Spring 2020 Courses
View more information about our class held at Sierra Madre Elementary on Tuesdays from 2:30 to 3:30 starting January 28!
Please click on any class to view the full description for that course.
Spring Academy Schedule 2020
Come and have your world stretched with having fun learning coding, engineering, coding language (Block coding based on Scratch), with programmable multi-port Hub motors and actuators. We will research and test designs and build our bots to overcome challenges. Students will become confident learners who know how to undertake real world problem-solving. Mastery will be demonstrated by the application of the engineering and coding methods in field challenges, and the construction of creative projects. This class will require an additional robot materials fee.
What is the difference between a tornado and solar windstorm? Is Earth the only celestial body with plate tectonics? How do natural disasters and environmental issues advance land, ocean and space exploration? In this class, students will gain in-depth knowledge of earth’s systems and processes including earthquakes, tsunamis, and tornadoes while investigating the physical, chemical and engineering concepts that make space exploration possible. Students will be challenged to step up their application of the scientific method (think 2-stage balloon rockets!) and hone their critical thinking skills through inquiry-based investigations. Disaster control preparedness and assessment of environmental impacts will also be covered. Mastery will be demonstrated by the application of the scientific method to lab and field experiments, and developing constructive projects and analysis. This class requires a $25 materials fee. Please report any allergies to food and plant material.
Comics and graphic novels, or sequential art, have become some of the most accessible and engaging media for storytelling in the world. This course will provide students with the tools necessary to carefully balance art and language to construct narratives that bring the Hero’s Journey to life, from epic tales of adventure and allies, to adversity and triumph! Students will learn and apply elements of creation unique to graphic novels including storyboarding, page layout, panel transitions, text distribution, and more to develop their own characters and stories as action-packed as Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars. By the end of the course, students will have completed the beginning pages of their graphic novels, and will have a road map for going all the way through to a finished product. This class requires a $25 materials fee.
This class will run for 8 weeks (March 3-April 28) at Sierra Madre Elementary School. This course is designed to give students a foundation for all future mathematics courses. Through a "Discovery-Confirmation-Practice"-based exploration of basic concepts, students are challenged to work toward mastery of computational skills, to deepen their understanding of key ideas and solution strategies, and to extend their knowledge through a variety of problem-solving applications. Course topics include integers, the language of algebra; solving equations with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division; fractions and decimals; measurement; exponents; solving equations with roots and powers; multi-step equations; and linear equations. Students will build the habits of using precise language, practicing, and sharing their thoughts. Course objectives will be achieved using computer-assisted learning, group discussions, and individual /group projects. Students are ready for this course if they have mastered basic arithmetic and operations with fractions.
Learn how and why the world of electronics, smartphones and computers work. This extremely hands-on class will help students explore the basic principles of electronics and conduct experiments using Manipulatives. Mastery will be demonstrated by the application of the scientific method in the lab and building experiments, and the construction of creative projects. This class requires a $25 materials fee.
When it comes to prehistoric beasts, dinosaurs tend to hog the spotlight. For over 150 million years, they were the dominant animals on this planet. Then all of that changed and a new Age of Mammals began. Welcome to Cenozoic Life, where we will examine the animals that evolved after the dinosaurs went extinct. Prepare yourself for a paleontological journey featuring real fossils and animal artifacts where you will learn about everything from familiar Ice Age staples like mammoths and saber-toothed cats to megafauna species you may never have heard of, including a few that aren’t even mammals!
When Isaac Newton developed calculus in the 1600s, he drew a lot of pictures and saw it as a tool to study how things move and change. After that, it got buried in a lot of algebra and symbols. Suppose Newton had owned a 3D printer? Maybe calculus would still be taught with pictures and models. We will take an intuitive approach to calculus with minimal algebra and lots of 3D prints. Students will start off with models the instructors have developed, and go beyond by learning to modify them and develop their own.
Time to rise to the challenge! Students will work within the given criteria and constraints to meet a challenge each week. Classic engineering challenges will be mixed with structural art and a few longer-term projects. Some weeks the challenge will be more functional in nature and others will have aesthetic requirements. In either case, students work through the design process (Explore à Plan à Create à Test -->Refine) to solve the challenge. Materials range from recycled materials to standard craft materials and occasionally fine art supplies. This class requires a $25 materials fee.
As we enter an election year, we should understand how our country was designed to work. This nonpartisan course explores how intelligent people with very different beliefs worked together to design a government that was more just than any in existence at that time. In this class, students will learn about what each branch of government can and cannot do, and why we chose to design it this way. We built in the ability to change our Constitution, and we began to add to it before it was the law of the land. We will look at these changes and discover the reasons why they are important.
Forensic scientists use biology, chemistry, logic, and even computer science to crack cases and solve mysteries. In this hands-on course, students will learn and apply techniques such as hair analysis, untampered evidence collection, and DNA fingerprinting. Through the power of observation, logical reasoning, scientific tests, and modern DNA technologies, students will learn how crimes are solved and test their own detective skills. Mastery will be demonstrated through the successful solving of a simulated case involving all skill types developed over the course of the session. This class requires a $25 materials fee.
This course provides an exploration of mathematics as a science with an emphasis on problem solving techniques. A good math puzzle or magic trick can stimulate a child’s imagination much faster than a practical application. Students will discover the diversity of the puzzles and the various approaches to solving them, and as a result it will improve the student’s problem solving skills, as well as the general thinking skills required for subjects outside of mathematics. Mathematical literacy will be addressed through group work, research, and presentations. Topics include basic elements of statistics and probability, number theory and computational skills, logic, Venn diagrams, and graph theory.
Over the course of this class, students will become modern day Rube Goldbergs as they design and build a machine named after the American cartoonist and inventor. Students will first learn the history and mechanics behind popular Rube Goldberg machines and then set off to build their own contraption that relies on a chain reaction to do simple tasks. As part of an interdisciplinary class which combines engineering, math, and science concepts, students will propel themselves through new information as they work to create a final project that optimizes potential and kinetic energies. Mastery will be demonstrated by designing and constructing an original Rube Goldberg machine that successfully illustrates an understanding of concepts covered in class. This class has a $25 materials fee
In this increasingly interconnected world, what happens in one place can influence events halfway around the world. Sometimes it can seem too complicated to understand. This class shows how what happened in the past and the places where it happened shape what is happening today.
The human body can do amazing things! How does it taste and digest food, observe the world, breathe air, and pump blood? In this class, students will interactively learn about the systems of the human body and gain a deep functional knowledge of how different organs work together. Through hands-on projects and lab activities, students will better understand how the various human body systems work both independently and together. In addition, students will investigate how things like poor food choices can damage these vital systems, as well as the strength of the body’s healing power when put to the test. Mastery will be determined by hands-on projects and lab activities. This class requires a $25 materials fee.
Where does a world like Harry Potter's come from? It seems so complete, fans can believe they really are living there -- and yet it all springs from one person's imagination. In this class, we're going to not only play games with Harry Potter trivia, but also delve deeper into what makes JK Rowling's creation so engaging, and how we can harness those same tools. We will write our own stories, in the Wizarding World, or in worlds of our own creation: What if Harry had been a Slytherin? What if Voldemort had a crisis of conscience and tried to undo his wrongs? In the second half of the class, we will imagine that we were creating our own alternate universe Harry Potter miniseries. Students will get the experience of what it's like to be on the creative team that brings a grand project like this to life.
This course is a thoughtful introduction to advanced studies leading to calculus. It will briefly review linear equations, inequalities, and systems and move purposefully into the study of functions. Students then discover the nature of graphs and deepen their understanding of polynomial, rational, exponential, and logarithmic functions. The course focuses on the mastery of critical skills and exposure to new skills necessary for success in subsequent math courses. The concepts learned in Pre-Calculus are essential for careers in engineering, mathematics, the hard sciences, finance and some design fields. Course objectives will be achieved using computer-assisted learning, group discussions, and individual /group projects.
In this class, students will be introduced to some basic laws of physics through hands-on projects and experiments. Students will discuss and debate the different sources of energy that can be converted into electricity and they will conduct experiments to determine the effects of momentum on collisions. Students will engage in demonstrations of Newton’s three laws of motion, and they will discover how to do science--physics style! This class requires a $25 materials fee.
Do you want to be a rocket scientist, or to build and test your own airplane wings? Students will create and test 3D printed models of classic wings and analyze them. Then they will start from this base and create and test their own wings for different applications. Next, we will leave the atmosphere to develop models of orbits, gravity wells and gravitational waves, and understand how some simple rules determine how planets and spacecraft fly around our solar system. Finally we will move out into the galaxy a little farther and find out how scientists know that there are planets around other stars. Students will demonstrate mastery by creating and being able to explain various kinds of physical and software models. A little coding experience is helpful but not essential. This course has a $25 materials fee.
From aluminum to zirconium, the periodic table organizes every element that exists - and those that have yet to be discovered! This class will dive into how elements are different at the atomic level and how those structural distinctions give them physical and chemical properties we can observe. Students will explore the different groups of elements, what gives them different qualities, why they react with one another, and how to interpret the symbols and structure of the periodic table. Mastery will be demonstrated through a project that explores and explains the observable physical and chemical properties of an element or compound.
Do you have an idea that you're ready to make into a reality? In this unique class, we will explore cultivating creativity, learning to foster all aspects of it. The class will be centered around an open exploration utilizing any and all materials, ideas and inspiration. Creativity is like anything else, it only gets awaken while practicing or working. Please join us as we explore the mysterious and wonderful life of creativity. This class requires a $25 materials fee.
In this exciting class, students will be introduced to what it means to be a scientist and to see, understand, and explore science in the world around us. Students will engage in scientific labs and field studies to develop their observational and their laboratory skills. One of the main goals of the course is to develop each student’s sense of curiosity while presenting them with the tools used by scientists to explore. This class requires a $25 materials fee.
Mathematicians are Pattern Sniffers, Experimenters, Describers, Tinkerers, Inventors, Visualizers, Conjecturers, and Guessers (according to Cuoco, et. al in their iconic paper “Habits of Mind: An Organizing Principle for Mathematics Curricula). Math Circles allow students to establish these habits of mind in a comfortable environment while tackling ‘low ceiling, high threshold’ problems that are easy to understand but allow exploration at different levels. We revisit ideas again and again from different viewpoints. Thus our math circle is both a time to get together and discuss mathematics and also a time to circle around deep ideas in mathematics, seeing them from different viewpoints.
Students in this class will be challenged not just to learn the rules and structures of games such as "Settlers of Catan", "Coup", "Power Grid", "7 Wonders", but also to analyze how the game was designed, and how to think about game systems. Strategy, negotiation, probability, and player interaction will be investigated through gameplay, discussion and prototyping. Mastery will be demonstrated through assessing strategy, adapting systems and designing game components to make an all-original board game that is playable from start to finish. This class requires a $25 materials fee.
Bite into a juicy poem in this multi-modal unit to explore poetry with food and art. Students write their own poetry with attention to author’s craft in a variety of forms. The relationship between food and writing is explored with sensory lessons and examples, and the art of Eric Carle and Henri Matisse are studied to create a hybrid style for illustrations.
After the extinction of the mighty dinosaurs, it was mammals that rose to dominance and inherited the planet. In this class, you will learn all about the wonders and mysteries of the world of mammals. We will focus on living mammals, extinct mammals, domesticated mammals, and you will even get to create your own mammal! Over the course of this class, you will get the opportunity to examine and handle real animal artifacts and fossils. We will cover mammal morphology, anatomy, behavior, evolution, ecology, and more. Get ready to take an exciting journey into the world of mammals!
Dare to go beyond the outermost boundaries of our solar system in this creative writing class designed to engage learners interested in both science and science fiction. In this interdisciplinary course, students will first learn the astronomy necessary to dream up and construct their own realistic solar system. Then, students will consider biology as they inhabit their terrestrial planets with zoological and botanical life. Taking inspiration from epic science fiction storytellers such as Gene Roddenberry, Philip K. Dick, George Lucs, and Frank Herbert, students will develop alien societies and technology, while creating individual characters within these societies. Students will finish the course by writing and editing a short story featuring these characters in the solar system they created. This course is designed to allow students to freely explore and expand their creativity while helping them develop their research, project management, organizational, and writing skills.
Learn about fractions through edible math in this integrated (reading, writing, math, cooking) unit. Students explore fractions and food to learn concepts like equivalent fractions, mixed numbers and improper fractions. Through authentic problem solving with popular, kid-friendly recipes, students learn to multiply and divide fractions and work with ratios. Students will scale recipes to a large amount and an individual portion to create a class ecookbook with “Monster Recipes” and “Dinner for One” recipes. Of course, we will cook the monster version of a recipe, too!
Famed travel writer Rick Steves said, “Rather than fear the diversity on this planet, celebrate it. Among your most prized souvenirs will be the strands of different cultures you choose to knit into your own character.” While many of us do not often get the chance to wander the world, we can always study other countries and cultures to get a deeper understanding of those whose customs and behaviors might differ from our own. Each week, students will be introduced to a new country and the unique culture and history found within its borders. They will examine the values, traditions, art, food, media, and people of each country through researching, watching, eating, listening, and reading. Students will write in a weekly journal and show mastery of the content taught in course through a final project and presentation on a specific culture of their choosing. Those with food allergies and restrictions should know there will be weekly culinary activities in this class. This class requires a $25 material fee.
Life began in the oceans millions of years ago and to this day the sea still hold uncountable mysteries. We will be taking an in-depth (pun intended!) look at the amazing and diverse animal species that inhabit the ocean. Over the course of this class, you get the chance to examine and handle real animal artifacts and fossils and learn amazing facts about animal morphology, anatomy, evolution, behavior, ecology, and more. Each lesson will focus on a different group of marine organisms and our curriculum will cover the following subjects: sharks and rays, bony fish, marine mammals, sea birds, marine reptiles, invertebrates, and even sea monsters. We will also take a look at the impact humans have had on the marine environment. Grab your scuba mask, hold your breath, and get ready to take the plunge into marine biodiversity!
Welcome to page one, where writing springs from imagination! This course will draw inspiration straight from the stories, poems, lyrics and even comic books that students love most. Through short reading and writing exercises, students will learn how word choice, syntax, rhythm and rhyme bring setting, characters and plot to life. Interactive games and creative projects will build skills and confidence through exploration, experimentation and play. Mastery will be demonstrated by the creation of a short written work in the student’s genre of choice, which illustrates independent thinking and progress in reading, writing, and verbal expression. This class requires a $25 materials fee.
Ready, set, diagnose! This course is designed for students who want to investigate and gain an in-depth understanding on disease-causing pathogens, how they impact the human body and medical treatments used to stop them. Classes will include case studies, creative projects, and inquiry-based exploration into different diseases and disease-states. Mastery will be demonstrated by direct feedback, question and answer sessions, and case study diagnosis.
This class is an introduction to electronic circuits and the programming of microcontrollers. Students will learn about the basic components of circuit design (resistors, capacitors, etc.) and how they are used to create a variety of devices. Using the popular Arduino platform, students will learn how to build devices with lights, sensors, motors and more. Emphasis will be placed on how to read and understand standard design schematics, and build circuits to match. Mastery will be demonstrated by the creation of original circuits and functional codes that reflect understanding of components and schematic, and understanding of Arduino programming. This class requires a $25 materials fee.
When a little girl finds a stranded penguin on a beach in Wellington, New Zealand, she writes to a team of zoologists at the Wellington Zoo for advice. Students in this class take on the role of “zoologist” to determine what kind of penguin it is, and ultimately, what is best for the wayward animal. In the process, they will learn about animals’ physical and behavioral adaptations to their environment, as well as the importance of species’ natural habitats. The Penguin Predicament is an NAGC award-winning curriculum designed by nationally recognized expert in gifted education and problem-based learning, Dr. Shelagh A. Gallagher.
Learning to code is learning how to solve problems. In this course, we will explore the basic concepts of computer programming – algorithms, loops, conditional statements, etc. – using the popular Python language. Emphasis will be placed not just on the code, but the why behind the code, setting a strong foundation for future growth. Students will learn how to manipulate numbers and text, draw images on the screen, and create a variety of fun projects, such as games and animations. Mastery will be demonstrated through understanding of fundamental programming concepts and familiarity with Python language syntax. Pre-requisites: Basic computer use and typing ability. Math level: pre-Algebra I.
Are you a fan of fantasy, monsters, and magic? Have you ever dreamed of going on an adventure in which you starred as the hero who achieved the impossible? Would you like to discover your inner strengths while journeying alongside a cast of larger-than-life characters? If so, then Dungeons and Dragons awaits! But do not expect D&D to be a mere game, for it is so much more! Discover what it means to be a true hero, to face one’s fears and to work as a team to achieve a common goal. Mastery will be demonstrated through advancements in game strategy and collaboration with peers.
This class is designed to help improve students’ basic art skills: drawing, painting and sculpting, design artwork using a variety of media and techniques, develop students’ creativity and self-expression, and recognize and use the art elements (line, shape, color, value, form, texture and space), and design principles (rhythm, balance, proportion, variety, emphasis, harmony and unity).
Courage is knowing what not to fear. -Plato Snakes are some of the most feared creatures on planet Earth, and yet they are also one of the most misunderstood. In this class, students will learn all there is to know about snakes, from their evolution and biodiversity to their locomotion and senses, to their rightful place in the labyrinth of human history, religion and folklore. Students will have the opportunity to interact with live pet serpents, then build on their knowledge to construct an original serpentarium that exhibits their understanding and appreciate for what makes a snake a snake.
Plastics are inexpensive, durable materials that we use every day, yet environmental protection groups and plastic manufacturers both agree that marine plastic debris and microplastics cause extensive damage to marine environments all over the world. Students in this course will learn about the manufacturing and processing of thermoset and thermoplastics, how plastics are used to reduce energy use, improve durability, and ease maintenance, and how plastics are discarded or recycled, often to the detriment of marine ecosystems. Students will demonstrate mastery by identifying the costs and benefits of using plastic and developing solutions to reduce the damage caused by plastic on marine environments.
Intro to Algebra at Sierra Madre Elementary (Grades 3rd-5th)This course runs 8-weeks from and takes place at Sierra Madre Elementary School. All Academy students are welcome.2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Introduction to Electronics (Ages 6-9)4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Cenozoic Life (Ages 9-12)4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Hacker Calculus (Ages 12-14)4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Design Principles in Engineering and Art (Ages 6-9)10:30 am - 12:00 pm
We The People (Ages 9-12)10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Forensic Science (Ages 12-14)10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Creative Math Problem Solving (Ages 6-9)12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Rube Goldberg: Machines and Mazes (Ages 9-12)12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Global Awareness (Ages 12-14)12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Biology of Me (Ages 6-9)2:15 pm - 3:45 pm
Harry Potter: Behind the Words (Ages 9-12)2:15 pm - 3:45 pm
Pre-Calculus (Ages 12-14)2:15 pm - 3:45 pm
Intro to Physics (Ages 6-9)4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Robotics (Ages 9-12)4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Aeronautics and Astronautics (Ages 12-14)4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
World of Science (Ages 6-9)11:00 am - 12:30 pm
Math Circle (Ages 9-12)11:00 am - 12:30 pm
What's Your Strategy: Board Game Design (Ages 12-14)11:00 am - 12:30 pm
How to Eat a Poem (Ages 6-9)1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Mammalogy (Ages 9-12)1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Science Fiction: Build Your Own Solar System (Ages 12-14)1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
The Math Kitchen (Ages 6-9)3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Cultural Anthropology (Ages 9-12)3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Marine Biology (Ages 12-14)3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Page One: Creative Writing (Ages 6-9)10:00 am - 11:30 am
Medical Pathology (Ages 9-12)10:00 am - 11:30 am
Electronics and Arduino I (Ages 12-14)10:00 am - 11:30 am
The Penguin Predicament (Ages 6-9)12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Programming with Python (Ages 9-12)12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Dungeons & Dragons (Ages 12-14)12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Art in Life (Ages 6-9)2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Secrets of the Snake (Ages 9-12)2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
The Science of Plastics (Ages 12-14)2:00 pm - 3:30 pm