Our Education Goals
Our educational goals expand in each of the four years of the school, and we use different metaphors to describe them.
In a student's first year, STEAM Studio is The Library of Alexandria. The school contains centuries of accumulated knowledge and our goal is to reach every shelf in the library and open as many of the written scrolls as possible for students to learn from. When they enter the school, the students' view of the world and its possibilities will be limited by age, culture, and life experience. We want to change that world view to an unlimited one by exposing students to hundreds of fundamental ideas and skills - opening up the library of the world in the first year.
Rather than training them to become experts in a few fields, we want to introduce students to a large number of basic ideas and skills. We want them to practice architecture, grow a living organism, program a computer, draw a picture, start a company, act out a scene, build a machine, make a film, use a hammer, compose music, write a story, diagnose a disease, channel electricity, collaborate with a colleague, figure out their own learning style, use Math to solve a practical problem, think in two different languages, create in three dimensions, understand another culture, understand themselves, solder a wire, construct a robot, read a scientific journal, teach someone else, look through a telescope and a microscope, carry out an experiment, design a game, enjoy reading, master writing, make a web page, play a musical instrument, embrace logic, use the scientific method, think deeply, and take responsibility for their own learning. There is plenty of room for exploration and self-expression built in, but the goal is to reveal as much of the intellectual world as possible in the first year.
In the student’s second year, the school becomes an Artist/Inventor's Studio. We don't stop introducing
new ideas, but once students have been exposed to a good number of fields, viewpoints, facts, and skills,
they can focus on using their new knowledge to solve problems, exploit opportunities, and create. In the
second year, students find their artistic and technological feet. Equipped with enough basic knowledge to
strike out on their own, they can put their new ideas into physical form. Whereas, in the first year, students
learn how to program a computer, in the second year they focus on using that skill to launch a cell phone
app, teach robots to find people in an emergency, or conquer Wall Street. In the first year, they learn how
to grow organisms. In the second year they focus on using that knowledge to study the effect of the
intestinal microbiome on obesity, or figure out how a parasite disguises itself to stay safe inside a human
body. In the first year they learn how to build a circuit and cut metal. In the second year they focus on
building alternative energy sources, sensor-controller machines, and Future City designs. In the first year,
they learn how to write effectively. In the second year, they focus on arguing for local justice issues, writing in a scientific journal, and communicating with colleagues in the tech and artistic worlds.
Imagine Thomas Edison's laboratory or Da Vinci's studio - a place where all ideas are welcomed, new designs find expression, and experiments are part of every day's schedule. The emphasis is not on the technology itself, some of which will be obsolete by the time students finish college, but on the skills involved in using technology to make a better world.
By the student’s third year, the school becomes a Basecamp - the place where students gather their
resources before climbing the peaks and surmounting the summits. In this year the focus is on helping
students to introduce their own new ideas into the world - using the techniques, ideas, and knowledge
they've gained in the school. They take the fundamental concepts they learned in first year, combine
them with the skills needed to launch a project picked up in the second year, and use them to set their
own goals in terms of research, the development of new concepts, and artistic expression. This is the
year when independent projects become common, when students are confident enough in their knowledge
and skills to forge ahead into unknown territory on their own, but with school support.
In the student’s final year, STEAM Studio becomes the Explorer's Ship - upon which students set sail into
the world of college and career. By this point they should have enough knowledge at their disposal, and
enough skill in using that knowledge, to engage with the wider world and set a course for their lives outside
of high school. This is the year when college courses, internships, independent research, international connections, and self-started businesses become commonplace.
None of what happens in any year is exclusive to that year. New ideas are introduced in all years. Independent study is possible in all years. Starting a new venture can happen at any time. But the general thrust of the four-year cycle is to, first, expose students to ideas, then teach them the skills to use those ideas, then encourage independent creation, and then support students as they launch themselves into the world.
STEAM Studio staff focuses on essential life skills that enable our students to:
Develop self-confidence to explain, demonstrate, and promote their original ideas
Build creative confidence to approach the challenges fearlessly
Boldly tackle hard problems by learning how to break large problems into manageable pieces
Persevere to overcome difficult challenges despite inevitable roadblocks
Develop social skills to collaborate with others and treat them with kindness and respect
Be open and adapt to changing circumstances, different cultures, and new ways of thinking
Be able to move seamlessly between the physical and electronic worlds