STEP (Grades 6–9)
Summer STudies Enrichment Program
4 week session 8:30am-12:00pm, 8:30am-3:00pm $1,800-2,500
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 ($5/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
|July 9 – August 3||4-week session|
|AM Only||8:30am – 12:00pm|
|Full Day||8:30am – 3:00pm|
|Extended Day||Visit our Extended Day page for information about before and after care.|
|Full Day||$2500 ($1,800 plus an additional $175/week)|
Sample Daily Schedule
Click here to view a complete schedule + workshop offering guide.
|8:30am – 10:00am||Workshop 1|
|10:15am – 11:45am||Workshop 2|
|11:45am – 12:30pm||Lunch / AM Only campers go to carpool|
|12:30pm – 1:45pm||Workshop 3|
|1:45pm – 2:45pm||Workshop 4|
|2:45pm – 3:00pm||Dismissal|
Workshop Offerings and Descriptions
ALGEBRA 1 – In Algebra 1 students study operations involving integers, rational numbers, real numbers, monomials, polynomials, rational expressions, exponents, absolute value, and radicals. Techniques for solving and graphing linear and quadratic equations are studied extensively, and linear inequalities and systems of linear equations receive significant attention. There is a strong emphasis on ensuring secure skills and producing clearly organized written work. The class is appropriate both for the student seeking additional review in basic algebra and for the student who, with a teacher’s recommendation, is undertaking summer study to accelerate.
AMERICAN POLITICS 101 – From background information on the political landscape (i.e. party politics, policy initiatives and shifts, elections) to the exploration and discussion of the current political environment in the United States, lessons will center on topics like healthcare, education, international affairs, and domestic social issues. Students will be able to evaluate the state of American politics by drawing upon events from the last 10 years.
AROUND THE WORLD IN ONE WEEK - 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.
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).
CULINARY ARTS – 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!
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.
DEBATE – Learn how to craft and execute an argument, starting with the research and following through to a presentation full of quick thinking, eloquence, and compelling points and counterpoints. Debate lets kids build a foundation of a case and then give voice to the evidence, thinking on their feet as they engage with each other.
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.
FINANCIAL LITERACY - 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.
INVESTIGATOR IN TRAINING - Become an investigator for a week! If you are fascinated by crime and love problem-solving, we need you to help us solve a cold case. This class will combine forensics with logic and critical thinking skills. Campers will use lie detector tests, secret codes, patterns, and data collection to try to solve a cold case!
JOURNALISM - Learn the basics of writing for print media, including newspapers, magazines, and blogs. Practice interviewing, fact-finding, and revising, and complete a polished article!
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.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: AN INTRODUCTION – Brief history of Major League Baseball, focusing on key players, key games, memorable moments, mascots, ballparks, scandals, statistics, managers, playoffs, etc. Go outside and play wiffle ball on Friday, applying our knowledge!
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!).
PLAYWRITING - Try your hand at dialogue, staging, and drama. What makes a compelling scene? How do you create emotional moments—both high and low—for your audience? After daily read-alouds of published plays and scenes, we’ll practice the art of playwriting through writing exercises, workshopping, and revising.
POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS – In groups of 4-6, students will fill specific campaign roles (i.e. Candidate, Campaign Manager, Press Secretary, Field Director, Media Engagement Director, etc) and devise their own strategy for their respective campaign operation. The week will culminate with a debate between candidates.
PRE-ALGEBRA – In Pre-Algebra students will study topics such as rational number operations, percentages, ratios and proportions, equations, and geometry. Students will learn how to decipher word problems with strategies that help them create efficient solutions. Campers selecting this workshop should have some experience with fractions, decimals, and percents.
PUBLIC SPEAKING – We will cover the basics of public speaking (eye contact, posture, volume, tone inflection), as well as the role of confidence. Students will give 3 presentations over the course of the week, culminating in a Friday presentation on a topic selected by the student and focusing on a passion of theirs.
SCENIC DESIGN – Read scenes from plays and then learn how to design sets—drafting, models, real-life pinterest collections, etc. Gather inspiration from the playwright to create a world for the play to happen in. Learn how to draw and make to-scale versions of designs.
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.
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 justices ruled and why.