STEM at Wildwood
Wildwood offers three school-wide initiatives designed to integrate learning about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) into every student’s experience. Each complements essential elements of Wildwood culture—educating students through the lenses of Life Skills and Habits of Mind and Heart, systems thinking, and project-based learning, among others.
The Tec D.E.C., a maker space on our elementary campus, a 6th grade STEM class, and the Wildwood Institute for STEM Research and Development (WISRD), a student-driven real-world research program in our upper school, have turned our campuses into thriving, innovative, tinker and research labs. For Wildwood students whose interests and curiosities lie in the STEM fields, the benefits of this curricular emphasis are clear. And for students who lean towards other disciplines, Wildwood’s approach intentionally creates opportunities for all students to benefit from STEM learning, regardless of their current interests, future endeavors, or grade level.
Tec D.E.C. (Discover, Explore, Create)
This innovator lab on the elementary campus is a non-traditional learning space designed to encourage design thinking and entrepreneurship in our students. It is a place where they can develop their imaginations as well as their technical skills, in order to become creators and not simply consumers of technology. The Tec D.E.C. is a flexible, multifunctional environment that can transform to enable video production, 3-D design and printing, green screen effects, circuit board building, robotics, and tinkering.
Sixth Grade STEM Class
At Wildwood middle school, STEM learning is the result of an organic and intentional evolution. Current trends and research in education overwhelmingly support STEM-driven learning goals, and this is why we recently launched the 6th grade STEM class. One goal of the class is to integrate learning about science and math and to demystify the engineering between everyday objects, leading to an appreciation of the role that both disciplines play in the design process. This trans-disciplinary approach creates opportunities for students to make connections and develop critical thinking skills that will help them successfully cross intellectual and creative boundaries as they navigate their world.
At the upper school, the Wildwood Institute for STEM Research and Development (WISRD) is a new center of study for students with a strong interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. The mission of the Institute is to provide a deep, probing, intellectually stimulating, and challenging STEM curriculum unique to Wildwood that is built around student-centered, hands-on learning opportunities in and of the real world.
The Institute offers a year-round program focused on project-based, collaborative experiences that have relevance today. Starting in 9th grade, WISRD students work together to research and design short- and long-term projects and summer experiences that are of interest to them in the following fields: Astronomy and Space Study; Engineering; Electronics Computing and Coding; and Data Science.
Off-site public lectures and visiting speakers at Wildwood are cornerstones of the WISRD experience. Institute scholars also receive mentorship from an advisory board with notable scientists from MIT, UCLA, JPL, and LMU. The Institute actively partners with research groups such as Southern California Microscopic Society and UCLA’s Plasma Physics Lab. Additionally, Wildwood is an official partner of the Dawn Mission, joining JPL, MIT, Brown University, and a handful of other institutions working together to gather data for NASA. WISRD students are involved in this effort, collaborating with students across the country in operating a radio telescope and working with noted scientists to collect and disseminate data used by NASA in their studies of the solar system.
WISRD director, Joe Wise, is a recognized leader in STEM learning. He brings myriad connections to local and national science-affiliated organizations and has created formal partnerships between Wildwood and pedigreed organizations. Both the California Association of Astronomers and the Radio Telescope Society are now holding their meetings at Wildwood, giving our students on-the-ground access to leading scientists. Wildwood has also become a GAVRT School (Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope), which is a partnership between NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Lewis Center for Educational Research, that gives our students and teachers access to a radio telescope in the High Desert. Joe is also helping students explore Wildwood’s new 3-D printers, opening up a whole new world of creating, developing, and building.