Bronx High School of Science
Bronx NY 10468
Most Nobel prize-winning graduates of any school in the country
Punishing workload and lack of individual attention
The Bronx High School of Science, one of the most famous schools in the country, has a proud history of training not only scientists but also authors, business executives, and academic leaders. Its graduates have won eight Nobel prizes, more than any other school in the country. Many of the faculty members are Bronx Science alumni and have PhDs in their fields.
With a typical class size of 34 and a demanding curriculum, Bronx Science can be a stressful place. Kids are chronically sleep-deprived from hours of homework and long commutes, and many take on multiple extracurricular activities on top of their heavy academic load. Almost all students come in with some Regents exams under their belt, so freshmen who are lacking algebra will take it alongside geometry their first year. Many students exhaust the extensive Advanced Placement curriculum (the school offers all possible AP courses except AP German), so Bronx Science offers several "post-AP"_ classes like genetics, multivariable calculus and organic chemistry. Other electives include smart phone app development, a horticulture class which makes use of the greenhouse on the roof, an engineering course on drones, and a history course which trains students as docents for the on-campus Holocaust Museum.
In addition to the fast-paced science and math curriculum, all Bronx Science students take a writing seminar and a research literacy course in 9th grade where they learn how to design testable experiments, analyze peer-reviewed science articles, and defend their arguments in writing and discussions. About 10 percent of students go on to a three-year research track which culminates in an independent research project under the supervision of one Bronx Science faculty member and an outside expert from the field. Those students work in labs or field settings throughout the summer and enter their projects in national competitions, where several have won prestigious awards.
The enrollment has ballooned to more than 3,000, an increase of nearly 600 students since 2006 and well over the 2,300 the building was designed to accommodate, but students we talked to say they do not feel anonymous. One benefit of its large size is the school can offer a wide array of courses. Students may choose from eight foreign languages, including Latin, and may take electives such as Spanish narrative and film. Students may take band and orchestra as a sixth major class. Many students take required classes such as drama, visual arts and health during the summer to free up their schedule for more academic electives. There are dozens of clubs and afterschool activities, including one of the top debate teams in the country. To draw more female students into the robotics club, the school recently established an all-girls team called the Iron Maidens.
To support students who are struggling, the school now offers special seminar-style after-school classes called small group instruction or SGI to give students the chance to review material with their teachers. The student-led National Honor Society has also organized a peer-to-peer tutoring system, where students can find tutors by subject area on an online database. The Big Siblings program, where four to five seniors are paired with each freshman homeroom class, has also grown stronger in recent years.
Since Principal Jean Donahue took over in 2013, the curriculum has shifted towards more applied learning activities to hook students in to the abstract concepts they are studying. In every science class we visited, students were engaged in hands-on activities, working in groups to solve real-world challenges such as building prototypes for a collapsible wall to shield combat troops. Math, English and social studies classes, too, had built-in time for working in pairs or teams, though discussions in most classes were still largely teacher-driven.
Enabling this change in culture is more time built into the daily schedule for teachers of the same subject to plan lessons together, Donahue said. As an alumna of the school, parent of a recent graduate, and former teacher at Bronx Science, she knows the school well. She has a PhD and a background in cancer research, which she put to use as the head of Bronx Sciences three-year research program prior to becoming principal. Her experience in the field and her history with Bronx Science seems to have earned her the respect of her faculty and the alumni association, a welcome change after years of tension with the previous administration.
COLLEGE ADMISSIONS:The guidance office has grown in recent years, now up to 12 counselors, some of whom double as college advisors, and one full-time college advisor. They run a six-week transition program for freshmen, host college admissions officers on campus, and bring Bronx Science alumni in to conduct practice interviews with seniors. Students attend a range of top-tier private collegesYale, Haverford, Tufts, Wesleyan, and Barnard, to name a fewas well as CUNY and SUNY schools.
SPECIAL EDUCATION:The building is wheelchair accessible. At the time of our visit, 40 students received special education student support services and between 10 and 20 received 504 accommodations for conditions such as ADHD or limited vision.
ADMISSIONS:There is one open house each semester. Students offer tours of the building in the evening, and both students and staff are available to answer questions. Admission is based on the Specialized Science High School Admissions test (SSHAT) given in the fall. (Nicole Mader, October 2014)
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Programs and Admissions
Admission to this Specialized High School is based solely on the score obtained on the Specialized High Schools Admission Test (SHSAT). Students should speak to their guidance counselors in the Fall to register for the SHSAT.
Chinese (Mandarin), French, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Spanish
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Art History, AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, AP Chinese, AP Computer Science, AP Economics, AP English, AP European History, AP French, AP Italian, AP Japanese, AP Latin, AP Music Theory, AP Physics, AP Spanish, AP Statistics, AP US Government and Politics, AP US History, AP World History
Boys PSAL teams
Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Fencing, Gymnastics, Handball, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Badminton, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Fencing, Flag Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Handball, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling
Coed PSAL teams