Brian Fisher | May 16, 2014
Taking advantage of the on-campus Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, The Webb School will offer a 10-day Junior Paleontology Program. While in residence on campus, rising 7th and 8th grade students, will practice hands-on techniques prospecting for fossils, researching in the field and in labs, visiting Los Angeles museums and learning to apply 3-D scanning and imaging in the field.
"...These programs come out of strategic planning conversations and Webb's goal to have summer offerings that are more mission-specific, that allow some of the best parts of the Webb education to become part of the summer...The recent news about a Webb student who discovered the fossil of a baby dinosaur is but one example of how our students contribute to the field and what an exciting place the museum is..." Dr. Tracy Miller, Director of Experiential Learning
For rising 9th-12th graders, Webb is adding a Global Leadership program with tracks in Entrepreneurship and Science & Engineering. Webb sees entrepreneurship and STEM expertise as gateways to students’ future success.
Students in these tracks will practice process, design, and problem solving while adding a dose of creativity. Beyond Webb’s labs and campus, students will visit nearby facilities such as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab.
Webb alumni and parents working in these fields and guest teachers working for Google, Facebook and Disney will also provide lessons in the program.
Older students may elect to stay an optional fourth week covering the college admission process. Hector Martinez, Webb’s Director of College Guidance, will take students through the pieces of college application with workshops and presentations from college admission representatives.
I spoke with Dr. Tracy Miller about the genesis of Webb’s new summer programs:
Why these programs now? How does Webb see the future and what skills or practices will these students learn that better prepare them for the future?
These programs come out of strategic planning conversations and Webb's goal to have summer offerings that are more mission-specific, that allow some of the best parts of the Webb education to become part of the summer.
In the past, we had a robust summer program for elementary-high school students, but it felt disconnected from some of the best parts of what make Webb Webb: unbounded learning and thinking, project and design-based curriculum, leadership and character education, our Raymond Alf Museum of Paleontology, our amazing location and our identity as a boarding school.
Introducing summer boarding, building a deliberately global program, creating a program directly for our museum and many of the other innovations of this new program will allow the summers to be a natural extension of some of the best parts of our school year programs.
Both The Global Leadership and The Junior Paleontology program are designed with twenty-first century skills and competencies in mind. The Junior Paleo program will introduce young students to the world of research science, empowering them at an earlier age to recognize what a vital, exciting place the laboratory can be. It will emphasize collaboration, creativity and intellectual curiosity through fossil prospecting trips, shared research projects and the residential community that we'll build on campus.
One of the best things about Webb's Paleontology Program and the incredible resource that our Raymond Alf Museum provides is that it allows our students to make real contributions to scientific research and discovery.
The recent news about a Webb student who discovered the fossil of a baby dinosaur is but one example of how our students contribute to the field and what an exciting place the museum is. We want our Junior Paleo students to step away from the program excited about learning, eager to continue to explore science and empowered to recognize what kinds of contributions even young students can make to the field of paleontology.
The Global Leadership Program will emphasize collaboration, creativity, design-thinking and unbounded learning. It will give select high school students from around the world a chance to live and learn together and tackle complex problems in two cutting-edge fields: entrepreneurship and engineering. Students will develop more comfort and skills in both fields and will also learn vital critical thinking skills. In addition, the emphasis on leadership will allow students to leave the program with a personal leadership action plan, goals and future projects to pursue back at their home schools.
What effects do you see the practice and practical parts of the Entrepreneurship and Science & Engineering giving/instilling in students?
Engineering and entrepreneurship are both fields that value critical thinking and creativity, the design process and collaboration. We hope our students have a chance to refine all of these skills in the program.
In addition, our goal is to help expand their definition of both entrepreneurship and science/engineering by introducing them to a wide variety of speakers, companies, possible career directions etc. We want them to come away from the program excited and a bit awed by how much potential there is in each of these fields: the wide range of career opportunities in both, the various paths (in college, internships, jobs etc) one can take to pursue these fields and how dynamic these fields are in the twenty-first century.