The Integrated Curricular Program
Students enrolled in the Academy are making a two course commitment. They are participating in two separate courses during the year with one focusing on the scientific models traditionally taught in a high school Physics course while the other is focused on the design and fabrication process common in the process of product design and advanced manufacturing.
Our Pedagogical Philosophy
The curricular program here at in Academy has been influenced by Active Learning and POGIL theories. The approach that we have employed falls under Active Learning. It is our philosophy that students learn best when they are actively engaged in the construction of their own knowledge. More specifically we employ a social constructivist approach where we ask students to engage in observation, socially interact and collaborate to identify a problem, design a solution, and analyze the results. POGIL (process-oriented guided inquiry learning) provides students with clear structure in which they can feel confident with their learning, learn strategies for communication and collaboration, and develop distributed leadership skills.
Teaching Methodology – Science Courses
The teaching methodology that is used to teach science is very closely aligned with the Modeling approach. This approach engages students in a three step process where students follow a cycle of discovery and analysis. This is referred to as the Modeling Cycle and can be briefly described as having three steps:
- Observation. We always start from phenomenon, not abstraction.
- Model building/development. Students gather data, analyze results, and develop descriptive and representational models of the phenomenon.
- Model deployment. This is where the students are asked to test their models. A model is only valid as long as it is predictive.
Using this approach, students develop a set of models that act as a cohesive interpretation of the physical world. For more information on Modeling please visit the American Modeling Teacher Association’s website.
Teaching Methodology – Engineering Design
Project based learning is the core methodology employed in this class. Students follow a specific design process similar to curricular approaches developed by the Stanford D School. Student teams follow a cyclic process with these primary steps:
- Problem identification and research.
- Idea generation.
- Digital design and analysis.
- Fabrication process analysis.
The students use professional level digital design tools made possible through Autodesk’s Design The Future program.
Mr. Steve Temple joined with a cohort of computer science experts to develop an online simulation tool called Tychos (www.tychos.org). We frequently use this tool in the Academy to simultaneously introduce students to code and physical simulations. The students learn to develop their own simulated physical phenomena, mimicking their hands-on labs and projects.