Desert Academy’s science program is a student-centered science program that engages students physically and mentally in an inquiry-based, hands-on program. The ultimate goal of the science program is to develop science literacy in all students. This is accomplished by providing students with opportunities to expand, enhance, and modify the ways in which they view the world. Students are empowered to express and share points of view, solve problems, and make decisions based on evidence. An environment which encourages students’ thinking, honesty, curiosity, and questioning is provided to produce students who are lifelong learners, and literate in the world around them.
Our science program allows for the acquisition of knowledge and utilization of the scientific processes appropriate to the level of the student. The students are encouraged to “think scientifically” and “globally” as they discover science. Our curriculum is built around hands-on and minds-on instruction. This instruction motivates and empowers our students to delve further into their own questions about the world around them. As a human endeavor, science seeks to provide an explanation of the phenomena occurring in the natural world. In order to attain this, students must be trained in two areas: scientific inquiry and scientific knowledge. Our curriculum lends to both of these components throughout our students’ science education. The bottom line is this…if students are unable to ask questions and find solutions, they are at a disadvantage in our world. We strive to inspire scientific, informed, and science literate citizens in our global community.
One way in which Middle School Science engages students in thinking like scientists, solving local problems and helping the community is through the 7th grade Life Science course. In this course, students learn and understand concepts in Life Science through the eyes of the Santa Fe and Rio Grande river systems. In collaboration with New Mexco Fish and Game and Riversource’s Watershed Watch program, our students study a site on the Santa Fe River throughout the year. The students collect data on several parameters, analyze the data and submit the data to an on-line database for the community to access. Students ask questions about the area, and through collecting data they are able to find an answer. In addition, the 7th grade history course teaches history and geography through the eyes of the New Mexico river systems simultaneously. In this way, connections between history and science are made evident to the students.
The High School Science Program continues to emphasize science process skills and critical thinking. Students build upon the skills learned in middle school as they design and implement higher level experiments. As the science content becomes more rigorous and challenging, students are engaged in discussions and activities that assist them in learning and retaining the content. Connections are made between science content and real world applications, as well as to global and local issues that the students can solve. Students entering into 9th grade take Physical Science, and in 10th grade students take Chemistry. Students in grades 11 and 12 can choose to study IB Biology or Biology. As students show interest in other areas of science, the courses adapt to the needs of the students. The high school science program is designed to prepare students for college science.
Humanities courses at Desert Academy focus on developing the skills necessary to understand the concepts of time, place, and space, change, social systems, and global awareness. The emphasis is on understanding cause and effect, seeing events and circumstances from multiple perspectives, and recognizing that very few things within a social context have one “right” answer. Technical, analytical, problem-solving and investigative skills are taught and practiced in all Humanities courses.
Our seventh grade Geography course, for example, accomplishes the above objectives through a hands-on approach that includes project-based work and discussion. The interdisciplinary river unit allows students to experience the connections between the ecology, geography, and social significance of rivers in relation to the Rio Grande here in Santa Fe.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
Physical Education at Desert Academy aims to help students develop physically, emotionally, intellectually, and socially. The objective of these courses is to cultivate a healthy and active lifestyle for students. It therefore advocates activities that are not only enjoyable but also contribute to healthy living. Students are helped to develop the motor skills necessary to enable them to participate successfully in a variety of physical activities, and to learn about the nature of physical fitness. This subject area also serves to promote intercultural awareness, since physical education is a reflection of elements of history, culture, and values. It also enables students to establish links between different areas of experience, and provides opportunities for different forms of self-reflection, communication, and teamwork.
Technology at Desert Academy is essentially concerned with solving problems in an effort to stimulate students’ ingenuity and to encourage them to combine intellectual talents and practical skills.
Each technology course provides a balance between three key areas?
- MaterialsIn particular, students are encouraged to display ingenuity and creativity in devising practical solutions to given tasks. Students use the design cycle to:
This subject area is valuable for reinforcing and integrating skills learned in other disciplines, especially in the presentation and handling of data and the processes involved in the design and manufacture of a product. At the same time, it fosters awareness of the social and ethical implications of technological development.
High school courses include computer graphics, film, and animation.
WORLD LANGUAGES DEPARTMENT
The primary aim of the World Languages Program at Desert Academy is to encourage students to gain competence in a modern language other than their mother tongue, with the long-term goal of balanced bilingualism. Students may choose to study Spanish, French, or Chinese.
In addition, the study of a second language aims to:
- Encourage in the student a respect for, and understanding of other languages and cultures.
- Provide a skills base to facilitate further language learning.
VISUAL ARTS DEPARTMENT
The Desert Academy Art Department strives to engage students in a variety of arts and creative opportunities. Students are brought into contact with the art forms and aesthetic values of other cultures, as well as their own, and are helped to develop perceptions between ideas and art. They are also encouraged to identify particular creative abilities and to master techniques appropriate to that form of expression.
In addition, our visual arts courses:
- Organize learning around the creative cycle—a dynamic, ongoing process of sensing, planning, creating and evaluating art, and one in which all the senses are involved.
- Encourage creative energy, communication, interaction, and reflection.
- Aim to help the student become a developing artist—one who is able to assess his/her level of skill and target the areas that need development.
- Seek to acquaint young people with the creations of men and women whose works have proven to be of enduring worth.
In middle school, students experiment with materials and ideas that reflect art history lessons to make imitative works. Students begin by examining the roles of art in ancient cultures such as Greece, Rome, Egypt and Native American societies.
Students also practice basic drawing skills and techniques, do a sculpture study and solve a design problem. Students practice reflective writing and discuss art issues with other classmates.
In high school art courses, students engage with a variety of media and ideas in design, drawing, painting, sculpture and mixed-media. The emphasis of the courses is on an overview of art disciplines and techniques, reviewing and practicing constructive critique methods, and improving individual expression and visual communication skills. Students learn about expressing their ideas and becoming more aware of what the viewer is interpreting in their work.
Students have an opportunity to show their work on numerous occasions including at Art Shows in school and sometimes at venues in the community.
The Desert Academy visual arts program culminates with the IB Visual Arts course. This upper-level art course continues the study of concepts taught in other art courses that leads to the development of a portfolio and work for art shows both in-class and in the community. Students continue to study art history and theory in addition to creative processes.
PERFORMING ARTS DEPARTMENT
The Performing Arts Department at Desert Academy is dedicated to fostering individual creative expression in each of our mediums. Our exciting classes in music, theater, and film provide students with an opportunity to grow as artists in each of these disciplines. Training in each of these areas begins with the basics. Building a strong foundation is critical to motivating the student to explore and do their best work. Learning the keys and playing simple tunes on the piano kicks off the music program. Theater games are used to teach voice projection and being comfortable on stage. The glossary of film and practicing camera shots provide a solid start for young filmmakers.
Language is the basic tool of communication in the sense that it enables a student to understand and be understood, and to establish an individual identity. Language is also the means with which one gains access to literature and thereby to the cultural treasury of civilization. Desert Academy’s English department encourages all students to access and engage that cultural treasury in their own unique way.
English courses at Desert Academy therefore include the study of:
- The instrumental function of language, emphasizing listening, viewing, speaking, reading, and writing skills.
- Literature, which encompasses a variety of periods and genres.
The Desert High School curriculum allows students to develop a personal appreciation of literature, skills in literary criticism, strong written and oral skills, a respect for literary heritage and tradition, and an international mindset.
The English Department offers a writing center available to all students. This center is staffed by one of our English teachers in conjunction with a team of student tutors. Students are encouraged to bring drafts of essays from any academic discipline to the writing center for collaborative support.
Desert Academy’s mathematics program emphasizes developing reason and problem-solving skills that will be applied throughout a student’s lifetime. The math department strives to reach this goal by providing a variety of critical thinking activities, interactive investigations, and classroom lessons that motivate and challenge each student according to his/her individual needs.
Middle school marks the beginning of formal study of abstract mathematics. Pre-Algebra, in particular, is fundamental and success therein provides a foundation for future progress in mathematical studies. The math curriculum aims to enrich each student’s knowledge and understanding of mathematical concepts, encourage students to investigate patterns found within sets of numbers, improve each student’s ability to communicate mathematical ideas, and to teach students to reflect on a variety of problem solving strategies.
High school mathematics courses are sequential and cumulative, requiring the mastery of one level before proceeding to the next. All high school mathematics courses integrate geometric, algebraic, and other mathematical concepts, but the integration does not come at the expense of the cumulative nature of the subject. The math curriculum encourages and enables students to appreciate the usefulness of mathematics, develop mathematical curiosity, and become confident in using mathematics to analyze and solve problems. The Desert Academy math program culminates with the International Baccalaureate mathematics courses.Print This Page