During your time at Commonwealth, you’ll study biology, chemistry, and physics, all of which are graduation requirements. But the level to which you pursue these disciplines is a choice you make with your teachers and advisor. You’ll find that the sequencing of your science courses dovetails with your math courses—as you hone your algebra skills, you’ll be using them in chemistry; in physics, you’ll apply the calculus you’re learning to physical problems.
In all classes, you’ll find that the approach to the work is “minds on” and “hands on”: we train you to think like research scientists.
You will gain both a solid conceptual understanding of the workings of the physical world and a repertory of laboratory skills that will inspire you to ask important questions, conceive new ones, and address (and solve) unfamiliar problems.
"Analytical thinking is the name of the game.”
Do you have lofty scientific ambitions? You’ll find tough, college-level courses to attract you. Is your math training a bit weak? You will likely start out in a science section that helps fill in any gaps. Are you and a few friends passionate about a particular subject? Lobby your teacher, work together, and there’s a good chance you’ll be enrolled in a challenging new seminar the following fall.
"We learn to look at the patterns, the 'why.' Maybe we’ll forget everything we learned in class—all the facts, all the formulas, all the little details—but we’ll always have that spirit of inquiry.”
For any science we teach at Commonwealth, and in any field that interests you, opportunities to pursue your curiosity abound in Boston. Our own science team enters competitions; you can easily attend lectures and workshops (sometimes with your whole class) at surrounding universities. We help you find internships at university or industry labs or the Museum of Science during project week or the summer break. For a couple of students each year, these science experiences develop into longer, more intense, multi-summer internships. Or your project may turn into a submission to the Siemens Competition or the Intel Science Talent Search. (In the past few years, Intel has named three Commonwealth students semi-finalists.) And for those of you who like working with younger children, teaching interns and volunteer tutors are always needed in local grade and high schools.
These form an integral part of our science courses. As researchers in training, you begin with a question. With a lab partner or as a group, you usually design and execute your own experiments to probe and (we hope) answer the question posed. You learn to think, analyze, read, and write like scientists: you peruse scientific papers and reviews and learn to communicate your own findings persuasively both orally in and writing.
"In the lab, I learned that sometimes figuring out why an experiment failed and designing a better method is the most interesting part of research.”