Math, Science & Innovation
At our school, it's cool to like math and science.
At Black Pine Circle, learning math is both challenging and fun. The elementary and middle school years are essential for building math literacy and proficiency, while maintaining enthusiasm for mathematical thinking. Your child’s math abilities will be understood and nurtured, whatever level they are starting from. Students who excel in math are inspired to grow. Students who need extra support are coached toward deeper understanding.
Our school has been fortunate to have had an outstanding math faculty since its inception. Your child’s math teacher will be familiar with their learning profile, screen them for challenges, guide them to draw on their strengths, and keep them at their learning edge. Our lower and upper school math specialists also work with classroom teachers to differentiate, plan curriculum, evaluate student progress, and provide additional scaffolding for those who need it.
Why are our students so good at math?
The discipline and attention to detail it takes to learn a musical instrument provide excellent preparation for the practice of building strong math skills. The link between the physical practice of music and strong mathematical abilities has been demonstrated in studies that show that children who play a musical instrument can perform more complex arithmetical operations than those who do not play an instrument. At our school, it’s not uncommon for the star of our volleyball team to excel on the Math Team....and be a wizard on saxophone.
Math Team and Math Clubs
After school, students in 5th-8th grade can join one of our three Math Clubs to pursue their passion for solving high-level math problems. Our Math Teams compete in a number of Bay Area competitions annually, and some of our students participate in the Berkeley Math Circle, as well as other local math organizations. Other students simply looking for a challenge enjoy extra problems in addition to regular math homework assignments.
Design thinking, computational tinkering, maker education, deep inquiry, and sharing our work with the wider community
Exploring Science Everywhere
We believe science is not about memorizing big words. Instead, we nurture students’ natural curiosity, challenging them to make careful observations, to ask thoughtful questions, and to make connections in their world. Every BPC student participates in hands-on science weekly - facilitated by our lower school science specialist or our upper school science faculty. We prioritize deeper investigation rather than attempting to cover ever more content.
Student investigations take many forms, whether hatching birds, analyzing local sampled water, running simulations that track the spread of a hypothetical infectious disease, or developing their own testable questions for our non-competitive science fair. From nearby Aquatic Park and Strawberry Creek to our school garden and chicken coop, BPC students learn science everywhere.
We've Embraced Next Gen Science Standards
Building on the National Research Council’s K-12 Framework for Science Education. twenty-six State Partners worked with the National Science Teachers Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and identified these practices (at right) as essential for science education.
Six Essential Practices for Science Education
- Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
- Developing and using models
- Planning and carrying out investigations
- Analyzing and interpreting data
- Using mathematics and computational thinking
- Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
- Engaging in argument from evidence
- Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
The Q Lab - A Space for Science & Inquiry
Opened for students in 2016, our Q Lab is like an exclamation point on our experiential and inquiry-based program. On an average day, in the earth and physical sciences classroom upstairs, you might see students measuring the energy generated by windmills or building pneumatic judo-bots.
Downstairs, in the makerspace classroom, Kindergarteners might be experimenting with shadows, 6th graders engaged in 3D design or printing, or 8th graders might be building a bench in Workshop. In the evenings, the space might be hosting one of our Family Maker Fridays, where K-8 students and their families gather to enjoy both high-tech and classic maker activities in our makerspace. Designed for ages 5-14, every student uses the Q Lab.