Science

Science

We believe scientific awareness and knowledge are a core part of being literate in the 21st-century world. Major curriculum-wide blocks are built around scientific themes and ideas. Acera students discover and create, and topics are applied to a broader world context.

Math Block:  Without a Ceiling

Students are assessed on the first day of school and placed in ability-based math groups.  We use a mix of curricula as a jumping off point, emphasizing application, engagement, and the creative beauty in mathematics.     Math Trailblazers is our baseline elementary mathematics curriculum and Pre- Algebra uses the Connected Mathematics Program, both of which are Investigations-based programs.  Enrichment for the elementary program includes Aha! Math online and the M3 program of NEAG Center for Gifted and Talented.  The Pearson CME Algebra 1 textbook is the basis for the Algebra 1 class.  The Art of Problem Solving is used for some Algebra students, and Python computer language is interwoven as part of a customized program for an algebra 2 class.  As students increase in their skill level, their program becomes more customized to fit with their capacity and interests.

In 2012/2013, we have 11 different math groups for 58 students.

In both fall 2011 and fall 2012, after start of year math assessment tests, we hired an additional math block teacher to assure we could enable math learning at a high enough level for all students.

Computer Technology & Statistics

The Computer Technology program develops students’ knowledge of how computers work, skill in computer programming, and understanding of computers in a larger social context.   Students study computer technology one hour per week from 2nd grade to 8th grade.  Each year, the focus for each class group changes based on the interests and abilities of the students and based upon newly emerging software.

  • Intermediate Elementary is focused on basic computer literacy and knowledge of computer hardware.
  • Upper Elementary is focused on introducing the theoretical underpinnings of computer science, using the CS Unplugged curriculum and the Scratch programming language.
  • The Middle School Computer Science program this year will involve programming with Alice, emphasizing project planning and execution.   Middle School students will study computer science for two hours per week for the second half of the year.
  • The Middle School Statistics course has two main goals: engage students in using statistics as a research tool, and enable students to think critically about statistics they encounter in the media. This course uses the textbook Statistics Through Applications for reference material and as a jumping off point.  MS Students study statistics two hours per week through the first half of the year.

Curriculum Collaborations

We are able to dramatically enhance the student experience at Acera by connecting with scientists working in their fields.  Direct exposure to scientific thinking, passion, and materials is a hallmark, unique aspect of our school.

Currently underway is Molly Swanson’s role as Acera’s Resident Astrophysicist.  She is a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard and spends Fridays at Acera. This year she is teaching lessons in observational astronomy where students make simple measurements to learn about the earth and its motion in the solar system, like using the length of a shadow at noon at the equinox to find the circumference of the earth.

New collaborative projects are framed and executed each year, as we extend curriculum collaboration partnerships with several deeply talented people.  These great thinkers and inspirational leaders have made a dramatic difference in our offerings over the first years of our school, including:

  • Angie Belcher (MIT Professor, Materials Science & Biological Engineering)
  • Mary Pat Reeve (PhD from MIT.  Focus on Computer Science & Biology)
  • Eric Alm (MIT Professor in Microbial Evolution)
  • Mark Daly (MGH & HMS Professor in Genetics)
  • Calum MacRae (MD / PhD Brigham & Women’s in Cardioloy & Zebra Fish research)
  • Jason Sager (MD Pediatric Oncology)
  • Thomas Vandervelde (Tufts Professor of Engineering)
  • Kevin Dunn (Tufts Professor of Literature)
  • Hilary Binda (Tufts / Museum School Professor of Literature)