STEM and Logic
Forest School students study math through games, manipulatives, and discussion. This allows students to learn logical thinking skills, understand basic arithmetic and learn how math is used in the real world. Students are split by level in the classroom while working on math where appropriate. Math concepts are woven into the day, both indoors and out. Teachers lead songs, games, and activities outdoors that are designed to teach important foundation math skills. This fun, play-based emphasis on mathematical thinking provides a strong framework for elementary math.
Elementary students use the highly regarded Singapore Math curriculum. Each week, students also meet for a guided Math Circle. Math circles present advanced mathematical concepts to children through hands-on, real-life experiences, and topics may include fractals, three dimensional geometry, statistical analysis, understanding perspective, logic puzzles, and more. Math concepts are also common in our afternoon STEAM Power classes, which explores different science, technology, engineering, art, and math concepts each week.
Our goal is for our students to graduate Middle School having studied at least Algebra I. We use Singapore Math, the Mathematics Enhancement Programme, and the Art of Problem Solving curricular materials. Students gain a strong foundation in advanced elementary and middle school arithmetic, pre-algebra, and algebra. Students who are ready will continue on to more advance high school math.
The world is a laboratory for the Forest School! Students study the principles of scientific thinking through daily exploration of the Outdoor Classroom. These experiences, which often come under the guise of play, offer an immersive experience in a variety of scientific fields, including biology, chemistry, physics, evolutionary science, ecology, and more. Students learn to hypothesize, examine, and develop evidence-based conclusions as they play and follow guided lessons.
Elementary and Middle School students study scientific topics in a variety of contexts, including in our STEAM Power class on Tuesdays, and in many of our daily elective courses. Our program encourages scientific thinking and understanding, and we encourage students to hypothesize, study, and draw conclusions about their projects. Students spend the Fall working on individual and group projects in school for our annual Thanksgiving Science Fair.
Middle School students also take a multi-grade science class that synthesizes the years of training in scientific thinking into a rigorous, lab-based, year-long study of a single theme. Students study the topic through readings, lectures and discussions, and labs. This class meets weekly, for a double period that allows careful labs. For the 2017-18 school year, Middle School students will be studying Environmental Science. Our Middle School science class runs in a three year cycle that also includes astronomy, and oceanography.
Our Forest School class uses all of the technology and engineering that the Forest has to offer: sticks to mix mud with, tree limbs to build with, leaves to toss, and mud puddles to jump over. Learning is experiential, hands-on, and social.
Even in the Elementary and Middle School, learning is largely off-line and hands-on. Research shows that students retain knowledge better when reading from a page, writing with a pencil, and in interactive communication with others. We have ample opportunity to use technology, of course, and students grow used to using technology as a learning tools. Elementary and Middle School students take weekly programming and robotics classes, and learn to research assignments and projects using online databases. Students learn to analyze online information, and about internet security and safety. Our students learn to dissect computer hardware, and become fluent in multiple programming languages. But our philosophy is that computers are a tool, and not a crutch: our goal is that learning be hands-on, interactive, and social.
Logic & Engineering
The Athenaeum Learning Center aims to teach all of our students to think logically, critically, and creatively. To that end, we have specific weekly classes that promote logic and engineering projects.
Elementary, Middle, and some Forest students take a weekly chess class on Wednesday afternoon, learning the rules and strategy's of one of the world's oldest and most-played games. In the Spring, middle schoolers also take a formal logic course.
Elementary and Middle School students take a weekly Engineering class, where they learn the basic tenets of designing and building. These classes are collaborative, and often challenge-based. Students learn about physics, materials, and the principles of design while learning to work in groups.