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STEAM

Boy intently working with a robot


At Chartwell you will often hear faculty referring to strengths and stretches as qualities within our students. For example, students must stretch themselves and apply patience, tenacity, and hard work as they learn skills and strategies applied in subjects such as structured literacy and mathematics. While our faculty practice unique multidisciplinary and sensory methods teaching these subjects, they remain typically difficult areas for our students.

Our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) programs exist to celebrate and grow the strengths and creative interests and potential of our students. These classes, units and cross-curricular activities are designed to leverage many of the inherent abilities within our students. Consider these characteristic shared among students with learning challenges at Chartwell, as shared within our Teacher Training Institute: 

  • Enhanced spatial awareness, the ability to manipulate 3D shapes in one’s mind
  • Lateral processing, offering unique strategies to rapid problem solving
  • “Thinking in pictures” rather than words, identifying and remembering complex images
  • Ability to see how things connect to form complex systems, and to identify similarities among multiple things (pattern recognition)
  • Strong tendency towards entrepreneurship and creative advocacy or agency

Our faculty within the STEAM department prioritize these aspects of our Chartwell learners while designing powerful and stimulating experiences for students. 

Our philosophy of creating engaging, purposeful, multi-sensory and hands-on learning is applied across all divisions.

In the News

Black and white photo of students at beach

For their fourth project period of the year, high school students are studying marine ecology. The field experiences have included a guided tour through the Elkhorn Slough Marine Sanctuary, tidepooling at Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz, and a whale watching excursion on the Monterey Bay. The period will culminate with final project presentations. Photo by Gabe Aquino, Grade 11

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Students working in the maker space

Chartwell High School is rooted in project-based learning. Each school year is broken into four themed Project Periods. During each Project Period, the curriculum is shaped around a particular driving question and students engage in the production of a project that explores that question. The projects link subject matter and skills instruction into a coherent whole.

For Project Period 3 this year, the theme was Science Fiction and the driving question was: How can I use Sci Fi to envision what alien life would be in the Proxima Centauri system? 

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Tents and campsite

This year, many students missed out on the traditional science camp due to COVID restrictions. STEAM Director Topher Mueller, realizing the educational and social-emotional value of this annual experience, worked to recreate an abbreviated on-campus science sleepover including science projects, a day hike, astronomy, games, and even a campfire.

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Robotics team

The Chartwell Cyberdogs joined 32 teams in Silicon Valley for the Northern CA Innovation Expo late last month- and were among just 12 finalists to present their innovative idea and solution to expert leaders in technology and engineering firms. While they were not among the three teams invited to continue to the Global Innovation Expo, their idea - which was improving orthotics for children with cerebral palsy - impressed the judges during their four presentations.

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Three Chartwell students holding their water rockets

As part of an integrated project in math, science, and language arts, Ms. McClelland's homeroom built water rockets. Students designed and created their fins, cones, and decorations. They learned about the scientific method and set a hypothesis about the amount of water and its effect on the rocket's flight. Students participated in their second launch yesterday by changing one variable, either fin type, weight, or water amount. After successfully launching their modified rockets, students will "land" on Mars and learn more about the red planet.

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Young student testing a water rocket for STEAM class

Enrichment Opportunities

To supplement our students’ passions in STEAM, we offer many extracurricular programs and experiences for our community: 

  • Competitive FIRST Robotics teams
  • Lower school clubs
  • Middle & high school STEAM electives 
  • Field experiences in all divisions
Two girls in the garden learning about science with a teacher

Dedicated Learning Spaces

Our campus offers unique learning spaces that support our STEAM program, including: 

  • 60 acres of varied habitats on which to learn natural sciences, including coast live oak, coastal scrub, mixed annual and perennial grassland
  • Large school garden, along with an orchard and pollinator garden
  • Makerspace and Digital Lab, which include tools such as AR/VR devices, 3D printers, soldering and other fabrication tools, woodshop tools and more
  • Arts classroom and ceramics studio