Bay Area BlendEd

Bay Area BlendEd was founded by 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.

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 email Urban's BlendEd site coordinator Stacie Muñoz.

Course List for 2018-19
Note: most 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

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 2018

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: Experience with recursion and data structures such as 2D lists.
**This is a 12-week (trimester) course.
(½ credit)

Art History Through Inquiry
The course will help you learn how to engage with art history outside the traditional lecture and textbook format. Instead, our questions and inspiration will come from five face-to-face meetings at various local museums in order to explore art through observation, inquiry and analysis. We’ll explore how museums foster critical thinking and creativity while you’ll also learn the skills necessary to research and learn more about art and its history. As you develop an understanding about both current and historical art—and the methods in which to approach this learning—you’ll also be determining your own path of research and depth. After each visit, you’ll choose an artist, movement or piece of work for further exploration, and, with support from the teacher and art research techniques, will eventually create a paper or project that demonstrates your knowledge to share with others.
(½ credit)

Beats, Rhymes and Life: An Exploration of Hip-Hop, its History and 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 Dubois, 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.
(½ credit)

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.
(½ credit)

Introduction to Psychology
This class will survey the evolution of psychology from psychodynamic theory to contemporary socio-cultural psychology. We will examine how the study of human development has progressed through time. Students will gain knowledge in human behaviors through introduction to basic concepts and theories in psychology. Students will also reflect on how human development might be culturally defined: from Freud’s psychoanalysis theory to today’s rising interest in multicultural psychology, how important is family, education or environment to our development and mental health? Together, we will conduct basic experiments to illustrate our theories, conduct simple field work and engage in conversations with professionals who will share their experiences with us. Students will also keep a journal in which they will reflect on observations of their environment and how it affects them. This class will be project-based, with a final paper reflecting on experiences and observations.
(½ credit)

Public Health and Vulnerable Populations
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.
(½ 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 pervasive in our little section of this dynamic planet. We will start with an introduction of the earth and rocks, geologic processes, and tectonics. We then continue into the specific characteristics, stresses, and measuring and reporting tools that are associated with earthquakes. We will deepen our understanding by building and experimenting with hands-on models to show how earthquakes and waves affect structures, and research how to engineer the most stable structures. We will investigate some of the most destructive earthquakes in the world to learn how they have propelled our understanding of the building codes and seismic retrofitting that attempt to make the Bay Area and other earthquake-prone areas safely habitable stabilize buildings. Face-to-face meetings include a geologic study of maps and plate boundaries, a field trip along the San Andreas or Hayward fault, interviews with engineers, and finally, a design competition to test how well student-built towers hold up on an earthquake shaking table.
(½ credit)

Spring 2019

Bay Area Cinema and 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 its 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.
(½ credit)

California Coastal Oceanography
“How inappropriate to call this planet 'Earth' when it is clearly 'Ocean'.” -- Arthur C. Clarke
The ocean covers 71 percent of the Earth's surface and contains 97 percent of the planet's water, yet more than 95 percent of the underwater world remains unexplored. The ocean is home to more than one million species and plays an integral role in many of the Earth's systems, including climate and weather. Oceanography involves the study of the entire ocean, from the shallow coastal areas to the deepest trenches.

California Coastal Oceanography is designed to present an integrated overview of the principles and concepts of the geology, chemistry, physics and biology of the California coastal environment. The course begins with a description of the Pacific Ocean Basin and the mechanism of its evolution. Next, the chemical properties of seawater and the role of the Pacific Ocean in elemental cycles, particularly the carbon cycle will be examined. The discussion of physical oceanography includes large-scale patterns such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, as well as, small-scale phenomena such as waves. The geology of the coastal ocean, beaches, and estuaries leads into a discussion of the ocean’s major communities and the biotic and physical factors structuring them. The course emphasizes critical thinking, scientific processes and interrelationships among disciplines. It does not include cuddling with sea otters or swimming with dolphins. Students are expected to be self-motivated, able to comprehend and analyze scientific papers, collaborate on numerous project-based assignments, and complete a significant amount of independent work. The ability to commit to field trips and fieldwork are required for this course. Students should expect to spend 2 hours a week outside for this course and 1.5 to 2 hours indoors reading, analyzing and sharing data. This course is well suited for students who are self motivated, interested in the marine sciences, field and lab work, and who want to spend more time outside!

The class meets every other week during mutually agreed upon times (typically evenings 8:30 - 9:15 pm) through Zoom (virtual) meetings to check in, build community and share work. California Coastal Oceanography will end the year with a culminating project that is designed to assess student depth of knowledge and sustained mastery of subject material. This project will join two scientific disciplines (e.g., environmental science and oceanography) together to demonstrate how closely coastal ocean health is linked to land use and upstream pollution. Students will have the freedom to design a project that will investigate an aspect of water quality and the implications of fecal pathogen pollution on ecosystems and human health. They will develop novel hypotheses using background research and critical thinking. Once data are collected, students will add their findings to a large statewide database that public health managers and the Regional Water Quality Control Board can use to regulate recreational waters.

The following face-to-face outings are required and integral to your success in this course:
Overnight to Point Reyes National Seashore
Blue Water Task Force Water Sampling
Derek M. Baylis Research Cruise - San Francisco Bay
Fitzgerald Marine Reserve Tidepooling
The Marine Mammal Center Tour and Necropsy
(½ credit)

Comic Book Literature: Pow, Bam, Zap: The Study of Modern Mythology and Social Constructs through Comic Book Lit
Comic books have been a medium that have been around for over one 100 years. They’ve functioned as vehicles for overlapping stories that are visual and found in the literary narrative as well. Classical literature works like Moby Dick and the collected works of William Shakespeare have found themselves, at one point or another, marketed in this format. The medium has been a way for political indoctrination as well as critique of the status quo. The comic book writers of the 1940s-60s created beings of a modern mythos, or cosmology akin to the tales of Mount Olympus, and within the stories they told there was woven a sophisticated message. It was comics that provided the first iconic Black character of adoration in American literature outside of John Henry, not Hollywood. It was comics that first graphically championed same-sex relationships and challenged interracial ones as well. Comics provided vehicles to tell the stories of the Holocaust (Maus) and of the Iranian Revolution (Persepolis), and did so in ways that would convey stories in a multi-layered fashion. This course will examine comics as literature and look at the social issues that comics have tried to address in American History from the 1940s to the modern day. Students will respond with analytical essay writing, short stories, and eventually will script their own short graphic novel. Since BlendEd is located in the Bay Area, the goal for this course will be to have students visit Image Comics based in Berkeley, which grew from a rival start-up of former Marvel and DC Comics artists and writers in the 1990s, to giving us characters and stories that have moved onto Hollywood like Spawn, The Crow and Wanted. The final project will be for students to take their short graphic novel, illustrate it via Photoshop and submit for publishing in a collection for Image Comics.
(½ credit)

#Entrepreneurship through Design Thinking
Living in the Bay Area, we are in close proximity to the most important and innovative companies in the world. This course will leverage the unique accessibility we have to cutting edge fields and empower students to create a unique product, service or program that is original, viable and socially beneficial. In addition to employing the design thinking process, 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 business entities. Students will learn different methods of utilizing social media outlets such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter in order to promote the products, programs or services that they create. We will begin with our first meeting in a BlendEd school classroom and then the subsequent meetings will involve field trips to some of the major local social media companies in order to give students a hands-on experience of seeing entrepreneurship in action. There are no prerequisites for the course.
(½ 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.
(½ credit)