This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing to use this website, you consent to our use of these cookies.
Upper School

Exploration Courses

Small enough and smart enough to truly personalize each learning experience.
Exploration courses are designed to immerse students and faculty in experiences and pursuits that inspire new interests, broaden skills, and sharpen awareness of the community outside of the classroom.  Rooted in academic and real world skills, they are designed on a pass/fail basis to encourage students and faculty to risk, to be playful, to venture into new territory such as the art of beekeeping, forensics, sportscasting, personal finance, podcasting and more.  

Now a number of major activities--such as Robotics, Model UN, yearbook and Math Team-- will be offered as Exploration courses, giving students reliable, ample time to research, design and compete. 

In the Upper School, Explorations will “share” the eighth block with the Leadership, Ethics, and Development program on an alternating basis (Exploration courses will take place on Days 2 and 6; LEAD will take place on Days 4 and 8) and students can participate in one Exploration offering per term.

Upper School Offerings

List of 45 items.

  • [ART]ificial Intelligence

    There is a lot of hype surrounding Artificial Intelligence these days, with a fair amount of prophesying about dystopian Terminator-type scenarios. Others assert that this is all overblown and AI is just another technology that we will learn to work with and assimilate into our societies. As is usually the case, the truth probably lies somewhere in between and begs further research and inquiry. This minicourse highlights the creative side of AI and challenges students to use AI to co-produce works of art that explore the coexistence of humans and AI. For instance, we will use an AI powered chatbot to create a script for a movie directed by human students. We will explore the AI tools that are currently available, no matter your level of programming experience, and devise original ways that we could leverage them to be creative. Ultimately, we will have loads of hands-on, intellectual fun exploring the “ART” in artificial intelligence! Whether your "thing" is humanities, fine art, technology, sports, theatre... ALL students are welcome and encouraged to join us on this interdisciplinary adventure.
  • “Front Porch” Music Jam

    Students will learn and participate in the math craft of “front porch picking”: traditional folk, country, bluegrass, and Americana songs. Aspiring stringed instrumentalists (guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, fiddle, cello, ukulele), singers, and songwriters will enjoy sharing music in a comfortable jam session format with the opportunity to volunteer to perform for the larger community.
  • Better Off Read

    If you love to read a wide variety of literature and have engaging and thought-provoking discussions while eating cupcakes, Better Off Read is the place for you! In this Exploration Course, we will create a Derryfield book club that invites students to engage with literature in a dynamic way outside of the traditional classroom. We will work together to create a process for book selection and discussion.
  • Boardgaming

    Board games have had a renaissance over the last twenty years and explore most any theme imaginable in the human, natural, and fantastical worlds.  Board games organically have educational elements built directly into their design whether it be strategic, statistical, management of limited resources, historical, or sociological angles.  This Exploration Course will introduce you to a number of games. I have many relevant games ranging from the casual - Blokus, Mexican Train - to the weightier - Takenoko, Catan - which would fit well into the 75-minute block. Students would also be welcome to submit their own titles for play.
  • Cartooning and Doodling

    Students will have the chance to develop their own style and representation of the world around them as they work to create simple drawings and images.  The medium will be paper with pencil and pens.
  • Classic Books for Classy Kids

    Between battles and dragon training, what are Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke reading on the Game of Thrones set? Classics!  KH, 1984 by George Orwell; EC, Little Women. Why do they love the classics? For the same reasons we do. Curl up with one this fall to find out.  We will read, discuss, and explore creatively what makes us turn the pages of our classic picks. 
  • College 101: First Year Essentials

    Whether you are a junior who is looking ahead or a senior looking just around the corner, this course is for you as it will explore some must-knows about your first year of independent living at college.  We will cover everything from basic skills (how to sew a button, do a load of laundry, make Mac n' Cheese), to how to access campus resources, to what to expect (homesickness, not feeling the fit...be patient!), to finding a social niche, etc. We will learn from movie references, readings, Skype sessions with recent DS grads, college student life coordinator guest appearances, and guest appearances and testimonials from our young faculty.
  • Comedy in Film

    Is comedy subjective or objective? Universal or generational? What constitutes humor and how has it changed throughout the years? Is what was funny 80 years ago still funny today? In the Exploration course “Comedy in Film”, we will look at some of Hollywood’s essential and groundbreaking comedies, including films from Charlie Chaplin, The Marx Brothers, Mel Brooks, Monty Python, and John Hughes, and discuss what is it about these films that make us laugh.
  • Community Connections

    Are you interested in learning more about nonprofit organizations, volunteerism, and the benefits of service? This program will be a mix of learning about the organizations in the greater Manchester area; as well as going out on a regular basis to perform volunteer work for some of these organizations. Some examples of where we will volunteer include New Horizons Soup Kitchen & Shelter, Families in Transition, and the ELL (English Language Learners ) classes at local elementary schools.
  • Competitive Corn Hole

    This spring, Upper School students will have the option to experience the thrill and excitement of competitive Corn Hole. Also known regionally as sack toss or bean bag, Corn Hole is a competitive game of skill in which players take turns throwing 16 ounce bags of corn kernels at a raised platform (board) with a hole in the far end. Our exploration block will consist of practice and learning the rules and strategy of the game through play. Participants will team up with a new partner each class for the first few classes until tournament partners are established. A class tournament will take place during the second half of the trimester to determine a Derryfield champion with the possibility of being entered into the NH State tournament.
  • Craft it: Art Table to Market

    Are you a Pinterest enthusiast? Have you ever seen homemade crafts and wondered, “How can I make my own?” Over the spring, we will craft: we will learn how to navigate the world of Cricut Design Space, learn about trademarking and copyrighting, marketing, the art of retail--and enjoy the meditative practice of crafting. We’ll learn how to design and make shirts, bracelets, canvasses, frames, and more. Students also will have the opportunity to participate in the 2020 Spring Fling Craft Fair in Londonderry, NH on Saturday, May 16th.
  • Digital Designer Workshop

    Here’s a chance to learn, grow and master a new design skill. In this LDYI (Learn & Do It Yourself) workshop, students will have the chance to play around with a digital modeling tool of their choice, including software like SketchUp, Tinkercad and Autodesk Fusion 360 or Sketchbook. These tools can be used to create VR environments, to generate 3D printable objects, or to laser cut designs. The tools and equipment of the Science and Innovation Center will be available for workshop participants, and there will be additional opportunities to explore the entrepreneurial side of digital design through marketplaces such as Shapeways and Etsy.
  • Diplomacy and Game Theory

    Diplomacy The Board Game is a very particular kind of game. It technically takes place on a board with the broad goal of conquering the map. However, the real game takes place between the players, as they build coalitions, advocate for themselves, and (at just the right moment) backstab their rivals. Being good at Diplomacy requires foresight, creativity, and ruthlessness. It also requires a decent amount of game theory. Students will read about strategy, play several iterations of the game (each game takes several sessions), and eventually crown a champion.
  • DSPN: Sports Journalism

    Students will report weekly on the US sports happenings for Nuts and Bolts, the school athletic webpages, community meetings, and other venues.  Students would be expected to interview coaches and student athletes to report on the various games that have taken place the week before.
  • Election 2020: Candidates, Processes, and New Hampshire’s Role

    In this exciting Exploration course, students will work together to learn about the upcoming 2020 election. We will likely explore the following topics: the candidates running from all parties and their platforms; the election process; the role of the electoral college; and New Hampshire’s unique role in the country’s election. Students will also learn how to register to vote and how to read and fill out a ballot. This is not a debate course, but rather a course of shared inquiry and exploration. Students will leave the course with a clear understanding of the election process and the candidates running for election. They will share their learning with the DS community, through a digital platform, a forum during a community block, or a mode to be decided by the students in the course.
  • Extra Life: Our Relationship with Video Games and Alternative Realities

    Video games make up a huge part of our entertainment, and as such deserve to be critically explored for the messages they promote. In this class, we’re going to be exploring the ethics of video games, both popular and indie. We will play games of course, but the goal is not to get better at Fortnite so much as think about what spending so much time playing RPGs, RTS games, or first person shooters does to us. We’ll also get a chance to experience some less mainstream, more socially conscious games. In order to participate, students will need to download Steam (a free gaming platform) and acquire some of these games on their own.
  • Fantasy and Science-Fiction Writing and Worldbuilding

    Science fiction expands our imagination and political awareness in part by giving us worlds that are both familiar and unfamiliar. Part of the fun of reading Ready Player One or The Hunger Games is learning about the world the characters live in, and then thinking about how that world parallels our own. In this class, we’re going to read a number of science fiction short stories, build some worlds, and write stories for those worlds. In the process, we’ll learn more about geography, politics, and maybe, just maybe, ourselves.
  • Financial Literacy

    Meant to prepare students and provide them with good judgment to make financial decisions, this course aims to educate high school students on the value of money, and prepare students to be financially independent. From basic budgets to the fundamentals of investment and selecting college loans, we will learn to take control of our finances with the confidence that we will make good decisions to best set up our lives.
  • Food and Philosophy: The Big Chew

    Are you after answers to life’s biggest questions? Do you love cooking and sharing your creations? Each week we will explore a different philosophical concept--such as what makes us happy, why are we fascinated by the things we fear, and why do good people do bad things--while also enjoying some homemade snacks. Join us, as we expand our minds and our palates and chew over some of life’s most fascinating questions.
  • History: Fake or Real?

    If you were to buy a piece of art from eBay, how would you know if it were authentic or fake?  How would you determine its authenticity before you in turn sold it? This dilemma is one that museums and the casual buyer face every day.  This Exploration Course will enable students to work with the Currier Museum of Art to ascertain whether a piece of art is real--or whether you’ve been bamboozled.  Students also will explore the role of art in political propaganda before using provided funds to make a purchase and verify its provenance with the help of Currier experts.  This course is for students who love political history, art history, museum science, and entrepreneurship.
  • Introduction to Beekeeping

    Did you know that one in three bites of your food comes from the pollination provided by honey bees?  Did you also know that honey bee populations around the world are collapsing, a disaster that Albert Einstein warned would lead to our own civilization’s collapse?  The goal of this Exploration Course is to study how bees live locally on our campus. We will collect data from our hive and our campus, learning how we can coexist with bees in the hope that we can build an environment that helps them thrive.
  • Lamplighter: Foundations of Journalism

    In an exploration of the current state of journalism, and a practicum in the fundamentals of reporting and writing, we will read some of the best articles published today, comparing the way news events are covered by various reporters. Students will experiment with different genres such as breaking news, features, profiles, and opinion pieces.  Drawing on articles and photos contributed by the Lamplighter Activity Group, Exploration participants too will contribute articles to Lamplighter and collaborate on designing and laying out the magazine.
  • Life Skills 101: Changing Tires, Building Shelters

    Learn some basic life skills to navigate life after (and even during) school with Life Skills 101.  Increase your confidence and competence in everyday life experiences by learning how to: change a tire, check your oil, replace your wipers or headlights, and other essential physical skills to survive.  Come acquire some hands-on experience as we actively practice the things we'll be learning about. A smorgasboard of additional skills may include basic carpentry and outdoor experiences such as fire/shelter building and introductory cooking lessons.
  • Low/High Ropes

    This class is designed to introduce participants to the low/high ropes course at DS. The course will cover the skills necessary to climb and belay using our outdoor rope course. The skills and information taught in this course will include: ropes course safety practices, basic knot tying, belaying techniques, intro to equipment, and terminology. 
    **If you sign up for this, you will be outdoors in all sorts of weather. 
  • Marketing for a Cause

    From entrepreneurs and corporate philanthropists to non profit fundraisers and activists, everyone must know how to market their mission.  Some raise funds; some raise friends; some raise goods and expertise. Together we will research how diverse campaigns (to be selected by students) have used language, graphics, video, and marketing tools to inspire others to join a common cause/project. Putting our learning to work, we will explore how to build on the Derryfield “Thinking Forward” campaign as a case study; then students will map out a campaign for a mission of choice.
  • Math Team

    Our goal is to challenge the current title holder for the top spot in NH--and we need more prep time and more participants to compete with this Goliath.  For those who want a challenge beyond math class, the math team presents familiar ideas and skills in a fresh, competitive, and challenging format. We will prepare for SMASH season and state championships.
  • Mathematics of Political Science and Social Choice Theory

    At the intersection of mathematics and political science lies a group of fascinating problems involving voting, political power, conflict, fairness, and social choice - the process of making collective decisions in the face of contrasting desires. Students will explore the Prisoner’s Dilemma, Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem, voting procedures, and apportionment paradoxes. Mathematics can illustrate the limitations, and the possibilities, for mechanisms that run our everyday lives.
  • Media Production

    Plan, shoot, and produce photographic and video content for posting on Derryfield social media. Get creative with 360, gopro, and drone footage; create memes for school spirit and campus events; document artistic performances and athletic competitions; or create a day-in-the life video. Drone footage of a nordic race? 360 video of a musical rehearsal? Gopro film from the robotics studio? The possibilities are endless! Comb the internet for cool ideas, strategize what the best format and platform will be, and fine-tune your editing skills to create several small projects.
  • Mind Masters

    Using reasoning, logic and a variety of reading sources, we will discuss the role the mind plays in our daily life as well as our future selves.  Visualizing your goals, persevering through challenging times, and taking care of the small things are all valuable skills that translate to success not only within school parameters, but in the outside world as well. We will develop habits to strengthen the strength of our minds.
  • Model UN

    This Exploration will teach students the basics of Model United Nations committee work as well as parliamentary procedure to prepare for their possible trip to the Harvard Conference. Students will prepare for and engage in a practice conference at Derryfield, including researching their countries, writing position papers and engaging in mock floor debates.   This mock conference will also serve as an audition for the opportunity to compete at the Harvard Conference. At the end of the Fall Term and at the beginning of the Winter Term, students will work collaboratively with faculty to research and prepare their individual position papers for their assigned committees to submit to the Harvard Model United Nations Conference.  
  • Moral Fibers

    We knit--and embroider-- to change lives.  Once we have mastered the fundamentals of various stitches and patterns, we each complete an individual collection to donate to a relevant charity of our choosing.
  • NASA - Failure is not an option

    The course would study the birth and initial objective for NASA during the space race of 1960-1975.  Particular attention would be paid to the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions as the US worked to meet President Kennedy’s challenge to reach the moon before 1970.  Connection between the historical record and the Hollywood portrayal of the events will also be considered. We will explore: the environment and dynamics that were at the heart of the space race; the engineering challenges that had to be overcome to reach the moon; and the human cost of the drive to reach the moon.
  • Outdoor Adventure

    We will learn and develop the skills and knowledge necessary to plan and lead wilderness adventures including, but not limited to, travel in the back-country, Leave No Trace ethics, map and compass navigation, hiking, camping, and rock climbing. We will actively explore outdoor resources, learn about basic safety and survival, as well as the leadership skills necessary to ultimately create and go on an adventure of our design and choosing.
  • Podcasting

    We’ll explore the art and craft of creating a podcast, from conception of an idea to production of a finished piece. Students will choose from any number of topics and create a narrative, conduct research and interviews, and compile and edit the audio recordings into one final product.
  • Red America, Blue America: Politics Since 2000

    Do you want to know who will be president in 2021?  Do you feel like American politics is out of control?  It seems year by year to become more polarized, more angry, less productive.  In this exploration course, we will explore the contemporary roots of the idea of “Red” and “Blue” Americas going back to the election of 2000.   We will spend most of our time in this Exploration looking at different methods of measuring and predicting election behavior from voting patterns.   In the end, you will each make your own predictions about the vote tallies and final outcomes of the 2020 election.
  • Robotics Team

    Our team, the Fighting Cougars, competes in the FIRST Tech Challenge. Each year a game is presented in September that involves a combination of basic challenges for a medium-sized robot to accomplish - moving, pushing, pulling, carrying - for varying amounts of points. Pairs of teams compete to get the most points. Our team comes with a large time commitment - in addition to Exploration block meetings, we have several Saturday meetings and scrimmages, leading to the state championship in early February. But there is nothing quite like it, and we espouse the FIRST values of Coopertition (competition with cooperation) and Gracious Professionalism.
  • Rugby Sevens

    A version of rugby played at the Olympic level, Sevens is a fantastic, welcoming, team building game that emphasizes support over individual performance, and coordination above all.  We will play “touch”, study tactics and history, and run around! All are welcome. **If you sign up for this, you will be outdoors in all sorts of weather. 
  • Start.AI: A Workshop to Develop Your AI Superpowers

    AI is changing the world as we know it and the pace of change will rapidly accelerate in the years to come, opening up all kinds of questions, challenges and opportunities related to how we live, communicate and work. Together, we will learn about some of the most important issues facing AI today and we will discover new applications of AI technology. Many of these tools are created in such a way that minimal or no coding is required!  
  • The Craft of Acting

    For students who are eager to learn the in-depth craft of acting, this first term will focus on classic modern American dramatists such as Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, William Inge,  and Eugene O’Neill. We will work toward and end with a major scene presentation. 
  • The New Yearbook

    Students will plan and complete the 2019-2020 yearbook over the fall and winter terms, taking photos, designing digitally, editing, and publishing. In the process, we will dive into in-depth discussions on how we might re-conceptualize and reinvent the Derryfield yearbook.  
  • Volleyball

    According to VolleyCountry, more than 800 million people across the world play volleyball each week. Of that 800 million, 46 million are based in the United States alone. Over the course of this class, we will walk through the traditional 6 vs. 6 volleyball game rules, learn basic volleyball skills (passing, setting, hitting and serving), and run simple drills to practice and improve our basics. We will finish off our time together by applying everything you've learned into a DS Maroon vs. White volleyball game.
  • War in Film

    How is war depicted in Hollywood? Is it glamorized, criticized, or satirized?  Each generation tackles the question of what it means for their country to go to war. In the Exploration Course “War in Film”, we will look at how Hollywood has depicted war by viewing essential and groundbreaking films, including films from Kathryn Bigelow, Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, and Francis Ford Coppola.
  • Weight Training 101-Introduction to Weight and Fitness Room

    Come learn the ins and outs of the weight/fitness rooms. Weight training offers important health benefits when done properly. Participants will learn how foam rolling, warm-ups, and stretching will reduce injuries such as sprains, strains and fractures. While proper form and using the correct amount of weight are keys to building strength and remaining injury free, we will also learn how to use free weights, such as kettlebells, barbells and dumbbells, as well as resistance exercises, which uses your own body weight or resistance bands, to build strength.
  • Zen and the Art of Rock Climbing

    Love of climbing? Fear of heights? Students learn about and participate in the art and craft of climbing: safety skills, climbing movement, technical skills, the varied types of climbing, managing fear through mindfulness, physical fitness, and more! Open to all levels of climbers from beginner to advanced, we utilize the school’s indoor and outdoor facilities, as well as plan and look for opportunities to climb on real rock. Come have fun reaching new heights in your personal growth!
  • Zumba

    Zumba® is a Latin-influenced dance fitness program that celebrates music and dance from around the world. Each time we meet, we will focus on a different dance style and learn its signature moves. Every class will incorporate 45 minutes of high intensity interval training (HIIT) through various genres of dance from Salsa and Reggaetón to Bhangra and African styles. This will be a high energy class with lots of movement. Be prepared to sweat!

The Derryfield School

2108 River Road, Manchester, NH 03104     p: 603.669.4524     f: 603.625.9715