STEM Education

In 2017, Powhatan School embarked on an aggressive fundraising campaign to bolster STEM opportunities across campus. Successfully raising $1.4 million in that campaign, the resulting learning opportunities and facilities upgrades have truly been transformational. Campus renovations include:

 

The Major Family Science and Innovation Lab
A state-of-the-art Lower School Science Lab for students in grades 1-5.

The Bessette Family Makerspace
A space designed for innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, tinkering and collaboration for all grade levels.

Wilkins Family Upper School Science and Innovation Labs
New furniture and upgraded equipment for grades 6-8.

Technology Lab
An innovative space designed for technology and computer science activities, including Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), coding, green-room space, digital resources and plenty of space for study.

Busch von Gontard Family Wetlands Boardwalk
A boardwalk facility that stretches 50-yards into the wetlands on the Crocker Conservancy that allows early childhood students access to the wetlands habitat in a safe manner.

Anderson Family Outdoor Classroom
The pavilion on the Crocker Conservancy offers shelter and acts as an outdoor classroom.

Science:

Our goal is to spark excitement in students about science! We believe that science learning should be active, authentic, immersive, and purposeful. We do this through interdisciplinary thinking, technical acuity, collaboration, and inquiry-based learning. Science provides wonderful opportunities for collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and problem solving.

The Lower School science curriculum provides a flow of developmentally appropriate skills and content, exposing students to science inside and outside of the classroom. Powhatan’s rural setting has aided in the development of a Nature-Enhanced Approach to Learning (NEAL) program, which encourages the observation of nature and hands-on agrarian experiences to support all subject areas. 

Students work collaboratively to maintain the nature trail, encourage recycling, and plant and maintain a variety of gardens on campus. Lower School students learn basic theory in nature, wildlife, acoustics, and physics. 

In the Upper School Science, students apply the scientific method to their studies as well as enhance their critical thinking and reasoning abilities through extensive reading and research. The central goal of the sixth grade science curriculum is to excite students about the possibilities of science. The focus is on life science using a life science textbook, but there are frequent discussions about subjects such as Nobel Prize winners, hurricanes, and other current events. In the seventh grade, students focus on the geosciences of geology, oceanography, meteorology, astronomy, and environmental science. While students primarily focus on the geosciences, they also explore specific subjects, such as Virginia geology and the economic, social, and political impacts of environmental conservation and degradation. The eighth grade science curriculum focus is on watersheds, physics and chemistry but frequently includes subjects such as Nobel Prize winners, current hurricanes, and other current events.

 

Technology:

Powhatan School has made significant updates to the school infrastructure, personnel, and instructional technology program. The increased bandwidth, upgraded switches, and separated networks provide faster transfer speeds and improved connectivity, as well as a more stable and secure system. 

The STEM Capital Campaign brought an infusion of resources into the classroom and curriculum. Classrooms are equipped with different technologies: chromebooks, ipads, SmartBoards, and the 1:1 Chromebook program in grades six through eight. The technology curriculum has been redesigned with an expanded view toward developmentally appropriate skills and preparation for future skills that may not as yet be identified. 

The School has repurposed spaces to include a MakerSpace and a Green-Room space. In presenting new technologies, the School has been thoughtful in engaging a full-time IT member to support the maintenance and management of the infrastructure. The addition of a technology and innovation teacher to support teachers and design a relevant, age-appropriate curriculum provides a good foundation upon which Powhatan School can continue to move forward to meet the demands of an ever-changing global world.

 

Engineering:

Powhatan School students are exposed to simple machines as early as kindergarten. Classroom science projects incorporating building, making and exist at multiple grade levels, taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the Makerspace. Fifth grade undertakes a massive Engineering unit of study in the winter months focusing on simple machines. It also incorporates physics, motion, flight, electricity, magnetism, and the laws of nature.

 

MATH:

The Lower School uses the Everyday Math curriculum for grades K-5 which emphasizes the understanding of math concepts and provides a spiraling review of previously taught concepts and algorithms.

In the Upper School math classes are developmentally grouped, and students may complete high school Algebra I and Geometry at Powhatan. Math is tiered in the Upper School, operating with 6 different math curriculums/tracks in grades six through eight. The program teaches through a robust combination of hands-on activity, abstract reasoning and problem solving. 

Powhatan fields a powerhouse MATHCOUNTS team. Having won the regional title 8 out of the past 10 years, the team is one of the most decorated on campus. Powhatan School competed at the state level again in 2019.  

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