STEM Program Overview

Our Approach

Our STEM classes are project and people-based. This means we study both how to be a scientist, and what it means to be a scientist; we learn about how many of America’s early founders were scientists and engineers and study the lives of great scientists throughout time. We ask questions about the role of science today, and about the potential of every person to be a scientist.

student working on a science project

STEM courses use engaging science projects and experiments to teach middle school students about their world.

Every week, STEM students choose projects from a monthly project buffet that relates to that month’s STEM concepts. Students regularly report on their projects and mentors help refine analyses, methods, and conclusions.

In addition, every science class revolves around one large scientific project. This project provides momentum toward an end product, a product or project that requires the scientific skills and knowledge of the entire class to complete. It drives learning and unites the class and provides context for the mini projects and course content leading up to the summit project. Each scientific expedition also requires mathematical, technological and engineering skills, and we draw connections among all of these topics throughout the expedition.

Math is extensively used in our STEM courses. Students can no longer earn math credit in STEM and must sign up for a separate Math course. However, students still have access to the highly skilled tutors in Williamsburg’s Math Lab anytime they need assistance with a problem.

The expeditions encompassed within the STEM program include:

STEM 6/7A: Edible Garbage – In the Edible Garbage expedition, students use the Scientific Method to learn about food decay, food waste, states of matter and atoms, and conclude the semester by donating two or more hours in service to the homeless and hungry.

STEM 6/7B: Endangered Species – Students study an endangered or threatened species and attempt to understand the reasons the species is at risk, with an emphasis on factors relating to the ecosystem as a whole. They will also develop a sample proposal for saving the species.

STEM 6/7C: Life-size Science – This expedition focuses on the topic of biology, specifically the life sciences. Students learn about and build replicas of ten specific body systems, and research one disease in depth, sharing their findings with their classmates at the end of the term.

STEM 6/7D: Worst Case Scenario – Earth Science, including weather systems, is the major focus of this expedition; we also look at preparedness and emergency response, and how technology and STEM innovation is impacting all of those things. In our Summit Project, we spread awareness about or help refine our community emergency preparedness plans.

STEM 8A: Amusement Park Physics – Amusement Park Physics is the expedition that drives this term’s study of physics. Through a series of examples, projects and experiments students learn about physics at work in mundane daily tasks and in thrilling roller coaster rides. Students also participate in a school-wide science fair competition, applying what they’ve learned to address puzzling problems and demonstrate STEM concepts in action.

STEM 8B: Real Science – Students will use both chemistry and earth science to find out how earth is different from other planets in the universe. Students taking this course will develop the confidence and the basic foundation needed to succeed in higher level chemistry and earth science courses.

Courses Recommended Grade Credit Delivery Format Versions Prerequisites
STEM 6/7 A 6th, 7th 0.5 Live Classic / Honors None
STEM 6/7 B 6th, 7th 0.5 Live Classic / Honors None
STEM 6/7 C 6th, 7th 0.5 Live Classic / Honors None
STEM 6/7 D 6th, 7th 0.5 Live Classic / Honors None
STEM 8 A 8th 0.5 Live Classic / Honors None
STEM 8 B 8th 0.5 Live Classic / Honors None