The BSLC 2017- 2018 Course Descriptions are coming soon, check out the new schedule at out Calendar page




2016-2017 Course DESCRIPTIONS


Monday, 10:00 -11:00. Avery Kallas

We will discover how images and the eye works, and peek into the history of photography and photographers.  Students will learn how to take good still photographs with any device from your smartphone to a fancy camera as well as how to shoot good useful video so you can edit it together for video art.

Public Speaking
Monday, 11:00 -12:00. Adam Tierney-Eliot

In this course we will explore some of the basic skills necessary for public speaking and set them in the context of Aristotle's Rhetoric.  We will take a look at his three elements of persuasion, ethos (reputation or credibility), pathos (emotional and intuitive connection), and logos (reasoned argument) and put them into practice while considering if there is anything the old guy missed.

Self Defense
Monday, 12:00 -1:00. Vivian Pratt

Focus. Confidence. Respect. Discipline.

Improve all of these powerful traits within yourself by learning, and perhaps someday mastering, the art of self defense. In this class we will explore a variety of styles and traditions including Japanese Shotokan, Kenpo, Japanese Juijitsu, Okinawan and others. The techniques that we will study include various forms, locks, takedowns, grappling and sparring. The practice of self defense will improve your strength, balance, movement control and overall fitness - as well as equip you to fight off the occasional attacker!

Photoshop & the Digital World
Monday, 1:00 -3:00. Avery Kallas

Using Adobe Photoshop, students will learn the basics of how the program is structured, how to mange, reformat and enhance digital photos, and how to alter them to make their own art.  At the same time, we will discuss how Photoshop and "photoshopping" has impacted culture, art, fashion, advertising, the world, and maybe us. 

Self Assessment
Monday, 2:00 -3:00.George Popham

At BSLC Humanities, History, Literature are all intended to be part of a cluster, each class reinforces and highlights the material from the other classes. However, sometimes this can be overwhelming and self-assessment hour is intended to help with this. We'll spend this hour going over our notes from class and isolating the biggest most important themes and ideas. We'll discuss the ways that history, society and politics influence and inspire the literature we read. In self-assessment hour we'll write summaries, flesh out our notes, and ask ourselves questions that anchor our knowledge and deepen our understanding of the material from other classes.


Tuesday, 9:30 -11:00. Abigail Henrich

This student driven class will allow teens to gain practical cooking skills.  And eat the results! 

Spanish Study Group
Tuesday, 10:00 -11:00. George Popham

This is a group for BSLC learners who have made speaking Spanish a learning goal. In Spanish study group we will devise self-directed strategies for learning Spanish conversation. We will determine our specific goals for each eight week block and find the most effective ways of reaching our goals with the ultimate intention of being able to converse in Spanish.

Beginning Euclid
Tuesday, 11:00 -12:00. George Popham

The Elements of Euclid is one of the oldest, best loved and most influential books in the world. It has been used as a math textbook for 2,300 years, but it is much more than a textbook. People that hate math usually enjoy the magic of working with Euclid's elements, because of its beauty and clarity. Math can be beautiful!

Creative Writing
Tuesday, 11:00 -12:00. Willow Johnson

Let’s talk about words, their texture, how they make us feel, how they are strung together by meaning to evoke thought and inspiration. We’ll explore the words of authors, poets, friends, and learn to create stories, poems, and prose from words of our own.


Tuesday 12:15-1:00 The Whole Community

A time for our whole community to connect, get business and announcements shared, and discuss any new ideas, issues, or plans for the community.  

Fine Art
Tuesday, 1:00 -3:00. Avery Kallas

Do you want to make art but think you can't?   Do you love to make art and want more time to practice? Would you just like someone to help you make better art?
In this course students will learn all the tricks to making great art.  The tools and skills used in art, are the same tools that are used to improve art making skills, to make more interesting art, to be able to discuss art in a museum like a pro, and to see the world with fresh artist eyes.  Come join me in this all levels art class and we learn it all, and have some fun.  Students are asked to have a sketchbook, pencil and eraser: the instructor will give specifics the first class, students will not need to come to the first class with anything.   

Tuesday, 1:30 -3:00. George Popham

In 1848 Ralph Waldo Emerson visited France in the midst of great revolutionary upheaval and this European experience is always in the background of how Americans thought and wrote in the 19th century. In history we will be looking at the 19th century revolutionary spirit in Europe and consider its impact on American thought and politics. In doing this we will also be laying the groundwork for our look at history in the 20th century.

Omnibus of Science
Tuesday, 3:00 -4:00. Jack Kallas

Hop on the omnibus of science as together we cover a huge range of awesome science topics. We will learn about Earth's different regions, the formation of Earth's wildest places, the life found here, and what is necessary to support it. Find out what makes your eyes the color they are; learn how far you can a kick a ball off a cliff, or even, off of the moon. We will also perform some experiments, and chemical reactions, as well as build an erupting volcano.


Math Concepts & Practice
Wednesday, 10:00 -11:00. Jack Kallas

Do you know your PEMDAS? In this class, we will master the order of operations. There will be a wide range of concepts covered in topics like: geometry, algebra, trigonometry, and beyond. We will see there is nothing to fear about fractions, multiplication, or division, as we hone our math skills together and become math adepts. All math backgrounds and abilities are welcome.

Makerspace Project
Wednesday, 10:00 -3:00.  Joey Garofalo

Joey will be in the Makerspace @ BSLC all wednesday making a variety of projects with any member interested.  Projects include plant cuttings in self watering cans, bristle bots, & led art installations.  All skill levels welcome! 

Mapping the World
Wednesday, 11:00 -12:00. Avery Kallas

Using Davis Smith's innovative curriculum students will learn to draw a map of the world from memory and enlarge their understanding of geography while also gaining global cultural knowledge.

Writing Workshop
Wednesday, 11:00 -12:00. George Popham

This workshop will focus on how to write for college humanities and literature classes. We will learn how to formulate an argument, structure a paper, use  and cite sources to support your writing, and develop our persuasive and expository writing skills.

Creative Projects
Wednesday, 12:00 -1:00.
 Willow Johnson
Got projects you need help with, or ideas that flutter through your mind and disappear? Come to creative project support group - a community to inspire you, work with you, and provide a platform for your explorations and work. You can choose a project each week, work on one big project over a semester, or dabble anywhere in between.

Wednesday, 12:30 -2:00. Jack Kallas

During this time staff will go with members to the park around the corner, or the gym we have access to, or just get outside. We can move bodies, enjoy games, learn sportsmanship, play, and have fun.

Wednesday, 1:00 -2:00. Avery Kallas

This will be a student driven Psychology course. Covering the beginning of the field, how it is used today, and learning and discussing how psychology can help us better understand ourselves. 

Screenwriting & Filmmaking
Wednesday, 2:00 -3:00. Members, George Popham, Avery Kallas & Visitors

In this self-directed learning project members will be working together to write, shoot, edit and produce a short film. Members will work with staff to set up a production schedule, assign tasks, and find useful resources in this project. The project will involve writing, working with the art program and Makerspace to make props and sets. If possible we will submit the final product to The Collinsville Film Festival for a premier in April.    


Current Events
Thursday, 9:30 -10:30. Avery Kallas

Do you know a ton about the world? Do you know nothing and want to learn? Are you still figuring out what your opinions are?  Then join us for open and  informative discussions.  Using news materials we will learn about all kinds of current events happening in our world, from politics to pop culture, discuss what we think about them and discover how staying informed can be beneficial.  This course will be very student and discussion driven.

Nature and Spirituality
Thursday, 10:30 -12:00. Adam Tierney-Eliot

This course will begin by examining the writings of the New England transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.  In addition, we consider later writers who added depth and breadth to the conversation including John Muir, Rachel Carson, and Aldo Leopold.

Math Study Group
Thursday, 11:00 -12:00. Jack Kallas

This will be a time to hang out and clear up any math difficulties or questions you might have. It will also be a time to go over math problems, as well as share our cool math findings, and general math love. 

Thursday, 11:00 -12:00. Marjorie Kukstis

We will be reading and discussing fiction in various forms, such as novel and short stories.  

Life Skillz
Thursday, 12:00 -1:00. Avery Kallas

An every other week lunch class that will cover a variety of actually useful practical skills for life including but not limited to; balancing your check book, making a resume and cover letter, pumping gas, applying and interviewing for a job, stress management, as well as drugs & alcohol safety information, and sex ed*.  NEW TOPICS Coming this year! Including; learning styles, and how to be professional.   

*Parents and Members can feel free to contact Avery with questions, sex ed will be an opt out class so please inform us if you prefer your student does not participate. 

Thursday, 12:30 -2:00. George Popham

During this time staff will go with members to the park around the corner, or the gym we have access to, or just get outside. We can move bodies, enjoy games, learn sportsmanship, play, and have fun.

Fundamentals of Coding
Thursday, 1:00 -2:00. Jack Kallas

Can computers take over the world? In this class find out what computers think, and how us humans do the awesome things that we do with them. We will learn together just what an algorithm is, how video games work, and what exactly 'variables' and 'types' are, to name a few of the subjects. We will do programming in Javascript, html, C, and maybe more.

Music: Chior
Thursday, 1:00 -1:30.
Alexia Pizziferri
Member Choir

Music: Reading music
Thursday, 1:30 -2:00. 
Alexia Pizziferri
Learn to read notes and other musical notations

What the HECK is Art?
Thursday, 1:30 -3:00. Avery Kallas

Why did Van Gogh cut off his ear?  How the heck did art go from perfect paintings of kings and bowls of fruits to the crazy stuff out there today?  Why do people like making things, and can only the "talented" make art? How can I make something cool and fun or my own if I don't want to make "real" or "perfect" art?   These types of questions will be the focus of this class, where students will learn about the cool weird evolution of art, see the connections to all other creative endeavors, build their own creativity , discuss what talent means and make some cool (and easy) stuff all our own, Cubist origami frogs anyone?    

Music: Theory
Thursday, 2:00 -2:30. 
Alexia Pizziferri
Learn about the theory behind music and its composition

Music: History
Thursday, 2:30 -3:00. 
Alexia Pizziferri
Learn and discuss the history of music, beginning in the medieval period. 

Thursday, 3:00 -4:00. EVERYONE!

A time for the whole community to get together and learn about a wide variety of topics by viewing many amazing documentaries. Members let us know any documentaries you want to watch!



Every other Friday will usually have an outing available for members to go on. The center is closed on Fridays for advising or instruction, but may be open for meetings.  



The course offerings at BSLC are always in development and change frequently based on member demand and need. Check back with our listings often to see what our members are learning. Also, members are encouraged to make suggestions and request courses they would like to have.

At BSLC, we do not have tests or grades, and we consider classes to be more of a jumping-off point than an end in themselves. A class is an opportunity for our members to work with others who share their interests and discover the subjects they are most interested in, the projects they would like to take on, and the skills they would like to build. Classes at BSLC place a strong emphasis on seminar-style discussions. They are intended to help members learn to be more self-directed and to carry on their learning outside the classroom. All members are advised to discuss their ideas and interests with their advisors, other members, and the staff and to explore ways to learn and develop skills independently.


All classes at BSLC are interdisciplinary. The goal of learning is to arrive at an ever-expanding and growing understanding of the world and how it works. This understanding should include art, science, politics, religion, technology, and history. The Humanities class, for example, is just as concerned with technological and political developments that have had an effect on human society as it is concerned with philosophy and literature. Likewise, mathematics has had a huge influence on music and art. We always look for ways to make these connections and encourage our students to do the same.

Add/Drop Week

Many classes and workshops in the first two months of the session meet once a week. During these early weeks, we encourage students to visit and try out as many classes as they would like. Add/drop week happens during the last week of September. At this time, we encourage students to choose the classes they are most interested in and to clarify their weekly schedule. After add/drop week, classes may decide to meet more often and cover more material. Our members are not required to take any classes and are free to work independently if they wish. However, if students do want to work in study groups or classes, the instructors and other members of the class will expect consistent participation. After add/drop week, we encourage members to only attend courses they are likely to stay with until the end of the session.