Middle School STEM Curriculum

Developing Foundations

Middle School STEM focuses on “Developing Foundations”. In our rigorous math and science curricula, we emphasize the fundamentals and begin to bridge to a higher level of STEM thinking. We introduce the engineering design process and scientific thinking skills early and continue to cultivate those concepts throughout the program. Technology is fully integrated throughout our STEM programs, including our 1:1 laptop program for students in grades 5-12 and our state of the art Design Den which is a fully equipped makerspace for girls to experiment with 3D printers, Epilog Laser Cutters, and a variety of other tools. Coding is first introduced in 5th and 6th grades with mini-projects. In 7th grade students expand to programming and building Lego Mindstorm® Robots, leading to more advanced coding in 8th grade that focuses on website and app design. In our 8th grade STEM Skills Workshop all girls develop the 3D spatial skills necessary to close the STEM gender gap.

STEM Curricular, Co-curricular, and Extracurricular Activities

Middle School Mathematics

The middle school mathematics program stresses performance in basic operations using natural through real numbers and proficiency in working with percentages, fractions and decimals. Skill in solving and graphing equations and inequalities, performance in linear, square, and cubic measure, and practice with problems in statistics and probability are explored in depth. Problem solving and real-world application are incorporated into daily lessons. Communication in the language of mathematics is emphasized through written reports and oral presentations in each grade.  Appropriate and fluent use of technology is inherent in each course. 

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femail students working on popsicle bridge

The Middle School science program is designed to encourage wonder, teach scientific skills, and facilitate experiment-based inquiry and the engineering design process while exploring a broad range of topics within the earth, life, chemical, and physical sciences.  In everything we do, the emphasis is placed on helping students make meaningful connections between the material learned in class and the world around them.

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Coding

Computational thinking is emphasized in both our math and science middle school courses. We believe these skills empower our students to solve current and future problems with perseverance, collaboration, and innovation. Through programming projects and unplugged activities, students explore the steps of computational thinking including decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, and algorithm design.  More in-depth projects occur in 7th and 8th grade as students design apps in collaboration with service learning projects, program Lego Mindstorm Robots to tackle challenges, create interactive toys using physical computing and learn CSS and HTML to code a website of their choice.  Development of research skills, an understanding of copyright issues and digital literacy are all components of the website project. This integrated curriculum allows our students to develop the computational  tools needed to be productive digital citizens rather than passive users of technology.

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Scholars Engaged in Extending Knowledge (SEEK)

The SEEK Program was established to provide seventh and eighth grade students a means to pursue independent study in an area of her choice. The initiative is designed to encourage a student to expand her learning beyond the standard curriculum with the support of an in-school and/or out-of-school adult mentor.  A student with the desire and passion to explore a particular topic or subject of interest will be provided with the guidance and financial support necessary to complete the study of her choice. The topic she chooses to explore may be an extension of work she has done for a specific class, study in an area untapped by the Middle School curriculum, or the pursuit of a new skill or creative endeavor. 

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First Lego League Robotics Club

Lego League robotics focuses on applying coding, engineering, and teamwork to accomplish missions using the Lego Mindstorm robots. Teams also identify and solve a problem concerning the Lego League theme for the year. Previous themes have included how to be an animal ally, solving the world's trash problems and human exploration of space. Harpeth Hall has stood out at both the regional and state level, earning awards each time we have competed demonstrating the power of girls in coding and engineering design. 

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