Building on the solid foundation of concepts and skills learned in years of K-5 S.T.E.M. Discovery curriculum, American Academy's middle school students take on next-level challenges in the S.T.E.M. Engineering curriculum, learning specific, real-world engineering skills with real engineering tools to solve real engineering problems.
As part of the American Academy middle school curriculum, all middle school students have an entire block (about 90 minutes) of science class every school day for two of their three trimesters, providing them with more minutes of science instruction in those two trimesters than they would get over the course of an entire academic year in a standard class period. This science class structure allows for an open, trimester-long window which we devote to intensive engineering and S.T.E.M. skills training with dedicated and specialized instructors.
The goal of the S.T.E.M. program at American Academy is to give all students a solid foundation of advanced and effective technical skills as well as the habits of mind to think critically, learn continuously, and to prepare, test, and improve solutions to any type of problem. In middle school, students take that goal to a deeper level by learning, practicing and applying a variety of specific and advanced engineering skills to real-world problems and solutions, including:
- Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD)
- 3-D printing
- Laser engraving
- Design, build, and test circuits
- Solder circuits
- Programming in Arduino (C-based written code language)
- Safe use of power and hand tools
Students spend several weeks building new technical skills independently and in small teams before focusing on a final capstone project to bring all those new skills together. The capstone projects are completed in teams so that students must work together to imagine, design, build, test, and improve solutions to problems as they would outside of a school setting. The challenging curriculum inevitably leads to frustration at times, but the practice of overcoming project challenges is a key element of learning how to solve complex problems independently, without someone else supplying a ready answer, or when no "right" answer actually exists.
Engineering Certification Program
Middle school students wanting to take the challenge of engineering and S.T.E.M. study to the next level may also enroll in after-school engineering and S.T.E.M. extracurricular activities (ECAs) offered by the American Academy S.T.E.M. department on the School Store
. They may even choose to work toward an Engineering Academy Certificate,
presented at graduation, by taking a prescribed series of S.T.E.M. and engineering ECAs throughout middle school. And all middle school students are invited to participate in any of the optional,
S.T.E.M.-based overnight trips for immersive learning experiences in geology, conservation, marine biology and more.