A year in the lives and experiments of one exceptional high school science class.
Andy Bramante isn’t just a science teacher; he’s the head of the renowned honors science research lab at Greenwich High School in Connecticut, a school that has “no curriculum, tests, textbooks, or lectures.” Bramante’s students don’t just win science fairs. Among other impressive accomplishments, they discover how to treat Lyme disease and then get full scholarships to MIT, Yale, and other prestigious colleges. So it’s no wonder that Tesoriero, an Emmy-winning former producer at CBS and reporter at Newsweek, Time, and the Wall Street Journal, latched on to him as a subject. His accolades alone scream “amazing feature story.” But what gets lost in the author’s exhaustive storytelling is any sense of plot; the book would have made a much better documentary. Still, the story has lots to recommend it. Dividing the narrative by season and then into chapters starring a handful of students, Tesoriero meticulously documents not just the students who make up Bramante’s course, but also their incredibly advanced projects: There’s Olivia, who created a low-cost Ebola test; Romano, the reformed jock working on an antibiotic-laced liquid bandage; and the astoundingly bright William Yin, a senior who developed a new test for arterial plaque buildup that could predict Alzheimer’s disease. No doubt these are remarkable individuals (a glance at the list of awards at the back of the book will confirm that) with impressive stories, but by chopping the book up by character and filling each chapter with science jargon, the author slows the narrative momentum. Halfway through Spring, readers may find themselves flipping back to Fall to figure out which kid is which. However, the book will prove worthwhile for those interested in innovative approaches to education. Bramante, unlike so many exceptional teachers, gets the attention he rightly deserves.
Mr. Wizard meets Sweet Valley High in a fly-on-the-wall look at some of the future scientists of America.