This July, Deerfield Academy will host its very first summer interdisciplinary program with a curriculum geared towards innovation and curiosity. Over the course of four weeks, The Experimentory will expose rising seventh and eighth graders to new ways of thinking within the realms of digital exploration, music composition and communication.
Director Jill Schaffer articulated The Experimentory is “not a traditional summer program… [We’re] taking subjects that may not necessarily overlap and putting them together to see what happens when you get to their intersections.”
Academic Dean Peter Warsaw, who will teach music composition, offered similar sentiments: “[The Experimentory] springs from a belief that all three of these areas are basically languages. Music certainly yields to a study of linguistics, as do coding and English.”
For the past year, Dr. Warsaw has worked closely with science teacher Ivory Hills and history teacher Rebecca Sherburne, who will lead digital exploration and communication, respectively. Digital exploration will focus on coding, programming and 3D printing, while communication will embolden students to express and present their own ideas more effectively.
Dr. Warsaw was particularly enthusiastic about musical prosthesis, which he will likely incorporate into the syllabus: “You build something that is coded–a glove, or a belt–and the way you move generates sounds… You can create a piece literally by moving or dancing when you’re in it.”
Assistant Dean of Students Kevin Kelly, who will act as Leader of Community Life, has been busy planning an array of activities and excursions, both on and off campus, that will further enforce the themes of innovatoin and exploration. Taking a trip to Six Flags or biking around the Cape Cod Canal are a few of the myriad of ideas Mr. Kelly has brainstormed.
Upon returning to campus after the Six Flags trip, students may be asked to construct their own roller coasters using a 3D printer and enhance their creation with a backstory and soundtrack.
Dr. Hills believes the “uncertain” nature of this summer program should not discourage students from joining. “If [students] come and they’re a little brave and a little bold and not afraid of making mistakes, they’ll probably have a great time,” he said.
The Experimentory, Dr. Warsaw believes, will enable students to leave with an “innovative disposition”: “The disposition to look [around], to observe, analyze and question the world around you. To be creative and persistent in trying to find solutions to problems.”
“The idea is to create knowledge and understanding that endures,” Dr. Warsaw said. Experiential learning, he believes, “has much more power than simply cramming things into your memory and not fully understanding.”