Education Matters—Sanford School's Private School Blog

How Design Thinking Inspires Future Engineers

Posted by John Bell on June 1, 2018 at 12:30 PM


Design Thinking is a teaching approach that incorporates the engineering design process in hands-on, collaborative projects. Students are guided through the design steps to problem solve. The process is meant to be repeated to create the best possible solution. Project-based and problem-based learning engages students while providing essential Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) skills that inspire innovation.


The engineering design process is a method of finding solutions to problems, but it’s more than just brainstorming a list of ideas.  When students use the design process they must:

  1. Explore: Learn about the problem.
  2. Brainstorm: Imagine many ways to solve the problem.
  3. Plan: Choose one of your ideas and decide how to make it a reality.
  4. Build: Create the model, test it, and make changes to improve it.
  5. Reflect: What worked well? What would you want to change?


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Topics: Education, Academics, STEM

Tools to Teach Coding to Kids

Posted by Patrick Martin on May 18, 2018 at 12:30 PM

Elementary school is the perfect age to teach coding. Learning to code is fun, empowering, and provides essential 21st century skills. According to the US Department of Commerce, within the last ten years STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) employment opportunities have grown by 24.4% vs. only 4% in non-STEM fields, and STEM-focused employees make an average of 29% more than non-STEM workers. It is important that we provide our children with the computer science skills necessary to be successful.

Starting in first grade at Sanford School, we give students a foundation in skills that they can apply in and out of the classroom, like creativity and critical thinking. One of the ways we develop these characteristics is by incorporating programming, or coding, into the curriculum. Learning to code has many benefits. Using tools like Scratch, Makey Makeys, and various robots teaches students basic, sequential programming to complex problem-solving skills. Let’s explore these four tools and how they build kids’ ability to code.

Download Sanford School's Technology Vision

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Topics: Education, Academics, Parenting Tips, STEM

Best Apps for Kids for the Summer

Posted by Sandy Sutty on July 27, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Engage your kids in learning throughout the summer with a variety of experiences to help them to continue their growth and prevent learning loss. If you have a phone or tablet, apps can do more than keep them busy. It is important to select apps that engage your child, strengthen their skills, and promote learning. In addition, make sure to balance screen time with playtime to help your child to create a healthy relationship with technology. 

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Topics: Summer, Parenting Tips, STEM

What is Authentic Learning?

Posted by Jim Barnaby on February 14, 2017 at 5:13 PM


Authentic learning is messy, loud, and somewhat chaotic as students grapple with application of their ideas and classroom learning to solve a problem. Authentic learning is active, creative, and fun. 

What does authentic learning look like?
Student teams discuss their thinking, develop and implement a plan of action, and get to work. Some plans fail, and students learn to quickly adapt their thinking and craft new solutions as they work within time constraints.

This ebb and flow of successes and failures is part of authentic learning, and students learn more from failures than successes.

Authentic learning develops critical thinkers who are collaborative problem solvers prepared to meet the demands of our dynamic global community. 

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Topics: Education, Academics, STEM

Makerspaces?  What Does the Maker Movement Mean?

Posted by Emily Amendum on February 1, 2017 at 4:44 PM

 “What do you do in a makerspace?

The simple answer is you make things.

  • Things that you are curious about.  
  • Things that spring from your imagination.  
  • Things that inspire you and things that you admire.  
The informal, playful atmosphere allows learning to unfold, rather than conform to a rigid agenda. Making, rather than consuming is the focus. It is craft, engineering, technology and wonder-driven.” ( Thinkers and Tinkers)

Students who have developed a growth mindset expect and appreciate struggle, learn from their mistakes, and value process over product. They embrace challenge and difficulty because they believe that failure is a vehicle through which true learning, growth, and development occur.

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Topics: Education, Academics, STEM

Choosing a Computer or Electronic Device For Your Child

Posted by Sanford Tech Team on December 9, 2016 at 12:36 PM

Macs…PCs…Chromebooks…iPads…tablets. Which of these devices is the best technology option for your child?

The answer to that question depends on several factors including:

  • Your child’s needs
  • Your child’s interests
  • Your budget

Your child’s needs
If you’re purchasing the equipment for your child to use in school and at home, check with the school to make sure that whatever you buy is suitable and permissible for use in the school. While some academic institutions which offer 1-to-1 programs require that all students use the same model computer or device, many schools allow students to bring the device of their choice to school. Keep in mind that student-owned devices may need to meet minimum mandatory requirements such as installation of a current operating system. Talk with your child’s teacher or someone from the information technology department before choosing a computer to help ensure that whatever device you purchase can be used on campus.

Your child’s interests
Is your child interested in using the device to play games, watch movies, listen to music, and engage in activities beyond academics? Or, will she use the computer for completing school assignments, surfing the Internet and checking email? Students whose computers will serve as media players and gaming stations will need faster and more powerful machines than children who use their devices solely for completing school work, sending and receiving email, and browsing the Internet.

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Topics: Parenting Tips, STEM

Digital Citizenship: Developing Good Character Online

Posted by Sandy Sutty, MA on May 24, 2016 at 3:00 PM

Digital citizenship is a way to teach students how to use technology responsibly and respectfully—and it’s an important aspect of developing good character in our students. Because using digital media is a part of our everyday lives, we teach them how to manage their school Gmail accounts and Google Apps for Education for their learning. We also talk with them about how to manage themselves online, especially when using social media.

As educators, we think a lot about social media and how to use it effectively and responsibly. We work with our students to make sure they know how important it is for them, too. The guidelines our school uses for our own posts are designed to create a positive atmosphere online. We teach appropriate technology use to develop good digital citizens.

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Topics: Health & Wellness, Parenting Tips, STEM

Liberal Arts and STEM are not Mutually Exclusive

Posted by John Ramsey on November 17, 2015 at 3:00 PM

The term “liberal arts" is used a lot but often misunderstood. STEM, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, is the latest buzz word in education. To hear people talk about these two concepts, they seem at odds with one another. But are they really?

Liberal arts is a shortened version of liberal arts and sciences. It refers to a philosophy of education embraced by many American colleges and universities. A key point here is that the sciences are an important part of a liberal arts education. For example, a biology major in a liberal arts program will devote about one-third of his or her overall college curriculum to biology. The other two-thirds, spread over a wide range of disciplines, offers educational breadth and is the hallmark of a liberal arts education.

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Topics: College Guidance, STEM