The Aerie Enrichment Approach
What is the Aerie Approach?
It’s Wheeler’s unique way (and, in fact, our ethos) of being a school that adapts to your child’s natural strengths and interests. Aerie is enrichment individualized to a student’s passion — whether that’s to learn Turkish in Middle School, start an internet radio program as a 4th grader, dig into multivariable calculus with a Brown doctoral student or sequence DNA for national publication while still in high school. Each example illustrates the breadth of resource and connection Aerie finds for your child.
Aerie, in its fourth decade at Wheeler, offers school-wide enrichment through an extensive set of curricular and extracurricular offerings. Named for the lofty eagle’s nest from which fledglings learn to soar, Aerie provides a rich, campus-wide environment for identifying and developing individual student interests and talents. Aerie offers curricular support to teachers, supplementary and independent course offerings, and professional resources for students who demonstrate a passion for learning.
At its core, the Aerie Approach promotes creativity and uncommon energy in the learning process contributing to Wheeler’s mission to “learn our powers and be answerable for their use.”
Learn more in the sections below about our Hirsch-Alperin Design | Innovate Build Lab, our Digital Production Studio, the home of Wheeler School Broadcasting, and peruse our Awards page for the many unique opportunities students have to take part in state and national competitions related to their individual passions.
For more information, contact Aerie Director Mark Harris.
What does Aerie stand for?
Aerie At A Glance: Adventure #1
Course: GIS (Geographic Information Systems/Science)
From the student: I enjoy both creating maps and visualizing data–they speak to my inner design, organizational and analytical sensibilities. I had tried out various personal mapping projects approaching the realm of GIS prior to taking the class, but I knew I had neither the resources nor the knowledge to dive into and successfully understand the massive set of software, tools, and techniques that it comprises. This course helped me understand the ways in which geography is used in the world today, giving me a head start into the professional, technical side of a discipline in which I’m already interested.
Isaiah Suchman ‘21
From the Teacher: This Aerie course involved Geospatial Technology. Geospatial deals with the location of things and why they are there. The Technology involves Geographic Information System [GIS], Global Positioning System [GPS], and Remote Sensing [satellite data]. The first few classes introduced the website ArcGIS.com to which The Wheeler School has a license. The license enables students and faculty to access the free resources. We used handheld GPS units to collect location data from around the campus which we plotted onto a map. Besides the ArcGIS website there are several associated sites which allow for a more robust use of the technology; Survey 123, Collector, and Storymaps. Wheeler students have access to the newest version of GIS – ArcPro through the online version. My student completed several projects which included making maps using census data, creating survey which he shared with students in another class, plotting their data, and created a storymap about an earthquake. He created a storymap about his community in Providence which he entered the storymap into the state mapping competition and was the winning high school entry for Rhode Island.
Educational Mapping Services
Aerie At A Glance: Adventure #2
Course: Neuroscience/Neural Choir
Over the course of our Neuroscience class, we’ve spent a lot of time working with the intersection between philosophical neuroscience, biological neuroscience, and technology. We wanted to combine our shared interests in a larger project to work on. The project we’ve settled on was to use an EEG device that can read the electrical signal of the brain and produce a live feed of data to make music. We plan on starting the project during the next semester with the help of the DIB lab and other Wheeler faculty with an interest in the project. We already have many of the pieces of the project in place so we will have a solid base to work off. The timeframe of the project is still fairly rough, however, it will likely extend to next year. The project has never been done to the level of complexity that we hope to achieve, though the technology required to pull it off has existed for years. The details of the product of the project are as follows, we will have a headset that can create ambient sounds with a synthesizer by converting the EEG readings to MIDI or the computational notation for music, which would aid us in the final goal, a performance combining the sounds from the headset and other musical elements. This performance has the potential to be very crowd-involved since anyone can use the headset. Aside from the performance, we want to push the limits of an underrated and underused technology.
Miles Fox-Kemper ‘21 and Travis Dumais, Aerie Teacher
Aerie At A Glance: Adventure #3
Course Name: Global Languages – Chinese
In my Chinese courses, we focus on learning how to handle everyday situations, how to explain and communicate in real-life situations, family, and interests. Though we focus on oral communication, it is also important in our class to explore the many interesting aspects of Chinese culture and history. My experience working in China has made teaching this course to students from Kindergarten to Upper School both entertaining and an exploratory approach beyond the regular Wheeler Modern Languages Curriculum. I first was introduced to the language as a student at Wheeler so for me, the fact that this course has come full circle is very enlightening. We use a wide variety of resources including Ni Hao series – ChinaSoft, Integrated Chinese (material used in the Upper School), Chinese Odyssey, Chinese movies, Zhu Yin Ban books (children’s fairy tales and picture books)
Gabby David, Aerie Teacher, Wheeler Class of ’08
Aerie At A Glance: Adventure #4
Course: The Middle Ages
Starting point: Upper School student Bill Xia ‘21, wanted to learn about the Middle Ages. Starting with the growth of the Roman Empire, which contained the seeds of the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the extended period of shifting power structures, seeming retreat, search for a path forward, preservation of the Classics; the spread of Christianity; the pestilence opening up new opportunities as a result of social mobility from the dissolution of Feudalism. A multi-lens approach using material available online, including the British Library, Harvard University, studying events through art(virtual tours of the great cathedrals, such as Chartres), literature(Canterbury Tales), city records of the time. Covid-19 cancellation of a field trip to view the John Hay’s Medieval manuscripts led to the rich array available to the determined searcher. Gaining an understanding of how the Middle Ages were followed by the Renaissance and the Modern Age. Drawing interesting parallels to our own experience with the virus and the social justice movement. I also provided the student with a long list of resources for additional digging.
Mara Koppel, Aerie Teacher