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Princeton Day School Launches Ambitious STEAM Initiative
Princeton Day School Launches Ambitious STEAM Initiative

Princeton Day School announced plans for an ambitious new STEAM initiative, which includes a revitalized interdisciplinary curriculum (with courses in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics) and plans for a new STEAM facility for the 2017-2018 academic year.

The plans were announced by a committee headed by Scientist-in-Residence, Dr. Leon Rosenberg, and comprised of faculty from all three Divisions.

STEAM at Princeton Day School: A Definition

At Princeton Day School STEAM is an educational approach to teaching and learning that uses science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry and critical thinking. The program focuses on integration, collaboration, innovation, and creativity. Its overarching goal is to blend traditional and project-based platforms so that they help all our students to see, interpret, and understand fundamental concepts and to solve real-life problems.

The success of this new STEAM program depends on fashioning an intentional, interdisciplinary connection among its core disciplines in each of the school's Divisions.

Why STEAM at PDS?

In a recent presentation about the initiative, Head of Upper School and Assistant Head of School for Academic Life Jason Robinson, noted: "The centerpiece of PDS is the strength of its academic program. The larger national conversation about the future of STEAM education compelled our attention as a leading academic institution. We began to ask fundamental questions about what we teach, how we teach it, and how to align our program with the best thinking and practices in STEAM education."

Princeton Day School's new STEAM curriculum aspires to make the subjects of math, science, technology, and the arts resonate with students from a young age so they are awakened to the power and relevance of these subjects in their day-to-day experience. All students will acquire a baseline of literacy in STEAM disciplines so they can be engaged, informed participants in a 21st century world increasingly defined by questions at the intersection of science, math, technology, and society. In addition, we will challenge our most motivated, ambitious students with a rigorous program of advanced STEAM electives that will propel them into future professional opportunities as leaders in STEAM fields.

The STEAM Curriculum: An Overview

The new curriculum includes courses in science, math, technology, engineering, and the arts, which will be taught in an integrated, experiential fashion that mirrors the interdisciplinary manifestation of these subjects in the actual world. As Mr. Robinson noted, "Boundaries will be collapsed, knowledge integrated, and teaching reconceived."

Freshman STEAMinar

As the foundational STEAM program in the Upper School, the STEAMinar is designed to give all 9th graders a baseline of literacy in STEAM disciplines. Embedded within 9th Grade Math and Science courses, the STEAMinar will explore interdisciplinary topics such as coding, computational thinking, statistical literacy, and biotechnology.

Computer Science

From "Introduction to Computer Science" to "AP Computer Science Principles," our completely redesigned Computer Science curriculum will endow students with technological literacy and opportunities for advanced study in coding and programming, all within a framework that emphasizes the important role of computer science in modern society.

Robotics and Information Processing

A newly-created Robotics course will give students the opportunity to participate in VEX Robotics competitions, while also situating the study of Robotics within a broader exploration of microprocessors and artificial intelligence.

Engineering

This project-based course will introduce students to engineering in its many diverse manifestations (civil, mechanical, chemical, electrical) and the critical role that engineering plays in modern society.

The New STEAM Facility

Princeton Day School is also pleased to announce the creation of a dedicated space for the STEAM initiative. As Mr. Robinson said, "A state of the art STEAM curriculum requires a state of the art facility where our new STEAM courses can realize their full transformative potential."

Working with architects at ARC Cambridge, Princeton Day School has developed plans for a 2000 square foot STEAM Center, where teachers from math, science, computer science, and the industrial arts will converge to deliver the Upper School's new STEAM curriculum. The STEAM Center will be constructed during the summer of 2017 and will open on the first day of school in September.

Within this newly-created space, students will contend with practical problems of the sort that engineers, programmers, researchers, designers, and developers encounter in their professional lives. Situated at the convergence of our math and science wings and equipped with the latest technologies, the STEAM Center will embody the school's commitment to teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics in a dynamic, interdisciplinary fashion.

Key Faculty and Leadership

The STEAM initiative is a collaborative undertaking that draws on the expertise of faculty from Math, Science, Computer Science and the Arts. In order to coordinate this effort, oversee the curriculum, and manage the new STEAM Center, the school is in the process of hiring a new "STEAM Coordinator" for the 2017-18 school year. The Coordinator will be an accomplished educator conversant with STEAM disciplines and able to support their full integration, while also guiding faculty and students as they explore transformative potential embodied by the new STEAM Center.

In furtherance of the school's STEAM initiative, Princeton Day School has also launched a groundbreaking collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania and 8 of the nation's top independent schools to form the "Independent School Teaching Residency" Program. It will enable aspiring educators to complete two-year teaching fellowships at Princeton Day School under the guidance and mentoring of our veteran faculty, while also receiving a Masters degree in education from Penn. For 2017-18, PDS will hire one Fellow to teach Upper School Science and become an active contributor to our STEAM initiative. For more information, visit the Penn website at: http://www2.gse.upenn.edu/boarding/news/prmt-adds-cohort


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