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Taking STEAM Education to the Next Level

In recent years the science curriculum at Loyola has undergone a review process to update teaching and learning methodologies and align course offerings with the current demand for more experiential and integrated learning.
 
"STEAM, or cross-disciplinary learning, gives students a more holistic understanding of how the world works," says Loyola Academy Principal Charlie Heintz. "It teaches students how to use the skills and processes gained through the study of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics to think deeply, ask questions, and solve complex problems."
 
One of the most significant changes was positioning the study of physics in a student's freshman year, followed by chemistry and biology in sophomore and junior years. Additional improvements include the construction of a 21st-century laboratory space in January 2019—made possible by a gift from Sue and Tim Sullivan and named in honor of former science teacher Rev. Peter W. Breslin, SJ; a flexible classroom think tank equipped with an interactive SMART board and mobile hexagonal desks; a makerspace with 3D printers, a programmable robot called Sphero and other tools and materials; revised course registration and selection; and increased investment in new technology and professional development opportunities for our teachers.
 
And with the new lineup of course we have on deck, students will have new opportunities to dig deeper into STEAM, make connections across different fields, and develop skills such as the ability to think and read critically, work collaboratively, interpret data confidently, communicate effectively, write confidentially, solve problems creatively and embrace new knowledge as technology continues to evolve.

"We are so excited to offer students a range of course selections that not only engage students in the scientific process, but also in engineering practices," notes Science Department Chair Marissa Cervantes-Flores. "Experiencing STEAM will provide students with an interdisciplinary approach to develop critical thinking and collaborative skills which is authentic to their learning experience and representative of the world we're preparing students to enter." 

List of 10 items.

  • Earth and Space Science

    (1 credit, 6 track)
    Instructor: Mike Dupuis

    This course focuses on the systems of the Earth that shape our daily lives and the science of the larger Universe. Students will explore the Earth's spheres including the geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. Students will be actively involved in data collection and analysis while utilizing the principles of physics and chemistry. Students will learn about scientific inquiry, geologic time, space exploration, the solar system, and the universe. Upon completion of this course, students will be sensitized to various moral and environmental issues concerning sustainability and global climate change. Prerequisites: physics and chemistry.
     
    "This is a hands-on course in which students will learn about the Earth we live on and our connection to the Universe as a whole," says Earth and Space Science teacher Mike Dupuis. "I am excited about this course because it is an opportunity for students to see how the sciences they have learned (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology) work together to tell a larger story about the cosmos.  Students will learn about what we know about the Universe and how we know what we know. Topics will include sustainability on Earth, global climate change, geological forces that shape the Earth, the life and death of stars (including our Sun), the formation of the Solar System, and the Big Bang." 
  • Maker Technology

    (1 credit, 6 track)
    Instructor: Nathan Ward

    This course introduces students to the convergence of science, technology, and creativity. As a project-based class, students will build projects while developing their understanding of the principles and practices of coding, mechanics, and electronics. Students will learn solid modeling and 3D printing as a tool to develop parts for projects while using engineering practices that allow students to design and build circuits, and code microprocessors to build projects that interact in the world. Prerequisite: none.
     
    The Maker Tech class is a project-based, hands-on learning class. Students will work with wood, fabric, 3D printing, electronics and digital technology," explains instructor Nathan Ward. "Students will engage in critical thinking as they build individual projects that utilize science, technology and art. Projects will start simple and build in complexity from there."
  • Filmmaking

    (1 credit, 6 track)
    Instructor: Steven Lowe and James Yost

    This full-year course combines the art and science of film making. Students will explore every aspect of making a film including writing, directing, editing, and producing. Throughout the year students will investigate the history of film making, how to tell stories on film including writing scripts, working with actors, pre-production, editing, sound mixing/foley, and post-production. In addition, students will explore the science behind the films including the lighting design, acoustics, and the technology of various editing software. The course will culminate at the end of the year with a short-film festival of student works made throughout the course. Prerequisites include the completion of one Visual Arts or Theater class or department chair permission.
     
    "We are extremely excited to usher in this new course which brings true collaboration between the Fine Arts and Science Departments," say Steven Lowe and James Yost who are collaborating on this course. "Students will explore writing stories for film, the science of digital filmmaking, and the technology of editing and producing their film. At the culmination of the course, the students will showcase their work in a film festival!"
  • Honors Anatomy & Physiology

    (1 credit, 9 track)
    Instructor: Haley Yanarella

    This course provides students with an in-depth examination of the interactions of the body systems. Students will design experiments, investigate the structures and functions of the human body, and use models as illustrative examples of body processes. A major focus includes the interrelated processes occurring in cells, tissues, and organ systems in order to understand and be able to explain homeostatic mechanisms and processes. Laboratory investigations include the required dissection of a cat and other specimens. Exploring science in action, students build organs and tissues on a skeletal mannequin, work through interesting real-world cases and often play the role of biomedical professionals to solve medical cases. Students practice problem solving with structured activities and apply their skills to patient cases. Prerequisite: biology.

    "I am excited to offer Anatomy and Physiology at the honors level," says instructor Haley Yanarella. "This course typically attracts students interested in the medical science profession. Whether a student wants to purse a career as a nurse, doctor, physical therapist, or any other health occupation, this honors level course will develop student critical thinking required by medical professions. I'm most excited about engaging students on how to use skills they need to evaluate patient case studies and solve medical problems by applying knowledge of how the body works."
  • Introduction to Robotics

    (.5 credit, 6 track)
    Instructor: Kevin Shane

    This course will familiarize students with the basics of robotic design and programming. Students will learn basic coding skills as they relate to programming robots. They will use STEAM and engineering practices to control robots and use different programming methods including block coding and line-by-line writing of source code. Prerequisite: geometry.
     
    "I'm excited to share things with students that will immediately have practical implications and can help them with future-focused skills," explains Mr. Kevin Shane. "They'll learn to code and practice scientific literacy that should help all students as they move forward. This is a great course for students interested in science, coding, exploring new things, and pursuing a career in engineering or computer science. It would also be a good class for students who just like building things."
  • Digital Electronics

    (.5 credit, 6 track)
    Instructor: Kevin Warnke

    This course will familiarize students with the fundamental concepts of digital technology and logic that underlie all computers, calculators, and other digital electronic devices. Students will learn about binary number systems, boolean algebra, logic operations, and logic gates. Design projects will apply this learning to the creation of progressively more complicated devices, culminating with design of a single-digit calculator. Prerequisite: geometry.
     
    "This course puts the T (technology) in STEAM," notes Kevin Warnke, who will teach Digital Electronics next year.  "It covers the fundamental logic operations that occur in any digital device—from simple calculators to the most complicated computers.  Hands-on design activities in the course should appeal to students who are curious about how their electronic devices actually work. It is also a good start for anyone considering future education in computers, software, or electronics.  Success in the course will not require much math, but will require curiosity and creative thinking."
  • Forensic Science

    (.5 credit, 6 track)
    Instructor: Antoinette Wawrzyn

    This course will introduce students to the scientific steps behind modern forensic techniques via hands on investigations. This semester long class culminates in a simulated crime scene scenario where students will interpret data, construct explanations and engage in argument from the evidence. Through experiential learning, students will become familiar with how to gather and analyze evidence related to fingerprints, DNA, handwriting, toxicology records and soil samples; they will compare hair and fibers via microscopy and interpret blood spatter patterns. The social justice impacts of forensic science within our criminal justice system will be explored throughout the semester. Prerequisites: chemistry and biology.
     
    "Students who like to solve puzzles and play the part of a crime scene investigator should consider this course," says instructor Antoinette Wawrzyn. "Students will learn how to secure various aspects of a crime scene, collect and analyze evidence, perform appropriate tests, and formulate conclusions in a written police report type format. Through student research and presentations a review of convictions and exonerations involving forensic science will be discussed. The class culminates in a simulated crime scene on Loyola's campus."
  • Biotechnology

    (.5 credit, 6 track)
    Instructor: Beth Waid Prince

    This laboratory-based course introduces students to genetic-based biotechnology concepts and laboratory skills. An emphasis on genetics is an important part of the course. This course offers the student an opportunity to experience the content and lab work associated with human genetics, biotechnology, genetic engineering and an exploration of the associated bioethical issues. Topics covered in both lab and class will include cloning, CRISPR, gene therapy, genetic testing and DNA identification. Prerequisites: chemistry and biology.

    “What excites me about the biotech class is doing so much real, hands on science!” says Beth Waid Prince. “We get to use so many cool tools and analyze DNA using modern techniques. I am really looking forward to having the time to actually learn the lab skills needed for biotechnology and then to apply them to a biotech project like transforming bacteria and making them glow in the dark using jellyfish genes. Students should take this class if they want to experience a part of what working in a lab is like.”
  • Introduction to Engineering Design

    (1 credit, 6 track)
    Instructors: Ann Michels and Nathan Ward

    This course serves as the foundation of the nationally recognized Project Lead the Way pre-engineering program. Students will use 3D modeling design software to solve design problems as they develop, create, and analyze product models. The course encourages students to think like engineers and apply the engineering design process. Students document their work and communicate solutions to peers and members of the professional community. This course is open to junior and senior students.
  • Entrepreneurship

     
    (.5 credit, 6 track)
    Instructor: Nicole Roman

    This special course in the social studies department will also debut this fall and examines how entrepreneurship plays a crucial role in the health of our overall economy. The course focuses on business innovation, capital formation, business growth, vision, and hard work. At the end of the semester, students will be well versed in business terminology, appreciate entrepreneurial creativity, recognize their hard work, and describe how new businesses alter our society.
     
    "This entrepreneurship course will allow students to integrate their creativity and desire to learn about business to create a company based upon our school's mission," says Entrepreneurship teacher Nicole Roman. "Students who are interested in learning more about how businesses evolve and function should take this course. Some expectations are that students will be able to link knowledge learned in class about entrepreneurship and business development to the creation of their own business.  At the end of the course, students will create a finalized business plan and will present their business plan to the class. Along the way, we are hoping to get guest speakers that will allow some of the material in class to be applied to real world situations."

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