At the heart of our curriculum are Learning Expeditions, which are long-term, in-depth investigations of rich topics or themes that engage students through fieldwork, service, and a real-world context for their learning.
Middle School Expeditions:
Farm to Table
Essential Question: Are you what you eat?
Course Description: In Farm to Table, students investigate our food system – from source to distribution and from cooking to eating. Are you truly what you eat? How does our body process food to fuel our lives? How does your culture and environment influence your diet? As a conscious consumer in the food chain, what is your personal eating ethic? Students explore the environmental, historical, biological, economic, and social fabric of the global food system. They examine their own values and customs involving food and attempt to make more-informed choices about what they decide to eat. We partner with local farms, processors, restaurants, stores, and community organizations to help students understand how our food is produced and distributed and to see the connection between our food choices and the environment, economy, and our culture.
From Source to Sea
Essential Question: How does water shape our world?
Course Description: How does water shape who we are and the places we live? How does it physically move, carve, and design the natural landscape? What impact does water have on natural and human communities? How does water shape who we are and the places we live? Within the natural boundary of a watershed, all things – living and nonliving – are connected by the flow of water. In the Source to Sea Expedition, through a study of the local watershed and examination of water’s impact in culture and literature, students identify how water has shaped their surroundings, culture, and self. Students investigate the Boulder Creek watershed, following the creek from its source to its mouth and explore where it goes and how it is used along the way – from municipal water treatment to industrial, agricultural, and residential uses and sewage treatment. We undertake scientific studies to measure, quantify, and evaluate creek morphology and water quality. Students learn to distinguish the many natural communities in our watershed and use them to draw insights into how human communities function. Another important component is the geological and human history of our region and how economic activity in Colorado has changed over time. We will learn how a river and its surroundings interact with each other as the water travels from the mountains to the plains, and we will investigate how humans have affected our environment and how it has changed us. Our readings will lead us into conversations to define our “sense of place” or deepen our knowledge of local history and the significance and symbolism of water throughout human history.
Empowering the Future
Essential Questions: Is there enough energy to go around? Are we making progress?
Course Description: The essence of existence lies in the transformation of energy. This course provides a foundational understanding of physics and chemistry through a survey of the forms of energy that power our daily lives. Students examine the implications of our energy consumption as we explore geopolitical issues associated with resource extraction and energy production. To reduce our energy footprints, students measure and evaluate how we use energy at home and in our daily lives, comparing the efficiency and feasibility of many forms of energy – fossil, biofuel, nuclear, solar, hydro, geothermal, and wind. In our investigation of how our region manages its energy needs and distribution, we use our community as a classroom and visit power plants and energy-related businesses. We probe into the energy requirements of different modes of transportation and evaluate the costs and benefits of recycling. On a global level, students study complex issues as the world moves beyond Peak Oil and transitions into new energy sources.
High School Expeditions:
Technology, Media and Gender
Essential Question: How do internal and external forces act on how we think, what we think and who we become?
Course Description: This course explores the rising influence that media and technology have on an individual’s ability to construct knowledge, develop identity and interact socially. While looking at media, students investigate the relationship it has with gender to examine the influence of popular culture on how we see ourselves and how we see others. Students begin by looking at technology to examine both psychology and neuroscience to see how unprecedented developments in communication have shifted the landscape of human thought and behavior. This is followed by an investigation into gender and the effects of the social production of gender on self and identity to gain a more complex understanding of how gender and sexual identities are constructed, deconstructed, and reconstructed. Students examine how neurology, psychology and culture influence technology, media and gender and in turn how this influences individual behavior, self-concept and cultural roles.
Body & Soul
Essential Question: What does it mean to be human?
Course Description: In this class students explore what it means to be human through both empirical and philosophical lenses. Students study the human body as a physical system by exploring anatomy and physiology in increasing levels of complexity. Simultaneously, students examine what it means to be a human being and an individual using more philosophical lenses. They study both Buddhism and Christianity to compare and contrast world religions, and engage in world philosophy and literature from ancient times up through the Renaissance.
Conflict, Economics and Human Migration
Essential Question: Who is an American?
Course Description: Economic, political and social factors create a push/pull reality for humans around the world. In the human world, rather than conditions creating borders, borders create conditions. With an in-depth study of migrants and refugees, this expedition explores the different conditions that exist on both sides of the border, and the dynamics and issues that are occurring in the border region as those different conditions come together. Students study how the history of the Mexico-U.S. border has shaped current events and attitudes, and how different economic, political, social, cultural, and physical conditions have led to current issues. Students study different perspectives on issues of immigration, free trade, national security, the border wall, and the existence of the border itself.
Democracy and Politics
Essential Question: Why do some people have rights while others do not?
Course Description: This course explores the tenets of democracy and looks at current issues around human and civil rights. Students examine the philosophical underpinnings of our democratic republic and what it means to be a democrat in a republic and a republican in a democracy. What does it mean to be free? To have rights? What does it mean to be denied freedom? To be denied rights?
Skill-Builder Workshops supplement Learning Expeditions by giving students a double dose of critical skills.
Explore classes offer students a chance to pursue their interests and discover new passions.
Watershed Weekly Video