Mini-Courses

These courses may be taken by 9th–12th graders and may be proposed by faculty or students who are especially interested in a specific topic. Because these courses are pass/fail and nearly homework-free, they attract students with a true passion for the subject matter. Courses include songwriting, journalism, trial advocacy, and conversations about feminism. In many ways, mini-courses demonstrate Riverdale's commitment to providing students with choice and variety in what they study.

Semester 2 - Alternate Realities in Computer Science

Alternate Realities in Computer Science

Gain hands-on experience in Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Realities (VR|AR|MR) and their potential for transforming our world. Investigate the current uses of devices such as the Vive, Oculus, and Hololens and what’s being planned in the future. Then learn how different industries and research are driving the use and application of these technologies. In this course, you will examine the set-up, use, and application of popular VR, AR, and MR devices including Google Cardboard, HTC Vive, the Oculus Rift, Nintendo 3DS, and the Microsoft Hololens. In addition, you will build basic projects for these environments. Bring alternate realities to life this fall!

Semester 1 - Astrophysics

Astrophysics

This course focuses on the science of astrophysics and deep space, and will cover everything from the solar system to the Big Bang. Students will learn about the universe's most awe-inspiring phenomena such as black holes, supernova, antimatter, and exoplanets. The science of astrophysics explores the deepest mysteries of the universe, and students will discuss and ask questions about the frontiers of astronomy. This class is not a math class or a physics class: it is a class for students who seek to better understand their universe. Please visit riverdaleastronomy.com for more information.

Semester 2 - Automotive Theory

Automotive Theory

Are you interested in cars? This mini-course will be structured around automotive design, structural concepts, and discussions on real-world applications. The following topics will be covered: engine design and types, chassis, suspension, wheels and tires, aerodynamics, self-driving technology, and emotional response. By the end of this course, students will have designed their ideal car based on the information covered.

Semester 2 - Black Liberation Movements

Black Liberation Movements

This course introduces students to the history of people of African descent and their struggles for universal emancipation during the 20th century. We will examine the relationship between nationalism and pan-Africanism through comparative assessments of Marcus Garvey and his UNIA organization, the liberation of Ghana, and the U.S. Black Power Movement. We will seek to locate and critically evaluate the Black political mind. The ultimate purpose of this course is to impress upon students how struggles for self-determination were simultaneously local, national and global.

Yearlong - Debate

Debate

Training and practice sessions for interscholastic debate tournaments. Open to members of the debate activity-advisory and all 9th graders. Students new to debate are required to participate in at least two tournaments per semester. Tournaments are held on weekends and typically last all day.

Yearlong - Entrepreneurship through Storytelling

Entrepreneurship through Storytelling

You tell stories all the time, you relay facts and opinions and have conversations with people that have different opinions from you and somehow, sometimes, you can get a thought or idea across in exactly the way that you intended for them to understand. And then sometimes, you might both be talking about the color red, but one person could be seeing it as blood orange while the other as ruby red. What does this have to do with entrepreneurship?

If you have an idea that you are ready to work on to bring it from an idea to an innovation, then let's use STEAM technology to prototype it, storytelling to tell your audience and investors about it and let’s learn about the basic ins and outs of starting a business to get it off the ground.

You'll meet brand new entrepreneurs and serial entrepreneurs. You'll get to interact with experts in startup law and finances. Throughout the entire course, we will suffuse storytelling in different ways so that you will learn the skills to describe and sell your innovation to different audiences in unique, personalized and effective ways.

Semester 1 - Ethical Issues in Sports

Ethical Issues in Sports

A current events based mini-course, Ethical Issues in Sports will focus on topics such as discrimination, drugs in sports, crowd behavior, and the ESPN “effect”. Sometimes a current ethical issue in sports will take on a life of its own, as we have certainly seen recently. In those cases, class discussion and even debate will take precedence over the topic for the day.

Semester 2 - Ethics and the Environment

Ethics and the Environment

In this mini-course, students will discuss interesting environmental practices and policies, and how they seem to answer or challenge our communities’ ethical questions. To what extent should business interests outweigh environmental ones? What is the designated role of the government in the protection of the environment? How have intersectional, environment policies affected communities with regards to war and discrimination? The course will discuss and explore similar questions to these. Through this exploration, the course hopes to give students a better understanding of debates related to the environment so that they will be better equipped to formulate their own opinions.

Semester 1 - Evo/Devo

Evo/Devo

The important question of ‘How did we get here?” can be addressed from an evolutionary perspective, looking at evidence spanning millions of years, or from a developmental perspective examining embryos that develop in as little as 3 days. The synthesis of these two areas of biology is known as Evo/Devo. Comparative anatomy provides an excellent starting point. We’ll look at the external and internal features of a variety of animals (mealworms, crickets, lobsters, grasshopper, crayfish, perch, frog and rat) and investigate their evolutionary significance. For the developmental biology segment, students will study the development of insect embryos and discuss common themes in development that are highly conserved in a broad range of organisms.

Semester 2 - Experiments in Neuroscience

Experiments in Neuroscience

We begin by examining sensory inputs into the nervous system at the anatomical level and discuss how that information is relayed to the brain. In various activities and student designed experiments, we will test your response to different sensory inputs and test ways to block or alter the way the input is perceived and received. Last year we tested the ability of various over-the-counter topical painkillers to interfere with the sensation of pressure. We'll discuss the cellular and molecular basis for signal transmission in nerve cells. And we will end the year by looking at electrical activity in the neurons and muscles of a mealworm and where we'll apply our knowledge to design new experiments.

Semester 1 - Exploring Mathematics: Puzzles & Problem Solving

Exploring Mathematics: Puzzles & Problem Solving

Have you ever wondered how the math you learned in class applies to real life? Are you curious about how deductive reasoning played a part in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter? Did you know that the Fibonacci Sequence was the basis of many famous pieces of art and that some infinities are larger than others? These are just a few of the questions this class will explore. Along with completing a variety of puzzles, we will investigate fractals, tessellations, optical illusions and misleading data within advertisements and news. Expect to critically think about and explore ideas that you may have never thought of as "math."

Semester 1 - Gender in Greek and Roman Mythology

Gender in Greek and Roman Mythology

This mini-course will explore gender roles, gender identity, and gender expression in a rich variety of stories from Greek and Roman mythology. We will analyze matters of gender in translations of primary sources by Greek and Roman authors, and in modern literary and film adaptations of Greek and Roman myths (possibilities include Disney’s ‘Hercules’ [1997], Wonder Woman [2017], and Rick Riordan’s ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ series [2005-2009]). These materials will foster discussions about gender in different literary traditions, cultures, time periods, and media. Students will develop their abilities to think critically and sensitively about matters of gender in various historical contexts from antiquity to the present.

Semester 2 - The Impact of Media

The Impact of Media

Through this mini-course, we will explore the impact that our society has on the way we see ourselves through our interactions with each other, advertisements, television, Instagram, celebrities, and more. We will take a close look at how social media influences the decisions we make on a daily basis, short-term and long-term. We will watch inspiring and provocative TED Talks, read interesting, current articles and excerpts from award-winning books and discuss their implications in the real world and how they apply to our own lives.

Semester 1, Semester 2, or yearlong - Impressions

Impressions

Join Riverdale's award-winning student art and literature magazine. Participate in showcasing the diverse and creative work of our students while you learn valuable editing, graphic design, and publication skills.

Semester 1 or Semester 2 - Introduction to Coding and Robotics

Introduction to Coding and Robotics

Have you ever wanted to learn to code? Ever wanted to build a robot? In this course you'll do both! In this introductory mini-course you will learn the fundamentals of programming and then build your own robot and investigate major hardware components such as motors, sensors, and servos. Combine both programming and robotics to learn how sensors can be used to gather data or handle robot events. Sensors include ultrasonic, light and path, temperature, humidity, pressures, and accelerometers and gyroscopes. This course will make use of different programming languages and robots to illustrate how learning the fundamentals of CS and robotics can be used on several computing and robotics platforms.

Semester 1 - Italian

Italian

Italian is one of the most interesting and culturally prominent languages in today's world. Introductory Italian would supply a basic foundation of the Italian language for either a starting point for future studies in the language or to teach the tools necessary to carry out a basic conversation in Italian. The course would have an emphasis on conversational skills and no prior knowledge in Italian is needed (those who have never had any experience with the language are encouraged to try!), although a background in either Spanish, Latin, French, or any other romance language is recommended.

Semester 2 - Medicine: Antiquity and Today

Medicine: Antiquity and Today

This mini-course will explore the world of medicine in ancient Greece and Rome, and its immense impact on medical history, including approaches, ethics, and practices in modern medicine. Topics of discussion include the origins and development of the Hippocratic Oath, the roots of modern medical terminology, knowledge of the body and physical illness, knowledge of the mind and mental illness, the relationship between medicine and religion, medicine in mythology, understandings of human reproduction, responses to plague or mass illness, herbal remedies, surgical procedures, medical experimentation, similarities and differences between Graeco-Roman medicine and traditional Chinese medicine, and more. Our discussions will draw frequent comparisons between medicine in antiquity and the present, revealing how Graeco-Roman medicine has influenced modern medical, scientific, and intellectual traditions, while also stimulating critical thought about medical practices and traditions from antiquity to the present.

Semester 1 - Mindful Design

Mindful Design

Are you tired of going shopping and seeing the SAME boring items and wish you could make something new and different? You can. Learn how to embellish your personal style through the arts of knitting, crocheting, and sewing. Spend time learning and practicing these basic concepts to put into practice immediately. Sew, let's get started!

Semester 1, Semester 2, or yearlong - Nutrition

Nutrition

Among all the gimmicks and flashy advertisements, what really is someone’s most beneficial approach to eating? How do we pay attention to what our body needs in order to fuel it properly and allow it to operate at optimal performance? This course will discuss and explore the science and wellness connected to eating. Students will learn the distinctions between macronutrients, and about dietary choices that decrease stress and promote well being. By analyzing proven science and exploring holistic nutrition, students will focus on how diet and supplementation can contribute to wellness. Students will exploring the notion that being in tune with your body and what it needs means that everything else falls into place with minimal effort. Students will analyze the Integrative Nutrition Pyramid and compare it with the USDA food pyramid, enabling them to contrast and decipher what framework of eating works best for them. Students will begin to eat mindfully, paying attention to how different food choices make them feel, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Semester 1, Semester 2, or yearlong - Pop and Rock Band

Pop and Rock Band

We will pick together to play and perform a wide range of music, such as classic rock songs and the Top 40 Pop songs of today. We welcome original songs from budding songwriters! All instruments (i.e.,piano, electric guitar, electric bass, drums) of all levels, singers and songwriters are free to participate! Email Ms. Getter with any questions (jgetter@riverdale.edu).

Semester 1, Semester 2, or yearlong - Resistance to Civil Rights

Resistance to Civil Rights

Our learning of the Civil Rights Movement is incomplete because rarely, if ever, do we discuss the opposition to the movement. We know what Civil Rights activists were trying to accomplish, but about those who were resisting the proposed changes? Through laws and other systemic means, many white leaders find ways to uphold and protect the ideology of white supremacy and black inferiority. Using podcasts, videos and other multimedia tools, together we will explore, starting with reconstruction, what was done to challenge the Civil Rights movement and how it manifests in today's culture.

Semester 1, Semester 2, or yearlong - Rethinking Education

Rethinking Education

This course will investigate how concepts such as design thinking and positive psychology can be translated into personal and school practices in order to help create personal and institutional habits and practices that help people thrive. The course will be less a teacher-led course and more of a collaborative pursuit of ways to make schools like Riverdale better places for its students and teachers. We will aim to acquaint ourselves with interesting interventions and research that may have applications in schools and in our personal lives. By building supportive relationships, we will aim to create and test a menu of different options that students and teachers could experiment with in the years ahead.

Semester 1 - Rhythm Tap Dance

Rhythm Tap Dance

You've seen tap dance on Broadway, but have you ever thought about how tap dance is a series of complex rhythms performed with the feet? Based on the style of tap dance made popular by Gregory Hines and Savion Glover, we will explore the rhythms and history of tap dance. We will learn basic tap dance technique and create a piece to be performed at the spring dance concert. All levels welcome.

Semester 1 - South African Apartheid

South African Apartheid

This mini course will investigate the origins, structures, and outcomes of the South African racial system of Apartheid (separateness) brought into sharp focus by the Afrikaner National Party in 1948. Over the course of the semester, we will read articles, watch films, view mixed media, listen to music, and hear and read testimony from those who both supported and fought against this system. By 1993, forces from within and outside of South Africa coalesced to end the Apartheid system, yet the people of South Africa continue to live with its ramifications.

Semester 1 - Thinking Like a Hacker

Thinking Like a Hacker

In this mini course we will explore through hands on experiences topics that include: cryptography, game theory, networking, and hacking. As technology advances cybersecurity issues become applicable to everyone. It is becoming increasingly important to not only understand how computer systems work, but also how one may manipulate them. In this mini course we plan on peering into the minds of hackers through a strategic lens, and investigating their crafts. We will explore the basic concepts of coding, encryption, game theory, and provide a basic overview of how hackers hack. We will also discuss the growing importance of these topics commerce, policy, and education to demonstrate why these issues are pertinent to everyone from a CEO to a Congressman. You will learn everything from picking locks, to decrypting messages hidden in photos, to discussing the effects of viruses, worms, and breaches. No previous knowledge of coding required. For a more in-depth description for those interested, see here.

Semester 2 - Trial Advocacy

Trial Advocacy

Trial Advocacy has two separate but interconnected aims. Principally, enrolled students will develop, prepare, and present material on behalf of Riverdale for the ongoing competition held annually by the New York State Bar Association. Once the competition ends the course switches focus to examine the principles of trial advocacy, including the rules of evidence and their usage, along with courtroom protocol.

Semester 1, Semester 2, or yearlong - Video Art Course: A Hands-On Class in Time Based Media Art

Video Art Course: A Hands-On Class in Time Based Media Art

Students will learn to use video shooting and editing technology to create art, and to utilize time based media as an extension of their artistic thinking. This course will cover all stages of video production to create both stand-alone video works and video components to incorporate into other art media (such as sculpture or installation). We’ll also look at and discuss video art from its inception into the art world (in the 1960s) through today and its intersection with performance, sculpture, installation, and photography. The course will embody, but not be limited to: shooting, staging, chroma-key, compositing, editing, stop motion, audio, and lighting.

Semester 1, Semester 2, or yearlong - Yearbook

Yearbook

This mini course will design, plan, and produce the school yearbook for 2017-2018. Activities will include editing photographs, designing pages, and making decisions about title, theme, cover, features, dedications, and general tone of the project. Students in all grades with all levels of experience are encouraged to join.

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Riverdale Country School

Mind • Character • Community

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Lower School
1 Spaulding Lane
Bronx, NY 10471
LS: (718) 549-7780

Middle/Upper School
5250 Fieldston Road
Bronx, NY 10471
MS/US: (718) 549-8810

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Project Knowmad allows Middle Schoolers to learn in a different way, using NYC as their classroom. Go There >

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