Wednesday Exploratory Seminar
New this year, Wednesday Exploratory Seminars (WES) are designed to:
- Connect learning among the disciplines
- Spark wonder and creativity
- Develop critical thinking
- Reward intellectual risk-taking
- Stimulate student engagement
- Enhance communication skills
- Expand perspectives
The seminars do this by providing multi-disciplinary, problem-based, and experiential learning that connect skills and knowledge gained in core classes to real-world experience. Complementary seminars are designed to help students develop metacognition, study and organizational skills, and mindfulness.
Wednesday Exploratory Seminars include:
- Seminars that explore and expand knowledge and understanding of literature, writing, mathematics, science, history, and global issues and perspectives.
- Extended blocks of 70 minutes, providing adequate time for active, subject-integrated, problem-based experiences.
- Connections to core-class learning that is not numerically assessed to encourage intellectual risk-taking and authentic rather than strategic learning
- Multi-disciplinary instruction designed by faculty from diverse disciplines allowing students to connect biology and geometry, social studies and statistics, or music and math for examples.
WES this Week: March 14, 2018
- Almost Like Praying: American composer, lyricist, playwright, and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda is best known for creating and starring in the Broadway musicals Hamilton and In the Heights. When Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, Miranda was struck by the contrast between the traumatic connotation of the hurricane’s name, and the positive connection Miranda has always felt to the song Maria, from the musical West Side Story. Drawing upon these conflicting emotions, Miranda wrote and produced the song Almost Like Praying. In this seminar, students explore the history of Puerto Rico, its rich musical and cultural heritage, and take a turn dancing the Salsa. Faculty: Mary Kolbach and Linda Marsh-Athletics
- Celebrating Pi Day: 141592653589793238462643383279502884197169… This irrational, transcendental number has been calculated to more than one trillion digits. Infinitely fascinating, Pi continues forever without repetition or pattern. This week, WES Wednesday falls on March 14th: 3.14, of course! What could be better than a celebration of all things Pi? Students will read Pi literature, learn the history of Pi, share Pi jokes and Pi puns, and even write a “Piku” (Haiku about Pi.) And yes, eat a slice of a favorite Pi(e!) Faculty: Janice Schmitt-Math 6
- God is in the Details: This idiom speaks to the impact of small characteristics, differences, and details. This seminar explores why details are so important to learning, growing, and understanding the world and people around us. Through three interactive and collaborative activities, students discover the importance of focused attention, and the value of creativity. Faculty: Jason Green-Athletics
- Inca Quipu: The ancient culture of the Inca’s will spark curiosity and impress students as they learn about this culture’s many accomplishments. The calendar practiced by the Incan civilization sustained them for hundreds of years. The Incan mathematical system is one of the oldest and most sophisticated systems developed, but even today mysteries remain unsolved. Students learn about “quipu”, variously colored threads that Incans knotted in different ways to record data and information. Supporting video brings the daily lives of the Incan people to life. Faculty: Celsa Rutan-Spanish 6
- Aphorism Storytelling: Aphorisms have been around since the time of Hippocrates, who famously advised “First, do no harm.” Also known as maxims or proverbs, these brief, sometimes humorous, and often philosophically deep statements are an oral and literary tradition found throughout the world. Writing aphorisms requires a nimble mind, and brevity creates an opening for frankness and reflection. In this seminar students turn their pens to writing aphorisms, sharing their wisdom and experiencing the satisfying thrill of finding just the right turn of phrase. Faculty: Martha Ashley-MS Principal
- Chaturanga! In the early sixth century in India, the game chaturanga became popular. Literally, chaturanga means “four divisions of the military”, and refers to the Indian infantry, cavalry, elephantry, and chariotry. Centuries later, the game has spread throughout the world and evolved to the modern game of chess. The four military divisions found in the Indian game became today’s pawn, knight, bishop, and rook. Over time, chess has evolved from a game of quick, tactical maneuvers to one that emphasizes long-term strategic planning. This seminar encourages students to analyze moves to determine when to defend, how to attack, and how to develop an effective strategy. Students become leaders, as experienced chess players are paired with students new to the game.: Faculty: Andy Rodgers-Social Studies 6
- Celebrating Pi Day: 141592653589793238462643383279502884197169… This irrational, transcendental number has been calculated to more than one trillion digits. Infinitely fascinating, Pi continues forever without repetition or pattern. This week, WES Wednesday falls on March 14th: 3.14, of course! What could be better than a celebration of all things Pi? In this seminar, students learn the history of Pi, see how it is calculated, and explore the work of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. How does this mathematical constant figure into their work? How does that work impact our everyday lives? Faculty: Melissa McQueen-Math 7
- Leave Nothing But Footprints: Like a lingering scent, or the faintest of echoes, fossilized trackways leave hints of lives that have come before. Trackways are trace fossils, impressions made by organisms long ago. In this seminar students will discover the relationships among foot length, leg length, stride, and speed, as they are captured in fossilized trackways. Students become detectives, interpreting how the tracks might have been formed, and theorizing about how animals interacted with other creatures and their own environment. Faculty: JoAnn Cencula-Science 7
- Young Leaders Can Change the World: This seminar introduces students to non-profit organizations: what they are, how they are founded, and how they serve communities of need. Short video clips of young non-profit leaders sharing their personal narratives will inspire students to consider what they might feel called to do one day. Skills in collaboration, concept design, and public speaking will all be practiced as students present their ideas for a future non-profit mission and organization. Faculty: Zac Hood-Athletics
- Culinary Science: A tour of the taste buds helps students understand how we sense salt versus sweetness versus sour. Blind taste tests allow students to isolate sensory input. Executive function skills will be tapped as students assemble their crostini creations: measuring, cutting, designing, presenting, and finally it’s time to clean up! Faculty: Jason Jung-Fine Art
- Power Brain-Change your Energy: Creating positive synergy among mind, body, and spirit is the path to a happier, healthier life. But what is consciousness? How do we achieve mindfulness? Are adolescents ready to develop the intention and commitment necessary to synthesize mind, body, and spirit? Using the Power Brain Workbook as a resource, this seminar guides students in understanding how to be their personal best. Physiological explanations provide context as students practice breathing exercises and other tools. Individual goal setting concludes this seminar. Faculty: Roberta Hamilton-Griggs- Performing Arts
- The Rest of the Story: Often, the basic facts of historical events are known. But what’s the rest of the story? What happened after the cameras stopped filming, the dust settled, and everyone returned to their business? Students examine the lives of diverse personalities, including Winston Churchill, Crazy Horse, and John Dillinger. By taking a longer historical lens and considering lesser know facts and details, students learn to view history with a more discerning eye. Faculty: Terrye Easton-Social Studies 7