Academic Year Sessions is the second program in which OWL Scholars take part after graduating from the OWL Immersive. During the school year we meet with the Scholars biweekly and work with them to deepen the knowledge and skills they acquired during the Immersive. The Scholars continue to work with the Raspberry Pi computers they were given during the summer OWL Immersive and with these tools we explore particular STEM & Social Justice topics. Additionally, we use project-based learning to tie together separate but related topics. We conduct field trips to sites where our Scholars can meet STEM role models, and finally we work to integrate STEM speakers and mentors into our instruction.
Exploring of STEM & Social Justice
In the Academic Year Sessions we delve more deeply into the technology topics we introduced in the Immersive. Topics may include object-oriented programming, graphical game design, low-level programming using the C programming language, and further electronics exploration using the Raspberry Pi and Arduino.
During the school year we build on the skill and knowledge that our Scholars have acquired in computing and technology to explore other topics in STEM through a computational science & engineering curriculum. Topics may include Astronomy & Astrophysics, Environmental Science, Biomedical Science, Chemistry, and Structural & Electrical Engineering.
We continue to explore local, national and global social and ecological justice issues through the lens of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and relate these lessons to the Scholars experiences.
We use Project Base Learning (PBL) to tie interdisciplinary topics together, allowing our Scholars to explore the connections between human endeavors that are often kept separate in traditional education. Scholars explore challenging real-world topics through sustained inquiry, reflection, critique and revision. Scholars build teamwork and leadership skills by working in groups.
As we develop a global cohort of OWL Scholars, our intention is to create project teams of Scholars from different parts of the world. We believe a diversity of viewpoints will improve the richness of experience for all kids. Creating bonds with Scholars who live in different context will broaden perspectives.
We use field trips or field studies to broaden the educational experience and make subjects more relevant to our Scholars. Field studies help Scholars make connections by providing real experiences related to our STEM & Social Justice content. Through field studies:
- Observation skills are strengthened with sensory immersion activities.
- Critical thinking and knowledge retention is promoted.
- Curriculum is enriched and expanded.
- Collaboration is encouraged.
- Awareness of community is deepened.
We design field studies that bridge two or more subjects together, and allow our Scholars to interact with role models and speakers in a STEM field. Field studies may include visits to museums, zoos, aquariums, natural areas (e.g. forests, watershed, etc.), municipal buildings, college or universities, nonprofit organizations and companies.
Speakers & Mentors
An important aspect of encouraging Scholars to push through the hard, but rewarding, work of studying STEM content is by providing them with diverse role models. Particularly important are role models to whom our Scholars can relate to ethnically, economically, or by gender. This helps to breakdown many of the stereotypes that our Scholars learn from other aspects of society about who belongs in a particular line of work. As the saying goes, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”