Academics

Exploratory

What is the purpose of exploratory courses at ECS?

The purpose of Exploratory Courses is to provide middle school students the opportunity to engage in a variety of subjects outside of their everyday class schedule in a way that sparks curiosity and prepares students to make personal learning choices so that students develop passion for learning early on in life.

What are the logistics of Exploratory?

Sixth and seventh graders rotate through three courses for the first three quarters of school. In fourth quarter, students have the opportunity to choose an advanced version of one of the topics covered in the first three quarters. In eighth grade, students rotate through four courses. This allows for smaller class sizes and provides all students access to elect one (or more) of our partner courses.

This year, we are continuing partnerships with like-minded organizations, Assemble and Hip Hop on Lock. We also welcome ceramics teacher, Jenna VandenBrink, to our offered courses.

On the days students do not have a scheduled exploratory course, students engage Physical Education and one quarter of Health.

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What is the difference between exploratory and activity time?

Exploratory classes are 70 minute, quarter-long courses that occur 3-4 days per week. They provide a deep delve into a topic, and are offered by internal specialist teachers and coaches as well as external partner teachers. Exploratory classes are graded, and a culminating project helps students synthesize learning during the quarter.

Activity periods are led by homebase teachers, and offer students time to socialize and engage in interest-based recreational time.

 

What is being offered this year? Will my child have exposure to the arts or the environment? See the course offerings listed . Our intention is to offer a wide range of arts, environmental, and technology related courses.

 

Exploratory Course Offerings 2016-2017

6th Grade

Thinking Lab:  6th Grade Thinking Lab explores different ways that art can be used to impact the community. We are also developing different art skills and techniques with each project that we work on. Each quarter’s themes are determined by the interests and the passions of the class, but each group will take a public art tour of the surrounding community, visit a local art museum and do a public art tour in that region, and use the art skills and techniques they honed during the quarter to create artwork to impact a community of their choice.

Music: Dive into the world of guitar while examining different genres and aspects of popular music. We will be dissecting songs and applying our newly discovered knowledge of chords and song structure to fully understand how songs are constructed. Activities include Art n’ Soul Fridays, a Final Project where students will create their own song, and countless opportunities for students to share music that is close to their hearts.

assemble6th Grade Computer Science: In this introduction to Computer Science course will prepare students to advance their programming skills in order to create their own games.  Students will go through Google “clubs” to learn how to program using “Scratch”.  After they have been guided through structured lessons, they will use this knowledge to apply to their own game designs.  Students will also be using “Makey Makey” to bring the games to life.

7th Grade

Thinking Lab: Students will experience creativity related to various occupations/passions. They will follow a weekly structure to explore areas of interest such as sketching, painting, making, etc.   Students will then have the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned to create their own piece relating to their passions.

Assemble: Love to build things? Create costumes? Curious about coding? In Assemble! we will explore hands-on projects – like sewing with electricity and programming in Arduino. Each student will complete projects within our intensive two-week mini-semesters. You will get to use new tools, learn new software and participate in the engineering design process. As a class we will explore the theory and methods behind the Maker Movement.

Music: Dive into the world of guitar while examining different genres and aspects of popular music. We will be dissecting songs and applying our newly discovered knowledge of chords and song structure to fully understand how songs are constructed. Activities include Art n’ Soul Fridays, a Final Project where students will create their own song, and countless opportunities for students to share music that is close to their hearts.

8th Grade

Vitamin Nature: Nature Deficit Disorder was recently identified and defined by author and researcher Richard Louv. Louv raised the alarm about how little time children spend outside today and has identified some startling correlations between lack of outdoor time and issues like obesity and depression. In this course students will examine their personal feelings about nature and take a stance. We will work to understand how to access nature and increase personal outdoor time. Lastly we will work to build passion and understanding in others about nature and fight Nature Deficit Disorder from spreading! Students can look forward to A LOT of time outside in this course and will walk away with the tools for a life-long relationship with nature.

Hip Hop on Lock: The Hip-Hop on L.O.C.K. is an arts education program that teaches youth grades k-12 leadership development, organizational skills, cooperative economics and knowledge of the music business. This program is implemented by each student being given an executive position of a mock record label to create a music CD project from conception to completion.

Ceramics: We’re turning the science classroom into a studio this year at ECS (well, just for the morning)! Ceramics Exploratory will dive into the fundamentals of building and creating with clay, starting with the basics of pinching and sculpting, and progressing into larger-scale slab construction and advanced surface decoration techniques. In this course, students will have the opportunity to learn new skills, hone their skills through weeks of practice, and create objects they design themselves. Each student will propose and execute a final project, a culmination of their acquired skills and interests from the course. Ceramics Exploratory promises fun, challenge, and dirty hands!

Cooking: The cooking exploratory is designed to give students a strong foundation in basic kitchen skills. From knife skills to constructing grocery lists and ultimately making food, this class will give students a practical life skill that will make them better and healthier human beings.

 

Laura Micco

Laura Micco

Instructional Coach | laura.micco@ecspgh.org

Rose Papa

Rose Papa

Upper School Thinking Lab Teacher | rose.papa@ecspgh.org

Marty Reidell

Marty Reidell

Lower School Music Teacher | martin.reidell@ecspgh.org

Rachel Lendyak-Peters

Rachel Lendyak-Peters

Gifted Specialist and ESL Teacher | rachel.peters@ecspgh.org

Todd Hoffman

Todd Hoffman

Director of Technology | todd.hoffman@ecspgh.org

Niki Augustine

Niki Augustine

Food Service Director | niki.augustine@ecspgh.org

Andrea Szolna

Andrea Szolna

Upper School Counselor/504 Coordinator | andrea.szolna@ecspgh.org

Julia Brown

Julia Brown

Assemble Educator | julia@assemblepgh.org

Jonathan Hodges

Jonathan Hodges

Assemble Educator | jonathan@assemblepgh.org