ST1.6

Self-Assessment: 2

The interdisciplinary problem-based curriculum includes a focus on real world applications.


Narrative

When Brother Guy Consolmagno spoke in front of the entire student body last fall, he emphasized the importance of an interdisciplinary curriculum. Here are some of the best quotes:

“Studying the universe is an act of worship.”

“Do you know where I learned to wave my arms like this and speak in front of people? In my drama class. In my speech class!”

“Do you know how I learned to create presentation board for science conferences? In my yearbook class.”

“Do you know when I first learned how to analyze!? By studying poetry in English literature and learning Latin!”

“Science is collaborative! Scientists are great at it. If you notice, nearly all science papers are written by a team!”

The pillars for which the math department curriculum stand on identify problem solving ability as the main goal for all students. The school emphasizes the importance of a problem-based curriculum through hosting two week-long Exeter Mathematics Institutes each summer in partnership with area schools such as St. Teresa’s Academy and Notre Dame de Sion. The mathematics department also began working closer with the science department in order to incorporate data from science labs into the mathematics lessons.

The science department incorporates a number of real world applications into its inquiry based curriculum. Physics teachers have students work with data acquired through observing a football flying through the air. They also built a space-time simulator so that students could experience the curvature of space-time. Inside of the biology lab, there is a saltwater fish tank. Students are charged with learning how to maintain the complicated ecosystem. Last year, students even learned how to build a weather balloon even though it turned out that it was more difficult to track it down after falling from over 100,000 feet! Next year, there will be an outdoor classroom featuring the ability for students to participate in the Monarch butterfly watch.

Weather Balloon at 3,000 ft Weather Balloon in the Stratosphere, 100,000 ft

Included in the objectives of co-curricular planning, students experience a multitude of opportunities where they need to apply an interdisciplinary skillset towards real world problems. Students needed to build a product or service to help individuals navigate the confusing jungle of healthcare and insurance providers during the MECA challenge. Other students were challenged to bring their STEM skills to a social justice agency for their community service project. Students in the engineering club even competed in a cardboard boat race (not that this is a great real world example, but you never know)!

Within other academic courses, students are also asked to solve real world problems in an interdisciplinary approach. Students in the AP Computer Science Principles class are competing in the SensED IoT Challenge for a class project. Students in the Kansas City History class (using an ibook written by their teacher!) are asked to used a variety of digital and technological skills to earn a Historian Skills badge through the LRNG platform. Within theology classes, students are solving environmental and sustainability issues by participating in the Ignatian Carbon Challenge.

Key Exemplars

Exeter Mathematics Institute

Exeter Mathematics Institute (EMI) is an intensive, hands-on professional development program for public middle and secondary school mathematics teachers. Our goal is to improve mathematics education by working directly with teachers on mathematics content and pedagogy.

Pope's Astronomer

"It was truly a blessing for our students to have the opportunity to hear Brother Consolmagno speak," said Mr. Paul Winkeler, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics Director. "While his work in Planetary Science is vast and ground breaking, students also learned about his faith journey and how God invites us to encounter Him through the heavens."

MECA Challenge

“Awesome event…really well done. This is the type of REAL WORLD experiences you simply can’t teach in a classroom. Keep up the good work.”