STEAM Academy (Ages 8+) - Full Year

Heidi DuPuis and Casey Vreeken
STEAMboat Studio (location map)
Thursday, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
09/17/20 - 05/20/21 (30 weeks)

STEAM Academy is a comprehensive science program designed for homeschool students ages 5-14. Our standards-aligned curriculum, which we develop in-house here at STEAMboat Studio, provides an engaging, hands-on science experience for elementary and middle school students which follows a 5E approach. In the four years we have been offering this program, we have developed lessons covering many aspects of the fields of engineering, physics, chemistry, earth science, and biology. Our aim is to provide young students with a positive experience as we introduce them to a variety of authentic science concepts. This gives confidence when they encounter these concepts later in their schooling as they recognize the ideas and look forward to learning more.


Recommended for ages 8+. To be successful in this level of STEAM Academy, students should have the following skills:

  • Reading and writing at a second grade level
  • Comfortable reading large numbers (over 1,000)
  • Ability to read and follow written directions
  • Measuring skills, including the following:
    • Use a ruler to take measurements in inches
    • Use a digital timer to record time in minutes and seconds
    • Use a digital scale to measure the weight of an object
  • Understanding of simple fractions (1/2, 1/4)

COVID-19 Policy: Cloth face coverings are required for all in-person camps, both indoor and outdoor, and 6-foot social distancing will be maintained in compliance with State requirements.


2020-21 Unit Descriptions and Class Schedule

Unit 1: Classes begin week of September 15th and end the week of October 22, 2020


Ecosystems and the Biosphere: The world we live in
Description: During this unit, students will examine living things and their habitats. We will learn about relationships between different species, what it means to have a balanced ecosystem, and dive into the oceans and other unique habitats we find on Earth. This unit will take place entirely outside, at the Lake Wilderness Arboretum.


Week 1: healthy ecosystems, biodiversity, and living vs. Nonliving things

Week 2: biomes vs. habitats, what makes a good habitat, and how changes to habitat affect organisms

Week 3: 3 types of symbiosis, predators vs. parasites, and niches in an ecosystem

Week 4: producers, consumers, decomposers, energy flow and food webs

Week 5: ocean ecosystems, abiotics factors vs. ocean depth, exploring biodiversity in the oceans

Week 6: coastal ecosystems, introduced/invasive species, human impact in the biosphere



Break week: October 26-30


Unit 2:     Classes begin the week of November 2 and end the week of December 17, 2020 

Holidays (no class): Nov. 23-27 - Thanksgiving

Making Sense of our Senses
Description: Have you ever wondered how we sense things? This unit is all about the brain and how the nervous system works. Find out what “extra” senses exist in the animal kingdom, and how much better some animals’ senses are than those of humans. We will also explore the connection between taste and smell, discover how optical illusions fool our brain, and learn why we have two eyes and ears instead of only one.


Week 1: parts and functions of the nervous system, anatomy of a neuron, senses of other organisms

Week 2: Sense of touch. 2-point investigation, compensating for other senses 

Week 3: Sense of Smell - 4 stages of the olfactory process, connection between smell and memory

Week 4: Sense of Sight - visual processing, perception of color, proportion, optical illusions, optics of glasses, model of a human eye

Week 5: Sense of Hearing - model of an eardrum, things that affect hearing, investigation of directional hearing

Week 6: Sense of Taste: Relationship between taste and smell, influence of sight on taste, survival advantage to better sense of taste in nature




Break week: December 21-Jan 1 (Winter Break)


Unit 3:    Classes begin the week of Janury 5 and end the week of February 11, 2021

Biology & Life Cycles

Description: Every living thing reacts to its environment. During this six-week unit we will study how different creatures are especially suited to where they live, and examine how things can live in some of the most extreme places on Earth.


Week 1: Life Cycles - metamorphosis, changing needs during a life cycle, comparing different types of life cycles

Week 2: Heredity - environmental vs. genetic characteristics, recessive vs. dominant traits

Week 3: DNA - build a DNA model, investigate the role of DNA in organisms

Week 4: Environmental Adaptations - Behavioural, physiological, and physical adaptations that specifically aid organisms in their habitat

Week 5: PredatorPrey Adaptations - behavioural, physiological, and physical adaptations that help organisms either catch & eat food, or avoid being eaten

Week 6: Changing Populations - investigate how the distribution of traits in a population changes over time when something in the environment changes 



Break week: February 15-19 (Mid-Winter Break)


Unit 4:    Classes begin the week of February 22 and end the week of April 1, 2021

Earth’s History
Description: Earth has a very long history. During this unit students will learn about how scientists determine just how long ago things happened. We will cover plate tectonics, different types of dating techniques used by geologists, and will finish up the unit by talking about dinosaurs.


Week 1: Plate Tectonics - Evidence supporting, history of plate tectonic theory in the 1900s, mapping the sea floor, Pangaea

Week 2: Stratigraphy - Global rock layers, superposition, horizontality, & other ways to tell what order things happened in when looking at a rock face 

Week 3: Geologic Time - create a timeline of important events in earth’s history, explore relationship between geology and biology

Week 4: Dating Rocks - difference between absolute and relative dating, how does radiometric dating work, what types of dating methods are used for geology vs. anthropology

Week 5: Fossils - conditions needed for fossil creation, compare / contrast 4 types of fossils

Week 6: Dinosaurs - Identify different fields of expertise needed for paleontologists, indirect evidence about dinosaurs, challenges in paleontology, create your own dinosaur



Break week: April 5-9 (Spring Break)

Extra break week in case of weather cancellations: April 12-16


Unit 5: Classes begin the week of April 20 and end the week of May 27, 2021

Classifying Living Things

Description: There are a lot of interesting side trips you can take in biology. During these six weeks we will study some of the oddball organisms out there. We will find out how biologists classify living things, and why they created the equivalent of a “miscellaneous” category.


Week 1: How do biologists classify things? - Introduction to Linnaean classification system, binomial nomenclature, and practice classifying things

Week 2: Protists - Ways people use protists, exploration of different types of protists 

Week 3: Viruses - How viruses spread, how our immune systems work to fight viruses, and differences between a virus and a living organism

Week 4: Bacteria and Tardigrades - Places bacteria are found, differences between viruses and bacteria, what are tardigrades (water bears), and how they can survive extreme environments

Week 5: Fungi - what is it? - Ways people use fungi, how mushrooms spread, and the difference between fungi & plants

Week 6: Insect life - Anatomy of an insect, habitats and food sources of insects, and things all insects have in common



Upcoming Meetings
11/26/20    <None> Thursday (Thanksgiving) 11/26/20
12/03/20    10:00 AM Thursday 12/03/20 10:00 AM
12/10/20    10:00 AM Thursday 12/10/20 10:00 AM
12/17/20    10:00 AM Thursday 12/17/20 10:00 AM
12/31/20    <None> Thursday (Winter Break) 12/31/20
(Winter Break)
01/07/21    10:00 AM Thursday 01/07/21 10:00 AM
01/14/21    10:00 AM Thursday 01/14/21 10:00 AM
01/21/21    10:00 AM Thursday 01/21/21 10:00 AM
01/28/21    10:00 AM Thursday 01/28/21 10:00 AM
02/04/21    10:00 AM Thursday 02/04/21 10:00 AM
02/11/21    10:00 AM Thursday 02/11/21 10:00 AM
02/18/21    <None> Thursday (Mid Winter Break) 02/18/21
(Mid Winter Break)
02/25/21    10:00 AM Thursday 02/25/21 10:00 AM
03/04/21    10:00 AM Thursday 03/04/21 10:00 AM
03/11/21    10:00 AM Thursday 03/11/21 10:00 AM
03/18/21    10:00 AM Thursday 03/18/21 10:00 AM
03/25/21    10:00 AM Thursday 03/25/21 10:00 AM
04/01/21    10:00 AM Thursday 04/01/21 10:00 AM
04/08/21    <None> Thursday (Spring Break) 04/08/21
(Spring Break)
04/22/21    10:00 AM Thursday 04/22/21 10:00 AM
04/29/21    10:00 AM Thursday 04/29/21 10:00 AM
05/06/21    10:00 AM Thursday 05/06/21 10:00 AM
05/13/21    10:00 AM Thursday 05/13/21 10:00 AM
05/20/21    10:00 AM Thursday 05/20/21 10:00 AM