Brooklyn private independent school

STEAM at Berkeley Carroll

Berkeley Carroll’s STEAM initiative is focused on offering students exciting opportunities to delve deeply into Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. But more importantly, STEAM is about pushing students and teachers to explore the intersections of these disciplines and how they can be used to solve real-world problems.

It doesn’t skimp on the science: students still learn the important foundational concepts of chemistry and physics. But rather than learning by lecture, or by teacher-designed lab, they’re learning in a way that connects the information to aspects of their lives they find meaningful, which is what brain research shows is optimal for deep understanding and long-term retention.

A STEAM approach also cultivates a multitude of skills, including collaboration, flexibility, creativity and innovation. And the “A” in STEAM isn’t incidental: from the design process students learn to generate ideas, prototype, expect failure and learn from that failure to create an even better idea.

When we look at the complexity of the global economy, global challenges like climate change, political instability and immigration, and the centrality of technology in modern life, what’s clear is that a traditional education doesn’t provide adequate preparation for success in the 21st century. All of our students -- the future scientists, yes, but also future literary editors, business people, nonprofit directors, educators, and arts administrators – will benefit from mastery of these skills.

The classrooms, science labs, and art studios throughout our campus inspire students to engage in the design inquiry process in all classes and our 2000-square-foot Beta Lab at Lincoln Place builds on the school’s substantive STEAM offerings – giving students more space to scale up projects, conduct long-term research, prototype and test inventions, and delve into robotics.

In the Lower School, students learn a simplified version of this process called Think, Plan, Do, Review and teachers collaborate to design integrated STEAM coursework for our youngest learners. Projects have included creating models of insects using found materials,  building boats that support their teachers' weight as they paddle across the school's pool, designing and constructing model food trucks with Spanish language menus, and creating a bottle cap mural of our school mascot using 100% recycled materials. Students also learn to code and program their own games.

In the Middle School, students identify and focus on solving problems that are meaningful to them, such as how to provide a delicious, nutritious snack at an affordable price. They explore questions framed as "How do we see?" through a variety of lenses, including scientific, humanistic, and visual.  Examples of topics they investigate include: the world water crisis and ways to work collaboratively to create solutions; improving NYC’s social, physical and aesthetic cityscape through new infrastructures; and supporting the health of the community and environment through food choices.

Upper School students have an expanded range of options for STEAM study including Chemistry, Biology, Physics Computer Science, Engineering, and Mathematics courses as well as the three-year Science Research and Design program. In these classes, students problem solve, often analyzing data that can explain observable, real-world phenomena and applying what they're learning to life and history.