Student scientists at Carlthorp School dive into exploration with both their minds and bodies.
By designing and conducting their own experiments, students investigate and find answers to their own burning scientific questions. On any given day “scientists at work” might mean…tracking the progress of pet worms as they munch leaves and make compost, designing experiments to promote the growth of duckweed, launching rockets to explore acid-base reactions or building submersibles to kick-off a study of the world’s oceans. The science lab and innovation hub are places where natural curiosity fuels scientific inquiry. 

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  • Science Lab

    In the primary grades, students gain an introduction to the wonders of the natural world and the power of the scientific method in a laboratory that teems with live animals and hands-on experiences. They practice asking questions, making observations, collecting and analyzing data, drawing conclusions, and engineering solutions on topics that span the biological, physical, and earth sciences.  Whether they are concocting toothpaste formulas, constructing soundproof boxes, raising mealworms, or digging for fossils, students’ enthusiasm for science is evident. The primary grade science lab is a happily messy place where students will leave with science both on their minds and on their hands.

    Besides inspiring enthusiasm for STEM, Carthorp’s program also seeks to develop scientifically literate citizens. To that aim, one well-loved feature of Carthorp’s primary grade STEM program is Science News of the Week, a weekly presentation on a piece of current science or technology news. Through Science News of the Week, students learn that new inventions and discoveries are constantly changing our world and our understanding of it.
  • Innovation Hub

    In the intermediate grades, student work shifts to formalizing an understanding of the inquiry and design processes foundational to engineering, computer science and game development. Students build bridges, design alarms, code games, construct golf courses and myriad other activities that embed the iterative design process.  Additionally, starting in 4th grade students will begin physical computing. The work focuses on meeting design requirements, block based coding, and robot construction. As students advance, students learn the basic principles of the programming language Python and how to use 3D printing technology to solve problems. Students who enjoy this work have the opportunity to compete with other robotics teams across the state.

    By focusing on computational thinking, data collection, systematic observations and conducting controlled experiments, students' understanding of STEM principles are firmly in place and are well prepared for middle school.  

    The Innovation Hub also provides a maker space for students to make what they imagine into a reality. Students learn how to use tools and found objects to solve problems and create new ones! Monthly themes from tapigami to tower building provide context for those who are interested in making, but aren’t quite sure where to begin. 

    Every three years, the entire Carlthorp community comes together to put on a STEM Day replete with activity booths and interactive workshops for all grade levels. Additionally, students explore the many terrestrial features of California via field trips where they experience  earth, life and physical science phenomena up close.