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Academics & Arts

STEM & STEAM

STEAM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics

Our STEAM programming
provides a myriad of experiences designed to allow students to make cross-disciplinary connections, and to develop the skills necessary for them to be: engaged citizens, competent evaluators of information, capable problem solvers, innovative thinkers and creators.

Why Arts? Arts is a crucial component of STEAM education because it brings creativity, imagination, and a holistic perspective to the traditionally analytical and technical aspects of STEM fields.
We believe through early engagement with STEAM, students acquire skills to develop innovative solutions to real-world challenges, ignite creativity, and build the confidence to excel in fields traditionally underrepresented by women. Embracing STEAM not only offers exciting career opportunities but also equips our students with critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and a global perspective that will enable them to make a significant impact in a rapidly evolving world. Our students leave Laurel well equipped to pave the way for their academic success, contribute to the advancement of society, and shatter any glass ceilings that may exist! #WomeninSTEM

Why STEAM at Laurel?

Interdisciplinary learning is a hallmark of Laurel School’s academic programming from Early Childhood through Grade 12. As a national leader in STEM, Laurel School thinks strategically about how the skillset of an artist overlaps with and enhances skills mastered by professionals in traditional STEM fields. Where practical, our students are offered the opportunity to observe, to think critically, to interpret, to appreciate precision and scale and to communicate from the perspectives of a scientist, visual artist, mathematician, computer scientist, performance artist and engineer. Below are just a few examples of our interdisciplinary programming that incorporate the elements of STEAM.

List of 11 items.

  • First Graders Observe Insect Life Cycle

    A long-term study of meal worms reveals the changes these insects undergo throughout their lives. Students receive a larva—the mealworm—which they name, feed, and create a home for. Over the course of a few weeks, they make regular observations of the insects. During this time they make graphs of the stages the insects are in, perform simple experiments with their specimen, and provide care and feeding for the insects.
  • Second Graders Track Deer

    During their Eastern Woodlands immersion at the Butler Campus, Second Graders learn about the signs and signals of animals in the forest. They use their new skills to follow the markings of deer to its resting place—scrapes, rubs, tracks and scat lead the way to their quarry.
  • Third Grade Bird Investigation

    During the Third Grade, students study the unique adaptations of birds! This interdisciplinary unit combines studies in science, technology, math, engineering, art and even French. Students dissect eggs and learn about each structure and its function in protecting the chick. They run a beak adaptation experiment that answers the question about which bird uses which shape/size of beak, and they identify winter birds using careful observation skills and field marks. During the unit, students use the Merlin app to identify birds by sound. They also explore the diversity of eggs (a unique bird adaptation) by weighing and measuring eggs from different species. Students also use measurement skills to collect data on bird features like beak, wingspan, and tail length. Students use the engineering design process to brainstorm, plan, create and make iterations to build nests that hold eggs in a tree. In art, students learn about bird proportion and shape to complete realistic scientific illustrations of birds they study in their National Park unit, complete with labels using French language vocabulary words.
  • Fourth Grade Research Symposium

    Each spring, Fourth Graders display their research made possible by their Power & Purpose experiential learning curriculum at the Butler Campus. A culmination of a year's worth of exploration in scientific field research, library research, applied mathematics, informational writing, and more. They study a variety of topics from local and invasive species at Butler, to the age of the oak trees in Butler’s forest. These Power & Purpose "passion projects" are a favorite part of the Fourth Grade experience.
  • Rube Goldberg Machines in Middle School

    Sixth Grade students put their knowledge of the Law of Conservation of Energy together with their understanding of forces and simple machines to build Rube Goldberg Machines. A Rube Goldberg Machine is a complex machine to complete a simple task. Often these machines combine “chain reactions” with simple machines such as pulleys, levers, and wheel and axles to toast bread, flip a switch or push a button. Students utilize content knowledge and creative engineering skills and practice resiliency and the power of “yet” with a growth mindset in order to be successful in this challenge.
  • Osmosis & Pickles in Middle School

    Seventh Graders use the power of osmosis to make pickles! While studying the way salt affects plant cells and what osmosis reveals about the inner workings of the cell, students in Seventh Grade harness this phenomena to preserve cucumbers. An ancient practice for putting up food before refrigeration, pickling brine draws water out of the cucumber while also creating an environment inhospitable to bad microorganisms, fostering healthy microbes and improving taste.
  • Ninth Grade Physics Egg Drop

    Upper School Physics students look forward to the annual Egg Drop Challenge. The goal of the challenge is to drop an egg from the Tippit Gymnasium balcony and hit their teacher on the head. The teacher walks in a straight line and matches their steps to a constant beat. Students must determine what measurements to take, how to use those measurements and calculate where the teacher should be when they drop the egg. Finally, they have to come up with a plan to communicate with each other so the person on the balcony knows when to drop the egg, taking into account human reaction time. This project has become an annual all-community attraction with spectators from all divisions of the school.
  • Sustainable Ecobottle Study

    Upper School biology students engineer freshwater terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems using core ecological principles of energy transfer, niche/habitat, carrying capacity, limiting factors, cycling of matter, trophic pyramids and photosynthesis. Students build their designs, seal up their bottles, and collect quantitative data of pH, dissolved oxygen, soil fertility, temperature, and total dissolved solids. Qualitative observations on the health of aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna are recorded and changes are made to the ecosystem over four weeks to keep it in balance. An ecobottle “autopsy” is done at the end of the investigation to assess overall health of the ecosystem, and all biotic and abiotic items are returned to the environment or recycled.
  • Engineering Cardboard Chair Design

    Eleventh and Twelfth Grade Principles of Engineering students test their skills as part of their "structures" unit by creating a chair out of cardboard that measures at least 18" off the ground. Chairs require a back and have to hold the weight of their teacher. Students prepare by creating detailed Orthographic and Isometric drawings of their chairs, plus build 3D models using CAD software. A key challenge for the project is that students cannot use any tape or adhesives to construct their chairs. 
  • Fabric & Fibers Deep Dive Projects

    After learning about a broad variety of fabric and fiber techniques and materials, Upper School students are challenged to choose an area of interest, brainstorm a unique idea, and dive deep into their own independent projects. Projects have included creating tufted rugs, designing costumes, stitching or crocheting clothing, and altering vintage shoes.
  • Environmental Justice Semester

    Laurel’s Environmental Justice (EJ) Semester is open to Tenth and Eleventh Grade girls from any public, private, charter or parochial school in Northeast Ohio. Imagine spending a “semester away” alongside passionate changemakers, learning from experts in the field, and contributing to meaningful positive change in Northeast Ohio and beyond. The learner-centered Semester takes place on Laurel’s 150-acre Butler Campus in Novelty, Ohio, which offers a natural space with terrestrial, aquatic, and agricultural ecosystems for student changemakers to devise solutions for the ecological and social challenges facing urban Cleveland, a rustbelt city grappling with many environmental and social justice issues.

Recent Awards & Programs

STEM Research students may prepare for regional and state science competitions, such as the Northeast Ohio Science Fair.
  • Grand prize award in the Biomedical and Health Science category at the International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Dallas, TX (2023)
  • International Science & Engineering Fair participant, Cell Biology in Atlanta, GA (2022) 
  • Two 1st place and one 2nd place at Northeast Ohio Science & Engineering Fair (NEOSEF) (2023)
  • State Science Day 1st place award winners (2022 & 2023)
  • Northeast Ohio Science & Engineering Fair (NEOSEF) special awards from Cleveland Clinic - Dept of Inflammation & Immunity, Cleveland Clinic - Dept of Neurosciences, CWRU - Women Faculty of the School of Medicine (2023)
  • Northeast Ohio Science & Engineering Fair (NEOSEF) special awards from American Statistical Association - Cleveland Chapter, Cleveland Clinic - Lerner College of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic - Lerner Research Institute (2023)
  • Northeast Ohio Science & Engineering Fair (NEOSEF) special awards from American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics - Northern Ohio Section, American Statistical Association - Cleveland Chapter (2023)
  • 1st place for the Governor's Thomas Edison Award for Excellence in Biotechnology and Biomedical Technologies (2022)
  • 1st place for the Future Physician Scientist Award and a Superior standing for the Ohio Academy of Science Award (2022)
  • NASA Glenn Capstone program participants (2022)
  • Summer Biomedical engineering research with Case Western Reserve University’s Comprehensive Cancer Research Center, as well as other lab partnerships (yearly)
  • International Coalition of Girls Schools Hafize Gaye Erkan Fellow participant (2021-2024)

Alumnae in STEM

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