The purpose of the STEAM Program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) is to build off of the excellent work that teachers are already doing in each of these content areas by helping them develop activities where students can activate their knowledge by making interdisciplinary connections. Students should feel like they can be scientists outside of science class, or creative in mathematics.
One of the goals of our STEAM Program is to help students become empowered as rigorous tinkerers. When they see something they do not understand, whether it is a physical object or an idea, we want them to feel comfortable with opening it up, taking it apart, and trying to use it a number of different ways in order to figure out how it works. Failure can be really scary until you realize that it is the best teacher you have. By collaborating on iterative hands-on projects integrated into their classrooms, students build skills like perseverance that help them tackle large, complicated problems.
In the Lower School, the STEAM Program is focused on incorporating more robotics and programming into classrooms, so that from an early age students have the sense that they are active agents when it comes to technology, rather than passive consumers. In addition to strengthening problem-solving skills like estimation and visualization, robotics helps students learn to work together. Programming languages like Scratch, Jr. introduce young students to logical structures and algorithmic thinking, and allow them to create their own games and animations.
Problem-solving and Collaboration
In Middle School, students are intensely social at the same time as they are developing strong, independent interests. During Middle School lunch, the STEAM Lab is full of people collaborating on design challenges in small teams. Whether they are building marble runs along the walls or learning how to wire electronic circuits, students are engaged in creative and technical play. Through these informal experiences and through design projects done in collaboration with their classroom teachers, students learn how to break down a task into manageable steps: identifying the problem, brainstorming ideas, building prototypes, and refining their solutions.
Learning by Doing
In the Upper School, the STEAM Lab is the home of the Computer Science, Robotics, and Engineering courses. Using Lego, Arduinos, and TETRIX, students have the facilities to build their programming and engineering skills in an exploratory environment where creative misuse is encouraged. Students have access to a variety of supplies, including soldering and rework stations, hand tools, electrical components, and 3D printers.
The aim of this course is to provide a foundation in computer science both to students interested in pursuing software engineering as a career, and to students who are interested in experimenting with new media. Students will learn to write programs in Python that can solve math problems, sort data, communicate with the internet, and generate images. By working with hardware such as Arduino microcontrollers and Raspberry Pi minicomputers, students will develop an understanding of how information is collected, routed, and changed as it passes through a computer program. This course will value creativity and collaboration as much as logic and clarity. In addition to creating programs to solve problems, we will be discussing social issues around encryption, digitization, and technology.
Engineers are experts at breaking complex problems down into manageable, solvable parts. By combining NASA's Engineering Design Process and Stanford University’s Design Thinking Process, students will develop innovative solutions to real-world challenges. Students will learn how to develop ideas from drawings to models to full-scale prototypes. We will use both computer-aided design and hands-on prototyping with a variety of materials in this heavily collaborative course.
This course is an introduction to concepts and techniques in robotics engineering. We will learn about and use a variety of motors, sensors, displays, and controllers. In class we will discuss ethical issues surrounding automation and artificial intelligence. We will begin the course using the Lego NXT robot, and finish with robots based on Arduino microcontrollers. Prior knowledge of coding is not expected or necessary. There will be in-class competitions and challenges, and a final project to build a robotic musical instrument.