We introduce technology in the Lower School in ways that allow our youngest students to develop the mental building blocks of creativity, logic, and reasoning. Students come to the computer lab and focus their attention on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) topics such as robotics, programming, and design. Introductory computer skills and robotics instruction start in the Kindergarten with BeeBots. Lower School students continue to explore programming, robotics, and other computer science topics throughout their time in Lower School using Scratch, Lego WeDo, and EV3 robotics kits; Makey Makey; and LittleBits. The Lower School computer science curriculum is designed to introduce students to beginning computer science skills and to build a strong foundation for students as they transition into the Middle School.
The Middle School curriculum builds a connection between making, engineering, computer science, and problem solving. In Class V, instruction and project work are designed to bring out the engineer in each girl—starting with robotics and coding and ending with soldering and making a wristwatch. Students are encouraged to make—and embrace—mistakes and to turn them into later success. In Class VI, girls are immersed in the world of circuitry. From learning the basics of a circuit and reading circuit diagrams to building circuits with conductive tape and inventing with Arduino kits, the focus in Class VI is on not being afraid to try something new and different and always looking for ways to create. In Class VII, students learn the art of 3D design, scanning, and printing. From using a Kinect as a gateway to turn the “real” world into a 3D model that can be manipulated to learning how to use one of our two state-of-the-art 3D printers, the focus in Class VII is entrepreneurship and hands-on, immersive learning. All of the skills covered in Middle School come together in Class VIII, where students learn the design thinking method of problem solving. Applying this human-centered approach to confront even the largest and most difficult of problems, students are challenged to bring together engineering, circuitry, and design to solve a variety of challenges, such as making a boat out of cardboard and duct tape that can be navigated across a pool, designing a comfortable outdoor chair inspired by a museum collection, and creating a memorial for a time period studied in history class.
The technology curriculum is constantly evolving, and in future years girls in Class X and above will be able to choose to dive deeper into at least one of four tracks—computer scientist, maker, design thinker, or entrepreneur—in order to fine tune their skills in these areas. Our goal is to give Nightingale girls the opportunity to explore many of these areas during their formative years so they will have the knowledge, interest, and desire to become the women who break down the current gender barriers in STEAM-based industries.