Sciences

Biology

In the fall term biology concentrates on the topics of cell biology and human physiology as an introduction to the fundamentals of the subject. All the systems of the body are discussed and explored, including a detailed section on the brain and nervous system. In the winter term, the focus is on genetics, looking into the workings of DNA and genes, and discussing current issues in genetic technology. In the spring, the main topic is evolution, looked at through the lens of the unique organisms that have evolved in island environments, such as the hotspots of the Galapagos, Hawaii, and Indonesia. All three terms involve weekly labs and several research papers. The spring term includes an independent research project as well, the results of which are presented at the Spring Arts Weekend. Buxton’s extensive campus and greenhouse provide excellent opportunities for many of these labs and projects.

Chemistry

This college-preparatory laboratory science is primarily for juniors and seniors. Topics covered include atomic theory, phase changes, origins and significance of the periodic chart, quantum mechanics, chemical reactions, acid-base relationships, oxidation-reduction principles, and an expanded section on organic chemistry. Whenever possible, discussions are geared to helping students gain an understanding of the principles and mechanics of natural phenomena as well as modern technological advances. The laboratory portion of the course has been designed to illustrate chemical principles and to develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills of the students. This is accomplished by starting with simple questions about chemistry and requiring students to develop the procedure for each laboratory experiment that they perform. As students develop their methods and become familiar with the lab, the questions become progressively more challenging.

 

Health

This class will run for one semester and cover many aspects of personal health. We will study both the physical and mental/emotional sides of sexual health, substances, general wellness (nutrition, exercise, self-care, etc.) as well as social issues surrounding these topics. Through readings, discussion, various media, group activities, projects and field trips (perhaps!) we aim to create an experience that is relatable, relevant, and informative.

Freshman/ Sophomore semester elective – Fall or Spring

Physics

This course is designed to prepare students for college-level physics as well as to let them learn and work with the laws of the world around them. The fall term focuses on the fundamentals of Newtonian mechanics, work, pressure and energy. The winter expands the study of motion into centripetal and rotational analysis. The spring term moves on to the properties of waves, including sound, light and optics and concludes with a survey of modern physics: electro-magnetics, relativity, and quantum mechanics. Weekly labs allow students to make direct connections between theory and practice and to develop experimental procedures. Students also complete several independent or joint projects throughout the year with emphasis on exploration and design; the projects may be presented during Spring Arts Weekend. Due to the importance of mathematical descriptions in the course, Algebra II is a prerequisite for physics.

Psychology

The course will essentially have two overlapping parts.  One will be an introduction to what psychology is, historical influences in the field, and the neuroscience behind the curtain of psychology.  We will learn about influential philosophies, psychologists, and studies in the field that have shaped the way we understand the mind.  In order to place these ideas in context, we will also study the structures and functions of the brain, nerves and nervous systems.  The second part will look at topics within the field of psychology.  These topics may include memory, sleep, development, learning, intelligence, sensation and perception, disorders, drugs, and psychological health.  The topics we explore may be subject to change depending on interest.  Throughout the course we will have a variety of experiments that we reenact or mimic, discussions on how these topics are relevant in our lives, and projects to create and perform our own experiments.

 

Marine Science Fall/Spring

This elective course is made up of two semester-long courses that can be taken either independently or for the whole year.  Class work includes weekly individual readings of current articles followed by presentations to the rest of the group.  This seminar style requires that everyone be extremely responsible about meeting their individual work expectations. There are several papers assigned throughout the year, usually two in the fall, one in the winter, and two in the spring term.  The class will involve some hands-on labs, regular eveninhig documentary watching, and then more extensive field work during a trip to Cape Cod in the spring.

Fall:  The fall semester will look at the ocean in depth, using all the various fields of science. We will discuss the coasts, along with tides, waves, and tsunamis.  We will talk about the open ocean along with currents and El Nino weather. We’ll delve into the structures of the ocean basins: the ocean floor, undersea volcanos and deep sea vents, and the edges of the sea.  Along the way we will talk about the variety of ecosystems and environments in the ocean:  the deep sea, the polar seas, rocky- and sandy- shores, coral reefs, mangrove swamps, salt marshes, and the surface of the ocean itself.

Winter/Spring:  In January the course will move into a survey of marine organisms, looking particularly at the adaptations that creatures make for life in the oceans.  It will start with the very small – the viruses and bacteria present in the seas, and move on through the invertebrates to the marine vertebrates – fish, sea turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals.  We will focus on animal adaptations and behaviors, and end with a special concentration on the cetaceans (whales and dolphins).  Along the way many of the topics will address various environmental issues and discuss human use and development of the ocean’s resources.

Each semester is limited to 12 people and is open to sophomores, juniors and seniors who have completed Biology.

                                              

Principles of Computer Science (Python)

This will be a year long elective in which we start from the basics of writing code and programming principles, and build to much more complex projects. We will learn the control structures and patterns that are core to any computer language, and then implement them in a variety of ways. We will also learn about graphics control in Python with some simple graphic modules. While the language of choice will (most likely) be Python, these principles will apply to a wide array of languages that you may encounter in the future. As well, we will dedicate some time to the history of computer science and the fundamentals underlying hardware, software, and interfaces as well as some popular topics like encryption and cryptocurrencies. This course is appropriate for any student who likes getting immediate feedback from their work, is willing to do some math and calculation to make things come out neatly, and is not scared of learning by doing. There will be no tests or textbooks, though there will be numerous projects and short assignments.

Plastics Recycling: Science and Art

Independent Study class/ project based: Each student meets individually once a week, and
as a group one evening during study hall. Weekly assigned readings and research project; reading and
research discussion following in the group meeting. Early fall will focus on the physical properties of
plastics, then move into environmental impacts and economical relevance. The fall term will also
include a long-term project that would culminate in the creation of a product from recycled plastics.
The winter term would focus on artistic perspectives and considerations in the creation of
plastic products (possibly as a winter study.)
The spring term would be an opportunity for more in-depth research, focusing on
individual interests with the goal of creating two things: A comprehensive presentation of what has
been learned from the research, and a polished product (either one large piece of art/product, or a
series of smaller ones.)

Kitchen Logistics and Management

A layperson’s overview of how to plan for and feed large groups in a commercial kitchen.
Every Saturday the class prepares a well thought out and planned menu for the entire
school, exploring different cuisines and techniques. The school day classroom portion touches on
food safety and sanitation, as well as purchasing, and culinary math.

Agriculture

Work and learn in the school gardens and greenhouse. For credit, a four-hour weekly commitment:
two hours working together with Matt, two hours on an independent weekly task.

Testimonials

  • "Buxton has given me the freedom to be the person I want to be, make the art I want to make, and learn the things I want to learn. At Buxton we learn not only in the classroom, but in the community. We learn how to be good to each other and how to support each other. Buxton has so much to offer students, both inside the classroom and outside of it."
    Sadie
    Sadie Great Barrington, MA
  • “At Buxton you get to focus on what you want to be learning; whether it is social skills or in-depth studying- you learn to take responsibility of your education.”
    Francis Magai
    Francis Magai Troy, NY
  • “Living your education means to not only learn things, but to use what you learn in your everyday life.”
    Naima Nigh
    Naima Nigh Mexico
  • “To me, living your education means to be independent, to take charge, to not be afraid of asking for help, to learn from your peers, to love to learn, to take what you have learned from a loving environment and take it into the world.”
    Kat Hallowell
    Kat Hallowell New Hampshire
  • “Your education is more than just your time in class, it’s your life as a whole. Learning is not limited to a teacher teaching you something in a classroom.”
    Cynder Johnson
    Cynder Johnson Missouri
  • “To me, at Buxton, it’s not boundaries that you make, but the ones you break through.”
    Roy Malone
    Roy Malone New York, NY
  • “At Buxton, I can choose what I want to do with my education. I can design my own path and invest my time studying topics that I’m really interested in.”
    Nora Mittleman
    Nora Mittleman New York, NY
  • “At Buxton you can experience your intellectual development in a community that accepts your perspective of the world.”
    Ben Nigh
    Ben Nigh Mexico
  • “I felt instantly at home when I stepped on the campus. At Buxton, we are in school 24/7. We learn things in the classroom, but we really learn valuable things outside of the classroom. We learn how to work with others and respect each other’s spaces. Our education surrounds us and we learn new things everyday.”
    Emily Woodside
    Emily Woodside Albany, NY
  • “I chose Buxton over public school because I think I function better in a smaller environment. You’re able to get to know students and faculty on a deeper level, which is rare.”
    Charlie Starenko
    Charlie Starenko Williamstown, MA
  • “Students should be happy when they are learning. They should not feel like studying is a burden to them. You learn things from your living space and environment - you are learning every second you are living.”
    Jiayi Cao
    Jiayi Cao China
  • “Buxton has shown me that it is possible to forge close bonds with teachers as well as students. It also gives you the ability to try new things in an environment where there is no judgment.”
    Kristhal Ayala
    Kristhal Ayala Puerto Rico
  • “I chose Buxton for a small community-based education with focus on the individual as part of the world at large, along with the learning settings.”
    Katie McAvoy
    Katie McAvoy Boston, MA
  • “I love the atmosphere and how tightly knit the community is. At Buxton you take what you learn in the classroom and use it in everyday life - you learn from the world around you and see how you can make it better.”
    Cheyanne Williams
    Cheyanne Williams Boston, MA
  • “At Buxton you bring your education into everything you do, and learn important, relevant things that you can utilize all the time.”
    Rebecca van der Meulen
    Rebecca van der Meulen New Lebanon, NY
  • "In the last year, Buxton has become my home. It has provided me with a place where self-exploration is encouraged in and out of the classroom. I have made unbreakable bonds with faculty and my peers."

    Aurora
    Aurora Albany, NY
  • "To me living your education means enjoying it to the fullest. Do the things that make you uncomfortable, like activities, clubs, or sports you wouldn't normally participate in. Like the saying goes, "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

    Adrian
    Adrian Boston, MA
  • "Buxton has given me room to fully realize what inspires me and the resources to create it. The next big grade is no longer a constant worry. I have more space to be and do what I want."

    Lola
    Lola Williamstown, MA
  • "Buxton has given me the freedom to be the person I want to be, make the art I want to make, and learn the things I want to learn. At Buxton we learn not only in the classroom, but in the community. We learn how to be good to each other and how to support each other. Buxton has so much to offer students, both inside the classroom and outside of it."

    Sadie
    Sadie Great Barrington, MA
  • “A sense that everybody matters, that you are in a community where everyone can make a difference and reach their full potential, where you are interdependent and you work together, and most importantly where you understand that you can do whatever you want to do and whatever it is that you do, you have got to make a difference. I think that, more than anything, defines my experience at Buxton.”
    Peter Shumlin
    Peter Shumlin Governor of Vermont, Buxton Alumni

Live your education at Buxton

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