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Course Descriptions

Essential Questions Courses

At Brown Summer High School, we want to give students the opportunity to challenge themselves and think critically about questions that can open our eyes to new possibilities and ways of understanding and learning.

Brown Summer High School’s “Essential Questions” courses all begin with a big question that doesn’t necessarily have one right answer. As a student, you will have a chance to explore the question by studying it from a variety of perspectives. You will work individually, in small groups, and as a class. At the end of the course, you will have a chance to show others what you have learned, not by taking a test, but more creatively, in a way that you and your teachers design together.

Last year's "Essential Questions" are included below as an example of topics that will be examined at Brown Summer High School. We will update the site with this year's essential questions later in the spring of 2019.

"Essential Questions" for BSHS 2018 - History/Social Studies

What moves people to take civic action and fight for change in their societies? In what ways have different ideas and understandings about freedom, justice, and struggle shaped and influenced movements for social change?

DESCRIPTION: How have social movements helped shape and influence the society we live in today? What were the causes and effects of various historical and contemporary social movements? In this course, we will study different examples of social movements throughout history. We will analyze the impact that these movements have had on the world and the people surrounding us.

"Essential Questions" for BSHS 2018 - English

What are human rights? What is the legacy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? How do the stories of survivors of human rights abuses expose and illuminate injustice? How does writing about human rights (in short fiction, memoirs, essays, or poetry) act as memory, create empathy and hope, and shape a better world?

DESCRIPTION: We will read and research widely from authors in the past, those in contemporary society, and even those writing about the future, through science fiction. To answer our essential questions, we will write poetry and journalistic pieces about what we find. Daily classroom discussions and ArtsLiteracy drama activities will help us explore and express these ideas, as we consider the place and impact of human rights.

"Essential Questions" for BSHS 2018 - Science

EQ: How do genetically modified organisms (GMOs) impact our world?

DESCRIPTION: From producing vaccines in bananas to creating glow-in- the-dark rabbits, GMOs are becoming more and more common in our world. They are being developed to produce crops that are resistant to pests and can grow in dry climates. They are being used in the laboratory to find cures for common diseases. But how does changing the genetics of an organism being put into the environment impact the organisms already there, or the people who will eat them?

In Brown University Science Laboratories, we will consider the benefits and challenges of using genetically modified organisms. We will propose different solutions for the challenges associated with GMOs, and present our work at a Science Poster Session during the last week of BSHS.

"Essential Questions" for BSHS 2018 - Math

EQ: What is mathematics, really?  What do mathematicians actually do?  How is mathematics like art, music, and fantasy?

DESCRIPTION:  We know that math is important, but we  never find ourselves wondering why. Did you ever think that exploring mathematics could be artistic, interactive, and even imaginative?  This summer in BSHS Math classes, we will explore a host of open-ended problems that spark mathematical thinking using hands-on manipulatives, markers, and a whole lot of chart paper.  

All course content is new each year, so feel free to sign up for any class - even if you've taken it at BSHS before! 


College Readiness

The Future is Now

While at Brown Summer High School, students will have the opportunity to hear from BSHS alumni about their experiences in the program and how it prepared them for life after high school. Students will hear from a diverse panel of college students about their pathways to and through college. Additionally, students and families are invited to hear college admissions professionals speak about the application process, how to choose a college or university that is right for them, and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle while in college. Each summer there is an optional evening visit to a college fair at Brown that is attended by hundreds of regional and national colleges. These experiences are in addition to the resources and mentorship that BSHS teachers can provide throughout the summer and beyond.