STEM Classes and Electives

Peek into the classroom and witness our girls in action. Then, delve into the numerous STEM experiences beyond the traditional classes.

Do the Hands-On Work

There's a real commitment to STEM work here. In Algebra 2, everyone has to do a disease project to see how logarithms affect epidemiology and how fast a disease spreads. In physics class, we didn't just learn about energy, we actually built a roller coaster. We learn how applications of what we're doing apply to everyday life, which makes the work that much richer. -Ivana, senior

Primary School

List of 4 items.

  • Mathematics Program

    Mathematics in the Primary School is a process of making sense of the world. Students learn math content through investigation into contexts that inspire curiosity and build students’ persistence as they pursue both accurate answers and meaningful reasons. Students engage in physical activity and play, and put their hands to work to examine, manipulate and build or take apart physical objects. These activities motivate vigorous mathematical discussions and debates, as well as quiet reflection. Puzzles, games and technological tools provide students with additional opportunities to practice procedures and develop problem-solving skills. Kent Place students are often found excitedly reporting their discoveries of connections across disciplines (from the Mileage Club to Drama set construction) and across grade levels. In addition, students in Grades 1–5 are invited to focus on special topics through the Mathematics Lab.
  • Science Program

    The Primary School Science Program focuses on hands-on, inquiry-based instruction. Emphasis is on the teaching of scientific skills that enhance and encourage students’ natural sense of wonder about the world. Even by Grade 1, students question, hypothesize, test and validate conclusions or observations. Over time, they develop the ability to ask appropriate questions, collect data and communicate their findings. Their natural curiosity about the world around them is nurtured, and we encourage them to think deeply and critically. In addition, students embrace the process of engineering design and, in Grade 3, apply it to plan, construct and present a prototype of their own useful invention. Scientific content, such as climate, sound, light, the human body and astronomy, builds from one year to the next, through the practice of investigative science and the utilization of classroom technology. 
  • Technology and Coding Program

    In the Primary School, students learn to view technology as a natural extension of their learning and discover how technology can help them to create, communicate and collaborate. They are introduced to a variety of 21st-century learning tools including 3D design and 3D printing that help them think critically, problem-solve and make informed decisions. Students learn programming and coding at age-appropriate levels. The younger students learn about algorithms as they “program” using Bee-Bot, The Foos and Scratch Jr. The older students learn more in-depth programming concepts such as looping and conditional statements by using Scratch to program mazes, games and Lego robotics. While learning to use technology tools, our students become responsible digital citizens. Kindergarten through Grade 2 students have access to classroom iPads, while Grades 3–5 utilize classroom Chromebooks on a 1:1 basis. Additional state-of-the-art technologies in our classrooms, computer lab and library — interactive projectors, document cameras, wireless connectivity and more — expose students to myriad platforms, equipment and software.
  • WonderLab

    The Kindergarten WonderLab allows young children to use their imaginations and creativity to build, invent and make, all while applying the design process and their critical thinking skills. In this capacity, children and teachers construct meaningful learning together through hands-on projects. Examples include the Thanksgiving Communities Build and the Supermarket Build. Other projects are student-driven and designed, where students create their own visions of castles, hotels, and lands, including inventions created with various materials and tools. Math, writing, reading, art, science, research and social-emotional learning are integrated within the work and curriculum of the Maker Space. Here all are encouraged and enabled to work and think boldly. Filled with agency and enthusiasm, they sometimes fail, but always fail forward as they problem solve to bring their creations to life.

Middle School

List of 10 items.

  • Behind the Scenes

    In Behind the Scenes, students will use design-thinking strategies to solve the complex problems that come along with stage design. Students will read the script, become familiar with the performance space, consult a panel of theatrical experts, and conduct a series of interviews before deciding how to proceed in creating a design that will work for a particular production. Once a prototype has been created, participants will pitch their design ideas to a panel of experts including the director and tech designer of the show. By the end of the course, the students will have been instrumental contributors to the set design for the MS production.
  • Can You Build It? Yes, You Can!

    This course will give students a basic overview of general terms, tools, and techniques used in the field of carpentry. Students will learn how to safely use a wide range of hand and power tools while building items such as wooden toys, puzzles, clocks, and birdhouses/feeder. Using their new knowledge each student will design and build their own personal project.
  • Coding 8

    In Grade 8, all students are exposed to the world of programming. Using Scratch, students create sophisticated projects that require an understanding of the process of manipulating blocks to tell the program what to do. Through trial and error, investigating new blocks, and problem-solving, students create original animations that demonstrate a proficiency in basic coding.
  • Tetrix Robot Engineering

    Utilizing the Tetrix robotics kit, students will work in small groups to design and engineer autonomous and remote-controlled robots. Students will explore coding and the engineering design process to problem-solving and think critically. At the end of the trimester, students will participate in a culminating competition with their robots or “battlebot.” Taking EV3 first is suggested, but not required.
  • Engineering in Our World

    In this interdisciplinary elective course, students will participate in various activities that demonstrate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Examples of this may include building real-world architectural models, such as the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben, creating catapults and egg drop carriers to investigate physics, constructing sustainable model buildings, or deciding an activity of their choice that relies upon the Engineering Design Process. Throughout the course, students will strengthen and apply problem-solving skills in order to test, evaluate and modify their models. Practical problems will be solved using science and technology concepts as the students work in teams, culminating in a final project. Assessment will be based on a student’s class participation, leadership abilities, and collaborative skills. This elective is limited to students who have not previously taken the course.
  • Mathematical Expeditions

    Students step off the beaten path and journey deep into the lands of number theory, geometry, algebra, and probability in search of mathematical treasures. Students exert themselves on expeditions through challenging mathematical terrain that may last hours, days and even months. In this course, students learn how to do research in math and where that research can take them. They enjoy the process of asking their own questions, getting stuck, moving forward and reaching the top of a mathematical mountain — to find an even higher peak ahead of them!
  • Money Matters

    In this course, students will explore and learn about a variety of financial concepts including investing, saving, the stock market and the economic way of thinking about cost and sustainability. Students will research and discuss how finances impact a variety of aspects of peoples’ professional and personal lives. They will also get the opportunity to meet and interact with successful females in the financial industry.
  • EV3 Robot Engineering

    This elective held in winter and spring trimesters uses Lego EV3 robotics kit and programming software. Students build and program a robot of their choice to move forward, backward and turn left and right. In addition, they utilize touch, light, ultrasonic and sound sensors to solve real-world problems and situations.
  • Thinking Outside the Box

    This course consists of a series of non-routine and open-ended problem-solving tasks from across the core middle school content. With each task, students focus on developing their ability to invent strategies, carry out plans and evaluate their own results. Students consider tasks individually and collaboratively, working to develop their ability to communicate their ideas and solutions verbally and record their own reasoning in written form. This class is part of the curriculum for sixth-graders.
  • 3D Design/Sculpture

    In this elective course, students work in a variety of mediums and use an array of techniques to create art in three dimensions. They explore different subject matter and themes while working in paper, wire, clay and found materials.

Upper School

List of 10 items.

  • Bioethics Project

    With biomedical advances come complex ethical questions of personal freedom, privacy, access to health care, and fairness. Each year the Bioethics Project chooses a broad topic to explore: in the past, for example, Medical Innovations, Medical Decision-Making & the Human Lifespan, The Medically Modified Human: Is Better Always Good? and Donor: What Is the Value of the Human Body? This intensive three-trimester course with Genius block during the first trimester pairs each participant with a biomedical-ethics scholar as a mentor. Students conduct research on a topic regarding a biomedical ethical issue related to our topic and present a paper on the findings.
  • AP Computer Science A

    This course emphasizes programming methodology with a concentration on problem-solving and is meant to be the equivalent of a first-semester college-level course in computer science. Students design, develop, implement and modify computer-based solutions to problems, use and implement well-known algorithms and data structures, develop and select appropriate algorithms and data structures to solve problems, code in an object-oriented paradigm using the programming language Java, identify and understand relationships between the major hardware and software components of a
    computer system and recognize the ethical and social implications of computer use. Students read and analyze large programs including the Advanced Placement Labs. Throughout the course, students will design solutions and develop programs that solve real-world problems. AP Computer Science A will prepare students for the AP Computer Science A examination.
  • App Development

    Mobile apps are increasingly popular tools in our lives daily. New apps are marketed daily to solve problems and perform tasks. In this course, students will learn the process of app development via the Design Thinking process and the Software Development Life Cycle. Students will perform a needs analysis, design an algorithm, develop code, test code and ultimately maintain app software once it is released to users. Throughout the course, students will develop computational-thinking practices, critical-thinking skills, and creativity to solve problems using computers. Via the computer programming environment of AppInventor students will code specialized programs (instructions) for a computer. The instructions will direct the mobile device to perform tasks that manipulate and produce data. The course is primarily project and performance based. Throughout the course, students will design solutions and develop apps that solve real-world problems. Communication and collaboration tools will be integrated daily inside and outside of class. In addition, students will learn the entrepreneurial aspects of app marketing and distribution to consumers.
  • Architecture

    This course combines lecture, slide presentation, discussion and hands-on experience as it interweaves the history and aesthetics of the architectural experience. It considers the historical, cultural and political traditions of architecture and establishes the relationship between architecture and significant social, political and economic events. The focus is on the architecture of the Modern period but touches on Ancient and Medieval architecture as well.
  • Computer Science Principles

    This course introduces students to computer science and its connections to and impact on our global community. Throughout the course, students will develop computational thinking practices, critical thinking skills and creativity to solve problems using computers.
    Via the computer programming environment of Snap and the language of Script, students will code programs (instructions) for a computer. The code instructions will direct the computer to perform tasks that manipulate and produce data. The process of defining
    a problem, breaking it down into a series of smaller problems and finally coding a computer program to solve it is a valuable exercise in critical thinking and creativity. Throughout the course, students will design algorithms and develop programs that solve real-world problems. Students will create a cumulative electronic portfolio that includes their projects and reflections. Communication and collaboration tools will be integrated daily inside and outside of class. In addition, the student is made aware of the opportunities and risks in the digital age and realizes that the human element is more
    important than the machine. This course aligns with the Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles curriculum and supports taking the AP exam.
  • Graphic Design

    This course introduces students to the elements and principles of visual design within a commercial context. Students will learn to hone their design skills through a series of projects designed to create consistent and versatile brand identities. Each project will instruct students in all stages of commercial design including market research, design and prototyping, and critical feedback. Principles of design will be taught through the use of both traditional drawing techniques and computer-based design tools. By the end of the course, the students will have been introduced to and experienced a broad range of graphic design applications and developed beginnings of a professional design portfolio.
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology

    Anatomy and physiology is the study of the fascinating world of the human body. Whether students are planning a career in medicine, athletics, or general science or preparing for the next tennis match, they learn information pertinent to their life goals. This class shows the precision of the interconnectedness of the human body systems and gives students tools to understand the amazing relationships that exist within their own bodies. 
  • Introduction to Computer Programming

    The study of programming nurtures and develops problem-solving skills that can be applied to real-world scenarios. This course provides an introduction to computer programming by creating interactive software applications such as games, science simulations, mathematical experiments and animated presentations. While working in
    the programming environment of Scratch and the programming languages of Python and Java, students discover what a programmer does to get a program to run and how to interact with different parts of the programming environment. Students use models and
    simulations to experience the programming process of giving a computer detailed instructions. Throughout the course, students will develop computational thinking practices, critical thinking skills and creativity to solve problems using computers. To develop problem-solving skills, students use the Design Thinking process and Software
    Development Life Cycle to perform a needs analysis, design an algorithm, develop code, and test code. Programming fundamentals include input and output, data variables, processes, program control flow structures, data structures, and documentation.
  • Research in Advanced Mathematics

    In this course, students conduct research in a selected area of college mathematics (e.g., game theory, graph theory & networks, combinatorics, number theory, college geometry). Students learn about the cycle of research in mathematics: conjecture, investigation, data-gathering, generalization, abstraction, and proof. Students develop questions, approaches, and results, writing definitions, justifying their conclusions and reading and writing a mathematical proof. A primary goal of the course is to develop students’ ability to initiate and carry out a long-term research project to completion. Students are expected to write a complete mathematical paper at the end of the course using undergraduate math research standards.
  • Student-Designed Research

    This course gives motivated students a chance to delve into the world of scientific inquiry. Students accepted into this program will learn how scientists study the natural world while investigating a topic of their choice. Emphasis will be placed on scientific literature research, experimental design and implementation, data collection and data analysis. Each student will be expected to submit a formal scientific paper and present their findings in a public forum.
Kent Place School is an all-girls K through 12 independent college preparatory day school with a coeducational Preschool, located in Summit, NJ.