STEP (Grades 6–9)

STEP (Grades 6–9)
Summer STudies Enrichment Program

  4 week session       9:00am-12:00pm; 9:00am-3:00pm       $1,800-$2,500

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STEP offers students entering Grades 6–9 the chance to brush up on academic skills, further develop math and writing foundations, and explore new interests. Participants can design a full-day schedule by combining non-credit academic courses with weekly hands-on electives. Taught by a team of teachers, this program is crafted to resemble an enriching Middle School morning, with the option to add afternoon camp electives. These electives will include classes in the realms of science, art, cooking, and more. The program’s staff includes current and former Sidwell Friends faculty, faculty from area independent schools, and current students and alumnae as counselors.

STEP will take place in the Sidwell Friends Upper School, utilizing classrooms and labs. The full day will include break time in the school’s café (the Fox Den) and lunch in the dining room.  Lunch may be purchased separately ($6/day). On Fridays, pizza and Italian ice are provided for lunch at no additional cost.

The morning academic workshops (math options; language arts options) will run for all four weeks of the program. However, participants will be able to select different afternoon workshops for each of the four weeks, if they so choose.

The program is also open to students coming from abroad. International students participating in STEP will interact with American students in both classroom and camp settings, with opportunities to improve English skills through academic classes and enriching workshops.

Dates, Hours, and Fees

2019 Dates
July 8 – August 2 4-week session
AM Only 9:00am – 12:00pm
Full Day 9:00am – 3:00pm
Extended Day Visit our Extended Day page for information about before and after care.
AM Only $1,800
Full Day $2500 (additional $175/week for afternoon add-on)

Sample Daily Schedule

Click here to view the complete schedule + workshop offering guide for Summer 2019.

8:45am Drop-Off
9:00am – 10:00am Workshop 1
10:05am – 11:00am Workshop 2
11:05am – 11:55am Workshop 3
12:00pm – 12:40pm Lunch / AM Only campers go to carpool
12:45pm – 1:45pm Workshop 4
1:50pm – 2:50pm Workshop 5
2:50pm Dismissal

Workshop Offerings and Descriptions

AROUND THE WORLD - If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Whether on a safari on the African Savannah or eating gelato on the streets of Italy, there’s a lot of planning that goes into a perfect vacation! Campers will combine skills they’ve learned in math class with detail-oriented, think-ahead planning to imagine their dream vacation.

BAKING – Campers will dive into the world of sweet treats! If your camper enjoys pies, cakes, custards, cookies, etc, then this is the class for them! They will get to sample the treats they make and conclude the week with a baking book to take home.

THE BEST AND THE WORST - Can we find perfection?  We’ll look at classic examples of literary and historical attempts to create utopias—and some depictions of dystopias as well. What do these great/terrible worlds look like on screen (e.g., in the drama The Handmaid’s Tale or the sitcom The Good Place)?  Can one person’s utopia be another’s dystopia?

CHEMISTRY – Campers will participate in labs that show why chemistry is such an important and useful science—one that affects everything we do in our daily lives. The labs will examine changes in matter (solids, liquids, and gases).

CHESS - Want to learn the basics and some advanced strategies in chess so you can beat your friends and family? Join the Sidwell Knights for a fun five days of chess instruction.  Learn strategies, opening ideas, and many ways to checkmate!  There will also be a lot of time for matches against classmates. Chess is more than a game, and the skills you learn transfer well to all aspects of school and life: abstract thinking, logic, patience, creativity, short and long term planning, and good sportsmanship.

COLORWHEEL - A space for campers to let their creativity out! Through sketching and drawing, coloring and creating, campers can use this time to make and share artwork, crafts, and projects in 2-D or 3-D.

CREATIVE WRITING – Using nothing more than the 26 letters of the alphabet, combined in different ways, you can create a world. Students will explore genres of creative writing (poetry, short story, longer pieces), read sample pieces, discuss plot structures, experiment stylistically, workshop ideas, and get the creativity flowing! Develop characters, build narrative, and make a whole new reality on paper. This is a four week class.

CSI – Become a detective for the week! In the CSI lab, campers will work in teams learning strategies used in ID, NCIS, and CSI. To solve the crimes with science, campers will look into latent fingerprints, blood samples, hair samples, DNA, footprints, and Luminol.

CULINARY CREATIONS – Campers will learn culinary techniques while recreating some of their favorite dishes, including pasta, poultry, vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, etc. Campers will get to sample what they make, as well as compile a handmade cookbook to serve as a keepsake from their experience as a chef!

DISSECTION – Campers will get the opportunity to study various organisms and dissect insects and other animals skillfully and strategically. As they dissect, campers will be able to compare the anatomical structures of different organisms.

DNA – DNA makes you uniquely you. DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, sometimes called “the molecule of life.” Campers will investigate genes and observe how DNA looks by performing different lab exercises.

EXTRA, EXTRA, HIDING IN THE HEADLINES - Headlines that jump off the page, the “crawl” at the bottom of the screen during a news program, and eye-catching book titles and subtitles are all ways that we grab our readers’ attention.  Together, we’ll look at how publications and the media strategize to compel their audience to buy, read, and care about the stories they feature.

FINANCIAL LITERACY - STOCK MARKET - Everyone has money, but not everyone knows how to use it responsibly. From piggy banks to savings accounts, everyone faces the challenge of knowing when to spend, save, or donate.  In this class, we’ll explore the monetary landscape! Campers will learn how to create a budget and make smart investments in order to strengthen their financial literacy skills.

GAME OF LIFE - Who is headed for wealth and fortune? Pick a path for a life of action, unexpected surprises, and dream vacations, but spend cash wisely! You never know what life will throw at you next. Campers will use skills they’ve learned in math class in order to end up as the most successful in our game!

GEOMETRIC ART - From M.C. Escher’s tessellations to the origins of Origami, campers will learn about the history and methods used to create several kinds of geometric art. They will have the opportunity to try their hand at each artistic method that will ultimately be displayed for other campers to admire and enjoy.

INTO THE WOODS - Kids of all ages love a good story!  We’ll explore the hero’s journey, questions of good and evil, and the concept of archetypes.  What drives Odysseus, Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen, and the classic fairy tale characters to go “into the woods”—and how do they make it out?

KITCHEN CHEMISTRY – Campers will work with different foods in labs that involve physical and chemical changes. By using the sun, Bunsen burners, hot plates, and microwaves, we will create a variety of food-based mixtures, compounds, and solutions.

LANGUAGE ARTS – Language Arts will extend students’ practice in reading and writing. Reading will incorporate both fiction and non-fiction material, and we will focus on comprehension and analysis (both structural and thematic). Students will work on strong and persuasive writing using building blocks of vocabulary, grammar, parts of speech, and transitions. This is a four week class.

MATH GRADE 6 – Campers will review fundamental pre-algebraic computational techniques, such as working with positive and negative integers and rationals, and apply these techniques to a host of novel problem-solving scenarios.  They will develop proportional reasoning through extensive work with ratios and percentages, using their knowledge to sovle problems involving percent change with efficiency and accuracy.  Review of methods for finding angles in polygons, along with calculating the area of triangles, trapezoids, parallelograms,  circles and composite figures consisting of these shapes will give them an opportunity to bolster their geometric problem-solving skills.

MATH GRADE 7 – Campers will explore fundamental techniques for simplifying algebraic expressions, in addition to fine-tuning their skills working with decimals, fractions, and negative numbers.  They will investigate geometric principles such as area, volume and surface area, and the Pythagorean Theorem, and will delve into more complex problems with percentages. An introduction to linear graphing and the concept of slope will give students opportunities to describe constant growth and change algebraically.  Extensive problem solving will provide students with opportunities to apply these concepts to novel problem-solving scenarios.

MATH GRADE 8 & 9 - Campers will explore formal algebraic principles, along with methods for solving linear and quadratic equations and inequalities using the zero product and distributive properties.  They will also learn techniques for simplifying exponential and radical expressions, as well as ways of applying these techniques to solve equations involving exponents and radicals.  An extensive unit on graphing linear equations in various forms will help students to connect the concept of linear growth with its graphical equivalent, and consolidate their understanding of slope as a mechanism for quantifying this rate of growth.  Practice graphing quadratic equations in standard and vertex form will consolidate their skills solving equations by factoring, using the quadratic formula, and completing the square. Elimination and substitution will be presented as approaches towards the solving of linear systems.  Rational equations will be solved and rational expressions simplified through the use of factoring and the least common denominator.  Finally, they will analyze various ways of solving linear and non-linear inequalities, along with ways to express their solution sets using the intersection or union of sets.  Throughout all topics, practical applications of algebraic modeling will be emphasized.

MICROBIOLOGY – Bacteria is the oldest living life form in the world! Campers will study different groups of bacteria and types of infections, as well as engage in lab work.

PHYSICS – Physics is generally considered a fundamental science. Campers will participate in labs dealing with matter and energy and “the forces” (including heat, magnetism, light, sound, pressure, and gravity!).

PICTURE IT - You’re never too old for picture books!  We’ll look at excerpts from famous graphic novels, such as Maus and Persepolis, as well as at graphic novel adaptations of existing novels.  Next, we’ll try our hands at some cartooning/storyboarding exercises of our own!

POP-UP BUSINESS - What goes into the making and running of a business?  Campers will explore everything from the name to the logo, the layout of the space to the product offerings, the finances to the customer experience.  Themes will vary by week, but each week-long workshop will afford campers the opportunity to use creativity, math, strategy, and problem-solving to build a miniature business.  Think a childhood lemonade stand, but think BIGGER!

SCIENTIFIC METHOD – The Scientific Method gives the campers a chance to explore and solve problems using data. By identifying and investigating the components of problems, campers will develop their understanding of the Scientific Method.

SHARK TANK - Whether you have a fantastic idea for a new invention or a problem worth solving, then Shark Tank is just the class for you! Campers will learn how to pitch a business concept, product, or services to moguls in hopes of landing investment funds. At the end of the week, campers will have the opportunity to pitch their idea to a panel of “sharks.”

SHORT STORIES: MYSTERIES - Sleuth you way through the sentences of mystery authors’ short stories. Look for clues between the commas, hints in the dialogue, and try not to get lost in the twists and turns presented. Do some detective work, be careful who you trust, and see if you can solve mysteries before the end of the story! Maybe even try your hand at writing one or two…

SHORT STORIES: SCIENCE FICTION - The genre of science fiction exists in the space between reality and fantasy, the imagination of what the world would be like “if…” and the fascination with technology and innovation and how it could affect our future. Read some of the great science fiction short stories, and get the chance to write some of your own!

SPORTS 101 - Come learn some sports history, some sports culture, some sports trivia, and maybe even some sports skills outside!

SUMMER SPA – Campers will use grocery store products to recreate various spa items. They’ll learn the benefits and chemical components behind each key ingredient used to create fragrances, perfumes, candles, body scrubs, lotions, facial masks, etc. Campers will also have a chance to practice contouring/highlighting techniques, eyeshadow application, and much more!

THINK LIKE A SUPREME COURT JUSTICE - Pretend you’re on the high court, and rule on a case every day.  We’ll give you the details of a real legal dilemma related to America’s education system, and you’ll try to puzzle out how the Supreme Court Justices rules and why.

THE TRUTH ABOUT FAKE NEWS - What is “fake news,” anyway?  Step back in time to learn about early sensationalism and “yellow journalism.”  Then look at modern-day reporting—can we find bias in today’s publications?