Upper School News

Photo Walk Series: A Morning at the Upper School
Nueva Communications

Our Photo Walk Series aims to provide the community with a snapshot in time—a celebration of work being done across grade levels, content areas, and divisions. 

On a typical Thursday morning, a cacophony of student and teacher voices could be heard in the hallways of the San Mateo campus. We invite you to learn more about a variety of Block 1 classes below.  

Experiment and Research Teams (XRT) Leadership
Students in the Experiment and Research Teams (XRT) Leadership class worked on their experiment. In this level 2 course, teams try to solve real-world problems using the scientific method and rigorous experimentation by running ongoing projects. Many teams share their research at the annual Experimental Biology conference in the spring.

In the photo below, senior Guilia K. observes Caenorhabditis Elegans as part of her team’s study of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance obesity traits in roundworms.


Environmental Humanities
In Environmental Humanities with Sarah Koning, students investigate the wisdom of the ancients, religion, philosophy, and the social sciences to see how the ecological humanities have a distinct and valuable role. In this specific class, students were looking at indigenous fire management practices to help them better understand the relationship between human beings and the natural world. 


Computer Vision
In Wes Chao’s Computer Vision course, students worked on creating image stitching and edge detection algorithms. They took multiple photos of a panorama and are learning to use functions to automatically detect the overlapped parts of the photos and then stitch them together (as Wes described, this is how Photoshop knows what to do when you tell it to do something to an image.). In this course students explore fundamental concepts of computer vision—filters, edge detection, automatic image resizing, object recognition— to learn how everything from phones that unlock using fingerprints to image and video search to self-driving cars rely on computer vision technologies to bridge the gap between pixels and meaning. 


History 11
In History 11, which focuses on US history, teacher Tom Dorrance provides context for a reading that students were going to do in class. The excerpt came from The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763–1789 by Robert Middlekauff, and as Tom noted, “is a narrative account of the pressures leading up to the American revolution that were generated by British economic policy. The goal here is not to master the details, but to get a sense of the reasons why colonists reacted the way that they did to British efforts to generate greater revenue from the colonies.”


Intro to Mechanical Engineering
In Intro to Mechanical Engineering, students were completing their designs of simulated spacecraft landers, before demoing their prototypes in front of the class. This class teaches students basic mechanisms—and how they make our world work—and power generation—how these devices make machines come alive. 


Spanish 3
In Spanish 3 with teacher Yolanda Navarro Rajoy, students were practicing future tense by creating skits to perform to the class. This is part of a unit on identity, a key theme of Spanish 3 in which students learn how life experiences shape identity. The class also has students explore cultural celebrations of Spanish-speaking countries, consider the relationship between life and the arts, discuss the impact of technology on our lives, and describe environmental issues that pose challenges to society.



Intro to Painting
Students in Rachel Dawson’s Intro to Painting course have been working on monochromatic paintings, learning the concept of color value (which refers to how light or dark a color is). Students will continue their exploration of painting by looking at space, beauty and forms of color, abstraction, representation, and expression. If you’re on campus, browse the hallways—you’ll likely see paintings from this course adorning the walls!



English 9
In Allen Frost’s English 9 course, freshmen prepared for class presentations centered around Circe and how her portrayal differs in Circe and The Odyssey. This is the first text students are working through in this course focused on literary foundations: analyzing texts, constructing arguments, developing skills as readers and critical thinkers. The fall semester is devoted to literature of antiquity and its modern echoes (hence the class’s exploration of Circe in Circe and Circe in The Odyssey), which prompt students to consider how texts adopt and adapt recurring characters, plot devices, and settings.


Read More

Seniors Dive into the 1980s and 1990s

For seniors, English class is a smorgasbord—a panoply of teacher obsessions and expertise. This fall, two of the newest advanced English seminars being offered are the 1980s and 1990s classes taught by Allen Frost. In these literature and cultural studies courses, students spend the semester reading, viewing, and listening to texts of all kinds (novels, poems, short stories, television shows, films, and popular music) from that respective decade.

From ‘Slimelapse’ to Mystery Bacteria, Students Create Curricula in Biology Internship Pilot

Last spring, Director of Internships Katie Saylor met with biology teachers Paul Hauser and Jehnna Ronan to explore ways to offer students hands-on internships for those interested in lab-based sciences here at Nueva. Out of their conversations came a new biology internship offered this summer, where students helped to design new lab experiments and to refine existing experiments in the 10th grade biology curriculum.

Ninth Graders Create Products Using Universal and Software Design Principles

What does it mean to build the courage to imagine and craft solutions to challenges? How can design thinking, systems thinking, data science, computer science, and design engineering be used to address societal issues around social justice and equity? In Design with Impact (DWI), a core course in ninth grade, students engage in projects that help them bridge the skills in these five key areas and design for others. 

History, Culture, and Colors Pop on Upper School Field Trip

It’s a rare occurrence for it to be sunnier in San Francisco than in San Mateo, but upper school students in Chelsea Denlow’s Postcolonial Latin America history class experienced sunshine and blue skies, which made the vibrant colors of the Mission District pop as they visited the neighborhood last week.