Upper School (6-8)

Science / STEAM

Deirdre McCullagh Ford & Sylvia Gonsalves

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  • Maker Workshop Overview


    The Academy School Maker Workshop Curriculum

    The Academy School’s Maker Workshop Class is the news class at The Academy School. It was birthed out of a desire to have more engineering in the Lower School, Genius Hour in the Upper School, and more opportunities for Social-Emotional Learning. While we may not keep track of academic grades in this class, you will be provided with a behavioral narrative that uses the SEL language present in CASEL’s SEL Framework. As for the curriculum, I’d like to collaborate on a different age-appropriate Maker challenge or STEM activity each week. 
    These units are from the Engineering Everyday K-12 Curriculum produced by The University of Colorado Boulder’s Engineering School. Each Unit is linked and provides a detailed overview. 


Maker education often associated with STEM learning, is an approach to problem-based and project-based learning that utilizes hands-on, collaborative, learning experiences as a method for solving authentic problems. At the Academy, we embrace the maker movement and develop cross-curricular projects in our maker space that support classes like Latin, English, Math, and more. Sometimes we spend weeks in development, prototyping and repurposing found objects in service of creating new inventions or innovations.

Maker education stresses the importance of learner-driven experience, interdisciplinary learning, peer-to-peer teaching, iteration, and the notion of "failing forward", or the idea that mistake-based learning is crucial to the learning process and eventual success of a project.

The sixth-graders photographed above,  explored the weird and wonderful world of diddley bows. The diddley bow is a single-stringed instrument from the African-American communities of the Mississippi Delta. Easily made from found materials on rural farms, the diddley bow played an important role in the evolution of the Delta blues in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The sixth graders made diddley bows in maker's class, and then explored their acoustical properties and musical possibilities in music class. They also listened and watched classic performances on diddley bows and blues slide guitar, learning about the techniques and sounds at the root of American popular music.

List of 1 news stories.

List of 1 news stories.

  • Sylvia Gonsalves

    Engineering & Maker Workshop
    My name is Sylvia Gonsalves, and I was born at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley, CA. I am a Bay Area native and attended Oakland Public Schools, graduating from Skyline High School.  After High School I attended Merritt College where I received my AA Degree in Business, then transferred to California State Hayward where I received my BA in Business. I attended UC Berkeley where I completed my Vocational Education Teaching requirements and pursued my career as a Technology Elective teacher. I have over twenty five years of experience teaching Preschool, Elementary, Middle School, High School and Adults in Computer Technology. I have taught in the Bay Area School Systems, both Charter and Public Schools. I received my tenure while teaching at Claremont Computer Magnet Middle School.

    I have a deep passion for working with students as they are eager to learn new things. I have taught courses such as Computer Applications, AutoDesk/AutoCAD, Robotics, 3D printing, Laser Printing, and many different programming languages such as Scratch, Code, Python, JavaScript and others.

    As a Technology Teacher I strive to make the classroom learning environment challenging, demanding, and most of all fun and engaging. I enjoy the everyday challenges and opportunities that arise working in a school setting with my fellow teachers, staff, administration, and especially the students of diverse cultures and skill levels. Both my students and I have learned that each day brings new and exciting challenges in the forever changing world of Technology.

    In my spare time I love to be with family, love to swim, and go horseback riding on the beach. I look forward to joining the Academy’s team and am excited to work with families and their students.