North Haven

STEM: Science of Summer Program
North Haven School District
Grade level/Age Range of Students in Program:  Open to all students in grades 6-12.
Total enrollment: 42 students.

Primary Student Needs Program is Designed to Address

In this interactive, hands-on program, students learn how to design, test and experiment with items and devices on themes related to the summer, e.g., 1) strategies of how to survive in the wilderness; 2) the chemistry of ice cream and exploration of how to make it; 3) the engineering of a wide range of equipment from water crafts to roller coasters.

This is a high engagement program that allows for student choice while promoting team collaboration and problem solving. There is a defined structure that promotes student creativity, communication, knowledge building, development of negotiation skills and team work while designing and building projects related to summer. All areas of the sciences are incorporated, including physics, chemistry, biology as well as mathematical skills.

A highly qualified science teacher begins by building upon the background knowledge of students in relation to theme projects. Student teams are then challenged to engage in interactive, hands-on activities connected to summer themes. The teacher acts both as a facilitator of knowledge building and a student-centered researcher as she moves from group to group providing individual and group feedback. Student choice is promoted. In addition, student negotiation skills are developed as students collaborate on the approach they will take to a project as well as the resources they will use.

Most Innovative or Successful Elements of the Program

  • Students are actively engaged in a type of project-based learning that promotes active collaboration on real world activities.  Projects can be approached in a variety of ways providing choice and creativity in thinking.  As one student said, “It gives us a chance to test our minds.”
  • As a post COVID summer program, students are brought together in a safe environment that supports their social emotional development.  Interpersonal relations are developed; student voice is prominent.  The teacher acts as a facilitator of knowledge/skills development.
  • Judging by student attendance, involvement and dialogue, there is a joy in learning that can be associated with program implementation.

How Are the Outcomes of the Program Measured

  • Finished projects provide evidence of student growth.  The teacher does a summative narrative about the work done by the students, which is communicated to parents and members of the school’s science department.
  • As a post COVID summer program, there is a focus on providing a safe environment for learning that promotes social interaction of students through collaborative projects.  The approach to assessing outcomes is more qualitative than quantitative. The teacher assesses academic and social emotional growth in an informal way as she researches student development by observing, listening and questioning as she moves from group to group.  In the process, the teacher provides a continuous feedback cycle to individuals and teams.

Operational Features

Classes are held at North Haven High School.  They begin on July 19th and end on July 28th.  There are two separate sessions held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8 AM – 10 AM and 10:30 AM – 12:30 AM. (6 classes in total).  Students from grades 6-8 attend the earlier session; students from grades 9-12 attend the later session

Parents are responsible for transportation to and from school.

Staff Selection/Recruitment Procedures

A highly qualified science teacher from the high school science department stepped forward to design the summer program. Her vision, passion and knowledge base made her a logical choice for the position after a general posting was made.

Student Selection/Recruitment Procedures

The program is open to all students in grades 6-8.  Teachers in the science departments at the middle school and high school levels help to market the program.

Program Contact
Melinda McKenna, Assistant Superintendent   |   mckenna.melinda@northhaven schools.org