New Science Courses at CA

Darley Boit ’21

     Concord Academy’s selection of science courses has significantly expanded since last year. The new course offerings include Topics in Engineering: From Virtual Model to Manufactured Piece; Topics in Engineering: Architectural Design Concepts, Processes, and Technologies; Literature of the Anthropocene; and Applied Chemistry: The Chemistry of Cooking. All of these courses are electives open to upperclassmen.

     Topics in Engineering, taught by Max Hall, a member of science department, is one of the most popular new science courses. The class focuses on a range of topics: computer science, electrical engineering, crafting, art, and more “traditional science,” which is the kind of science one may see in the fundamental science courses. Since this interdisciplinary course covers diverse materials, it can be taken for either a science or a computer science credit.

     “The course intentionally evolves with the participants’ guidance, so we’re defining the criteria for success as we go,” Hall says. His goal is to teach basics while leaving most details for students to decide.

     “We’ve almost made a hybrid model to explore the area where science meets creative output,” Hall shares. “…Everybody in the course gets a precision measuring tool to have them keep because that’s essential to this physical production process as opposed to a textual production process in a history course.” The course asks students for active participation and spacious room for creativity. As opposed to more conventional academic classes, Hall’s Topics in Engineering course requires students to do many hands-on work.

     Although Architecture has existed as a studio arts course since 1993, this year Chris Rowe, a faculty member of visual arts department, will be teaching it as an interdisciplinary major. The students can take the course  for either a visual arts or a science credits.

     “I felt the course wasn’t relevant to modern topics,” Rowe states when discussing why he changed the course curriculum, “It’s time for change.”

     The new architecture course focuses not only on the basics of architecture but also on global sustainability and the role of technology. Rowe’s additions have made the learnings much more applicable to the real world today.

     Literature of the Anthropocene is an interdisciplinary course, focusing on how to captivate people’s attention most effectively when discussing climate change. Co-taught by John Drew, a member of the Science department, and Andrew Stevens, a member of the English department, the course primarily focuses on understanding different ways of thinking and how different people respond differently to various topics.

     The main purpose of the course is determining the most effective way to share pressing information, specifically about climate change. In this course, students are asked to read and analyze various texts by different authors.

     “The big question in our class is how do you write about something that’s so big, in a way that isn’t boring,” Stevens shares. Being one of the few co-taught courses at CA, Literature of the Anthropocene has a unique structure ; Unlike other courses where only one teacher leads the class, both Drew and Stevens come to every class and lead the discussions on related topics. This flexible structure brings diverse voices to the table, which expands students’ thinking process by being exposed to a wide variety of ideas and opinions.

     “We keep stumbling on all these really cool things we hadn’t thought of before and that’s part of the great part about working with someone else— especially someone in a different department,” Drew says.

     After disappearing from the CA curriculum a few years ago, Chemistry of Cooking has returned. Now taught by Susan Flink, a member of science department, Chemistry of Cooking is a hybrid between the previous Chemistry of Cooking course and a Harvard course, culminating in an applied chemistry course that focuses on how the principles of chemistry affect cooking and baking. The course focuses on the role of the main food molecules, some chemical mixtures (foams, emulsions, and gels), doughs and breads, and enzymes and microbes in cooking.

     “We’re trying to do as much hands-on lab work as we can,” Flink shares. The class has already done three labs, one of which focuses on the denaturation of proteins in egg whites when the whites are cooked through different methods.

     The class will be held in a couple different places. For the most of the time, the class will take its place in the CA Labs. However, since the  students cannot eat the products in the CA Labs classroom, Flink plans on doing part of the lab work in the newly renovated kitchen of the Bradford house if the residents agree.

     “We’ll eat our experiments [when we can],” Flink says, “And Bradford residents might find delicious treats that we leave behind.”