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The Urban School
of San Francisco
1563 Page Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
415 626 2919

Bay Area BlendEd Courses 2017-18

Bay Area BlendEd was founded in Fall 2013 by The Urban School, The Athenian School, The College Preparatory School, Lick-Wilmerding High School and Marin Academy in order to bring our students a new level of engaging curriculum that takes advantage of the geography, talent and culture of the Bay Area.

Courses offered by the BlendEd Consortium combine face-to-face and online instruction and help our students prepare for the changing methods of instruction and communication they will see in college and in the workforce, while preserving the core relational culture and values that are at the heart of Urban’s and our partner schools’ educational missions.

This year's BlendEd courses are interactive with significant time working online individually and in small groups, in occasional virtual class meetings, and with a minimum of three to five face-to-face sessions. These sessions will occur outside regular school hours and may occur on weekends. The face-to-face sessions may be held at one of the partner schools or at a specific location relating to the class topic. Three Urban Juniors and/or Seniors will be given spots for each of the courses. Note that for Urban students, the BlendEd course will overlap for a short period of time with either your winter or spring term classes. For additional information, please click here for a Q&A or email Urban's BlendEd site coordinator Stacie Muñoz.

Course List for 2017-18

(Note: many Bay Area BlendEd courses are based on a semester schedule. For Urban students, these courses will overlap portions of your winter or spring terms.)

Full Year 2017-18

Fall 2017

Spring 2018

Multivariable Calculus will begin by exploring vector geometry and functions in more than one variable. Then, after expanding the concepts of limits and continuity to include multivariate functions, students will develop a rich understanding of concepts and methods relating to the main topics of Partial Differentiation and Multiple Integration. After generalizing a number of tools from single-variable to multivariate calculus, we will explore topics of optimization and geometric applications in areas including physics, economics, probability, and technology. We will expand our fluency with topics to address vector fields and parametric functions, and we will understand applications of Green’s and Stokes’ Theorems. We will employ multidimensional graphing programs to aid in developing a more thorough understanding of the myriad ways for describing and analyzing properties of multivariate functions. At the conclusion of the course, students will have the opportunity to further explore applications of and/or concepts relating to topics covered by the course.

Emphasis will be placed on students expressing fluency with numerical, algebraic, visual and verbal interpretations of concepts. Students can expect to collaborate weekly on homework, problem-sets, and projects in small groups and in tutorial with their instructor online; face-to-face sessions may include visits with experts analyzing functions in multiple variables as well as group problem-solving activities and assessments. Prerequisites: Completion of one full year of Single Variable Calculus AB or BC
 (1 credit)

FALL 2017

Climate Change: From Science to Action
Some scientists and politicians have identified climate change as the single greatest issue that humans will grapple with in our lifetimes. We’ll study scientific principles that govern our earth’s atmosphere, see how humans are affecting earth’s energy balance, and explore how human-caused changes will likely affect earth systems in the future. In addition to thoroughly studying the science behind climate change, we will look at an how economists respond to global warming and offer strategies to address climate change. Similarly, we’ll examine political proposals to address climate change, on a local, national, and global level. We will interview people in the governmental, energy, and non-profit world to see how the approach the problem from different perspectives.
Prerequisites: Successful completion of one full year of introductory chemistry. (1/2 credit)
This is a Trimester-Length Concentrated Course:  8/29/2017 - 11/20/2017 (12 weeks)

Advanced Computer Science: Complexity Theory and Advanced Algorithms
This course focuses on concepts and techniques in the analysis and computational complexity of algorithms; models of computation; Turing machines; undecidable, exponential, and polynomial-time problems.

The course will be taught in Python and Snap! No previous knowledge of these languages is necessary.
Prerequisites: AP CS A or equivalent: Experience with recursion and data structures such as 2D lists. (1/2 credit)
This is a Trimester-Length Concentrated Course:  8/29/2017 - 11/20/2017 (12 weeks)

Creative Writing: Very Short Stories
What would it mean for a short story to become even shorter—perhaps a page or even a sentence in length? How do you tell a full, rich, complete story within a compressed framework without leaving anything out? How can you continue to use detail, imagery, characterization, time, plot, and all the other tools of the storyteller as you craft your own micro narratives? In this course, students will read short stories, works of flash fiction, and even prose poetry, as a way of understanding how to develop their own skills of compressed storytelling. Students should expect to read the work of contemporary writers, meet a weekly journal requirement, share and workshop their own stories, and generate a portfolio by the end of the semester.  (1/2 credit)

Seismic Studies and Earthquake Engineering
Why does anyone live in the Bay Area when there is the threat of an earthquake at any moment? This course will focus on geology, specifically the geology that surrounds the Bay Area, and our continued attempts to engineer structures that will withstand the earthquakes and tsunamis pervasive in our little section of this dynamic planet.  We will start with an introduction of geologic processes and tectonics, and continue into the specific stresses that create earthquakes and tsunamis.  We will build upon studies of how earthquakes affect buildings, and research how to engineer the most stable structures by testing our own designs, including a design competition.  We will learn how the building codes and seismic retrofitting that attempt to make the Bay Area safely habitable provide support to constructions even in the face of earthquakes and tsunamis.  Finally, we will investigate some of the most destructive earthquakes in the world and how to avoid a recurrence from an engineering perspective.  Face to face meetings will include a shake table construction challenge, a field trip along the Hayward fault with a Bay Area geologist, and an interview with a structural engineer.  (1/2 credit)

Bay Area Field Ecology
This course focuses on using ecological field tools and journaling to explore one’s “backyard ecosystem”. During the semester students will have the opportunity to research in depth their own backyard environment.  Students will be supplied with a kit which contains tools that they will use throughout the semester to study bay area ecology.  The course will focus on journaling and documentation to demonstrate growth in the field. Participants in this course will document their weekly studies through inaturalist observations and field journal entries. Students who like the outdoors and/or want to know more about the biodiversity of the San Francisco bay area should strongly consider this course.  All students will also complete an individual field service project that relates to an area they are interested in. During our face-to-face meetings students will work with scientists and naturalists and learn instrumentation and methodology for field study and practice it in a field setting.  Students will have the opportunity to present an interpretive talk during one of our face-to-face trips on a topic or species that interest them. The class meets every other week during mutually agreed upon times (typically evenings 8:30 pm to 9:15 pm) through ZOOM (virtual) meetings to check in, build community and share work. This course culminates with a certification field practical that tests students’ growth in the field of bay area ecology and naturalists skills. This course is well suited for students who are self motivated, interested in ecology, journaling and who want to spend more time outside! Students should expect to spend two hours a week outside for this course and 1.5 to 2 hours indoors reading, analyzing and sharing data.  (1/2 credit)

Face to Face (F2F) outings:  Please review dates carefully.  These F2F outings are a required part of the course and integral to your success in this course!
Friday, August 25 @ 5 pm meet @ Marin Academy to Saturday, August August 26 @ 5 pm return to Marin Academy (Point Reyes camping trip)
Sunday, September 17 @ 9:30 am to 3:30 pm meet @ Athenian high school.  (Mt. Diablo natural history)
Sunday, October 22 @ 10:30 am to 2:30 pm meet @ Sports Basement (Crissy Field natural history)
Sunday, November 5 @ 9:30 am to 2:30 pm meet at North Tower/Golden Gate Bridge parking (Marin side) across highway from Vista Park  (Headlands & Mt. Tamalpais Natural history)
Monday, December 4th @ 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm  @ Marin Academy (Final practical, presentations & celebration!)

Spring 2018

Bay Area Cinema & Filmmaking
Film, animation and alternative film and video has been a stalwart of Bay Area culture from Muybridge to Silent Film and from Pixar to the Prelinger Archive. In this course we will explore the history of the moving image and it’s cultural impact in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as create our own imaginative responses to the ideas and concepts in the course. Students will get a chance to study films, technologies, philosophies and ideas related to the manipulation of time as well as create their own art, videos and visual journal entries. Topics will include a wide variety of cinematic genres and motion picture technologies. Students will learn interdisciplinary skills related to their own independent filmmaking in tandem with film and cultural studies. Students will be expected to make connections with larger social, political and cultural forces and be interested in independently creating artworks, visual journal entries and film and animation.

During our face-to-face sessions we may be meeting filmmakers, exploring museums, cinemas, archives, film festivals and places of cinematic industry in the prolific bay area arts culture. Tea and discussion will follow. Students will need access to a digital still camera and be able to upload images to the Internet. Students will need to have some knowledge of video editing and have access to basic video editing software, a digital video camera/tripod combination and will need access to basic art supplies. *Some supplies will be provided. (1/2 credit)

Beats, Rhymes and Life: an Exploration of Hip-Hop, its History & Global Impact
This course is an examination of this movement of Hip-Hop as counterculture, its place in history and global impact. Students will examine the idea of Hip-Hop as a shadowed art form for muted voices. The contemporary foundations of Hip-Hop, the influence of the African Diaspora, the role of the Slave Trade, of cultural syncretism, the development of Jazz, Spoken Word as an art, and the influence of the Harlem Renaissance will be studied. Various artists will be explored along with their immediate and long-term impacts on the musical genre. Students will also study the uncanny connections between Hip-Hop and WEB Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, the Nation of Islam, Clarence 13x and the Black Panther Party. Students will also examine the voice of women and gay artists and their role in the culture of Hip-Hop, which often is misconstrued as a male dominated, misogynistic and/or homophobic art form. Students will end the course looking at the Globalization of Hip-Hop and the role of Hip Hop on the international scene as a form of political and youth advocacy in areas where people are voiceless. (1/2 credit)

California Coastal Oceanography
Description TBA

(1/2 credit)

Living in the Bay Area we are close to the most important social media companies and through this BlendEd class students will be able to utilize this unique accessibility they have to a cutting edge field.  This course will focus on empowering students to create a unique product or program that is socially beneficial. In addition, students will be equipped with marketing skills and techniques that allow them to engage a fast emerging industry and strategize on ways to create their own online business entities. Students will learn different methods of utilizing social media outlets such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and their own original website in order to build an online community that will promote the products that they create within the course. There are no prerequisite required for the course. We will begin with our first meeting at a BlendEd school classroom and the subsequent meetings will be field trips to a few of the major social media companies that are located in the Bay Area and will give students that hands on experience of seeing this work in action. (1/2 credit)

Environmental Justice & the Social Determinants of Health
The San Francisco Bay Area is rapidly becoming one of the most inequitable places to live in the nation. Taking a casual BART ride can reveal the environmental disparities that exist between places like the affluent suburb of Pleasanton and an industrialized community like West Oakland. The lack of income and environmental equality is obvious, but the disparities run much deeper. A short ride between BART stations can mean an 11-year difference in life expectancy. Folks getting off the train and living in neighborhoods near BART’s Walnut Creek station live on average 84 years, while folks that exit at and live near the Oakland City Center station live on average only 73 years. In other words, living just 16 miles apart can mean the difference between living more than a decade longer. Why does such a health disparity exist? This course will dissect the factors that influence this social gradient of health. During our face-to-face sessions we will go on a toxic tour of a Bay Area neighborhood, meet with environmental and social justice advocates, participate in habitat restoration activities, and create media to educate the general public about social and environmental inequities. (1/2 credit)

Introduction to Organic Chemistry
This introductory survey course will cover organic chemistry and relevant biochemistry. The cast of organic compounds is a virtual who’s who of chemicals, including foods, medicines, drugs, and cellular components. Their compositions and structures determine how they perform their functions. The course will cover the chemistry of carbon, functional groups, hydrocarbons, determining molecular structure via a variety of lab techniques, reaction mechanisms, and biochemicals. Organic chemistry is considered to be one of college’s most challenging and difficult science courses, and one aim of this course is to at least partially allay these notions prior to attending college. Students will work both individually and collaboratively on homework, problem sets, and projects. Molecular modeling will be emphasized. During our face-to-face sessions, we will work collaboratively doing experiments, solving problems, making animations of chemical mechanisms, and educating one another via presentations about specific chemicals at a culminating event. Regular online meetings will take place as virtual classes. Prerequisites: Successful completion of a high school chemistry course. (1/2 credit)


The Urban School curriculum provides an exceptionally strong foundation in college preparatory subjects. Many of our classes have distinctive features that set them apart as particularly challenging and comparable to college level work. These classes, designated as UAS (Urban Advanced Studies), are developed by the Urban faculty and comprise the school's most rigorous coursework. UAS classes are offered in every subject area and most are recognized by colleges (including the University of California) as honors level courses. Many Urban students choose to take Advanced Placement subject exams after taking these courses.

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