Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2011-2012 Preview: A 21st Century World Electives

As you may have seen in my most recent posts, I am previewing the new Electives Program in the middle school. We've created three academic tracks: The Arts, A 21st Century World, and Leadership. In each we offer a number of classes and today I'm previewing the classes in A 21st Century World track. This is meant to expose our students to the variety of themes they will encounter in their 21st Centruy world from sustainability practices (both environmental - Organic Gardening and financial - Personal Finance and Micro-Lending) to STEM skills to world languages.
Organic Gardening: Students in this elective learn the fundamentals of gardening the organic way, including basic concepts about soil, ground cover, weed and pest control, harmful and beneficial organisms, and composting. Students prepare and plant and enjoy the harvest of a seasonal garden in fall and spring.
Personal Finance: Financial freedom takes students one step closer to independence. In this class students learn tips and tricks for managing and growing wealth. In one semester, students will buy a car, write checks, balance their budget, and play in the stock market. They will have the opportunity to interact with featured business leaders and will participate in an online simulation to reinforce course objectives.
Robotics: The Robotics elective asks students to become designers, computer programmers, problem solvers and engineers. Students are taught the basics of robot construction and programming and by the end of the course must solve complex problems with their Lego Mindstorm Robots. This challenging and fun elective introduces skills that will be needed in the 21st century.
NCAIS On-Line Courses: This elective is presented in partnership with NCAIS Virtual schools and offers students an opportunity to enrich their curriculum through an extensive choice of on-line courses. From Mandarin to Forensic Science to Digital Photography, this elective can provide a student the opportunity to supplement their education. There is a fee for the course. Please see attached informational packet.
Micro-Lending: The new micro-finance elective is a specific economics class that seeks to answer the following questions: What is micro lending? Who receives micro loans? Why do they need it? Where are micro loans happening? The first few weeks consist of learning about loans and investing practices such as researching the area where they will find their businesses. The class will then be broken into "Venture Capitalist Teams," each of which have a Kiva loan portfolio. Every two weeks teams report out to the "board" to defend and refine their portfolio, review and analyze their returns, and discuss strategy.
Science Olympiad: Science Olympiad is a track meet style science competition in which students compete in a range of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) events. In class, students will refine science investigation skills while building towers, mousetrap cars, and bottle rockets, tracking the spread of infectious diseases, or investigating forensic evidence to solve mysteries. Students will learn to measure accurately using the metric system, express themselves in written and oral scientific language, and follow the steps of the scientific method.

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