"Making: The active role construction plays in learning. The maker has a product in mind when working with tools and materials."

- Sylvia Libow Martinez & Gary Stager, Invent to Learn


STEM at Town.

At Town School, we inspire curiosity and creativity in students through hands-on, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)-centered inquiry activities. By developing an integrated curriculum we are allowing our boys to practice their 21st century skills and competencies. We use engaging STEM activities to promote a deeper understanding of science facts, a sense of wonder with the world around us, and problem solving skills. The overarching question all students at Town explore is: How can we think and behave as scientists and engineers?

Town STEM utilizes best practices from a number of innovative teaching approaches to meet the specific needs of our boy learners.

  • Project Based Learning (Buck Institute)
  • Design Thinking (Stanford d.school and Lime Design)
  • Inquiry and Science Process Skills (Exploratorium)
  • Scientific and Engineering Practices (Next Generation Science Standards)

STEM experiences involve investigating and solving a real-life problem, or building and designing a product that successfully meets a given challenge. Students often work in small teams, using collaboration and communication skills. Our STEM units are aligned with existing projects and programs at Town School, such as our rooftop garden, our sustainable lunch program, our reading and social studies units, and access to local museums. Significant academic content provides a foundation for STEM projects, critical thinking and exploration is be guided by questions that provide focus.

With a full-time K-4 STEM teacher, we are updating our science curriculum to meet the needs of our boy learners and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). We look forward to incorporating more physical science and engineering skills.

k-8 STEM Through-line

Themes by grade level

  • Kindergarten

    • How can we use our sense to describe and predict new sensations?
    • How do meteorologists measure and predict our weather?
    • How can we create a garden where plants and insects can thrive?
    • +  Light and Shadow Inquiry
  • 1st Grade
    • How does an electric circuit work?
    • What are some properties of sounds and how can we represent those properties?
    • How does the mass and volume of an object affect whether it sinks or floats?
    • How can we engineer a device that creates clean water?
    • + Egg Drop Engineering Challenge
  • 2nd Grade
    • What are some of the forces that act on structures, and how do civil engineers design structures that can withstand these forces?
    • How can we promote exciting news and facts about the planets and moons of our solar system?
    • How can we create a better rider experience on San Francisco cable cars?
    • Howcan we build a habitat that bees love?
  • 3rd Grade
    • How can we use our knowledge of thermal properties to creatively engineer a solar oven?
    • What processes shape the surface of land?
    • How does an animals' shape and coloration determine its role in the environment?
    • How are the structure and properties of minerals related to how the mineral was formed?
  • 4th Grade
    • What are three stimuli that produce plant responses, and how do plants respond?
    • How do living things affect one another?
    • How does energy move through an ecosystem?
    • How do environmental engineers use their knowledge of soil and water to investigate solutions to environmental issues?
    • + What are the five concepts of light that help to explain the shadow phenomena?

Scientific & Engineering Practices (NGSS)


  1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
  2. Developing and using models
  3. Planning and carrying out investigations
  4. Analyzing and interpreting data
  5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
  6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
  7. Engaging in argument from evidence
  8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information



Check out the front of our journals for a quick overview of topics covered in each grade level. 2016-2017