“The objective is to motivate students to research, create, and design, and also to analyze the problem they are trying to solve,” continues Piemme. “We want the students to be thinking at a higher level as they use science, technology, and math throughout the process.”
“RAPID Lab is a bridge into the science and computer science classes that have been built in the Upper School, so we are making a perfect connection.”
Students in RAPID Lab—for Research, Applied Science, Prototyping, Inquiry, and Design—select their own research projects, then sustain their investigation for the duration of the academic year. Throughout, RAPID researchers implement technology such as CAD modeling, 3D printing, probeware for data collection, and multimedia tools to create podcasts, blogs, presentations, and video tutorials. Students also have access to Upper School science tools and other resources—including Science Department Chair Graig Marx, who co-teaches the course with Piemme, and whose Upper School Research Science students produce many of the eye-popping college-level projects, presentations, and prototypes at WT’s annual STEM Symposium. Indeed, the idea for RAPID Lab stemmed from the growing number of Middle School students participating in the symposium over the last two years.
“RAPID Lab is a bridge into the science and computer science classes that have been built in the Upper School, so we are making a perfect connection,” explains Piemme. “Not only will this class strengthen each student’s STEM knowledge base, it will help to prepare them for Upper School classes and make those experiences richer.”
“STEM is big buzz word in many school circles, but our approach is truly using STEM to teach content. We require our students to become genuinely involved in the learning process, and this makes their learning more connected and real. With the introduction of RAPID Lab, we have now instilled that process in Middle as well as Upper School, and it sets WT apart from other schools.”