Change is one thing that is buzzing this year at Rutgers Prep. Along our new schedule, fall 2016 also marked the introduction of the new RPS Innovations Program. The innovations unlike typical classes with lectures and tests are much more focused on working to together to complete some sort of final project. They are more oriented so students can work together to finish a task instead of as individual students. The Innovations meet for three hours on designated Wednesday mornings or afternoons throughout the year.
In order to keep all students interested and engaged, there are seven programs to choose from so everyone will find something that they will enjoy. These Innovations include: [St]ages, Chemistry Olympics, Business and Entrepreneurship, Engineering Solutions to Everyday Problems, Sports Analytics, TedXRPS, and Hands on History. They each are full of unique qualities that combine both education and fun.
[St]ages is led by Ms. Turlish of the Drama Department and Ms. Krasnow. Focusing on the dramatic arts, this Innovation allows students to interact with different generations by interviewing the elderly for inspiration to create some sort of dramatic work. The final production will include acting, writing, directing, set designing, and much more.
Formerly a student-run club, the Chemistry Olympics is now an Innovation Program led by upper school science teachers, Ms. Lamb and Ms. Zanfardino. Ms. Lamb explained that the Chemistry Olympics have never truly lived up to their potential due to their limited schedule, but as an Innovation, the participants have more time to work together on their chemistry projects before presenting them at NJIT in May. The participants will prepare for the Chemistry Olympics by dividing into teams and working together to solve difficult problems and complete chemistry experiments.
Another club that transitioned to an Innovation program is Business and Entrepreneurship, led by Mr. Desai. In the project, students are given the chance to propose a solution to a common issue, design their product, and present their business model to their peers and/or investors. Guest speakers are also invited to help guide students through the entrepreneurial process. With its strong attendance as a club, the Business and Entrepreneurship has faced no problems transitioning into one of the most popular Innovation programs.
Engineering Solutions to Everyday Problems may be a mouthful, but its purpose is quite simple: Its goal is to help students find answers to everyday problems in the world today. Led by Dr. Pierce and Dr. Furtek, this Innovation allows students to work together to solve a problem of their choosing such as finding ways to help amputees complete everyday tasks. Dr. Pierce described the entire process as “student-run” and explained that the participants are learning new engineering techniques all through the problem-solving process.
Combining the principles of math and the entertainment of sports, the Sports Analytics Innovation, run by Mr. Loose and Mr. Wise, is another successful example of the club to Innovation transformation. By hosting guest speakers and creating friendly competition, Mr. Loose hopes to help students develop new and old math skills in a fun and creative way. Through the whole Innovation, participating students will work to complete their final project in sports analytics research.
In TedXRPS, students with the help of Mr. Kuchar and Mrs. Dutta will work toward planning their very own TedX seminar. TEDx, a subset of the globally recognized TED organization, aims to inspire creativity and thought through stimulating speakers and entertaining presentations. The final seminar is set to happen in June and will include speakers from both inside and outside of the Rutgers Prep community. It is the perfect way for students to inform and enthuse others about what issues and topics they are passionate about.
Last but certainly not least, Hands on History is a writing based Innovation led by Mr. Cohen that will explore many areas of history from the history of canals to genealogy. When asked about the purpose of the program, Mr. Cohen remarked that it was meant for the “Humanities-minded” students who want to take the history learned in class and apply it in creative ways.
Faculty advisors have all agreed that the new schedule works harmoniously with the Innovations. All believe that the three-hour meeting time is reasonable and the consistency of the Wednesdays is helpful in planning.
All these programs, equally different and exciting, teach real-world lessons, something that is not always available inside the classroom. It will prove to be a great way for RPS students to gain to perspectives on the world around them while they are still in high school.