STEAM Weekend 2022: Three Days of Learning and Fun at Dwight’s New York Campus

Dwight Global’s 5th annual STEAM weekend, “New York City Under a Microscope,” was a huge success by all accounts. The event was held March 4-6 at the Dwight New York campus on the Upper West Side, overlooking Central Park.

STEAM weekend is just one of the residential experiences available to Dwight Global students, who study online but also come on campus at Dwight Schools around the world.

Dwight Global students, faculty, and staff convened for three days to socialize, tour, study, investigate, share, and learn in small and large group settings, at the school and around New York City. 

“Using the Big Apple as our classroom, this year's STEAM weekend explored what lies in, under, and behind cities as we know them today,” said Dwight Global’s Head of School Louisa Childs.  

“From NYC’s architectural wonders to the science behind keeping its roads clear, students developed a deeper understanding of "the city that never sleeps," as well as facets of modern urban life all around the world.”

Students arrived on Friday night from all points around the globe and immediately settled in with activities run by Dwight Global faculty members.

STEAM weekend, which operated under the guiding question “How do cities continue to adapt to challenges and seek ways to better systems?” was jam-packed with laboratories, collaborative teamwork, investigations, maker space opportunities, meals together, and tours of New York City sites.   

Tenth grader Braden Trice, who lives in Houston, Texas, said his favorite part of the weekend was the engineering lab at Dwight NY’s Makerspace. The lab was led by Design teacher Jaymes Dec. 

Students built circuits using copper wire and a soldering iron, and then created a city of skyscraper models using the Makerspace’s laser cutter. The entire city was assembled, the circuits connected, and the lighted buildings displayed in the Makerspace windows. “Together we built a model of the city of the future,” said Dec. 

Braden’s classmate Ethan Cortez, from New York City, especially liked the Saturday science project investigating the effectiveness and toxicity of road deicers. That lab was led by Science Department Head Lezlie Carroll and science teachers Stacie Kilhaney and Liz Hutton.

Students experimented with substances that are less expensive and less corrosive than salt, including pickle brine, which can melt ice at temperatures as low as -6 degrees Fahrenheit. Students also researched and examined smart snowplows, pre-salting the roads before storms, and creating pavement that doesn’t freeze or corrode. 

Additional science labs included a food testing lab led by Ms. Carroll, Ms. Kilhaney, and Ms. Hutton, that explored the properties of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. “We aimed to engage students with all things science-related, and grow their knowledge,” said Carroll. 

On Sunday, Dwight Global hosted special guest Anna Ivanova, a neuroscientist who gave a Spark Talk.  Ivanova’s talk was also available virtually to others logging on throughout Dwight's worldwide community.  

A graduate of the University of Miami and a Ph.D. candidate at MIT, Ivanova spoke about her current research of human cognition using brain imaging tools. A language and brain specialist, Ivanova discussed her work examining portions of the brain that light up under MRI scans when stimulated by various languages. 

Ivanova explained how language affects the left and right brain, how the human brain can often compensate for brain injury in young people, and how using American Sign Language continues to light up the same parts of the brain that spoken language does. Originally from Moscow, Ivanova attended public school there until age 14 when she left for an international boarding school. 

STEAM weekend included plenty of outdoor time and tours of New York City. Students participated in a Central Park rock formation scavenger hunt and skated at the Rockefeller Center outdoor ice rink. 

Seventh-grader Tara Preston traveled from her home in Jackson, Wyoming for the event, and said “For me, the best part of STEAM weekend was getting to meet people in person. I also loved exploring New York City.”

New Dwight Global student Luna Helm, a 10th grader and ballet dancer who has studied in Russia and London, said choosing to attend an online school was not a quick decision for her or her parents. “But Dwight Global made it an easy decision! Every new class and event proves that,” she said. 

“Being in a driven community full of kind and smart classmates with incredible teachers made STEAM weekend unforgettable. I am now leaving with a dozen new friends, and I am forever thankful for Dwight.”