HSMSE’s subject-based departments include English, languages other than English, history, mathematics, science, engineering, music and physical education. In order to graduate with an HSMSE diploma, each student must complete requirements in each of these departments. HSMSE’s graduation requirements include eight credits of English, eight credits of social studies, ten credits of science, a minimum of ten credits of mathematics, foreign language through the third-year level, a minimum of six credits of engineering, and one credit each in health and music. Students must also complete physical education each term. New York State Regents exams, while required, are viewed as minimal competencies, which students are expected to master. Our curriculum is rich, varied, problem-based, interdisciplinary, and exceeds the state standards in every way.
Students select a concentration at the end of 10th grade (see Major Concentrations) and so will have more than the minimum in one of these academic subjects by graduation. In addition to these requirements, HSMSE students can take advantage of a wide variety of elective classes provided by each department. Some academic teams are offered as electives (Math Team, Robotics), while others take place as after-school activities (Junior Statesmen of America, Model UN, Euro Challenge, Fed Challenge).
As the name of our school suggests, mathematics is at the heart of everything we do at HSMSE. All students are required to complete an academically rigorous and challenging five-year curriculum in mathematics in four years. All students are expected to take mathematics every semester while in attendance at HSMSE. Students who complete our program will be very well-positioned to succeed in college-level mathematics courses and to apply mathematics in their fields of endeavor.
HSMSE starts freshmen off by immersing them in mathematics–students take math every day for 90 minutes. Although a placement test is offered, most incoming students take Algebra or a hybrid Topics in Algebra course even if they had it in middle school, as mastery of Algebra is critical to succeeding in the rigorous HSMSE math program. Freshmen take Algebra and Geometry on alternating days and take both Regents exams in June. Math Team is offered as an elective all four years and many students take part in regional and national math competitions including American Mathematics Contest 10 and 12.
The Mathematics curriculum by grade includes the following courses:
- 9th Grade: Algebra and Geometry
- 10th grade: Algebra II/Trigonometry
- 11th grade: HSMSE offers two one-semester CCNY college credit-bearing courses, Pre-Calculus and Calculus 1. Students also have the option of taking Pre-Calculus for both semesters. Students in the Math Concentration also take AP Statistics
- 12th grade: students have the option of taking two semesters of Calculus 1, AP Calculus BC or AP Statistics. Students in the Math Concentration also take Advanced Topics in Mathematics, a college-level course in discrete mathematics. Some students go on to take advanced math courses beyond Calculus; these may be taken directly at CCNY
At HSMSE, science courses emphasize an approach to learning that can excel in medical, scientific, or engineering careers. Some courses utilize college-level textbooks, while others are structured around problem-based learning. All courses include a separate lab period. HSMSE is the not a school where students merely follow directions and fill in the blanks in science lab. They are challenged to develop their own methods, and to analyze complex results. Though these courses are challenging, there are always caring and knowledgeable teachers, as well as very capable students, ready to help.
The Science curriculum by grade includes the following courses:
- 9th grade: Biology with Lab
- 10th grade: Chemistry with Lab
- 11th grade: Physics with Lab
- 12th grade: Choice of Advanced Biology, AP Chemistry or Advanced Physics with Calculus, all of which are college-level courses. The Advanced Physics with Calculus course is awarded college credit by CCNY.
The engineering program at HSMSE is designed in collaboration with the Project Lead The Way Pre-Engineering program (PLTW). This nationally validated pre-engineering program partners with high schools, higher educational institutions, and the private sector to increase the quantity and quality of engineers and engineering technologists graduating from educational institutions. PLTW prepares a more diverse group of students to become successful in engineering programs. All students take at least the first two years of the engineering program. The 11th grade Principles of Engineering Course is taught together with Physics as a three hour continuous block on alternate days. This permits the teachers to demonstrate the applications of Physics together with the theory. Students also learn to use state-of-the-art technology including AutoCAD Inventor Applications, Autodesk Revit Architecture Software, and Circuit-Maker Application.
The Engineering curriculum by grade includes the following courses:
- 9th grade: Design & Drawing for Production
- 10th grade: Civil Engineering & Architecture
- 11th grade: Principles of Engineering (all students except those in the Mt. Sinai Concentration); students in the Advanced Engineering Concentration also take Digital Electronics
- 12th grade: students in the Advanced Engineering Concentration choose from Innovation and Design, Networking, or Advanced Civil Engineering & Architecture
The driving philosophy of the Literature and English Department at HSMSE is the notion that books are the source of ideas. Students experience intellectual growth by engaging with these ideas and with the language in which they are expressed. Students learn to read texts critically, preserving the integrity of the texts while also drawing on authorial background and critical essays to illuminate the texts. By examining ways in which literary critics write about literature, students are exposed to new ideas and add layers of meanings to their understandings of the texts. The English curriculum by grade includes the following courses:
- 9th grade: E1 – Grammar, E2 – Introduction to Literary Genres
- 10th grade: E3 – Introduction to American Literature, E4 – Romanticism to Modernism in European Literature
- 11th grade: AP English Literature
- 12th grade: English 7: Academic Writing and English 8: Literary Essays and Short Stories
Social Studies Department
The Social Studies Department at HSMSE offers courses that include World and United States History, Participation in Government, and Economics. Furthermore, all Social Studies courses are taught at the college level and both senior level courses are awarded college credits from CCNY. All Social Studies courses offer a curriculum that prepares students for the New York State Regents Exams as well as analysis of primary source documents and creative group projects to enrich the learning experience. The Social Studies curriculum by grade includes the following courses:
- 9th and 10th grade: AP World History including study of the evolution of civilization from ancient times to the present
- 11th grade: United States History addresses the origin and development of American democracy
- 12th grade: A course in Economics includes study of microeconomic theory with personal finance and professional development components. Participation in Government includes analysis of the foundation of American government with emphasis on participating responsibly in civic affairs
Languages other than English
German is the core language at HSMSE, studied by about 75% of students. HSMSE works closely with the Goethe-Institut, a German cultural agency, to develop our German language program. Our students make the easy connection between German, often thought of as the “language of engineering” and their technical studies in math, engineering and science. Students take an annual assessment designed by the American Association of Teachers of German. Students who score at the highest level on this exam can compete to win summer study trips to Germany, and the Goethe-Institut also offers several students each year a trip to Germany through its PASCH scholarship program. The German program concludes with the AP German Language course during the senior year.
HSMSE also offers Spanish beginning at the advanced level (level II). Students who wish to study Spanish must pass an entrance exam and then will begin at the second year level. The culminating 11th grade Spanish course is awarded college credit by CCNY.