspectives created by women’s voices. We’ll travel from the New Land of the 1600’s to the dawn of a new country in the 1700’s, through the subliminal social commentary of the 1800’s century and the modernist writers of the 1900’s up to today. Featuring poetesses like Anne Bradstreet, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, and Gwendolyn Brooks, fiction writers like Kate Chopin, Toni Morrison, Flannery O’Connor, Sandra Cisneros, and Maxine Hong Kingston, and dramatists like Susan Glaspell and Lorraine Hansberry. Mastery will be demonstrated by an understanding of the connection between literature and historical/social context, and a “legacy report” on a chosen contemporary female author.

 

Logic Detectives: An Introduction to Formal and Informal Logic (2nd-6th Grade)

The abilities to observe, recognize, and describe characteristics; distinguish similarities and differences; and identify and complete sequences, classifications, and analogies are the building blocks of critical thinking. This class is designed to introduce younger students to formal and informal logic, making logic studies accessible and relevant to younger learners. Topics throughout the course will allow students to connect language to logic as they improve analytical and problem solving skills. Students will analyze arguments, analogies, and syllogisms; solve language and mathematical puzzles; and identify logical fallacies – extending students will begin to examine symbolic logic. The skills developed and practiced throughout the class will continue to serve students across all academic disciplines.

Mastery in this class will be demonstrated through active participation in group problem solving, ongoing assessments of independent practice, and completion of a final project.

Prerequisites: Students must be comfortable reading independently and aloud. Students should have had some previous exposure to fractions.

 

Making Sense of the Senses

How do we know the world around us? If we cannot sense something, then to our minds that thing does not exist! This cognitive psychology class will explore the senses, focusing in particular on how information is perceived and processed. We will learn about the thresholds and limitations of our senses and understand how these senses can lead to misperceptions or can be tricked! For example, why do we experience motion sickness, or see optical illusions? We will learn about the specialized cells and neuroanatomy associated with each of our 6 senses. Yes, it is true we have 6 senses, and not 5. The vestibular system (our 6th sense) governs our sense of rotational motion, acceleration, and the position of our bodies in space. This is a very important sense; if we were to not have it, we would fall down every time we closed our eyes or turned off the light! We will learn about this neglected 6th sense, as well as our senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. The class would not be complete without including the motor responses of the brain, including reflexes that orient your head toward the sound, blink your eyes in bright light or jerk your arm away from harm! It is, indeed, a class to feed the senses! Mastery will be demonstrated by the ability of the students to construct the anatomical pathways of each of the senses as well as by being able to use their knowledge to make accurate diagnoses.

Prerequisites: Students should have the ability to write complete, legible sentences and be able to draw and color anatomical diagrams. Students will have some online modules to complete with a partner during class time. Basic computer skills will be helpful.

Supplies needed: Students should consider bringing a journal or notebook for in-class assignments and a set of colored pencils for anatomical diagrams.

 

Making Waves with Light (3rd-8thGrade)

Electromagnetic radiation is all around us. Visible light is just one kind, but there is more to it than meets the eye! In this course we will learn about different kinds of electromagnetic radiation from low frequency radio waves to high frequency gamma rays. Properties, sources and uses of the various kinds of electromagnetic radiation will be discussed and explored through lots of hands-on experimentation. Mastery will be demonstrated through class participation and a final presentation in the form of group project.

Prerequisites: basic knowledge of physics and chemistry will be helpful.

 

Mammology (2nd-8th Grade)

After the extinction of the dinosaurs over 65 million years ago, it was the mammals that inherited the Earth. From humble beginnings, they have diversified into a myriad of species. This class will take allow students to gain a better understanding of mammals, extinct and extant, on an anatomical, behavioral, ecological, and evolutionary level, while interacting with real fossils and animal artifacts. Mastery will be demonstrated through active class participation/group discussion, including detailed morphological comparisons between species, observations of animal behavior, and written assessments of acquired zoological knowledge.

 

Marine Biodiversity (2nd-8th Grade)

The oceans cover the majority of our planet and are inhabited by a menagerie of amazing animals, each species with its own unique evolutionary history. This class will take allow students to gain a better understanding of marine animals, extinct and extant, on an anatomical, behavioral, ecological, and evolutionary level, while interacting with real fossils and animal artefacts. Mastery will be demonstrated through active class participation/group discussion, including detailed morphological comparisons between species, observations of animal behavior, and written assessments of acquired zoological knowledge.

 

Martian Explorations

What is it like to plan a mission to Mars? In this class, students will delve into the world of interplanetary exploration as they investigate the surface of Mars and then plan their own missions to the Martian surface. Students will learn to access and analyze data from NASA spacecraft and gain an understanding of the variety of techniques and data available to study planetary surfaces. With an understanding of relevant scientific techniques and current questions about the Martian surface, students will outline their own missions, from the selection of a landing site to the best-fit scientific instruments which might be used. Mastery will be demonstrated through a set of mission planning exercises that will lead to development of a mission plan that is scientifically justified and fits engineering constraints. This course will include a field trip to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

 

The Marvelous, Mysterious World of Detective Fiction (4th-6th Grade)

Nothing quickens the pulse faster than a good mystery! In this class, we’ll open the top secret file, surrendering ourselves to the page-turning exploits of our favorite detectives and private eyes as we sprint through the streets of London with Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and tip-toe around corners with Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. We’ll learn about the genre and legacy of 19th and 20th century British mystery as we develop our imagination and creative genius, using the elements of foreshadowing, flashbacks, and figurative language to collaboratively construct our very own live broadcast of a thrilling old-time radio drama. Mastery will be demonstrated by the translation and application of classic tropes of mystery fiction into a performance genre. Students will collaborate writing an old-time radio drama script and constructing a suspenseful plot arc, developed characters, and a twist ending.

Prerequisites: Students must read at a 5th grade reading level. This class is partially geared towards creative writing and will include a written outcome.

 

Math Club (5th-8th Grade)

Students in 5th-8th grade (11-14 years old) will learn techniques for logical and critical thinking in mathematics by studying material from the American Mathematical Challenge 8. The material in the AMC 8 provides a framework within which we can together explore logical thought and improve efficiency in problem solving. Mastery will be demonstrated by preparing to take the AMC 8. IEA cannot proctor this test, but students are invited to come and enjoy preparing. IEA will host a celebration of success at the end of class.

Prerequisites: Students must be familiar with basic algebra and geometry.

 

Mathematics, Literature, and Imagination in the World of Lewis Carroll (2nd-8th Grade)

Lewis Carroll is probably best known for his immortal Alice books, yet as a professor of mathematics at Oxford University, his diverse interests ranged from inventing games like ‘arithmetical croquet’, to symbolic logic and propositional calculus. In this class, students will explore Lewis Carroll’s mathematical recreations, games, puzzles, paradoxes, riddles, and word plays. Through examination of his fiction, verse, diary entries, and letters, students will work to discover, evaluate, and solve puzzles and problems; analyze paradoxes; and test rules. This is an interdisciplinary class in literary analysis, creative writing, and mathematics. Students will consolidate their understanding by developing their own puzzles, problems, poems, and games. Mastery will be demonstrated through thoughtful development of a short work of fiction, incorporating similar mathematical games, riddles, and word play.

Prerequisites: Students must be comfortable reading both independently and aloud. Students should have had exposure to fractions and variables and understand Order of Operations. Students should be comfortable presenting their work to a group.

 

Medieval Princesses and Knights (Grades 1-3)

As a class, we will read Mary Pope Osborne’s The Knight at Dawn (Magic Tree House #2, 1993). We will use the book as a starting point for learning about the Middle Ages, castles, festivals and fairs, knights, princesses, armor, battles and sieges, and weapons. The course will include additional reading of challenging medieval texts as well as many hands-on, interactive activities, such as crafts (making helmets and hats, shields, swords, medieval banners, scrolls, mock stained glass); cooking (making a cake castle, dragon fire salad); tournaments/Medieval Olympics; singing; skits/role play (teacher will wear a crown and be Queen and each day she will crown a new princess and knight); and a masked ball on the last day of class. Mastery will be demonstrated through a short oral presentation of the student’s choice on one of the themes discussed in class.

Prerequisites: 3rd grade reading ability.

 

Medieval Science and Machinery

The Middle Ages has been branded unfairly as the “Dark Ages,” a time in which little progress was made in science, technology, or learning. However, the advances made in this time demonstrate otherwise! In this class, we will learn about the various ways in which medieval scholars advanced knowledge in the fields of machinery, architecture, botany, mathematics, and chemistry (alchemy). We will learn the history of science in this time, along with engaging in hands-on experiments and constructions. We will also learn about the ways in which medieval science and modern science overlap. Activities will include learning about botany, astronomy, and alchemy, building and testing miniature catapults and trebuchets, simulating medieval chemistry experiments, and building models of Gothic arches. Mastery will be demonstrated by completing class assignments and participating in and reflecting on experiments and constructions throughout the course.

Prerequisites: Ability to read at a 4th grade level.

 

Microbiology (K-2nd Grade)

This course is designed for curious students who would like to learn, explore and gain in depth knowledge about the microbiology of various pathogens. It will take students on a journey into commonly found infectious diseases, their transmission and spread, the various types of microbes as well as how they grow and multiply! From microbes that turn milk into cheese, make bread rise, and live in the stomach where they help digest food through to harmful microbes – we will work together to explore the structure and functions of these amazing life-forms.

Mastery will be demonstrated by discussion, quizzes, presentation and hands-on exploration.

 

Microscopy

Microscopy is the use of lensed instruments to magnify objects to a resolution beyond what can be seen with the naked eye. In this class, students will explore this world by using a compound light microscope and a stereo microscope. We will look at a variety of samples from our own environment and learn the science behind them. This class is designed to familiarize students with the proper use of both kinds of microscopes, as well as teach them how to prepare slides and record observations. Mastery is demonstrated by participating in class, using a microscope correctly and with care, and collecting, staining, and mounting samples correctly.

 

Mindfulness for Gifted Tweens & Teens

Mindfulness is the practice of learning how to experience life from moment to moment with openness and acceptance. The practice serves as a tool, a kind of “microscope,” to observe oneself and one’s world with attentive curiosity, much like a scientist would! In this class, specifically designed for gifted and high-potential children, we will learn how to pay greater attention to both our internal and external experiences, fine-tune our awareness of the mind-body connection, and learn how to anchor our attention in the present. Classes include games, music, guided visualization, discussion, reflection, and group interaction; all aimed at helping gifted students improve relationships, enhance focus, reduce stress, and manage reactions and emotions.

 

Molecular Biology I: The Cell

Students will learn about cells and their molecules! We will cover cell structure and function, DNA, RNA, the cell cycle, mitosis, meiosis, transcription, translation, protein folding, and mutations. Once students complete this class, they will have a comprehensive understanding of the architecture and function of living cells from a molecular point of view. They will run several labs, play educational games, make models, work with a microscope, and watch short media clips to help reinforce their learning. Students will also read and analyze a couple of journal articles in the area of molecular biology. Mastery in our class is demonstrated by: participating in class, completing homework assignments along with a pre- and post-diagnostic, and playing the molecular biology trivia bowl.

 

Molecular Biology II: Genetics and Evolution

Students dive into Mendelian and Non-Mendelian genetics, gene regulation and expression, and genetic engineering.  We will cover the Genome Project, molecular sequencing, gene therapy, and cloning. We will study the Theory of Evolution, including Darwin and natural selection, and apply it to taxonomy.  Mastery will be demonstrated by working out assignments and projects throughout the course.

Prerequisite: Molecular Biology I or knowledge of molecular biology.

 

The Monster Class of Monsters (5th-8th grade)

Far from things that just go “bump in the night,” monsters have played a starring role in literature and storytelling from as far back as 1000 A.D. with Grendel, the beast from the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf, who is described as “very terrible to look upon.” Monsters are more than just a villain, they often are a reflection of society’s fears and anxieties distilled into a fictional creature! In this class, we’ll explore the role monsters play in the timeline of literary tradition, from mythological monstrosities of Greek myth and the dragons of Arthurian legend, to the Gothic spooks of the 19th century, like Dracula and Frankenstein, and cinematic creatures of the silver screen. Mastery will be demonstrated by presentation on a contemporary monster trope and creation of their own “monster storyboard.”

 

Mosaic Elements: An Artistic Application of Euclidean Geometry (Grades 3rd-8th)

This interdisciplinary class presents fundamental techniques in creating mosaic art, combined with practical application of geometrical theorems and concepts. Utilizing ceramic, glass and stone tiles, and found objects students will plan and create mosaic designs. Throughout the process, students will evaluate designs and materials geometrically, apply theorems, and calculate the materials required for each project. Students will be evaluating and solving for the area of linear, composite, and curved 2-dimensional shapes– extending students will begin to design and evaluate for 3-dimensional objects.

Mastery will be demonstrated through presentation of thoughtfully developed mosaic designs, ongoing assessment of independent practice, and evaluation of consistency between calculated need for materials and materials used.

Pre-requisites – Students must be able to multiply and divide multi-digit numbers accurately and independently, and have had exposure to pre-algebra.

Students must be comfortable reading independently and aloud.

Students must be comfortable presenting their work to a group and participating in group discussion and critique.

 

Music as Culture and Culture as Music: Welcome to Ethnomusicology

Welcome to the world of Ethnomusicology! In this class, students will explore the meaning of music through people and cultural uses. They will learn about how different cultures around the world understand, value, and use music differently, while listening to musical examples from countries in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Students will hone their understanding and appreciation by learning and listening as well as through workshops where they will perform musical concepts from the various countries being studied. Topics will include: music and politics, music and globalization, music and ritual, music and technology, and music and film. The ultimate objective is to foster an appreciation of difference and how music may be used as a tool to learn about different cultures and values. Mastery will be demonstrated by final presentations on a musical culture, as well as active attention and participation throughout class and during musical activities.

 

Novel Explorations (2nd-4th Grade)

Is your child a bookworm? Does your child love to immerse himself or herself in a novel? This class is for advanced readers who are seeking enrichment and the opportunity to talk with others about books. Together, we will enjoy the journey of a novel and will learn about characterization, narration, and genre as well as finding inspiration through reading to compose narrative or non-fiction writing. In this student-centered class harnessing the creative, students will be challenged beyond grade-level standards in reading strategies, writing strategies, and speaking applications.

Prerequisite: Ability to read at or above the 5th grade level.

 

Numbers Galore (1st-3rd grade)

This class if for younger learners who are ready to expand their math knowledge with multi-digit addition, subtraction, borrowing/carrying over, fractions, measurements, number concepts, and multi-step word problems.  Students will engage in fun math games such as Math Battleship, Around the World, Math Baseball, Cube Wars, and many more!  We will also start to build our knowledge of geometry and time.  Students will strengthen their math knowledge through hands on activities, problem-solving tasks linked to real-world connections, independent practice, and fun games.  Mastery will be demonstrated by daily check-in of independent practice and ongoing assessments of learning.

Prerequisites:  Students must be able to read math word problems.  Students must be fluent in addition and subtraction.

 

“O Conspiracy!” : The Content and Context of Shakespeare’s Tragedies

Devious plots, struggles of power, supernatural visions, and familial betrayal—all in a day’s work for Shakespearean tragedy. In this class, students will dive into the Bard’s darkest works, tackling the plays as both a work of literature and as a historical artifact. Students will study the genre of the tragedy, identifying conventions of character, setting, plot, and theme while discovering the inseparable importance of historical context. Students will engage in investigations of Elizabethan politics and society, drawing parallels between fiction and reality to uncover Shakespeare’s hidden meanings and the role of research in literary analysis. Mastery will be demonstrated by a historical research assignment.

Prerequisites: Students must have a 6th grade reading level and enjoy reading key texts.

 

Organic Chemistry

In this class, students will study an exciting area of chemistry called organic chemistry!  The focus of this class is to learn about the structure, properties, and reactions of organic compounds.  Important topics include resonance, valence bond theory, hybridization, and molecular geometry.  Students will acquire a new language to be able to draw and name organic molecules properly.  They will learn and use ChemDraw!  Students will also study the conformation and configuration of molecules along with some popular organic reactions and mechanisms.  Molecular model kits are heavily used to help students understand the material.  This class is guaranteed to increase your knowledge of chemistry!

Prerequisites: Students should have an understanding of general chemistry or have completed Chemistry I.

 

Paleozoology: A Study of the Animal Kingdom, Past & Present

Earth is inhabited by a menagerie of amazing animals, each species with its own unique evolutionary history. This class will allow students to gain a better understanding of animals, extinct and extant, on an anatomical, behavioral, ecological and evolutionary level, while interacting with real fossils and animal artifacts and live animals. Mastery will be demonstrated through group discussion and a written assessment of acquired zoological knowledge.

Prerequisites: This class includes up-close interactions with live reptiles. If your child has any animal related allergies or phobias, or is uncomfortable around animals, please let us know.

 

Physics Lab

In this class, we make equations come to life by applying the knowledge of science in nature. The focus of this class will be on the one-dimensional motion of objects. Students will gain a practical understanding of classical mechanics by applying theory to conduct fun and surprising experiments. Mastery will be demonstrated by setting up experiments, accurately recording data, maintaining a lab notebook, interpreting results, making conclusions, and writing lab reports.

Prerequisites: Students should be able to keep track of a lab notebook and should be comfortable writing a one to two page summary. 

 

Physics Lab II

Students will continue their study of physics with more exciting and insightful experiments.  They will become familiar with 2-D motion, including circular motion, harmonic motion, the period of a pendulum, moment of inertia, ballistic motion, pulleys, and the invisible forces of electricity and magnetism.  Students will demonstrate mastery by completing experiments, accurately recording data, maintaining a lab notebook, interpreting results, making conclusions, and writing lab reports.

Prerequisites: Students should be able to keep track of a lab notebook and should be comfortable writing a one to two page summary.

 

Planetary Astronomy

This fascinating class will take us on an exploration into the field of astronomy, with an emphasis on planets near and far! We’ll study astronomy from the records of Ancient Greeks all the way to present day research topics such as finding other Earth-like planets. We’ll learn about the evolution of stars – from their formation to their inevitable, and sometimes explosive, deaths! We’ll explore the planets in our own Solar System, and discover how they formed, while learning about the modern techniques for discovering extrasolar planets. Students will have hands-on experience with small telescopes and observing the night sky. The course will include a visit to the Griffith Observatory to cement each student’s understanding of, and excitement for, astronomy. Mastery will be demonstrated by summative assessment and student presentation.

 

Poetry and Art

Poetry has the power to express our understanding of the world, and it is one of the oldest and most widespread forms of literature. In this class, you will read and learn how to appreciate poetry from a variety of language traditions and time periods, such as (but not limited to) ancient Hebrew, Early Modern Peninsular Spanish, 19th century French, and post-modern American. In addition, we will explore the relationship between different forms of imaginative expression, in particular between poetry and art. Students will apply their knowledge and express their understanding of the world through creative writing, which will be demonstrated through a poem journal, poetry recitations, and art projects responding to poems discussed in class. Mastery will be demonstrated by the application of poetic terms, forms, and processes presented as a final student-written chapbook (collection of poems). A component of this final project will include a poetic reflection on a field trip to an art museum and/or art pieces studied in class.

Prerequisites: Ability to read and write at a 5th grade level.

 

Primary Advanced Language Arts II: One Voice, Many Stories (Grades 1-2)

Does your 1st or 2nd grade child love journal writing? Are they keen to find their voice as a writer? In this class, we will explore the world of first person narratives, reading real and fictionalized narratives from times of joy and times of historical and social challenge in children’s literature. While we read and learn about those times, your child will keep a journal and grow his or her voice through real and imagined experiences of their own. From many stories blooms one voice – your child’s!

Prerequisites: Students should be able to read independently and show an interest in or be reading chapter books. Students should be able to read out loud fluently. They should also be able to organize their written work.

 

Primary Mandarin (K-3rd Grade)

Ni hao! This course is an exploration of Mandarin Chinese and Chinese cultures. Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world. To have a working knowledge of Mandarin will not only provide a gateway to understanding a new culture, it will also prepare students to fully emerge into our 21st Century globalized world. In this class, students will acquire a working knowledge of the grammar, vocabularies, and pronunciations for Mandarin Chinese. Written Chinese characters will be taught simultaneously with their etymology so students can thoroughly understand the system of design for each word. By the end of the class, students will have the ability to greet each other and begin to communicate in conversational Mandarin on topics such as their family, food, places, shopping, weather, and travel. Mastery will be demonstrated through a final presentation in the form of group project.

Prerequisites: 2nd grade reading and writing skill.

 

Programming with Python (Grades 5-8)

Learning to code is learning how to solve problems. We will explore the basic concepts of computer programming – algorithms, loops, conditional statements, etc. – using the popular Python language. Emphasis will be placed not just on the code, but the *why* behind the code, setting a strong foundation for future growth. Students will learn how to manipulate numbers and text, draw images on the screen, and create a variety of fun projects like games and animations. Mastery will be demonstrated through understanding of fundamental programming concepts and familiarity with Python language syntax.

Prerequisite: Basic typing ability.

 

Proof and Construction: The Methods of Geometry

In this class, students will use string and straightedges to create geometrical representations of the world around them and prove theorems. These challenging exercises will engage kinesthetic and visual intelligences while supporting the development of logical reasoning. Each session will consist of a set of guided constructions and proofs which students will use as a springboard for exploration. Mastery will be demonstrated by proving theorems, creating constructions, and applying these tools to a creative project.

Prerequisite: Students should have completed a Pre-Algebra course.

 

Quantum Physics (4th-8th Grade)

What is Quantum Physics? This course is designed as an introduction to Quantum Theory and the understanding of the underlying principles that govern the very, very small and the very, very large! Over the course of this class, students will become familiar with the following concepts: General Relativity; Special Relativity; Double slit experiment; Schrödinger’s cat; and The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Students will have the opportunity to engage in and explain the experiments that led to the particle-wave duality theory of subatomic particles as well as giving examples, demonstrations, and analogies of how quantum physics behave. Our goal is for students to become well-versed in the process of scientific discovery as they come to conclusions about the subatomic world. Mastery will be demonstrated by the ability to compare and contrast Einsteinian Physics and Newtonian Mechanics and be able to demonstrate how key experiments were performed that helped to develop quantum theory.

Prerequisites: Love of science, strong mathematical skills and ability to manipulate objects physically with their hands. Student must possess good collaborative working skills, be conscientious, and have a desire to think collaboratively and creatively. Students will also need a calculator for their lessons.

 

Relief Printing (2nd-4th Grade)

This class will focus on the technique of relief printing, including a history of printing from pre-origins in Mesopotamia and Egypt through the present day. Students will follow the development and use of various printing tools and techniques through history and will use their understanding of printing techniques to create stamps, moveable type, and printing plates for printing on paper. Students will also explore the role of the evolution of printing technology on promoting literacy as they create their own books using the tools they have created in class. Mastery will be demonstrated through creation of functional printing tools and completion and presentation of prints and projects produced with those tools.

 

Renaissance Italy: Exploration Through Artistic Expression

Italy – and Europe – experienced a “rebirth” between 1300 and 1600. In this class, students will examine Il Rinascimento through an artistic lens. We will explore the historical phenomenon of the Italian Renaissance – the historical context and major themes of the visual culture, influential and important figures (da Vinci, Michelangelo, Giotto, Petrarch, Boccaccio, I Medici…) the place of women in the Renaissance, literary trends and works, politics, philosophy, and religious reform. To accompany their investigations, students will learn various Affresco painting techniques, which they will employ, along with mixed media, in artistic representations of topics and themes

Through our explorations of unique innovations in painting, sculpture, and architecture, students will begin to incorporate these ideas into their artwork, as they are encouraged to find their own artistic “voice”. This is a class designed to stimulate creativity and expression within an investigative setting.

Mastery will be demonstrated through a culminating project, accompanied by a written artist’s statement describing their work and the themes and symbolism represented.

Prerequisites: Students should be comfortable reading both independently and aloud. Students should be able to research independently and be comfortable presenting their work to a group.

 

Robotics: Making Things Move! (5th-8th Grade)

After a machine has been programmed by a human, how does it make decisions? How could a car possibly drive itself? How does a Roomba know where to vacuum? If your child is interested in how electronics work or in building devices that can make decisions and respond to their environments, they should check out Robotics. This course will utilize a popular and highly accessible single-board microcontroller to build devices that can make decisions and respond to their environments. The basics of the programming language that runs the microcontroller will be taught, and software prepared by the instructor will be utilized for more advanced devices. Sensors such as photodiodes, moisture sensors, and temperature sensors will be used in making devices that respond to their environments. By the end of the course, students will be able to control LEDS, motors, and servos with their microcontrollers. The final project will be the creation of a robot that can test soil moisture levels and turn on a water pump if the soil is too dry.

Prerequisites: It would be helpful if students have some working knowledge of circuits as well as topics like current, voltage, or resistance.

 

The Science of Sickness

Students will be able to understand the reasons for why they get common diseases. From coughs, colds, the flu, ear infections, etc. we will be exploring the science and culprits of these diseases and even learn ways to cure them. By the end of the class, students will be able to understand the cause, mode of transmission, signs and symptoms, and cures for their illnesses. Mastery will be demonstrated by classroom participation and fun games where students get to be doctors!

Prerequisites: Students are required to be able to read independently and aloud.  They should also be comfortable presenting their work in front of the class.

 

Small, Cerebral, and Stunning: The Development of Sonnet Form

This course will focus on developing your understanding, knowledge, and appreciation of the sonnet form. We will trace the sonnet through time, exploring sonnet motifs, devices, and the ways in which sonnets were received and interpreted. Students will demonstrate mastery by writing and producing your own anthology of poetry, inspired by the texts we will study, as well as through writing an essay where you can showcase your skills as a literary critic.

 

Speedy Spanish (Grades 1-3)

In this introductory course, students will gain a better understanding of the Spanish vocabulary, geography, and culture! This course is designed for beginner elementary-age students who wish to learn more about a foreign language and culture. Through interactive learning, students will acquire the fundamentals of Spanish and engage in projects and classroom activities that will allow them to practice their new Spanish-speaking skills!

 

Strategic Thinking through Game Design

This is a collaborative, project-driven course designed to help students think through the aspects of game design, from initial concept to execution. After analyzing different games and developing a working set of principles of “good game design,” students will work in groups to apply these principles to their own game. Students will have the creative freedom to decide what kind of game they would like to design.

In the design phase of the course, each class will be devoted to a different element of game design. Students will have a chance to talk about how design elements (concept, components, mechanics, and aesthetics) work in their games and problem-solve with other groups around these issues to improve their games. In the last week of class, we will have a chance to play-test our games and refine them based on the feedback received from the rest of class.

Mastery will be demonstrated through the creation of a prototype for a game, reflection on the success and areas for growth in the design of their game, and thoughtful and critical feedback on the games of their peers.

 

A Study of Herpetology (2nd-8th Grade)

Reptiles have been one of the dominant life forms on the planet for hundreds of millions of years and have served as a source of both fear and fascination. This class will take allow students to gain a better understanding of reptiles, extinct and extant, on an anatomical, behavioral, ecological, and evolutionary level, while interacting with real fossils, animal artifacts, and even live reptiles! Mastery will be demonstrated through active class participation, including detailed morphological comparisons between species, observations of animal behavior, and written assessments of acquired zoological knowledge.

 

The Study of Star Wars: A Hero’s Journey! (3rd-5th Grade) 

“Everyone is the hero in his or her own myth,” wrote Joseph Campbell. Come and join us in this unique class as we explore the concept of the hero’s journey by following in the steps of Luke Skywalker, through text and film. Students will learn about the narrative structure of the hero’s journey, discuss themes, explore underlying ethics and morals, analyze characters and their actions and, throughout the course, appreciate that we all go through the journey of life, learning from mentors, facing obstacles and celebrating triumphs.

Mastery will be demonstrated through creative projects as well as through the opportunity to write about being a Jedi Knight.

 

The Ultimate Guide to Predators (5th-8th Grade)

No animals evoke a sense of wonder and fear as the world’s greatest carnivores. From the domesticated hunting beasts we keep as pets to the toothy killers of the prehistoric past, get ready to learn the ins and outs of being a meat-eater. This class will allow students to gain a better understanding of predatory animals, extinct and extant, on an anatomical, behavioral, ecological, and evolutionary level, while interacting with real fossils, animal artifacts, and live reptiles. Mastery will be demonstrated through active class participation/group discussion, including detailed morphological comparisons between species, observations of animal behavior, and written assessments of acquired zoological knowledge.

 Prerequisites: This class includes up-close interactions with live animals. If have you any animal-related allergies or phobias, or are otherwise uncomfortable handling/being around reptiles, please let the instructor know.

 

The Universe of Lewis Carroll (3rd-8th Grade) 

Lewis Carroll is probably best known for his immortal Alice books, yet as a professor of mathematics at Oxford University, his diverse interests ranged from inventing games like ‘arithmetical croquet’, to symbolic logic and propositional calculus. In this class, students will explore Lewis Carroll’s mathematical recreations, games, puzzles, paradoxes, riddles, and word plays. Through examination of his fiction, verse, diary entries, and letters, students will work to discover, evaluate, and solve puzzles and problems; analyze paradoxes; and test rules. This is an interdisciplinary class in literary analysis, creative writing, and mathematics. Students will consolidate their understanding by developing their own puzzles, problems, poems, and games. Mastery will be demonstrated through thoughtful development of a short work of fiction, incorporating similar mathematical games, riddles, and word play.

Prerequisites – Students must be comfortable reading both independently and aloud. Students should have had exposure to fractions and variables and understand Order of Operations.

Students should be comfortable presenting their work to a group.

 

Unknown Quantities: The Power of Algebra

Algebra is the most powerful method known for finding the values of unknown quantities. On the one hand, it is an extremely practical science, and on the other, it is a very abstract way of thinking. We will bring students first to the fundamentals by introduction to the real number system, the axioms of equality, and the order of operations. From there, we will explore a variety of useful models from physics and engineering that rely on algebraic manipulation. Finally, we will generalize our ideas as much as possible to touch on advanced concepts such as complex numbers, matrices, waves, and computer science. Throughout, we will retain an emphasis on compact representations, such as using sigma and pi notation.

Prerequisites: Comfort with arithmetic through multiplication and division as well as fractions and an open mind to the use of variables

 

Video Game Development & Design (5th-8th Grade)

Video game development is a fun and engaging form of computer programming. In this fast-moving class, you will become immersed in the fundamental programming skills of logical thinking and problem solving. While the focus will be on building fluency in Python coding, we’ll also delve into the art, sound and technicalities of game design. Join us as we investigate and understand the creation of basic and classic games, through physics simulations, procedurally generated content, beginning AI, and other useful algorithms. You will be pleasantly surprised to learn how math-intensive game development is and how creative you can be! Mastery will be demonstrated by the project you build.

Prerequisites: Pre-algebra and some beginner programming experience will be useful.

 

Widgets and Gadgets I: Exploring Engineering (Grades 2-4)

This course will give students the chance to solve problems and create devices through a process of designing, building, and testing their creations. This is a very hands-on course where students will be required to work with classmates to problem-solve a puzzle or challenge. Students will learn that different materials can have vastly different properties, and they will learn how to use those properties to their advantage when it comes to building useful devices. Some highlights from the course are making a strong bridge out of paper, building a sail-car, and making a lightbulb out of household materials.

 

Widgets and Gadgets II: Circuits (Grades 5-8)

We live in a world where we are surrounded by electronics. Electronic circuits are present in nearly everything we interact with on a daily basis: cars, cell phones, computers, and even toasters. This course will instruct students in the fundamentals of electronic circuit design and function. Components such as resistors, power sources, bulbs, wires, switches, motors, capacitors, and transistors will be explained and used in device creation. Students will have the opportunity to build many simple circuits, increasing in complexity and function as the course progresses. Mastery will be demonstrated through a final project where students will build a solar powered racecar.

 

Woodcut and Woodblock Printing: Origins, History, and Techniques (Grades 5-8)

This class will focus on the history of Woodcut from its pre-origins in Mesopotamia and Egypt, to its origins and development in Asia, through to its use and popularity in Europe. Students will study and discuss the works of Woodcut artists and engravers, such as Hokusai, Campagnola, Dürer, Doré, Beardsley, and Escher. Woodcut and printmaking techniques will be presented, and students will be carving linoleum and EZ-Cut blocks, using linoleum cutters, for printing on textiles and paper. Through replication of various artistic movements through history, students will have the opportunity to hone their printmaking skills. Students will express their knowledge and creativity through exploration and development of their own personal styles and themes. Mastery will be demonstrated through presentation and critique of student Woodcut prints, including thoughtful discussion of the styles employed and comparison and contrast with other artists.

Prerequisites: Students should be comfortable presenting their work to a group and participating in group discussion and critique. Since sharp instruments will be used, this class is designed for rising 5th through 8th graders.

 

World of Science

In this course, students will explore the many different branches of science through investigation and experimentation. Each class will be devoted to an in-depth study of a different scientific topic: Chemistry, Genetics, Physics, Botany, Forces and Motion, Ecology, Zoology, and Geology are a few examples of the topics that will be covered throughout the course. Students will identify the common techniques used by all scientists and learn how to properly incorporate these skills into their own inquiry investigations. Mastery will be demonstrated by/through the ability of each student to design and carry out their own experiments based on topics in which they show interest in further study.

Prerequisites: An interest in learning about science, confidence to take on challenging content, and the willingness to make mistakes and learn from them.

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