Acera School Partners with Tufts University Center for Engineering Education and Outreach

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Acera School, which focuses on science, creativity and leadership, launched a new partnership with the Tufts University Center for Engineering Education.

This year at Acera, students are engaged in something different in their book group projects. Zooming in on ocean related literature linking to an environmental science theme for the classroom, book group teams defined an engineering challenge that the characters in the book faced and then they built the solutions they imagined.

This project is one of many examples of how learning occurs differently at Acera School, which is designed to focus on building core capacities in systems thinking, creative problem solving, and perspective taking. Launching a new partnership with Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach, CEEO program manager Elissa Milto sees the Acera School as a phenomenal place to bring their National Science Foundation project to life, since engineering and STEM topics are such a core part of all the learning at Acera and since the school already focuses on project based, inter-disciplinary learning.

“Observing the classroom,” says Acera founder Courtney Dickinson; “it was like lighting a match to kindling, igniting creativity and expanding Acera students' already robust talents in problem solving. This is innovation in action: Giving students access to knowledge, and then supporting them as they apply what they have learned to solving problems creatively, using a blend of subjects and a holistic, cross disciplinary approach.”

The Tufts University Center for Engineering Education and Outreach's project, Integrating Engineering and Literacy (IEL), is currently in action in several schools. The project is to research what the beginnings of engineering look like in elementary-aged children. The focus is listening to kids' ideas and seeing how their ideas play out in their designs.

“We really value creative solutions, and failure,” says CEEO program manager Elissa Milto. “We've seen great results in the schools we've been working with, but are curious about what the engineering will look like in a school like Acera— that is not bound by MCAS and the schedule and goals it imposes. Acera seems like a good fit since their core beliefs of creativity, innovation and inquiry are similar to the CEEO's and they have a strong science foundation. We'd like to see what happens when students are able to build on their experiences with open-ended design projects and have access to strong science teaching and an existing base of inquiry.”

Acera: The Massachusetts School of Science, Creativity and Leadership was founded in 2010 to meet the needs of high ability students by offering learning with a runway that honors each student’s potential, as well as to develop the next generation of scientists, innovators, and leaders who can make a positive impact in the world. By offering accelerated students opportunities according to their abilities, rather than their age, Acera provides boundless access to learning.

Courtney Dickinson
781 665 2032

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Kate Rocheleau

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