Our math and science classes are offered as one program in our STEM curriculum package. In other words, we don’t offer a distinct math or science class. Students enrolled in our STEM program learn math and science together.
Subjects covered in our STEM program
- STEM related literature
Project-based science, technology, engineering & math
What does a project-based curriculum look like for STEM subjects? Can students really learn essential concepts through a project-based curriculum? Our answers to these questions are FUN and YES!
Our goal is for students to come away from STEM classes saying, “Math is important,” “I use math in my daily life,” and “Math is easy.” We aim to do this through a three-pronged approach.
1. We use Aleks math to offer self paced math instruction that allows students to master math concepts at their own speed. All STEM students automatically receive an Aleks math account. We use a step-by-step approach via an online platform where students enjoy mastering concepts and can easily find a diversity of explanations and demonstrations. If a concept is more difficult, they can practice it again and again in a fun, game-based setting.
2. If further support is needed, daily math labs with advanced math tutors allow students to resolve troublesome math questions and get personalized mentoring and tips in a one-on-one setting. We structure class math time to support students in meeting their personal goals.
3. We provide a weekly “math buffet” – a list of projects students can choose from where math is required in a real-life setting. This increases both the fun and the pertinence of math. In live classes students take turns sharing the outcome of their math projects; we grow together through success and failure.
This self-paced, project-based, mentored approach to math keeps learners of all types engaged, progressing and excelling at math.
Science is an important way to discover truths, and science projects revolve around helping students acquire habits of precision and critical analysis, and around supporting them in establishing patterns of inquiry and the ability to think scientifically. In science class we focus on
- analyzing discoveries and processes that illuminate the boundaries of knowledge;
- considering the known and the unknown;
- understanding how things are known, or remain unknown;
- engaging in original research aimed towards answering real questions.
Through in-class and out-of-class projects, students gain scientific skills, and through reading about important scientists and discoveries and discussing what we’ve learned, we find the connections between math, science, history, art and literature.
Engineering & technology
We include projects that specifically focus on elements of engineering and technology. An early introduction to these subjects helps students appreciate their relevance, and increases their ability to venture into studying any topic with curiosity, energy and confidence. We design projects that tap into both engineering and technology, laying a foundation of knowledge that can support further inquiry.
We apply an artistic lens to math, science, engineering and technology. We look at what art has to teach us about these subjects. We also experiment with, and discuss, the natural and artificial intersections and distinctions that have arisen between these subjects.
Behind every great discovery there are countless observations and experiments; and behind those observations and experiments are fascinating figures and inspiring stories. These are an important part of our curriculum, fueling inquiry, lighting enthusiasm, and directing and focusing our STEM studies.
Our science classes are project and people based. This means we study both how to be a scientist, and what it means to be a scientist; we discuss why many of America’s early founders were scientists and why they saw a connection between freedom and science. We ask questions about the role of science today, and about the potential of every person to be a scientist. Every week, STEM students choose projects from a weekly project buffet of projects relating to that week’s science concept. At the end of the week, students take turns reporting on their scientific results, and mentors help refine analysis, methods, and conclusions.
In addition, every science class revolves around a scientific expedition (a semester or year-long project). This expedition provides momentum towards an end product that requires the scientific skills and knowledge of the entire class to complete. It drives learning towards an end goal that unites the class, and provides context for the mini projects and program content leading up to the final product. Each scientific expedition also requires mathematical, technological and engineering skills, and we draw connections among all of these topics throughout the expedition.
How it works
Live class interaction
STEM Class (50 min x 2). Students meet twice a week with their STEM mentor in classes with 20-35 students. We dig deep into literature, analyze data, brainstorm, report, and are inspired as fellow students and mentors share exciting science and math discoveries and project results. We engage in colloquia; we participate in live science and math projects; and we work together towards one, exciting end-of-year project. Weekly project buffets are introduced, and students report on successful projects. We see math and science in action and cheer on each other as we break through knowledge and skill barriers together.
Individual work outside of class
In addition to seminars and class, students spend time outside of class reading, gathering data, writing, summarizing, and completing projects. Out-of-class study time is roughly five hours of math practice, and three to four hours of science reading and projects. Math practice is completed at the student’s own pace, on their own time.
Here is a downloadable list of all texts used in the 2013-14 school year: Texts for 2013-14
2013 – 2014 STEM curriculum outline
Fall STEM expedition: Life-Size Science
Overarching guiding questions: How can a study of the miraculous human body and its systems increase my commitment to habits of health and well-being?
Term One STEM curriculum outline
Fall STEM expedition: Worst-Case Scenario
Overarching guiding questions: How can an understanding of our planet and its natural cycles help me become more self-sufficient and better prepared?
Term Two STEM curriculum outline
All classes will include supplemental projects and optional readings.
For more details on the 2013-14 STEM expedition, click here.