Hbar Academy offers hands-on classes in Science, Math, and Technology. Most of our teachers are from Caltech or MIT and are excited to be offering courses in areas they specialize in. Our classes are designed for motivated middle school students* and early high school students who want to explore science and math.
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Previous Class Offerings
The Pasadena Math Circle is for math loving middle school students (in
grade 6 to 8, age 11-13) in the community to gather and discover advanced
problem solving techniques.
Students have weekly meetings with mathematical professionals in an
informal setting to work on interesting problems or topics.
The Math Circle is designed to be interactive and focused on problem
solving methods. The topics covered in a Math Circle are not normally
included in the standard classroom curriculum.
By working in small groups, students in Math Circle create a social, active,
and fun environment to explore the beauty of math and its applications.
Archive of Class Offerings
Learn the fundamentals of aerodynamics, all while dropping moon landers, flying model planes, and launching rockets of your own design.
Aerobics (and Respiration)
This is a fun, dance class where self expresion is encouraged and celebrated. Draw moves from a variety of styles to tell unique stories in the language of dance.
This class uses algebra to quantitatively study the world of chemistry. Students will study physical quantities, develop math skills, and gain a greater understanding of chemistry!
All about Atoms
This class looks at the scientists and experiments that lead to modern view of the structure of an atom.
We review the fascinating story of a series of breakthrough discoveries that lead to knowledge of the
makeup of atoms, the size and charge of electrons,
and an introduction to the basic concepts of quantum mechanics. We will also explore how the quantum view of
the atom allows us to understand the organization of the periodic table of the elements.
In this class, we will consider a range of questions about how beliefs about morality should influence our actions.
How should we treat other people? What is the nature of equality, as it applies to the rights of people?
How does the sphere of moral value encompass other forms of life, such as animals?
What is our moral obligations towards non-sentient life, such as trees, or even the ecosystem as a whole?
We will discuss and debate these issues, informed by our own experience as well as
our reading of the answers philosophers have given to these questions.
Art of Science
This class examines the meaning of art and its relation to science, studying topics such as form and function in design, the nature of color, the beauty of biology, properties of light and optics, and the exploratory process of inventions.
Art of Survival: Scout Skills for after Civilization falls
Ever wonder how you would do stranded on a deserted desert island?
It is all good and well to prep for the apocalypse at our homes, but what can you do besides hoarding canned food?
It is never too early to learn how to take care of yourself!
Each session of this class will offer hands-on practice building necessities using only
found objects of the urban jungle.
The basic survival skills that will keep you safe in the dystopian future include:
building a cardboard box solar cooker, purifying water, making paracord lanyards,
starting fire without matches or lighters, First Aid & basic CPR, and navigating with or without
a hand-made compass. But where will we sleep, you ask?
We will also build a tee-pee, a garbage bag shelter, and a miniature wigwam!
The first offering from our Mythical Math series! Immerse yourself in a mathematical allegory while developing your skills with the most important techniques of Algebra 1. Meet the mythical Greek characters Sigma, Epsilon, Delta, and Themis as they prepare for the coming battle with the monster Python. This class goes deeper than a traditional Algebra class by inviting students to communicate and examine the abstract structure of their problem solving methods. This class is broken into part I and part II. Continues into: Geometric Constructions
Discover how all sorts of objects around us--from traffic lights to video game characters --use AI to make their decisions. Students will learn statistical methods and programming techniques that allow them to explore these subjects for themselves.
It’s time to turn their knowledge inward and explore the world of Biochemistry! We will study the chemistry that takes place in living organisms, such as metabolism, respiration, photosynthesis.
This course provides an introduction to the taxonomy, ecology, anatomy, and functionality of plants, fungi, and algae. Topics include reproduction and development of a wide phyla of plants, including their levels of organization, form and function of systems. Laboratory exercises using local samples are rooted into the course topics and will provide students a direct view into the fascinating world of Botany.
Students will learn about cells and their molecules! We will cover cell structure and function, DNA, RNA, the cell cycle, mitosis, meiosis, transcription, translation, protein folding, and mutations.
Intro to Chemistry
This class covers many important concepts in chemistry such as atoms, molecules, the periodic table and its trends, orbitals, chemical bonding, and the forces between molecules. Students learn to use molecular model kits to build molecules and to help them understand their bonding and molecular shape.
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Chemistry Lab I
Students examine the interactions of matter at the molecular and atomic levels, often using common substances that may be found in their own kitchens. This class focuses on physical changes.
Chemistry Lab II
Students examine the interactions of matter at the molecular and atomic levels, often using common substances that may be found in their own kitchens. This class focuses on chemical changes.
Coding in Python
Python is one of the most popular programming languages in the world. Use it to learn the fundamentals of computer programming and build a program to play a game of strategy.
How do we know? How do we perceive? This class will use demonstrations from the scientific study of the mind to better understand how we think and feel. We will discuss papers that report surprising findings of how humans work and put our own hypotheses to the test by running short pilot studies.
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This class is focused on providing a fun and competitive approach to mathematics. Students will learn problem solving methods focused on increasing speed and accuracy at the same time. The subjects covered in this class vary so that each class offers something new and exciting!
Students will learn tricks to solve math problems in popular national math competitions such as Mathcounts, Math Olympiad and AMC.
Prerequisites: Algebra 1
Introduction to computer programming using the popular and versatile language Java. Students will learn the basics of programming while creating their very own games and tools.
A growing trend among highschools is to teach conceptual Physics first. This class will use demos and discussion to illustrate the major ideas of Physics. We will also review the mathematical
methods (from Algebra and Geometry) that you need to truly understand the subject. Take-home labs give students a chance to explore independently.
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You've made the major scientific breakthrough. Now, make yourself heard! Students will learn to communicate their ideas by gathering evidence, crafting arguments, and presenting to classmates. We'll provide a supportive environment for students to explore the intersection of science and argumentation. Talking in class isn't just allowed, it's required!
Learn about basic circuit components and how they are used. Students in this class will use an
Arduino processor, breadboard, and sensors to build various electronic circuits, culminating with
the building and programming of an electronic car!
Requirements: Some programming knowledge (must pass simple quiz). Class entails a $40 materials fee.
We examine the problem of climate change and the necessary chemical background to understand it. Then, we experiment with technological solutions to problems such as aquatic pollution and water scarcity. Finally, we discuss the merits of different energy sources and implement a design for harvesting solar energy.
An introduction to the world around us and how we as humans interact both positively and negatively with it. This class will focus on Climate Change and the engineering renewable energies. It will also feature several hands on projects with Environmental Engineering.
Film Making 101
Explore the history of cinema and learn the step by step process of making movies. This course will lay the groundwork for how to make films by teaching the fundamentals of film production by guiding students through the pre-production, production, and post-production process. It will also help students develop an appreciation for film theory and history by examining the techniques of early pioneers and showing how they have influenced filmmaking today.
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Games and Theory
This class focuses on a range of games from tic-tac-toe to chess and encourages students to think conceptually about the theory and strategy behind them.
The topics in this course and in-class exercises are designed to give students a broad theoretical, analytical and conceptual understanding of game design. This course has two parts. First, students will learn what makes a game, along with understanding game progression and win conditions. Then, students will work together to design a game that is fun and engaging to play. We will also be discussing the future of gaming and the world of digital games.
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Geology of Southern California
Learn about how the landscape of Los Angeles County and surrounding areas came to be. Hands-on labs activities ranging from building model volcanoes to identifying minerals will enrich the experience. The class will culminate with a field trip for students and families to a geologically interesting site in Southern California.
A new offering from our Mythical Math series! Continue the voyage of Sigma as they journey across the sea, charting a course in search of Python. This class goes deeper than a traditional geometry class by making extensive use of the compass and straightedge to construct diagrams, proofs, and sensible number system that reveals powerful insights into the world. Sequel to: Algebra Bootcamp. Continues with: TBA
This course provides a basic study of the human body along with an introduction to each of the major physiological organ systems (cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, endocrine, neural, and gastrointestinal) as well as basic concepts of cellular physiology. This course will involve a balance between overall anatomical study and histology with an emphasis on form-function relationships. This class will involve some laboratory exercises.
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A deep study of the transition series including some of the most interesting metal groups whose high energy electrons give rise to beautiful minerals and technological applications.
Inorganic Chemistry and Materials
Take a look at how the shapes of metal-containing molecules are determined by examining molecular symmetry,
ligands, and catalysts. We will explore the properties of larger molecules and crystal structures along with
modern technologies such as polymers, semiconductors, and nanomaterials.
Prerequisites: Students should be proficient in typing and comfortable operating a computer. Homework will include programming assignments. Students should bring a laptop to class.
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Join us for an exploration of biology through hands-on experimentation. During this course, we will get a better understanding of the methods biologists have used to explore the mysteries of life while having fun learning to work in the lab. This class will perform an animal dissection.
Making Law and Government in the United States of America
This class will examine how the law shapes society in the United States. We will examine the American system of government as outlined in the U.S. Constitution, including the powers of the U.S. President, Congress, and the judicial branch. We will examine how law is made in courtrooms and legislatures, and we will examine the difference between local, state, and federal laws and law-making processes. We will also look at major issues in Constitutional law and how these have developed over time. The course aims to educate students about the structure of American law making and government. Students are encouraged to ask questions about how materials covered relate to current events and their own daily lives.
Ever wonder what it's made of? Materials Science is the study of the elements, allotropes, nano-structures, semiconductors, and polymers that make our world work!
Math and Music
Explore the connections between mathematics and music: from rhythms to tones to harmonies. This class will give a broad overview of the math and physics that underly all areas of music. Students will experiment with the sounds produced by different instruments, including computers, and will use math to develop their own musical innovations. Finally, they will apply their knowledge in a musical project to convey their own mathematical themes.
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Math in Action
Explore engineering concepts by designing and building fun things! Learn the how and the why the world around you works!
Learn about the structure of the atmosphere and what causes weather, including precipitation, storms, cyclonic systems, and severe weather. We will learn about basic laws of physics and thermodynamics to understand global circulation, stability, and wind patterns. Students will also get an introduction to forecasting the weather with weather maps and satellite imagery.
Microscopy is the use of lensed instruments to magnify objects to a resolution beyond what can be seen with the naked eye. In this class, students will explore this world by using a compound light microscope and a stereo microscope.
Molecular Biology: Genetics and Evolution
Students dive into Mendelian and Non-Mendelian genetics, gene regulation and expression, and genetic engineering. We will cover the Genome Project, molecular sequencing, gene therapy, and cloning.
Through the use of a simple electronic music project, the students in this class take a hands-on approach to the transformation of an audio wave in the air to an electrical impulse and back into a compression wave in a medium. Basic concepts of electronic signal paths and acoustic physics will be tackled through the visual aids of the components of a supremely satisfying and functional musical project.
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Mythometry: The Structure of Narrative
The Greek word ‘mythos’ means ‘story’ (or ‘narrative’) and ‘metria’ means to take measurements. In this class, we will read excerpts from some of the classic stories from ancient civilizations, including Homer and Virgil, their modern re-interpretations, and also consider the mathematical structure underlying them.
Learn the basic electronics and biology of the brain. What is it made out of? What is electricity and how do neurons use it to transmit information? Students will learn some cellular neurobiology to identify the major parts of the neuron as well as the mathematics of how they process electrical information.
Number Theory is one of the oldest and most fundamental branches of mathematics. We will use tools like prime numbers and greatest common factors to study properties of integers. Topics will include divisibility, square-free numbers, Euler's totient function, modular numbers, and more.
Prerequisites: Basic algebra
Optics and Light
What is light and how do we use it?
We review the wave theory of light to develop explanations for a variety of visible and invisible phenomena,
including the color of the sky, the structure and creation of rainbows, and the composition of the stars.
Then we continue into how we have applied our wave and particle understanding of light to create technologies like lasers,
sensors, medical imaging, data storage in CD/DVD/BluRay, and telecommunication networks using GPS.
Finally, we also consider how the nature of light broadens our perspective on the age and size
of the universe, how life on Earth takes advantage of and is affected by its properties, and review some of
the latest experiments that attempt to find particles than can travel faster than light.
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Students will study an exciting area of chemistry called organic chemistry!The focus of this class is to learn about the structure,properties, and reactions of organic compounds. Important topics include resonance, valence bond theory, hybridization, and molecular geometry. Students will acquire a new language to be able to draw and name organic molecules properly.
An overview of sentient thought, this class discusses the most basic properties of what makes human consciousness seemingly unique. Drawing from the Cartesian principle of "Cogito ergo sum" the class will analyze the meaning and impact of that maxim on scientific and popular conceptions of what it means to be a decision-making, pattern-seeking entity.
Philosophy and Science Fiction
The imaginative world of Sci Fi has addressed some of the biggest philosophical questions in human history, such as good and evil, free will, and cultural relativism.
This class will draw from popular movies, including Star Wars, Minority Report, and Lord of the Rings to
catalyze discussion of the trickiest and inspiring philosophical questions.
In this class, we make equations come to life by applying the knowledge of science in nature. The focus of this class will be on the one-dimensional motion of objects. Students will gain a practical understanding of classical mechanics by applying theory to conduct fun and surprising experiments.
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Physics Lab II
Students will continue their study of physics with more exciting and insightful experiments. They will become familiar with 2-D motion, including circular motion, harmonic motion, the period of a pendulum, moment of inertia, ballistic motion, pulleys, and the invisible forces of electricity and magnetism.
This course will use puzzles, games, and out of the box exercises to find solution to interesting and pertinent problems. You will learn methods of solving famous mathematical problems and modern real life dilemmas.
Learn circuit design and programming of micro-controllers to build robots. Using the Arduino electronics platform, students will take high-speed photographs, make games, and create autonomous driving bots.
Rocket to Calculus (an H-bar classic class offered since 2009!)
This class makes use of actual rockets and simulations to teach students the basics of algebra, geometry, and pre-calculus. Students will learn conceptual physics at the same time as they learn the intuitive ideas of changing quantities. Calculations will be brought to life with a real rocket launch!
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Science Fair Fridays
A new science fair every week! Combine our artistic skills with science knowledge to create something
new every session. We will recreate the classic school science fair experiments while learning the
Why & How of each. Science Fairs are not only opportunities for the student to create & learn, but also
to present their understanding. Thus each session will end with a show & tell, where students can work on
their communication skills in a welcoming and supportive environment.
An overview of all aspects of science, including the methods, the discoveries, and the daily lives of the people working in the field. Each day will focus on a different branch of science through a discussion lead by a subject-area specialist. This class will cover a wide range of subjects from astronomy to zoology, including neuroscience, geophysics, and chemistry. Throughout, we will consider both the unique details and the universal themes that define what it means for something to be considered a "science."
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Scientists Like Me
This class follows influential scientists from their childhoods to their great achievements, emphasizing the influences and experiences that molded their minds. Students will sample from a diverse set of scientific fields, reliving and recreating some of the classic experiments that have illuminated our world.
Science Literature Review
Discuss the latest findings, theories, and controversies that modern science has to offer. Students will compare and critique the methods and interpretations of cutting edge research experiments reported in the literature.
Scientists Like Me: Women in Science
Throughout history, many women have made fundamental contributions to science and math. Learn about the historical context for these discoveries and recreate classical experiments in fields such as astronomy, chemistry, and computer science. Learn about current cutting edge research in fields such as particle physics, molecular biology, and neuroscience. We will explore questions such as “What are the unique challenges for women in science? What does the future hold for the field?”
Learn programming through the visual and easy Scratch language. Throughout the class, students will work towards building their own game using techniques taught in class.
Discover the Solar System the same way that American scientists did—through the missions to Outer Space! We will cover both manned and unmanned explorations of the solar system. This course features a field trip to the California Science Center to see the retired space shuttle, Endeavour. At the end, design your own mission to Mars!
Use Legos and and easy to learn Mindstorm Masters program to learn about and build an autonomous robot that can accomplish several tasks.
This class is a practicum and minor history survey of the mechanics of the art of theater. In this project-based class the students will work together to put a show up for an audience while learning the ins and outs of what it takes to put on a production.
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From Sponges and Siphonophores to Avians and African elephants, zoology is the study of animal bodies, behavior, and communities. In this class, we will learn about animal lives in the water, on land, and in the air, and how the bewildering variety of creatures that share our world came to be. We will examine how evolution gave rise to creatures' extraordinary physical abilities, and the physiological changes that accompany. Join us for this exploration of the animal world. This class will perform several animal dissections.