Members of the faculty and staff, alumni, parents, and community business partners gathered on December 1 to discuss the future of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) at Derryfield. Peter Brandt, Assistant Head for Faculty and Innovation and teacher of mathematics in the middle school, coordinated the meeting.
Mr. Brandt started with a short history of STEAM education at Derryfield, noting that the school hired its first director, Marco Masoni, in 2015. Dr. Masoni emphasized the “design thinking” process, which begins with a problem that needs to be solved, and progresses through brainstorming, research, and testing before a prototype can be created. He dubbed the program at Derryfield “STEM-X,” and encouraged students to see themselves as innovators capable of mastering the kinds of creative problem-solving skills that are valued in everything from robotics to interdisciplinary team research.
The STEM-X curriculum at Derryfield has steadily grown over the years, and now includes required courses in grade six (Foundations of Engineering & Coder I, Scratch), grade seven (Coder II, Swift & Micro:bit), grade eight (Finance Literacy & Entrepreneurship) and grade nine (Computer Science Practice & Principles). Elective courses in the upper school include software design using JAVA, graphic design, and data structures. In addition, there are robotics teams in both the middle and upper schools. There are also opportunities for study at advanced levels or as part of Explorations.
Over a working dinner the summit participants broke into groups to discuss how students could get involved in local enterprises, what the next generation of STEAM students will need, and opportunities for robust and sustainable “legacy” projects (large projects that could be pursued by students over successive years). The next STEAM meeting will take place in early 2023.