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Explore: 2024-2025 Course Descriptions

View Class Schedule and visit the Application page for additional details.

“Live sessions are awesome and a huge differentiator from other online offerings. We plan to take other Explore science and writing online courses – one per year.” ~ Parent

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Explore Middle School Courses






Writing and Popular Young Adult Fiction (ages 9 to 11)
Live Session 2024-2025: 3:00 p.m. pacific/Tuesdays
Required books for this course cost about $40.00
Anticipated Weekly Time Commitment: 5-7 hours

Course Description:  This course will provide an opportunity to practice a variety of types of writing and to develop solid writing habits. Students will utilize mentor texts, including popular young adult fiction, for both topic inspiration and examples of techniques employed by each author. In writing assignments, students will focus on a few specific traits of good writing (e.g., ideas and topics, organization, details and examples, imagery, sentence fluency, word choice, and voice). In addition, there will be small and focused grammar and word usage exercises to facilitate mastery of the conventions of Standard English.

Please note, materials for this course are pulled from early high school level texts.

Course Objectives:

  • Learn and employ both fundamental and fine-tuned writing skills.
  • Draft short essays that include strong and effective introductions and conclusions, transition fluidly between ideas, and utilize the most fitting pattern of organization.
  • Develop writing trait skills including voice, imagery, sentence fluency, word choice, and supporting claims with details and examples.
  • Write across genres and adjust writing techniques as needed.
  • Determine audience and purpose in writing.
  • Develop constructive criticism skills by giving and utilizing feedback to improve writing.

Writing in the Humanities (ages 10 to 12)
Live Session 2024-2025: 4:15 p.m. pacific/Tuesdays
Anticipated Weekly Time Commitment: 5-7 hours

Course Description: This class focuses on the key building blocks of creating smart, interesting arguments, a skill that students will draw on for the rest of their humanities careers. This class is divided into thematic units and will include various forms of fiction, nonfiction, film, critical thinking skills, and extended writing or speaking assignments. There will be lots of time for discussion, both on discussion boards and during Live Sessions.

Please note, materials for this course are pulled from high school and early college level texts.

Course Objectives:

  • Defend own point of view and respectfully consider other points of view.
  • Analyze short texts and use the texts to form and support simple thesis statements.
  • Explain and analyze quotations while making connections between big ideas.
  • Review grammatical concepts to fine-tune editing skills.
  • Learn and practice writing trait skills including voice, imagery, sentence fluency, and word choice.
  • Draft short pieces with an emphasis on revision that addresses the larger issues such as effective introductions and conclusions, fluid transitions, and patterns of organization.
  • Develop constructive criticism skills by giving and utilizing feedback to improve writing.

Critical Thinking in the Humanities (ages 10 to 13)

Live Session 2024-2025: 4:15 p.m. pacific/Tuesdays
Required books for this course cost about $10.00
Anticipated Weekly Time Commitment: 6-7 hours

Course Description: In Writing in the Humanities (see course description above), students began practicing textual analysis, creative and critical thinking, and written expression; Critical Thinking in the Humanities is a continuation of that with an emphasis on drawing logical inferences based on evidence gleaned from a text, as well as crafting and defending a valid thesis statement based on those inferences. The reading level and course content is equivalent to what might be expected in upper high school courses; students should enter having already developed strong reading and sentence-level writing skills. The class is split into four thematic units: Education, Intelligence, and Learning; Creative and Critical Thinking; Law, Justice, and Vengeance; and Humor, Satire, and Irony. Each unit includes a variety of texts to explore, including short fiction and nonfiction, film, poetry, and songs. For those students who have completed Writing in the Humanities, this format will look familiar; however, the objectives become more challenging in Critical Thinking in the Humanities, particularly in terms of the length and depth of assignments.

Please note, materials for this course are pulled from high school and early college level texts.

Course Objectives:

  • Synthesize personal experience with the experience of others to form new ideas.
  • Write short essays in a variety of rhetorical modes.
  • Draw valid inferences from texts and craft thesis statements based on those inferences.
  • Integrate evidence from texts in the form of carefully chosen direct quotes and clear paraphrasing.
  • Understand the rules of logic to create rational arguments and avoid fallacies.
  • Balance creative and critical thinking to foster “outside of the box” solutions.
  • Revise awkward sentence structures to craft more complex sentences clearly.
  • Evaluate one’s own writing, as well as the writing of others, to effectively identify areas needing improvement and make useful suggestions. 


Pre-Algebra (ages 9 to 12)
Live Session 2024-2025: 3:00 p.m. pacific/Mondays
Anticipated Weekly Time Commitment: 5-7 hours

Course Description:  Pre-Algebra is designed to prepare students for the Explore or Davidson Academy Algebra 1 course. The work emphasizes employing multiple strategies and justifying answers through clear, written and verbal communication. The course includes very little repetition or extended practice on individual concepts and instead focuses on depth of understanding. Students’ problem-solving skills will be strengthened as well as the ability to manipulate rational numbers and variable expressions. Additionally, students will explore real world applications to give relevance to the skills that students are developing.

Course Objectives:

  • Think critically and analytically during problem solving.
  • Develop written and verbal communication skills needed to justify work.
  • Demonstrate understanding of algebraic techniques when expressing written problems as equations and in solving equations.
  • Apply mathematics to real world applications.
  • Develop an understanding of algebraic concepts needed for future mathematics work.

Algebra 1 (ages 10 to 13)
Live Session 2024-2025: 4:15 p.m. pacific/Mondays

Course Description: Algebra 1 covers the study of variables, constants, expressions and equations in a problem-centered, rather than topic-centered, format. The course is designed to develop skills necessary to adapt to novel problems and situations. These skills include investigating, conjecturing, predicting, analyzing, and verifying, as well as presentation skills.  Concepts are reinforced through increasingly complex problem sets. This course structure demands that students be active contributors in class activities; they are expected to ask questions, share their results with peers, and to be prime movers of investigations. Collaboration is essential as students work through the exercises.

Course Objectives:

  • Graph and analyze linear equations and inequalities.
  • Identify, graph, and apply relations and functions.
  • Solve pairs of linear equations and inequalities.
  • Manipulate a variety of expressions and equations, including quadratic functions, polynomials, rational functions, and radical functions.



Contemporary Science (ages 9-12)
Live Session 2024-2025: 4:15 p.m. pacific/Wednesdays
The lab fee for this course is $100 with an additional $200 fully refundable deposit after all non-consumable lab supplies have been returned.
Anticipated Weekly Time Commitment: 5-7 hours

Course Description:  This introductory science course will touch on content topics that include: Earth science, astronomy, biological diversity, and historical developments in science.  The main focus of this course will not be content knowledge (although students will gain content knowledge through the course) but instead on developing science skills such as: using the scientific method to design and evaluate investigations, writing proper lab reports, conducting scientific research online, evaluating sources and information for validity, using proper laboratory techniques, and collaborating with peers. These skills are essential for success in higher level science courses. This course includes hands-on science labs. Students will be sent a lab kit which includes most items needed for the labs.

Course Objectives: At the conclusion of this course, students should be able to:
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the nature of science, including the scientific method.
  • Organize, interpret, analyze, and evaluate scientific data.
  • Research and design controlled experiments with a clear, testable hypothesis.
  • Synthesize findings into formal reports.
  • Demonstrate proper laboratory procedures regarding safety, measurement, and use of equipment.