Bronx High school for Science and Technology
Founded in 1938, the Bronx High School of Science is renowned for producing the eight Nobel Prize-winning graduates and six Pulitzer Prize winners. The school offers a rigorous STEM curriculum with a focus on critical thinking and problem-solving.
On the most recent U.S. News and World Report’s list of the top 100 high schools in the nation, BHSS ranked 46 in the nation and 8 in the state of New York.
Enrollment has jumped to over 3,000, and the average class size is 34. Despite Bronx Science’s size, students say that they don’t feel anonymous and that their courses and teachers are effective.
- Enrollment 3016
- College Matriculation 99.7%
- Graduation rate 100%
Rigorous Course Offerings
The Advanced Placement (AP) participation rate at Bronx Science is 96 percent, and the school offers every AP course available, with the exception of AP German.
Because students often exhaust even these extensive AP courses, the school also offers “post-AP” classes, including multivariable calculus, genetics, and organic chemistry.
For the typical BHSS student, stress is a byproduct of this rigorous course load. Many students have long commutes, participate in multiple extracurricular activities, and complete hours of homework nightly.
Strong College Preparation
A rigorous course load offers its advantages as well, and highly effective college preparation is one of them.
100 percent of Bronx Science students graduate. Within six months of graduation, 97 percent have enrolled in college or another postsecondary program.
The school employs 12 guidance counselors and a full-time college advisor. They host college admissions officers on campus regularly, and they invite BHSS alumni to conduct practice interviews with seniors.
Many Bronx Science teachers are alumni themselves, and many have PhDs in their fields. Collaborative, hands-on learning is encouraged, and teachers have time in their daily schedules to plan lessons with teachers of the same subject.
Focus on Math and Science
As the name suggests, Bronx Science is best known for its excellent STEM education. Higher level courses and electives in math, science, and technology are offered, and all students take a writing seminar and research literacy class during freshman year.
The courses teach students to design their own experiments, analyze science articles, and defend their own arguments in both discussion and writing.
About 10 percent of Bronx Science students choose to pursue a three-year research track. These students ultimately work on an independent research project with one BHSS teacher and one outside expert. After working in labs or field settings throughout the summer, the students enter their projects in national competitions, and a number of them have earned prestigious awards.
Varied Electives and Activities
Despite the emphasis on STEM, Bronx Science offers a wide variety of electives and activities. 93 percent of students feel classes, activities, and programs are varied enough to keep them interested in school, compared to 73 percent citywide.
Electives, for instance, include Spanish narrative and film, a horticulture class, an engineering course on drones, and a class on smart phone app development. Arts classes are plentiful as well, and students can take Orchestra or Band as a sixth “major” class.
Bronx Science also offers eight languages, including Latin. So plentiful and popular are the academic electives that many students take required classes such as health, visual arts, and drama, over the summer in order to free up their schedules.
The school also has over 70 clubs, which meet once a week after school. Clubs include Stock Market, Rubik’s Cube, Astronomy, Model United Nations, Japanese Animation, and even Pokémon Appreciation. Bronx Science has one of the top debate teams in the nation, in addition to an all-girls robotics club team called the Iron Maidens.
Students can compete in traditional team sports at Bronx Science, as well as sports such as fencing, cricket, handball, gymnastics, and badminton.
Solid Academic Leadership
Current principal Dr. Jean Donahue is a Bronx Science alumna and the parent of a recent graduate. She’s also a former Bronx Science teacher who holds a PhD and has a background in cancer research.
Teachers, students, and parents report feeling satisfied with Donahue’s leadership and trusting in the principal. 96 percent of parents believe the principal works to create a sense of community. It was also Donahue who built more time into teacher schedules for collaborating and working on lesson plans.
Although the environment at Bronx Science can be competitive and stressful, it’s also supportive. Struggling students can receive help using a variety of convenient methods.
Seminar style after-school classes called “Small Group Instruction” (SGI) give students the opportunity to ask questions and review materials with their teachers in a more personal setting.
National Honor Society students have set up a peer-to-peer tutoring system that allows students to search tutors by subject area on an online database.
Bronx Science also has a Big Siblings program, in which 4-5 seniors are paired with each freshman homeroom class. Counselors run a six-week transition program for freshmen as well.
In addition to some of the unusual courses and activities mentioned above, Bronx Science presents students with unique hands-on opportunities that further their learning.
The horticulture elective class, for instance, utilizes the greenhouse on the roof. And students can learn about the history of the Holocaust while also working as docents at the school’s on-campus Holocaust Museum.
The professionally curated and designed museum is an exhibition space, library, classroom, and office covering 1000 square feet. Students selected for the course serve as docents and tour guides for visitors, and they may also opt to study and do research in the extensive library and Studies Center.
Is Bronx Science Right for You?
Bronx Science provides a challenging, STEM-focused curriculum that effectively prepares students for college. Students can also take advantage of widely varied electives, clubs, and sports. The principal and many teachers are Bronx Science alumni, and school leadership is community-oriented.
The school also offers interesting opportunities, like gardening in a greenhouse on the roof or serving as a docent and tour guide at the on-campus Holocaust Museum.
At the same time, some feel that Bronx Science’s size is a drawback. The school now educates over 3,000 students in a building designed to accommodate 2,300. With class sizes averaging 34, it’s possible that students may miss out on individualized learning.
Still, the school does offer programs to assist struggling students or those who feel more comfortable in a smaller setting. For motivated students with a passion for STEM, Bronx Science is an excellent choice.