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An Episcopal, co-educational 100% boarding school in Middletown, Delaware for grades 9 – 12

Disciplines

 

Our academic program is built around a sequence of requirements in the core subject areas of English; history; science; mathematics; classical and modern languages; religious studies; and the arts. Course curriculums strive to be interdisciplinary: that is, in developing coursework, faculty consider what else a student is learning in that particular school year, and attempt to connect that work across classrooms, putting disciplines and methods in conversation with one another.

In all disciplines, coursework is intensely focused on the teaching of writing, critical reasoning and scientific investigation. Our course offerings reflect our goal of connecting students with contemporary issues, technologies, and innovations of the wider world, and our deep belief in the world's religious, philosophical and artistic traditions as a lasting source of wisdom and hope.

What's Going On In Our Departments?

Fourth Annual McLean Science Lecture Competition Explores "New and Emerging Science"

On November 12, the school community enjoyed the fourth annual Peter K. McLean Science Lecture Competition. In this competition, begun in 2018 by current Science Department Chair Ashley Hyde, students are invited to submit presentations on a STEM topic of their choosing in a variety of fields: physics, astronomy, chemistry, engineering, computer science, environmental science, biology, and medicine. Four student finalists are then selected to give their presentations to the school community in Engelhard Hall. This year’s finalists and their talks were:

  • Adele Auchincloss ’23, Nerve Detecting Prosthetics: Replicating Human Touch
  • Derek Ike ’23, The Future of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence at Boston Dynamics
  • Heidi Seo ’23, How Artificial Intelligence Revolutionizes Biology: AlphaFold 2
  • Sonal Bhatia ’22, Asteroid Orbit Determination (And Why On Earth We Should Start Caring About It)

You can watch all of these presentations here.

The finalists' talks were then judged by a panel of science faculty, with Pearl Mallick ’22, last year's competition winner, as a student vote. Sonal Bhatia ’22 was selected as the 2021 winner, and her achievement was announced at the school’s Thanksgiving dinner on November 19. 

"This year's competition offered a platform to young scientists in the Classes of 2022 and 2023 to put their passion for science on display for the whole community,” said Dr. Hyde. “Ten students entered the competition this year, each of whom offered exciting talks on cutting-edge science: selecting just four for the final was incredibly hard. Students were tasked with designing talks on topics they had not seen in a class, and the resulting variety and depth of what they produced is a testament to how inquisitive and driven our students are. In Engelhard on Friday, our finalists came meticulously prepared, having toiled away to refine and perfect their talks since the audition phase, and despite their nerves, they all blew us away! The audience, consisting of students from the 9th to the 12th grades as well as faculty (along with family and friends watching from home!) were captivated by each and every talk, offering curious and insightful questions to each speaker in the Q&A portions. Adele, Derek, Heidi, and Sonal should all feel triumphant for having inspired and enriched our collective minds. I and the entire Science Department thank them all for their hard work. As it is every year, my favorite part of the competition was learning about new and emerging science from our speakers: in Engelhard that night, we were not divided into students and teachers. We were all simply lovers of learning." 

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All-School Assignment Engages Students in Strategic Mathematical Thinking

Math faculty utilize a classic childhood game to give students the opportunity to work through elemental game theory

Each school year, the night before the first day of classes, St. Andrew’s kicks off the first evening study hall with an all-school assignment (since students have not had classes yet, they do not, in fact, have any homework to do during this first study hall). This all-school assignment has traditionally taken the form of an essay or reflection. This year, however, Head of School Joy McGrath wanted to try something new; she asked the math department to develop an assignment based on mathematical thinking that would be accessible for students at all grade levels. “We wanted to come up with an assignment that had multiple entry points,” says Dean of Math & Science Harvey Johnson reflect. “We wanted students to be able to relate the assignment without requiring a specific set of skills.” This led math faculty to design an assignment around tic-tac-toe—specifically, the version of the game known as  “ultimate tic-tac-toe.” Ultimate tic-tac-toe is built on the classic 3x3 grid, but within each square is another tic-tac-toe grid. Players must win each smaller game in order to claim the bigger square as their own. Furthermore, each placement of an X or O determines which grid the opponent can play in for their next turn. Thus, ultimate tic-tac-toe turns a simple game into one that is more strategically complex. “There's a whole branch of math called game theory,” explains Dr. J. “Game theory can be applied to games like ultimate tic-tac-toe to see if there is a best strategy that you could use—and there's a mathematical definition for what ‘best strategy’ means.”

Although the all-school assignment might not be exactly the types of problems students typically solve in math classrooms, the goal of the assignment was for “students to feel like math is accessible and valuable,” notes Dr. Johnson. “Hopefully some of the skills that they practiced in this exercise will resonate with them throughout the year. Often we get a problem and we're trying to think: What's the best route? What's the most efficient way to get to the solution? And how can I show my work on the way? That's what we're doing in the math classroom.” 

It appears that the all-school assignment was a success. “Ultimate tic-tac-toe seemed boring at first,” says senior Nick Oxnam ‘22, “but as I began playing I started to notice that it was very strategic and engaging. I played with my roommate against the hardest AI, analyzing it and hoping for a tie. When we started watching its moves, we noticed that the AI was sophisticated enough to run through a huge amount of possible moves and it used different strategies to beat its opponent. Our excitement about trying to simply tie with the computer, not even to win, felt exactly like the excitement of finishing a challenging problem in math class. We had to understand the rules, what was possible, and choose our best path, just like our math curriculum teaches us [to do]." 

Nick was not alone in finding the game engaging; in a reflection survey students were asked to complete after the assignment, 80% of students responded that they would like to see an ultimate tic-tac-toe tournament at St. Andrew’s. Perhaps SWAG (the Student Weekend Activity Group) has some planning to do!

You can read the assignment here or view the video the Math Department produced to explain the assignment here.

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Students Recognized for Achievements on National Latin Exam

Every year, St. Andrew’s Latin students take the National Latin Exam. While their classwork is not specifically aimed at preparing them for this standardized test, St. Andrew’s students consistently “achieve glory” for their high performance. Students who received this recognition for the 2020 or 2021 exam—many of whom were learning remotely during those school years—were honored in person at a recent School Meeting:

Cum Laude

Zadoc Bond ’21, Andrew Park ’21, Cole Kay ’21

Magna Cum Laude

Piper Jackman ’21, Riley Baker ’21, Julian Pawlowsky ’21, Marvi Ali ’21

Maxima Cum Laude

Jack Cross ’23, John Teti ’23, Harry Murphy ’23, Adele Auchincloss ’23, Cleo Ray ’22, Elizabeth Rainey ’22, Leila Warren ’21, Will Vogel ’22, Pearl Mallick ’22, Adelaide Dixon ’22, Sophie Xu ’23, Jack Vogel ’24, Sonal Bhatia ’22

Summa Cum Laude

Elyot Seger ’23, Jun Choi ’22, Helen Kerr ’23, Tracy Yuan ’22

“This is not an insignificant achievement because these National Latin Exams are [difficult and] we don't test to the exam," said Classics Department Chair Philip Walsh. "We don't prepare our students for the exam. That's not our business—these are just students who know Latin, love Latin, and achieve on a national standardized test.”

Walsh noted that, shortly after seeing students recognized for their achievement, a III Form in one of Walsh’s current classes set a goal to earn at least a 35 on the exam—a score high enough to win an award. “To me, that's a win,” he said. “As a teacher I want that enthusiasm. I want that excitement.” Ultimately, Walsh hopes that the study of Latin will “spark students' imagination and foster a fascination with a time, a place, and a culture that is so far away and yet so similar to our civilization.”

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