Courses

MSON courses take students beyond what they might normally encounter in high school, igniting their passions for fields such as advanced mathematics, creative non-fiction, philosophy, psychology, economics, computer science, or language study Arabic or Ancient Greek.

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Featured Courses

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STEM
MULTIVARIABLE CALCULUS
The mathematics of three dimensions is the emphasis of this college-level course. Multivariable Calculus will explore the geometry of three-dimensional space, including vector arithmetic. It will also explore three-dimensional surfaces, using the tools of derivatives and integrals expanded into multiple dimensions. A robust unit on differential equations will allow students to review the topics of single-variable calculus. The emphasis throughout the course will be on problem- solving and on real-world applications of the tools students learn in fields such as economics, astronomy, physics, engineering, and medicine.
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Humanities and Social Sciences
AMERICAN VOICE, AMERICAN SPEECH: WORD AS ACTION FROM ANNE BRADSTREET TO DONALD TRUMP
In this course, students will listen across history to the American voice—from Bradstreet and John Winthrop, through Franklin, Thoreau, Whitman, Dickinson, Jacobs, Douglass, Twain, Cole Porter, James Baldwin, and Gertrude Stein, to MLK, Dylan, Steinem, and Obama. We will listen to music, look at art and film, and consider the more tangled “voice” of advertising, television, and political theater. Even as it has proliferated and transformed, the American voice has maintained an urgent ambivalence about what it means to speak the truth, who should speak it, and to what end. Some of our guiding questions will be: what does it mean to speak as an American--to have an “American” voice? Does it have a distinctive character? Does it want to cause trouble, or solve problems, or both? Does it need to interact with history? We will look at the ongoing, central tension in much of American speech between the individual and the democratic collective, and also consider the related tension between reflection and action as conditions of possibility. We will also investigate what forms of speech are surrounding our students and how we might replicate them in order to understand them. Among other writing assignments, students will maintain an ongoing analytical blog and submit a final paper on a topic of the student’s choosing in consultation with the teacher.
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Languages
ARABIC I
This course is an introduction to Modern Standard Arabic, the language of formal speech and most printed materials in the Arab-speaking world. Students will learn to read and write the Arabic alphabet and will develop beginning proficiency in the language. Through frequent oral and written drills, students will develop their basic communication skills.
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STEM
INTRODUCTION TO ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
This semester course will provide useful background information in organic chemistry by covering topics not typically found in high school chemistry courses. The course will give insight into the importance of the chemistry of carbon compounds to our daily lives. Topics covered will include organic nomenclature, structural formulas, stereochemistry, bonding, reaction mechanisms, chemical transformations of functional groups, and instrumental isolation and detection techniques. Applications to the life sciences (chemistry of proteins, nucleic acids, medicines, and natural products), biochemical applications to medicine, industrial applications, and environmental applications will be explored. Completion of the course should make students more confident in their chemical background when entering college biology or chemistry courses.
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Humanities and Social Sciences
CREATIVE WRITING IN THE DIGITAL AGE
Storytelling is as important today as it was hundreds of years ago. What has changed, in many cases, is the media through which writers tell their stories. Today’s literary artists take advantage of digital tools to spread their messages and tell their stories in new ways that combine narrative and contemporary form. Students will begin with the traditional forms of poetry, short prose, and literary non-fiction and then go beyond those forms to explore how contemporary tools can enhance expression. We will study master writers in each of the traditional forms and be inspired by their examples. Then, we will look at how communication in the 21st century has provided us with even more ways to share our thoughts and to be creative. Possible explorations include hyperlinked narratives, social media as inspiration and tool, animated text, audio, videos, and all manner of non- linear narrative. The class will ask an essential question: what happens when communication becomes wider and has an instant audience? The class routine, based around writing, reading, and discussion, will include weekly critiques of student work and required writing, including in some non-traditional, contemporary formats.
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Languages
ANCIENT GREEK I
This is a beginning course for students who have not studied ancient Greek before or whose background in Greek is not sufficient for more advanced work. Students proceed through a study of grammar and vocabulary to the reading and writing of sentences and short narratives in the language of Athens of the fifth century B.C.E. Selected topics in Greek history and art are also considered.
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STEM
DATA STRUCTURES AND DESIGN PATTERNS
This course is a yearlong course that will give advanced students the strong foundation needed to build complex applications using object-oriented principles. This course covers the design and implementation of data structures including arrays, stacks, queues, linked lists, binary trees, heaps, balanced trees (e.g. AVL-trees) and graphs. The course will also serve as an introduction to software design patterns. Each pattern represents a best practice solution to a software problem in a specific context. The course covers the rationale and benefits of object-oriented software design patterns. Numerous problems will be studied to investigate the implementation of good design patterns.
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Humanities and Social Sciences
POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY
This course begins by providing a historical context of positive psychology within broader psychological research, and helps explain why the field is of particular importance to those in a high school or college setting. Students will be introduced to the primary components and related functions of the brain in order to understand the biological foundation of our emotional experiences. Current research will be used to develop a broader sense of what positive psychology is and is not, and how it can be applied in students’ own lives. Additionally, students will gain an understanding of basic research methods and their application to the science of psychology. This course will require substantial reading (sometimes on par with 100 level college courses) and writing. Students will be asked to reflect regularly on their individual experiences in order to integrate course material into their daily lives. One of the key learning outcomes is to have each participant identify his or her own strengths while simultaneously recognizing and respecting the attributes others bring to the course.
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STEM
ASTRONOMY
This semester-long course introduces students to historical and modern astronomy. Topics include the nature of light, the atom, telescopes, and orbits. In addition, students will learn about the life cycles of stars, including an introduction to dark matter and black holes. Through various activities and experiments, students will explore our place in the universe as well as the relative scales of astronomical objects. Engaging with current research, we will examine the modern astronomical data used to search for and categorize the thousands of planets outside our solar system, and the considerations involved in the ongoing search for extra-terrestrial life.