STEAM at Lake Ridge Academy
Science -Technology - Engineering - Art - Mathematics
Lake Ridge Academy believes that to do science right, we must be committed to the philosophy of STEAM education. Our entire K-12 science curriculum organically incorporates science, technology, engineering, art/design, and mathematics while establishing a solid foundation for our students in biology, chemistry, and physics. To support that commitment to STEAM, we created The Center for Scientific Exploration and Research.
The Center for Scientific Exploration and Research
Lake Ridge Academy has a celebrated history of providing our students with outstanding science instruction. Doctors and engineers fill the ranks of our alumni. Each year, approximately half of the graduating class goes on to study a science related field while in college. With this foundation of excellence and success, Lake Ridge Academy has established the Center for Scientific Exploration and Research.
This new K-12 center of excellence is based on the premise that every student accepted into Lake Ridge Academy has the potential to become a scientist. With this in mind, it is our goal to engage every student in hands-on, minds-on science activities and explorations at all grade levels. Our curriculum provides students with training in the scientific method, experience in the laboratory using increasingly sophisticated instrumentation, and critical analysis of the ever-growing body of scientific understanding.
Our K-12 science program also takes advantage of Lake Ridge Academy's 88-acre campus that includes a stream, pond, windmill, wooded areas, gardens, and solar resources. These resources have allowed important threads to run through our K-12 science curriculum that includes environmental science, engineering principles, and the new study of biomimicry.
Integrated Science Studies
Throughout the Lower School, environmental science education is a significant driver for the science curriculum and is often integrated with other subjects through inquiry, observation, exploration, construction, research and application. Students begin to understand their role in their environments by learning in different areas of our 88-acre campus. Science skills used during investigations build on those introduced and developed from the previous year. Each year the students become more fluent in the scientific process as they observe, classify, compare, predict, experiment, record, and report data. As they move through the Lower School, science becomes more subject specific as students focus more on the core science subjects of biology, chemistry, and physics. Integration with other disciplines continues in the Upper School in courses like Biomimicry and Design and Operation New World.
Because doing science is a powerful way to learn, Lake Ridge Academy places a high value on laboratory work. From the Lower School using the outdoors as its classroom to the over five and one half hours each cycle that is devoted to lab time in Advance Placement sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics), Lake Ridge provides it students with the time and tools needed to conduct real research projects. Through Operation New World, students at Lake Ridge Academy have the opportunity to study science abroad as they travel to the Yucatan region of Mexico to study the behavior of Spider Monkeys.
Although students do research whenever they gather information to answer a question that solves a problem, conducting scientific research is a learned skill. Science teachers at Lake Ridge Academy guide their students in developing an initial research idea, transforming it into a plan of action, and transcribing their findings in a written report. Striving to answer questions about the nature of the world around them, students make observations, perform experiments, collect data, employ logic, embrace honesty, and examine the proof of their results.
Institute for Scientific Research
An important part of the Center for Scientific Research is the Institute for Scientific Research. This institute provides students with an ongoing, long-term research experience beginning in the second semester of the sophomore year. Students define their own research project, generate a working hypothesis, and design experimental procedures to address the hypothesis in their Scientific Research Methods Seminar. During their junior and senior years, students take Junior Science Research Seminar and Senior Science Research and Thesis Seminar respectively. These courses provide students with blocks of research time during the school day where they will conduct their research. Working with an outside mentor from area colleges and business research and development labs, students write and defend a thesis in a culminating public presentation. Students not enrolled in the Institute still have the opportunity to participate in internships through the Cleveland Clinic.
Great Lakes Biomimicry Collaborative
In addition to these science initiatives, Lake Ridge Academy is part of the Great Lakes Biomimicry Collaborative (GLBio). GLBio consists of a collaboration of Northeast Ohio organizations and individuals focused on developing a place-based, living learning ecosystem based on biomimicry. Currently, over 100 individuals from all elements of the Northeast Ohio community are involved in this collaborative effort ranging from business, educational, medical and public and philanthropic sectors. Lake Ridge Academy is part of the education group that includes Baldwin Wallace University, The Cleveland Institute of Art, Lorain County Community College, and The University of Akron.
The goal of GLBio is to create conditions for sustainable, educationally driven regional economic development through place-based innovation inspired and tested by nature. In pursuit of this vision, GLBio's mission is to co-create, with a diverse group of partners, a place-based, living learning laboratory system and culture, based on biomimicry, unique in the United States and the world.
Because of our existing strength in the sciences and readiness for this program, the Nord Foundation named Lake Ridge Academy as an intellectual hub in this discipline and beneficiary of a grant to GLBio. This grant funds a Ph.D. fellowship position at The University of Akron who works with our K-12 teachers to develop curriculum in biomimicry. During the 2014-2015 school year, Lake Ridge Academy will begin hosting teachers from other Lorain County schools to share biomimicry teaching models.
As science is integrated throughout the Lower School curriculum, so is technology. A formal study of technology begins in kindergarten. As students progress through the grades, their use of technology shifts from basics skills to more specific activities like programming. In the early grades, students begin with Daisy the Dinosaur and then Hopscotch as they work their way up to more sophisticated programs. By Middle School, our students experiment with Scratch, Alice, and SketchUp.
Our kindergartens first learn about engineering principles as they experiment, reason, explain, extend, and graph results. Students throughout the Lower School continue to use the engineering process as they design, create, and solve problems. When they reach fourth grade they use those skills to build a "fort" in which they must work cooperatively to create scaled drawings that take into consideration the physical composition of the material as well as structural needs. The Middle School builds on that work with additional opportunities for students to participate in a robotics program.
We approach the teaching of engineering principles in the Upper School with our belief that science needs to be a hands-on, minds-on experience. Our engineering class, Physics with Engineering Principles, is a project-based course that delves into three different areas of engineering: civil, mechanical, and electrical. Students apply physics concepts to construct bridges, control robots, build electric circuits, and design solar-powered devices.
In the Upper School, students have the opportunity to apply design skills in the Biomimicry and Design class. This project-based interdisciplinary course that uses CAD software and 3D printing technology is based on concepts developed by Biomimicry 3.8. The course challenges students to study engineering design aspects of organisms and then apply them by developing new innovations based on nature to solve human problems.
Accelerated Math Program
Lake Ridge Academy offers its students opportunities to learn math at a pace appropriate for their intellectual development. Beginning in Kindergarten, our students are taught to see the mathematics in real-life situations and to use mathematical techniques to solve real-life problems. Throughout the math curriculum, critical thinking and problem-solving skills are emphasized.
Students who have displayed advanced cognitive development and proficiency in math have the opportunity to take part in our accelerated math program. Students in this program begin their study of Algebra 1 in Sixth Grade as they develop algebraic skills. By the time they leave the Middle School, they have finished high school Algebra 1 and Honors Geometry. Those students who stay on the accelerated track have the opportunity of taking Multivariable Calculus and College Discrete Mathematics.
Upper School Science Curriculum
Lake Ridge Academy's Upper School Science Department offers a wide-range of courses that allow students to explore the areas of medicine, engineering, and environmental science. Here are the courses currently being offered:
Biology, Honors Biology, AP Biology
Ecology, Biomimicry and Design, AP Environmental Science, Operation New World
Chemistry, Honors Chemistry, AP Chemistry
Forensic Science, Anatomy and Physiology, Introduction to Developmental Biology and Embryology, Bioethics
Physics, Physics with Engineering Principles, Honors Physics, AP Physics Course 1, AP Physics Course C, Astronomy
Scientific Research Methods Seminar, Junior Science Research Seminar, Senior Science Research and Thesis Seminar