Already known for its academically rigorous college preparatory program, Community Charter School of Cambridge this year expanded its Advanced Placement curriculum to include AP Chemistry to offer an additional level of challenge to high-achieving students. CCSC also offers AP English Language and Composition and AP Calculus.
“One of the real benefits of a charter school like ours, and charter schools in general, is that we have the flexibility to adjust our academic program to ensure that we are always meeting the needs of our students,” said Caleb Hurst-Hiller, CCSC head of school. “By adding new AP courses each year, we are able to push our high-achieving students – and we have quite a few of them here – to new heights.”
CCSC’s new AP Chemistry course, open to 11th and 12th grade students who have successfully completed both Chemistry I and Geometry, is a college-level class that covers advanced chemistry topics such as: atomic structure; naming; bonding; intermolecular forces; periodic trends; stoichiometry; phases of matter; acid/base interactions; redox reactions; chemical equilibrium; thermochemistry; kinetics; and experimental design. The 19 students enrolled in AP Chemistry this year will spend, on average, one 70-minute class period a week in labs to refine their observation, data collection, and analysis skills.
The AP Chemistry class has been meeting for just a few weeks, but the students have already covered significant ground, studying topics like quantum mechanics, which many students don’t see until college. “Preparing students to meet the demands of post-secondary work is one of our most important goals as a school, and this AP course will expose them to college-level science material,” explained Heather Haines, who teaches the AP Chemistry class and chairs the school’s science department.
Several of the students chose the course because they are interested in careers in science or intend to be pre-med in college. For all of them, the potential to earn college credit is an additional incentive to work hard this year in AP Chem. Developed by the College Board, the Advanced Placement (AP) program offers standardized high school courses that are generally recognized to be equivalent to undergraduate courses in college. Many colleges grant credit to students who score high on the AP exams.
“I had taken regular chemistry in 10th grade, and I saw this as a way to really understand the subject and get a feel for a college-level course. I’d like to study sonography and become a radiologist, and one of the required courses I’ll take if and when I get into my dream school will be chemistry,” said one student in the class.
Another student said, “I took AP Chem because I wanted to take the most difficult course at CCSC.”
Ms. Haines is also excited to expose her students to some of the groundbreaking research that is taking place right in the school’s neighborhood. “Early next month we have a class trip to MIT to work in one of their labs,” she said. “Our Kendall Square location puts us in close proximity to some of the world’s leading research scientists and labs. Like our Senior Internship Program, this AP course is an opportunity to introduce our students to the many career opportunities in the STEM field.”