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Teacher Voices: Connecting Architecture and Choice

February 20, 2017

Mr. David Payne is the Architecture teacher in the Experimentory’s “Structures for Society: Architecture + Culture” course cluster. I recently stopped in during his Deerfield dorm office hours and asked him what he’d love his summer students leave having learned. Here’s his response.

Mr. Payne: I often hear people talk about architectural design as if it is a rare gift given to only a tiny fmiddle school summer program architecture Teacher Mr. Payne raction of the population. I don’t think that is true. So in the very least, I want my students to see architecture as a subject that’s accessible to everyone.

In terms of design concepts, I’d like my students to understand architecture as a reflection of a specific place. We often miss that these days. If I show you a picture of a modern skyscraper without any surrounding landmarks, you might have a hard time knowing if it is in Chicago or Dubai. It is great that we have the ability today to import materials and ideas from anywhere else in the world, but something is lost if every city looks like every other city. A building in New England should be different from a building in Johannesburg or Moscow or Bangkok. A building’s design should reflect the local materials, traditions, geography, and needs.

Architecture class Historic Deerfield

Mr Payne leading a walking tour of Historic Deerfield during Exp16.

The historic buildings here in Deerfield are actually fantastic examples of what I mean.  A family of European settlers building their home in, say, 1709, put their fireplace and chimney in the center of the house because they needed to get as much heat from them as possible during the cold New England winters. They built steep-pitched roofs so that heavy snow would slide off. They relied on local wood and stone because importing materials was expensive if not impossible.

It’s ironic: the climate, the weather, and the remote location were limitations. Their design decisions were survival necessities. And yet the result was a special and beautiful architectural style. Today architects have far more options open to them, and as a result many of our buildings are unremarkable and alike.

Are you ready to explore these principles of design and more? Experimentory 2017 is accepting applications!

Electronics Teacher Ben Bakker: Finding balance in classroom stress

January 13, 2017

The Experimentory is happy to announce the addition of Mr. Ben Bakker to our 2017 Faculty Team! He will be teaching Electronics along side Theater Faculty member Daniel Thrasher in our Comedy, Tragedy, Circuitry course cluster.

With degrees in Physics from WPI and Umass Lowell, Mr. Bakker started his STEM career teaching physics and math in Tanzania with the Peace Corps. He later helped found the Maine School of Science and Mathematics (MSSM) where he served as Science and Computer Science Chair. And now Mr. Bakker has been at Deerfield Academy for twenty years teaching physics, computer science, robotics, computer architecture, and (a recent addition) green wall design.

As with all our Experimentory staff, Mr. Bakker values creativity and character. As Robotics coach/advisor, he has spent many hours tinkering and problem solving with students in the DA robotics labs. He’s brought DA robotics teams to the Trinity Firefighting robotics, Robofest, Olympics of the Mind, and FIRST Robotics competitions. He has also been a community service advisor and Elements Outdoors Club advisor.

Most importantly, you’ll find Mr. Bakker is both nurturing and challenging. “Students can feel a lot of stress when working in the lab,” he explained to me recently. Worry about appearing successful, or getting good grades, or a fear of failing — these are debilitating. “But there is also a good sort of stress that’s healthy in the right quantities.” Good stress is the hunger to understand something that at first is confusing, or to work out a solution to a vexing problem, or to create something that really works. “The one limits you and robs you of joy, but the other is a sign that you’ve bought in and vested yourself in your work.” Mr. Bakker tries to do all that he can to help students drop the bad and thrive in the good.

Please join us in welcoming Mr. Bakker!

— Tim Schaffer, Program Coordinator

Want to read more about what you will learn at the Experimentory? Explore the rest of our web page to learn more about all of our faculty members and course clusters. Ready to gain Mr. Bakker as a mentor? Apply today!

Preparing to Apply

December 8, 2016

Sometimes it pays to take a few moments to collect yourself before diving into a task. Here are some ways you can prepare to apply for the Experimentory.

Five Tips When Applying to the Experimentory:

  1. Take your time.

    The first thing you’ll do when applying is create an account in our system. This allows you to save your progress and come back later. If you get part way through and realize you don’t have all the necessary information handy, or if you get interrupted, don’t start over from scratch later or rush your answers – save and return.

  2. Be sure to complete the whole thing.

    This tip balances #1. We won’t begin reviewing your application until all parts are in – the personal information, your free response questions, your recommendations, and your school information. Since we have rolling admissions, we’d hate to learn that the program filled up without our reading your application because you had forgotten to log back in with that missing bit of information.

  3. Talk to your contacts ahead of time.

    Our application requires two recommendations: one from an English teacher and a second from another teacher of your choice. We also require information from your school regarding  your records. When you complete these sections of the application, our application system will send those teachers and administrators emails with links to their recommendation forms. Contact the teachers you’d like as references ahead of time and determine who at your school can provide school records – often it is someone in your Guidance Office or the school registrar.  Ask their permission and availability, obtain their email address, and let them know to expect an email.

  4. Back up your work!

    This is a really just a good tip for life. Like any web-based form, your work can be interrupted when a connection fails, or someone kicks a cord from the wall, or a battery dies. We recommend that you write your answers to the free-response questions in a separate program so that if something happens you don’t lose your work and have to start over from scratch.

  5. Relax – have fun – be yourself.

    This isn’t a test or an interrogation – we just want to get to know you and see if our program is a good fit for your summer. You’ll be completing some creative response activities – an opportunity for us to see you flex your creative muscles. We’ve tried to make these fun and playful – so by all means play. There are no “right” answers to those questions, so go wherever your imagination takes you.

Ready to apply now? Visit our Application Page or explore more of our blog.

Day 28 and Beyond – Taking Home Memories and Lessons

August 8, 2016

The Experimentory’s final night included a bonfire, a marshmallow roast, and tag in the dark with glow sticks; but it also included heavy hearts, long hugs, and some tears. But tearful goodbyes are a small price to pay for the abundant goodness of close friends and fun times. Proctors Sam Morse and Valentina Connell team up in our last Experimentory 2016 post to share some favorite memories from our students and goodbye advice from our staff.


As the week has drawn to a close I asked a few students to reminisce on their favorite moments at the Experimentory this summer. Below are a few of the responses I got:


Ava: “I have two: I loved dancing on the dinner cruise in Boston and I also enjoyed the challenges I conquered at the ropes course!”

Tysean: “It was not one moment that stood out to me, instead, it was the devotion of the proctors and studentsIMG_3235. Their constant enthusiasm, energy, and passion motivated me and allowed me to grow as a student and person.”

Lucia: “My favorite part of the Experimentory was when we went whitewater rafting. I was terrified IMG_1803at first that I would fall out of the raft, but after surviving the rapids I felt very accomplished and proud of myself!”

Joshua: “Although there were many special moments for me throughout the program, one that IMG_3213stood out to me was the dinner cruise because it was an activity where we could socialize as well as enjoy ourselves and our staff members.”

IMG_3146Amelia: “The first day of the Experimentory was actually my favorite day. Hard to believe I know, but I was impressed with the other kids, the creativity, the energy, and the supportive environment I was about to become apart of.”

Sami A: “My favorite component of the Experimentory was the sit down meals! I appreciate how this settingIMG_3241 allowed me to interact with other students and faculty members that I may not have crossed paths with otherwise.”

IMG_1803ATasha: “Although this moment was extremely bittersweet for me, I really enjoyed last night’s organizational meeting. I began to realize the uniqueness of this place and the strength of the relationships I have formed. I never imagined forming friendships so quickly!”

Max: “I loved being apart of the band because it was a project I piloted with a group of friends. I enjoyed IMG_2057collaborating with a group of fellow students in a relaxed setting!”

IMG_4712Sami D: “Every single part of this program was amazing. But If I had to chose one it would be the friendships I have made with people from all around the world and the realization that they will last a life time!”

Brandon: “My favorite moment was solving the Rubik cube! With the guidance of Kento, I quickly learned IMG_1800many different algorithms and formulas to solve the Cube in new ways. Before I came here I had no idea how to solve one! Now that I know the skill I have been able to teach others”

Cami: “I enjoyed all the moments I was forced to work with others because it allowed me to step out of IMG_6286my comfort zone and adapt to the situation. I enjoy challenges and this program definitely pushed me to be the best version of me!”

It has been such delight to watch these kids conquer these obstacles while maturing and growing as learners in the process. As Experimentory staff members, we feel so fortunate to work with such passionate, diverse, and intelligent students.

– Sam M

Valentina created this video for our farewell dinner and this final blog post.


To learn more about what happened throughout the entire program, visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.  

Day 27 – Ending Very Well – The Showcase

August 7, 2016

Our last full day on campus is, as many of our students say, legendary. It’s an achievement, a culmination, and a celebration all wrapped into one – something for students to share and cherish with their newly formed friends, our team of teachers and staff, and family members visiting campus or cheering from afar. In today’s post, Proctor Sam Morse gives us an overview to accompany some work we’re proud to share.


The past four weeks together have flown by. It is hard to believe today was our last day together – but our final showcase was a fantastic way to end. These past few weeks have presented our Experimentors with creative, academic, and social challenges; today’s presentations displayed much of our students’ hard work at conquering those challenges. Here’s an overview for those of you who were unable to come in person.

We started with a brief reception in the library that welcomed parents, family, and friends. Immediately following, the visitors were sent into various directions across campus. Between clusters, we enjoyed refreshments and student music performances.

Amelia’s music performance.

The Architecture + Culture clusters held their final presentations in the Parker Room – a small kitchen/dining space below the main Dining Hall. There the kids prepared an assortment of dishes from around the world. As a part of their presentations they designed a multi-purpose building that included a restaurant, produced a menu, and discussed the ways in which there creations would fit into a culture they had chosen. Smiles filled the room as the dishes were shared with guests.

This YouTube Channel will play all ten presentations back-to-back. To see individual videos, visit our YouTube channel.

The Music + Film clusters held their final presentations in audio-visual editing labs on the first floor of the library. This space was ideal for the screening of the student’s final projects. The students composed their own music and paired it with short films to tell a complete story. I was amazed by the creativity of each movie.

This YouTube Channel will play all six student films back-to-back. To see individual videos, visit our YouTube channel.

The Theatre + Electronics cluster presented in the Black Box theater. The students combined their acting abilities with their technological skills. Over the course of the program, the students learned how to code and engineer robots, lights, and props. Their final presentations combined their technical knowledge with their acting capabilities. The mix of theatre and technology was as impressive as it was

Cluster 1 Presentations – visit our YouTube Channel for individual videos.

Cluster 2 Presentations – visit our YouTube Channel for individual videos.

Congratulations to everyone on a strong end to a great summer!

– Sam M.


If you liked student films above you should also check out the Experimentors’ first student films here.

View all student performances and presentations on our YouTube Channel.

To learn more about what happened on Day 26  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.  

Day 21 – A Boston Story Smorgasbord

August 7, 2016

This year our Boston trip was run and chaperoned by our teaching faculty and fellows. It was a great opportunity to tie the trip into what they had been studying in their course clusters, but that also meant that the proctors – the typical Experimentory blog authors – had the day off. Fitting with our interdisciplinary spirit, three of us worked together to fill that gap, each telling a different sort of story in a different sort of way. Here’s what Teaching Fellow Kayla Corcoran, Teaching Fellow Paul Westin, and Program Coordinator Tim Schaffer put together.


Thankful for a Serious Moment by Ms. Corcoran

The steam rose from the grate underneath my feet, pressing against my face as if trying to suffocate me in the humid heat of the mid-morning. No one was talking. Instead, the students and I were reading quotes on the panes of the Holocaust Memorial–six towers of glass and granite rising into the sky in remembrance of the crematorium towers at the six death camps constructed to carry out Hitler’s Final Solution. Etched on the panes of glass are over two million of the seven-digit identification numbers tattooed onto the arms of prisoners in concentration camps. The IMG_4963steam rising from the ground is meant to be the smoke of the crematorium fires.

The Holocaust Memorial is undoubtedly the most somber stop on the Freedom Trail, a red brick line that snakes along sidewalks and across busy streets past significant sites in Boston’s history. The Memorial, in the words of Harvard professor of architecture Alex Krieger, invites visitors of the Freedom Trail to “pause [and] contemplate the absence of freedom.”

As a student and teacher of history, I have pulled apart, analyzed, and put back together some of the darkest moments in the human narrative, and yet I still cannot fathom and understand the immensity of the Holocaust–the blatant disregard for human life. I watched our students move through the Memorial, their eyes blinking in the sunlight as they gazed to the tops of the towers, trying to count the numbers, trying to make sense of it all.

In the afternoon, Max asked me why the Nazis shaved the hair of their prisoners. We talked about the process of dehumanization: if you can pretend someone is less than human, you can begin to act as if it’s true. It struck me then that at the heart of our course on Architecture and Culture is the idea that all cultures are valuable and have something to offer to the human experience. It is this absence of respect and gratitude for the contributions of all societies to the human endeavor that makes it possible to call for the erasure of any one people or culture.

After we visited the Memorial, students had an opportunity to reflect on all that they had seen that morning. I was grateful that the students and I were able to have such an experience, one that also triggered us to ask questions about how architects consider and design memorials. So, more questions than answers, but a deep gratitude that I’ve had the opportunity to ask them and consider them along with all of our students.


A Photo Journey with Mr. Westin

For the Music and Film cluster, we visited the Institute of Contemporary Art, located on Boston Harbor. We began with a tour of the gallery, focusing on the exhibition by Liz Deschenes. The art was very conceptual, which provided ample opportunity for discussion and connection to ideas we brought up in class. After the gallery tour, we participated in some of the activities for Family Imagination Fest, an event designed by ICA to engage kids through hands-on art. By far the favorite activity was sculpting clay in the style of some statues around the museum. Last but not least, we travelled early to Quincy Market to capture footage for our city symphony projects, which will be shown during final presentations!

Natasha 3Paul Selfie 2IMG_6405IMG_6422IMG_6462IMG_6470



Then You Can Wear My (Obnoxiously Orange) Teeshirt by Mr. Schaffer

“Mr. Schaffer.” As a North Carolinian, Anne opened with gentle Southern diplomacy. “We appreciate these very nice shirts.” She gestured to the group of friends clad in the Experimentory SWAG they received in their welcome bags – the required Six Flags outfit. “But we think we should only have to wear the green ones on fieldtrips.”

“Hmm. Why is that?” I tried sounding innocent.

IMG_2780“We. Look. Like. Highlighters.” The other girls in her group nodded – including Sam, their proctor.

“Well, we chose the color for visibility. At least you don’t have to worry about being hit by cars in traffic! …Assuming, of course, you don’t blind a driver.”

“We love this color,” encouraged Justin, from my group. Jonathan, Abram, Shawn, and Jason all nodded. I couldn’t help thinking, Ah, middle school boys vs middle school girls…

Jokes about risk of snow blindness aside, we were very thankful for those shirts on our trip to Boston. Since our Boston trip was planned and run by our teaching faculty and fellows, I attended the fieldtrip to help out in a pinch. With a thankfully emergency-free day, the only times I was with our Experimentors was when we call came together IMG_6317for lunch and dinner.

Quincy Market is a bustling, chaotic mess of food stands and eateries. We had a chaperone posted at each exit and the kids were under strict instructions to check in with me before they left. Nevertheless, it was good to know that our group was wearing one of the few fashion choices visible to the naked eye from space. Plus we felt perfectly at home among the heat lamp food warmers.

IMG_6405Dinner, however, was a different story. For starters, our group was confined to a boat – little risk of absentminded students wandering off there. Secondly, The Spirit of Boston had an encouraged dress code. It was flexible, but not glow-in-the-dark flexible. And so we changed into nice clothes for dinner. No complaints from Anne and perhaps a few quiet grumbles from the boys.

After eating a delicious meal, we went up to the fourth deck to enjoy the twilit harbor. “BOSTON!” shouted Brandon in absolute delight. “It is my first time coming here and it is BEAUTIFUL!” A large group of us played with the beanbag toss – which had an extra ExpBos16_33twist since a reckless throw could send a bag overboard. And some just chatted and laughed and watched the harbor islands pass by.

Wanting to give the other passengers time to enjoy the night sky tween-free, we gathered everyone back on our deck starting at 8:30. No one minded, though: the dance floor was IMG_1990open, and we have some great dancers. Aidan pulled off some serious robot moves; Spencer has a fun, bold style; Aerin, Max, Anne, and Brandon can do a solid Macarena; and there was a group that included Sami D, Reshma, Abram, Coryell, and Cami that simply never left the dancefloor. Since dancing isn’t for everyone, there were also plenty of games to play – Jenga, Connect 4, and cards.

The cruise was certainly a fantastic end to our day – a highlight of the day if not the month. Thanks for the fun, Experimentors!


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 20  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.

Day 26 – Ending Well (Architecture and Culture)

August 6, 2016

The day before our final showcase, Proctor Ryan Collins visited our Architecture and Culture classes for a foretaste of the students’ final projects. Here’s what he found.


As the end of the program drew closer, I saw a mix of excitement and nerves in Architecture and Culture during Cluster 1. The students were doing research for their final projects in small groups.  Each small group had picked a country and studied its culture, with a focus on its prevalent food and architecture.

Lucy gives an overview of the project.

For the Architecture element, the students designed a multi-purpose building that included a sustainable restaurant. For example, Cami, Allan, and Daniel’s group (who were studying the Dominican Republic) decided on a restaurant/shopping area within a shared space. Other groups combined the restaurants with living spaces. Not only were these ideas creative, but also realistic.

Then there was the culinary aspect of the presentation. Rather than just talking about the cultural foods they would serve in their restaurant, they were able to engage in some real hands-on cooking.

Jonathan and Reshma describe their project.

IMG_7119I visited the presentations themselves on our showcase day. It was a learning experience for me watching them team up to make different meals from all over the world. The presentations went very well.  The students spoke with conviction after having spent so much time with their research and familiarizing themselves with their country’s culture. But, in my mind, the best part of this project was seeing young students thinking about sustainably in ways that can be applied in their daily lives. These are concepts which will undoubtedly be a large part of their future.

– Ryan C.


Visit our YouTube Channel for Ryan’s additional student interviews!

The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 26  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.  

Day 25 – Ending Well (Music and Film)

August 4, 2016

Our young composers and movie makers are hard at work. Actual filming is done – completed at the beginning of the week. Now our kids are editing, splicing, dubbing in music and putting on the final touches. Proctor Marisa Ferrari visited yesterday and talked to the students about their process.


It is hard to believe that we have just one more day left here at the Experimentory. At the end of our four weeks, the growth that the students have made individually and collectively seems remarkable. It has been truly inspiring to watch them interact as a group – learning, motivating, and challenging each other. At just 11 to 14 years old, they are accepting of others and open to learning from each others’ differences, strengths, and weaknesses, which is valuable for life far beyond the Experimentory.


Aerin and Brandon don headphones as they co-edit the final cut of their film while Amethyst fine tunes the film’s soundtrack.

Their ability to work in groups with such ease has made the production of their final projects a fun, challenging, and creative process. In the Music and Films class, students are working in groups of four or five to create their own short movie. Everything from the directing, acting, editing, filming, and music is done by group members so each member takes on specific roles. These roles allow students to shine in particular areas they excel in. However, although one student may be titled the “editor” and another the “filmer,” students really worked together on all pieces to create the best possible product, regardless of their official title.

What I found most interesting was how the groups chose a film genre. They chose between comedy, tragedy, and horror by analyzing the songs they had already created earlier in the program on Garage Band. After listening to each of their songs, they decided how their music made them feel. Groups with low and slow sounding songs felt a tragedy film was a perfect fit. In contrast, another group felt that all their songs were a little wacky and upbeat, which had comedy written all over it. I find it pretty amazing how a group of five students can compare such unique and individualized songs and find a commonality among them all. The students agreed that they liked the freedom of choosing their genre based on their own music. This not only makes the movies unique to each group, but I feel that it adds a sense of individuality of their own work, which allows the students to be even more passionate about their production.

Needless to say, after watching students rehearse lines and film throughout campus, I cannot wait to watch their final products!


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 25  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.  

Day 24 – Aspiring to Leadership, Finding Peace

August 3, 2016

Time, it seems, does strange things at the Experimentory. Ask our students to reflect on the fact that this is our last week together, and they often describe two seemingly contradictory feelings at once. On one hand, they can’t believe three-and-a-half weeks have passed so quickly; on the other, their new friends are so close it feels like they’ve known each other longer. These are not bad problems to have. But both feelings were strong as we came together on Tuesday for our final All-X Meeting. Proctor Kento Yamamoto explains.



Prime Minister Lt. Gen. Thrasher, Esq. hosts one more time.

Our last All-X meeting today was jam-packed with a lot of content – a great way to end All-X meetings for the 2016 session of the Experimentory. We had two topics to discuss today: leadership and standards. We started the meeting with a word scramble (yes, both words), and dove right into what it meant to be a leader. Four students had taken the podium and recited their “If I Were President” speeches, exemplifying what it means to be a leader. We also discussed what it meant to speak with conviction – how world-renown leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X had delivered speeches.


Scott and the GEM Pham Band returned to the stage for our final gathering.

The second topic was about “standards.” What expectations do we place on ourselves? How far do we want to reach? Mr. Thrasher, our All-X emcee, posed these questions to our students, and they had time to brainstorm answers on paper. We also watched a short clip from a Tony Robbins talk. He explained that we all have “should” ideas: I should get a 100% on the next test; I should work ahead on my project due next week. Robbins challenges his audience to swap the “shoulds” with “musts.” This raises our standards, and we unconsciously aspire for higher levels. I hope the students were inspired by his words – I certainly was.

To touch on one more Experimentory moment, the students in the “Yoga and Tai-chi” co-curricular experienced a typical Tai-chi lesson taught by Mr. Kelly. Although I joined the group today purely to take photos, I ended up partaking in the lesson as well. We went over the concept of “chi” – the energy that flows throughout one’s body – and how we can detect it and utilize it in both combat and meditation. The students learned a basic form of meditation that all Tai-chi students study. At the end they were all relaxed and aware of their breathing. Mr. Kelly being Mr. Kelly, he ended class with a story of how he got into to tai-chi – a story that filled the students with both giggles and awe.

– Kento Y.



The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 24  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.  

Day 23 – The Co-Curricular Olympics!

August 3, 2016

Olympic spirit has come five days early to the Experimentory. Six of our proctors have teamed up to create one massive Co-Curricular that revisit four of our previous co-curricular sports. Proctor Katie Stoll wrote this post after Day One was complete.


As the Experimentors dive into their last week here at Deerfield Academy, they are diligently working on their final projects in each of their classes and preparing for the showcase this Friday. Outside of class, the students started their last round of co-curricular activities. The options this week included swimming, greenhouse, yoga and Tai Chi, and the Co-Curricular Olympics. Everyone was very excited to get started.

IMG_6687Given that the Olympics start this Friday, we decided to set the tone by creating our very own mini version during the co-curricular period this week. There are twenty students participating in the games and they have been divided into four teams including Congo, Syria, Singapore, and Djibouti. Each day, the teams will challenge each other with a different sport in order to determine the overall champions by the end of the week.

On the first day of the Olympics, the Experimentors faced off on the basketball court. Each of the teams spent the first few minutes developing strategy and preparing. Once their game plan was set, the tournament began. All of the teams played three fifteen IMG_6699minute, half-court match-ups and it was great to see all of the students working together to help lead their team to success!

On team Djibouti, Max and Anne strung together numerous passes as they navigated through their opponents’ strong defense. This strategy proved very successful as they made countless shots in a row! On the other end of the court, Abram was working hard as he dribbled around his defenders and completed multiple three-point shots. Reshma made many great defensive plays throughout the tournament and she followed these up with quick turnarounds to help jumpstart her team’s offense. However, Lucia and Noah used their height to their advantage as they interrupted many of these shots and rebounds. By the end of the day, all of the students had improved significantly and started to understand how to effectively work together within their teams.

While every team put forth their best effort, team Syria emerged as the champion for the first round of the Olympic games. Throughout the rest of the week, the teams will continue to fight for the gold as they compete in soccer, quidditch, and finally ultimate Frisbee. Good luck, Experimentors!Group Cropped

Reshma cropped


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 23  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.

Day 22 – Dance-Dance-Dance

August 3, 2016

Several of the adult staff members last year remarked that the 2015 Experimentory Dance was flat out the best middle school dance they had ever attended. It was a great start to a tradition, and we are pleased to say 2016 kept to last year’s standard. Proctor John Anthony Bowllan fills us in on what happened.


Sunday was a day of rest and relaxation at the Experimentory.

After exploring Boston and the city’s history, art, and science on Saturday, our Experimentors – arrived back on campus at 12:30am. And so Sunday began with a well-deserved chance to sleep in. Once everyone was up, it turned out to be a rainy day. Some played basketball and badminton in the gym while others played spike ball and listened to music in the dorm. But the real fun came at our rocking dance that evening.IMG_6499

Cropped GuysThe dance dress code was “casual,” but kids were allowed to dress nicer if they liked. This made room for a wide range of interpretations – especially among the boys. Many opted for the simple casual end – jeans and tee-shirt. A few – notably Abram, Jonathan, and Xander – dressed with jackets and ties. Clearly, these are men who know how to dress. Still others used the occasion to craft their own unique balance of formal and casual. “I have to make my own style,” Spencer explained while the boys gathered in the Crow Commons. “I think some guys are jealous,” he said with a snicker.

Keeping with last year’s established tradition, students walked to the dance by dorm – the girls in one group and the boys in another. Also keeping with tradition, this meant that the girls were already dancing when the boys arrived.

IMG_6495 (2)

Kento and Jan

With this mood set and Jan and Kento at the spin table blasting some bumping tunes, this was definitely a night to remember. We could always count on our world-renowned DJs to be the life of the party as they led the kids in dances for every song. It was impossible not to dance!

Good job bringing the party everyone!

– John Anthony B.



Wondering what happened to Day 21? The post describing our 2016 trip to Boston is a collaborative project and is taking a little more time to put together. But good things come to those who wait – stay tuned.

The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 22  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.

Day 20 – Dramatic and Chromatic Interpretation

August 2, 2016

After Jason gave us a taste of the Theater and Electronics final project in his postscript to yesterday’s post, Proctor Valentina Connell gives us a deeper look at the students’ midterm projects.



Coryell and Tysean tape out the path of their rover.

It’s Electronics class, and the Experimentors are working on their Rover and Voice Acting Project. Their goal: to program robots to follow a line by sensing differences in light; then to film their movement using their iPads; and finally to voiceover the movie to transform their rovers into popular movie characters. When I visit the students are making Dory and Marlin, Hans Solo and Kylo Ren, Gandalf and Saruman, Elsa and Anna, Rapunzel and the Prince, and many more. Their current challenge is programming the rovers to interpret the black lines of tape they can detect with their photoresistors.

The photoresistors are the components of the rovers that sense changes in light. As Experimentor Coryell explains, “The photoresistors only sense the amount of light, but don’t know what to do with the information. By programming [the rover’s Arduino computer chips], we can tell the rover how to interpret the information, so we tell it to move along the black tape, where there is not a lot of [reflected] light [when compared to the white table tops].”

The biggest challenge the students have faced is calibrating how the photoresistors in this interpretation. Problems arose because they worked on this project at different times of the day and moved the tables around, changing shadows and glares that threw off the calibration. Students had to change the resistance by turning potentiometers, which changed the calibration.

Alex F and Hunter work with Serena and Daniel to program Cinderella and Prince Charming.

When I asked about the Experimentors’ favorite Theater + Electronics projects so far, Amelia answered that hers was the Stroboscopic Theatre Project, in which the students programmed lights to shine on them as they posed. The students would tell a story using five or six of these still images. The stories they told included The Wizard of Oz and Sleeping Beauty.

Amelia, Anne, Alex, and Spencer’s Stroboscopic interpretation of The Wizard of Oz.

The final Electronics project involves students designing lights, sound, and props for their theatre performance. Alex F., who is performing a scene from The Woman in Black, says she and her group are using their Electronics knowledge to produce a rocking chair that moves on its own.

The work the Experimentors are doing is incredibly advanced, and it’s hard not to be very impressed! Although they regularly face challenges, students work hard with their group members to figure everything out.


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 20  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.

Day 19 – A (Wonderfully) Ordinary Afternoon

August 1, 2016

The Experimentory is long enough that, by the end of Week Three, we can enjoy all the benefits of having a comfortable routine. Proctor Jason Bravo took advantage of such a day last week to write a post about the kids’ daily free time – aka DFG. As an added bonus, he also spoke with seven Experimentors about their anticipated final Theater + Electronics projects.


It was a typical day for the kids. They attended their morning and afternoon clusters, and now had DFG time. During DFG they have the option to go to the Dorm (to rest or hang out), the Field (to play games or sports), or the Greer/Gym, where they can get a snack, talk to their friends, or play indoor sports. Today, I decided to follow them during their DFG time to see how they went about experimenting with fun.


William giving Gerald pointers.

For my first stop, I went to the Greer. At one of the tables, I saw William teaching Avery how to solve a Rubik’s cube which has become quite the rage at the Experimentory this year. William was a patient teacher and Avery a very responsive student. At a different table, Alex F. and Amelia were talking to each other. As I walked over, they welcomed and greeted me.

Because of the intense heat, the kids looking to play games were in the gym instead of the field. There their options were basketball or badminton. After taking some pictures of them playing both sports, I had to get involved. I went up against Spencer and Shawn in badminton. I’ve personally never played badminton so going up against these kids was not easy, but we all had fun!


Aidan, Cami, Marisa, and Coryell playing Badminton during DFG.

The badminton fun didn’t end with DFG. Kento and I are running the basketball and badminton co-curricular in the afternoon. Never ones to just sit around, Kento and I once again went up against these kids. I have to admit that Abram, Tysean, Gerald and Max made huge contributions to their basketball teams. And, as competitive as they are, they were also great at making sure that everyone on their teams were having fun and doing well.

———————Bonus Section———————-

As well as having fun in DFG and co-curriculars, Tysean, Amelia, Shawn, Amethyst, Gerald, Jennifer and Brandon told me all about the fun they were having in their Theater and Electronics cluster. As a bonus, here’s what they had to say about that.

Visit our YouTube page for the full interviews of all seven students.


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 19  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.

Day 18 – Fantasy Sport

July 29, 2016

As the Experimentory goes through its second year, we see just how much our program is influenced by the interests, talents, and experiences of our proctors as they run our co-curriculars, free time, dorm meetings, and residential life. Case in point: when  Proctor Jan Menafee told our office that he had experience coaching quiddich, we knew we’d be buying a set of hula-hoops.


Week 3 has brought a fun and unconventional game to The Experimentory: Quidditch! I learned how to play and IMG_3418coach Quidditch at Harry Potter camp last summer. Considering that one of our students submitted a picture of himself surrounded by his Harry Potter books with his application, and I figured we’d have some Harry Potter fans who would love to try out the fictional game.

Since, of course, we don’t have flying broomsticks or enchanted balls, the game is a bit different than in the books. It’s played by two teams on a field, who try to score against each other by throwing the “quaffle” (a soccer ball) through one of three goals (hula hoops hung up on tree image2branches). Each team has a goalkeeper and a “beater” (a defenseman) who can throw a “bludger” (a frisbee) at opposing team members to freeze them in place for ten seconds. There are two offensemen who can pass the quaffle between themselves to score ten points per hoop. And last but not least, there is a “snitch.” In the books, it is a magical flying ball that is released at the end of the game and worth 150 points. In our version of the game, the snitch is a person with a yellow ball they are not allowed to let go of. If any player takes that ball from the snitch, they then receive thirty points and the game ends.

I have coached alongside Proctor Ryan Collins this week and we have really enjoyed watching the kids enjoy themselves. Whether we are playing Quidditch, watching Quidditch or watching a Harry Potter movie, the kids are all in and very attentive. Thursday, we had our best match yet: Team Ravenclaw (Reshma, William, Joshua, Rachel, and Spencer) versus Team Hufflepuff (Branden, Sami D, Coryell, Daniel, and Cami) with Scott as the image1snitch. Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff traded goals back and forth to tie it at half time forty-forty. Then Ravenclaw pulled away in the second half when Reshma joined the team. William’s speed and spin moves and Joshua’s general unstoppableness had already given Hufflepuff a tough time, but Reshma brought a new intensity to the team. Ravenclaw soon had a thirty, forty, then fifty-point lead! Daniel, Hufflepuff’s beater, pulled through with some expert throwing – at one point he managed to freeze the entire Ravenclaw team. But Hufflepuff still couldn’t quite manage to score. Scott threw them the snitch at the end of the game to cut Ravenclaw’s lead to a merciful twenty points, but Ravenclaw still came away victorious!

As of this writing, we have one day left in this co-curricular rotation and the weather is looking perfect. I am excited for one last, incredibly entertaining day of Quidditch!


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 18  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.  

Day 17 – Friends on the Trail

July 28, 2016

As a DA graduate (Class of ’15), Proctor Sam Morse has a soft spot for Deerfield practices and traditions. In our Day 17 post, she explains how she combined one of her favorites with one of her private pastimes.


As a student at Deerfield Academy, co-curricular activities were the best part of my day. Whether I was running around the field or performing on stage, I valued that time away from my schoolwork. It also allowed me to connect with students from other grades, dorms, and classes. When I returned to DA this summer to work for the Experimentory, I was excited to learn that our program was going to incorporate this tradition.


On The Rock

As I started brainstorming various activities to lead during this time, I reminisced on my favorite co-curriculars at Deerfield, while also considering the unique opportunities that summer in Western Massachusetts presents. Another one of my favorite things about Deerfield is its location. Centered in the Pioneer Valley, the Academy has access to countless hiking trails, mountains, and state parks. Naturally, I decided I was going to lead a week-long hiking co-curricular.

Katie, a fellow proctor, and I began planning each hike. Our initial plan for the week was overly ambitious. We were afraid the kids would be too tired by the time co-curricular time came around. Let me tell you: that was the biggest misjudgment. Our hiking group – which includes Bella, Lucy, Chris, Sami D, Avery, Reshma and Serena – is energetic, curious, and entertaining. Although as of my writing we have only completed the first two hikes of the week, I am excited to watch this group conquer our next three


At Mt Toby State Reservation

On Monday, we hiked to the Rock – a cherished Deerfield tradition. The trail provides a 4-mile roundtrip hike with a stunning view of the Deerfield Campus and Valley. It can be a challenging and exhausting. Katie and I were impressed by the kid’s determination – especially considering they had just done this hike on Saturday morning with the entire program. In order to pass the time as we went, Katie shared a fun game her family plays while hiking called Categories. Each hiker has to name an item that falls into the given category. You keep going until someone gets stuck or repeats something already said. It’s simple, but also a lot harder than it sounds. It was good to watch the kids bond as they played and created a new and improved “house rules” together. In a matter of a few hours, our hiking co-curricular group was spectacular. As the week goes on, I am eager to watch, as the group dynamic grows stronger.


On the Canalside Rail Trail in Greenfield


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 17  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.  

Day 16 – Film Debut

July 28, 2016

Now halfway through our summer together, our Music + Film Course Clusters finished their first major projects last week and spent Monday watching and reviewing each others’ films. Proctor Ryan Collins joined them. This is what he learned during his visit.


Today I visited our morning Music + Film Cluster. The students were introduced to a new broad concept: viewing a movie as a system. They were then instructed to collaborate and determine what went into making this system work. It did not take long for Mr. Correa to fill up the white board with various aspects of film making. The students’ brainstormed list included soundtrack, setting, lighting, dialogue, costume, designs, etc. In this way, the students IMG_3350developed this movie-as-a-system concept piece-by-piece. Personally, I had never thought of a movie like this, as it is easy to overlook the small but intentional details that make up a film. It was truly a special moment for me as a proctor to feel like I’d learned something new from our students.

Once we had a good grasp on movies-as-systems, we watched student films they have been working on in groups since the start of the program. Some students directed, some acted, others planned and implemented the soundtrack, and many took on multiple roles. Each group had been assigned a different genre, so we were able to see how certain aspects of the system differed based on the given genre. Between a comedy, sci-fi, and horror short film, I saw the use of different acting styles, soundtrack, camera angles, sound effects, and story lines. Interestingly, these IMG_3361films weren’t allowed to include any dialogue, so the students were challenged to convey a plot using other creative methods. In addition, all groups had to use Night on Bald Mountain as their soundtrack. They had to decide how to cut and mix the music to fit their genre and plot.

One of the most notable films was the sci-fi thriller directed by Amethyst. Mr. Correa was struck by the impressive camera angles mixed with variations in lighting that she used to add to the dramatic scenario.

Be sure to visit our YouTube channel after the Experimentory is over to see all six films from two classes.​


Perhaps you’re wondering why the films themselves aren’t included here or on our YouTube Channel. The answer is simple: Everyone hates spoilers. Since our students’ films will be shown on our Final Showcase Day, we wanted any visiting families to enjoy them for then for the first time. But never fear: All student films will be available online after the Experimentory has come to a close.

The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 15  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.  

Day 15 – Keeping it Local

July 26, 2016

Let’s face it: with a ropes course, a trip to Six Flags, and a day of whitewater rafting, the first two weeks of the Experimentory are fun but rather relentlessly busy. By our second weekend, the time had come for something a little slower, a little more relaxed, a little more local. In our Day 15 post, Proctor Marisa Ferrari shares some of what we did on our Deerfield Days.



“The Rock”

Officially halfway through the Experimentory program, the students were able to experience all that Deerfield MA has to offer this past weekend. The day began when all of us left DA on foot at 9 AM Saturday morning to hike “The Rock.” It was no joke! The sun was beating on our long journey up, but there is no denying that the view at the top was worth every step. Tired, but feeling accomplished, the students took in the scene of the beautiful Deerfield valley.

We spent the rest of our Saturday exploring Deerfield making smaller trips in smaller groups to various local spots. This included hiking mountains, visiting Yankee Candle, and of course, treating ourselves to some irresistible chocolates from Richardson’s Candy Kitchen.

On top of the mountain

Sami D, Alex F, and Avery pose with Marisa on the top of Sugarloaf.

For me and the students in my afternoon group, the views only got better. Proctor Sam, Mr. Schaffer and Mr. Kelly took a group of students to hike up Sugarloaf Mountain in South Deerfield and wow…I cannot believe we all managed to make it to the top! We huffed and puffed up the extremely steep mountain side and encouraged each other that the view would be worth it. Well, it absolutely was. It was surreal being able to stand so tall and see the endless mountains, rivers and valleys of Western Massachusetts. Since The Rock and Sugarloaf made two mountains in one day, we decided we earned a delicious ice cream treat at 5J Creamy!


Jonathan, Ava, Scott, Serena, Anne, Sami D., Max, Sami A., Abram and Reshma challenge boys vs. girls in a volleyball tournament at Look Park.


Students Cami, Lucia, Coryell, Jennifer and Rachel enjoy a five way Frisbee toss at Look Park. They spiced it up by tossing three Frisbees between them!


Xander, Aidan, Lucy, Noah, Cami, Amber, Bella, Aerin, and Natasha were thankful for the opportunity to cool off in the sprinkler park.

Sunday was another fun day in the sun with a picnic at Look Park in Northampton. However, this was not any ordinary park. Sure there were the usual swings, jungle gyms, volley ball and basketball courts, and fields to play in, but the kids also had many other unique activities to keep themselves busy. Before lunch, the kids challenged each other in spike ball, Frisbee, and football games before fueling up with burgers and hot dogs from the grill. Then it was off to the races playing miniature golf, taking a train ride around the park through a mini zoo, riding paddle boats in a pond, and cooling off in the sprinkler park. Through all the activities, an afternoon ice cream break was a must before the competitions continued in some proctor vs camper basketball, beach volleyball, and Frisbee games.

Each day at the Experimentory, new friendships are being made and bonds are strengthened as students interact in various environments and activities.


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 15  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.  

Day 14 – Talents on Display

July 26, 2016

Our students are overflowing with talent. Some of these talents come out in their classwork and co-curriculars, but many do not and those are just too good to pass up without enjoying. For that reason, our Experimentory Talent Show has been a highlight of our program two years running. Proctor Kento Yamamoto shares some of his favorite parts of this year’s show.


Experimentory classes are fascinating, but taking a day off isn’t a bad idea either. This Saturday we had “Deerfield Day” which included hiking up to The Rock, walking to Richardson’s Candy Kitchen, climbing Sugarloaf Mountain, visiting the Yankee Candle Store, and more. (Marisa will talk about these more in-depth in her Day 15 blog post – stay tuned.)

But for me, the frosting on the cake was the Experimentory Talent Show on Saturday evening. I had gone into the Concert Hall thinking that the show would be primarily musical acts since that is often the case at DA’s once-a-term talent showcases. But I was wrong! William was our Hula-Hooping Rubik’s cube wizard, Cami was a rap-contortionist, Tysean drew a picture of Max, and several Experimentors shared told cheesy jokes. Of course, we had musical geniuses who performed a wide genre of music – classical, rock, hip-hop, indie, and even some electronic music.

There were three acts that blew my mind in particular. William – my competitor in Rubik’s Cube speed-solving earlier in the week – solved his Rubik’s Cube yet again, only this time while hula-hooping. Cami rapped Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us” while bending and manipulating her body in ways that only the brave would dare.

I enjoyed these two acts because they had combined two talents that were totally unrelated into one beautiful piece of art. This totally fits with the Experimentory’s interdisciplinary educational environment. After thinking of ways to combine subjects such as theater and electronics, it only seems right to do so in the talent show as well.

The third act that had surprised me was the last act of the night: a band! Around eight students took to the stage and performed Vance Joy’s “Riptide.” The band included a piano, an acoustic guitar, vocalists, and percussion instruments including drums, rhythm sticks and tambourines.

Scott and the Band’s rendition of “Riptide.”

Their execution of the song was as good as some of the performances that I have seen by Deerfield students – it was unbelievable. Amber, Anne and Aerin harmonized beautifully on their vocals; Scott and Sami were hitting each others’ rhythm sticks on beat; Amethyst and Amelia played piano and guitar with such ease it seemed casual; and Max killed it on the drums. What was the most surprising to me was the level of execution they had achieved given that they only had two or three opportunities to practice with each other before the show. It was amazing – the best and only way to end the show and a great day.

– Kento Y


But wait – there’s more! Every act from the Exp16 Talent Show is available on our YouTube Channel:

The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 14  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.  

Day 13 – An Appetite for Learning

July 25, 2016

Everyone needs to eat; everyone loves to eat. And yet from culture to culture, people choose, produce, prepare and consume food in a dazzling variety of ways. What better way, then, to study cultural differences than through the stomach? Proctor Katie Stoll joined Architecture and Culture class last Friday as they examined their second New England eatery. Here’s what she learned.



Sami A, Gerald, Amber, Alex Y, and Max at the 99 Diner.

As week two comes to a close, the Experimentors are becoming more involved in their course clusters and working on exciting new projects. Over the past two days, the Architecture and Culture classes traveled to the Ninety-Nine restaurant in Greenfield and Champney’s restaurant at the Deerfield Inn. At each of these restaurants, the students were presented with historical information about the foundation and establishment of these eateries as well as the different cultures that they exemplify.


The afternoon cluster at Champney’s

Today at Champney’s, the students listened closely as the owner detailed how the restaurant represents all of Deerfield’s historic past. Champney’s was inspired by an innovative artist from Deerfield named James Wells Champney. He was a pioneer in impressionist painting and photography, as well as a proud supporter of equal rights. This background helped the students understand the context of the Deerfield Inn and the strong New England culture that it symbolizes.


Debrief afterwards

Following these two excursions, the students reflected on the differences and similarities between the establishments. Xander noted that although both restaurants are characteristic of New England, Champney’s has maintained a more authentic and old-fashioned perspective while Ninety-Nine is much more modern. Lucy commented on the different styles of the restaurants, realizing that Ninety-Nine seemed like a more relaxed family environment and Champney’s appeared to be more suitable for special occasions. Cami also added that the menus differed significantly – while Champney’s menu was merely one page filled with various dishes composed of locally grown products, Ninety-Nine’s menu was more extensive and even included pictures of certain meals. Despite these differences, the students agreed that overall both restaurants accurately represent the culture of New England.

Over the next few days, the students will be working with partners in their clusters to design menus that characterize different countries and regions. They have each been assigned a unique location, and following the creation of their menus, they will have the opportunity to make one of these dishes during class. They are all very excited and I can’t wait to see what they make! Keep up the good work, Experimentors!

– Katie S.


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 13  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.  

Day 12 – Not Just a Place to Sleep

July 24, 2016

The Experimentory is more than a summer school – it is a community. Community is important in the classroom; it is strengthened in our group activities; but its foundation is our down time – how we act and interact when there isn’t work to be done or an organized activity. John Anthony Bowllan writes about how he and his fellow proctors shape dorm life to lay this foundation.


From collaborating in the classroom to our diverse co-curricular activities, our Experimentors have had plenty of academic opportunities to learn new concepts, explore their creativity, and improve their character. However, dorm life, the heart of Deerfield boarding culture, is where most of the “magic” happens.

The dorms are more than just a place to sleep. They are spaces where the Experimentors can become a community, maintain friendships, work on new ones, and develop their characters. This year, our double-dorms – Johnson and Doubleday – house all of our Experimentors, ten staff proctors, two teaching fellows, and a couple faculty residents and their families. Each dorm floor is home to about eight Experimentors and one to two proctors to oversee and facilitate the dorm life experience. This year, the girls’ and boys’ dorms share a common room called the Crow Common. Students gather there to bond as one community. Given our diverse student population here at the Experimentory, each student meets all different kinds of students with diverse backgrounds and life experiences.

Crow Common has a pretty sick sound system – excellent for the impromptu dance party.


A few nights a week we have dorm feeds – night time snacks – and no feed is as special as a birthday feed. Saturday night Aidan turned the ripe old age of 12!

Moreover, in the dorms, the Experimentors develop the skills required to live independently while taking part in the Deerfield community. Students learn to be considerate of all their peers and to negotiate and compromise – essential qualities when living in a shared space. In the first days of the program, the proctors and students on each hall created and unanimously agreed on rules each and every student should live by and responsibilities that each person was expected to meet. From 10PM lights out to dorm etiquette, devising the rules and expectations together creates a unanimous sentiment of mutual respect on each hall.

I have seen lots of growth in my hall. Tysean, for example, has made it his duty to make sure that the others on our hall are up in time to be ready for breakfast and morning classes! I am truly proud of the progress the Experimentors have made so far. Keep it up!​

– John Anthony B

Abram and Chris are among our best ping players. Here they face off during an evening free time.


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 12  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.  

Day 10 – A Visit to Theater and Electronics

July 22, 2016

On Tuesday, Proctor Jan Menafee stopped in to visit Theater + Electronics as students learned about an actor’s emotional expression. Here is what he learned.


The Theater + Electronics clusters participated in a fun and interesting exercise with Ms. Speed in the Acting Lab today. Each cluster first split up into pairs. Ms. Speed gave each pair the same deliberately vague script to memorize and act out in front of the rest of the class. But here’s the catch: each pair also chose one of four possible IMG_5727relationships to exist between their two characters. After they finished performing, the rest of the class had to guess the nature of the relationship they’d chosen. This challenged the students to consider how actors can interpret and perform the same lines in an infinite number of ways by changing their tone and mannerisms.

For example, Spencer and Scott performed the script as a tired and worried father dealing with his estranged teenage son who had stayed out too late. Anne and Tysean performed as two strangers at a train station, one of whom makes the other uncomfortable as the other asks personal questions. I was incredibly IMG_5736impressed by how well everyone could act and create several unique scenes from the same script.

Our students’ talents surprised me outside the classroom as well. To express this week’s theme of “Courage” in today’s All-X Meeting, Mr. Thrasher invited William on stage to battle against Proctor Kento in a Rubik’s Cube Challenge. (William won!)  A little later, a huge group of Experimentors performed High School Musical’s “We’re All in This Together” led by Proctor Valentina. Both of these All X performances were planned to get everyone excited about performing in Saturday’s talent show. I can’t wait to see what else these kids can do then!


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 11  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.  

Day 11 – (Not Quite) Gently Down the Stream

July 21, 2016

You may notice that we skipped Day Ten in our blog progression. That’s because this Wednesday we went on our second annual whitewater rafting excursion down the Deerfield River. Since many parents at home are anxious to hear about that trip, we decided to tell that tale first. Proctor Jason Bravo reports.


Another fun and crazy day with a fun and crazy group of Experimentors: We took off to the Berkshire East Mountain Resort to go whitewater rafting!

IMG_4721To our delight, the weather was fairly warm and sunny, which meant that there would be no problem getting a little wet. Before the kids could get on the raft however, they had to put on their life vests and helmet and of course, carry along a paddle.

I was lucky to have been assigned a talkative and funny group of six girls: Lucia, Serena, Sami D, Aerin, Amelia, and Amethyst. Our guide, J.R., was very patient and helpful in making sure everyone was safe and having fun as we rafted down the Deerfield River.

As we paddled through the rapids, the yelling of the girls and the Experimentors in IMG_4705neighboring rafts signaled a serious amount of adrenaline. Even when we were drifting with the current and enjoying the scenery, the kids were full of energy. It wasn’t long before the girls grabbed the big bucket on the raft and filled it up with water to get their friends on the other rafts wet.

As we continued our journey down the river, I was pleased to see how well and quickly we were paddling all thanks to the girls’ excellent synchronization. Their IMG_4769hard work was rewarded with the opportunity to literally make the raft float vertically! J.R. attached a rope to the front of the raft, and then all of us, including J.R., moved all our weight to the back. J.R. tightly pulled on the rope and down we were partially submerged in water while the front end of the raft was directly above us. After that small frightening but cool experience, everyone jumped out for a refreshing swim.IMG_6291

At the end of our rafting journey, we ate lunch and when I asked Sami, one of the girls on my raft, how it went, she said, “It was fun to work as a team and get closer to my peers.” She’s right; everyone on the raft did work as a team and it was the main reason why we were able to cover the distance we did and have fun at the same time.

To our surprise, the mountain resort had one last treat for us: we all got to ride on IMG_2292their Mountain Coaster! The adrenaline pumped we each reached the top of the mountain on our single-person cars. As the chain let go to send us down the rails, the yelling began and gradually became louder and louder as we flew down the mountain.

We are all about instilling a sense of character in our students. It’s great to have this much fun while doing it.

– Jason B.


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 11  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.  

Day 9: A Communication Foundation

July 19, 2016

The Experimentory is all about innovation, but innovation is fruitless without the ability to share your ideas with other people. That is why all Experimentors take Communications classes: to set that essential foundation. Program Proctor Valentina Connell has been assisting our Communications Teacher, Ms. Speed, in class – an experience she reports to us about in our Day 9 post.


It’s a Monday afternoon and the Theatre & Electronics Cluster 2 students assemble in the Acting Lab for Communications Class. Each Experimentor takes two forty-five minute Communications Classes each week: one with their morning cluster and one with their afternoon cluster. I’ve had the unique opportunity to assist teacher Ms. Speed as she helps students learn interpersonal and public speaking skills.

During the first week of Communications, Experimentors participated in some interesting activities. One day, they walked around the room silently as they looked into each others’ eyes – sometimes quite awkwardly – to practice holding eye contact. Another day they lined themselves up chronologically by birthday, without talking, writing or mouthing words, or gesturing numbers with fingers on their hands. (Most students solved this by indicating the number of months and days by clapping their hands or tapping their feet. Though this never worked out perfectly, they came very close!) Students also wrote detailed instructions on how to tie a shoe, as if they were directing someone who had never tied shoes before. Communications has been lively – a class packed with challenging but fun activities.


Jennifer takes notes about her partner

The students are working on the “Sell Your Partner” activity, which is a favorite. Last week, the students were assigned partners who they then interviewed to get to know them. They used that information to write pitches on why their partner would make a great friend. This week, they are delivering them to the full class.


Amethyst and Bella rehearsing

Students pull up chairs and Bella and Amethyst, the first group, step on to the platform. Each “sells” the other with much enthusiasm. Amethyst is cool, Bella says, because she wants to be an astronaut or scientist when she grows up, and she’s from Barbados. Amethyst promises that Bella knows where all the best pizza is since she’s from Long Island, and that she knows America “like the back of her hand” because she’s been to ten states. Each successive group delivers their pitches, and the room is filled with laughter, applause, and great energy.


Brandon enthusiastically sells Joshua as a friend.

After the “Sell Your Partner” activity, the class assembles in a circle, and each student shares what qualities they learned should be included in good presentations: enthusiasm, positivity, good energy, confidence, volume, gestures, and eye contact.

The goal of Communications Class is to “give the students the skills to communicate [the ideas they learn] effectively in small or large settings,” according to Ms. Speed. This is her second year teaching Communications at the Experimentory after serving as a Communications Teaching Fellow with Ms. Sherburne last summer.

Experimentors recognize the value of Communications Class as well.

“I think that Communications will help us… for the rest of our lives really, because if you can’t communicate something the right way, then no one will take you seriously with all the ideas that you have,” says Bella.

Noah, another student, shares, “I think Communications will help me in the Experimentory and beyond when it comes to me speaking, because I’m not that strong of a public speaker, because sometimes I stutter or forget what I’m going to say. So I’m hoping that it will help me use my voice.”

The value of Communications extends beyond just speaking: students learn that it’s ok to make mistakes and grow from them, especially in the supportive environment of the Experimentory.

– Valentina C.

Aidan presents Lucy as a friend.


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 9  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.  

Day 8 – Let the Games Begin…

July 19, 2016

In addition to students, teachers, and staff, the Experimentory is part of an extended community here on Deerfield Academy’s campus. One group within that larger community is KIPP-STEP summer program. Last Saturday both programs joined together for our very own Olympic Games – but I’ll let Program Proctor Sam Morse tell more.


Although the students have already endured a full week of classes, activities, and field trips, today they were given a unique opportunity to showcase their hidden athletic abilities at the Experimentory/KIPP STEP Olympics. The students were split up into several teams with both Experimentory students and KIPP students. KIPP STEP is another residential program at Deerfield for middle school aged students. Similar to the Experimentory, the KIPP students attend a variety of challenging classes that allow them to explore their academic potential and the learn more about the boarding school experience.

Before the Olympics began, the students had a sit-down lunch with their teams to meet and strategize. Shortly after lunch, the main quad was filled with energy, excitement, and spirit. The Experimentory staff joined up with the KIPP staff to plan activities that would allow all the kids to participate! I was surprised by how quickly the friendships between the Programs formed. The kids brought together various ideas and strategies to solve each puzzle and win every game. I was pleased to watch students step up, work together, and listen to one another. The students were split up into 10 different teams. Each team had 4 or 5 students from the Experimentory and 4 students from KIPP.


Team Grey didn’t just dominate the Hula Hoop Challenge – they were Olympic Champions. See below for more details.

During the Olympics I led the hula-hoop chain challenge. Each round, two teams faced off against one another. The goal was for each team to pass a hula-hoop from the front of the line to the back. Catch Number One: they couldn’t use their hands. Catch Number Two (the most challenging aspect of the game): the timer. The students had to move the hula-hoop down the line as fast as possible.

I was immediately amazed by the students’ communication skills. Within seconds they were communicating their ideas while still listening to their teammates. I was particularly excited to see some quieter students contribute and even lead their groups.


Team Blue loops the hoop around the group. Jennifer and Shawn are pictured here.

The grey and blue teams were the last to compete at my station. As the blue team set up for the contest, I watched as the grey team sat quietly right across from them. “3-2-1- GO!” I shouted and started the timer. The Blue Team was amazingly fast, but the Grey Team impressed me just as much though in a different way. As they recognized their competitors’ skill, they began cheering them on – an incredible show of sportsmanship. I feel that moment defined the day: whether they lost or won, each kid congratulated the others with a smile.

As many of you know, our motto at the Experimentory is E=MC2 (Experimentory= Maximizing Character and Creativity). The Experimentory/KIPP Olympic games gave our students the opportunity to put our motto to work. Both the Grey Team and the Blue Team could not have done a better job at maximizing their characters. I think I speak for all staff members when I say let’s keep it up over the next three weeks!

– Sam M

During our Closing Ceremonies, the top team received the honor shown above. Was this devious on our part? Perhaps, but also not a bad reward for running around on a 95 degree day. The winning team included Experimentors Daniel, Justin, Ava, and Anne.


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 8  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.  

Day 7 – Beating the Heat at Six Flags

July 18, 2016

Friendship is often born out of adversity, and there is something especially adverse about New England weather. Program Proctor Ryan Collins tells of his experience chaperoning a group of Experimentors at Six Flags New England in some clear but uncomfortably hot temperatures.


After a night of bowling in Shelburne Falls, the students woke up early to get breakfast, hop on a bus, and head to Six Flags New England. I was both surprised and impressed by the energy and excitement on the bus even after a full week of classes, activities, and trips. Some of the students had been to this particular amusement park before and many had been to ones like it, but for others this was a totally new experience.


My group was very much into games.

The day before we had divided the students into groups based on their interest in what the park had to offer – thrill rides, water slides, carnival games, etc. I was impressed at how in tune and honest our students were about what they wanted to do instead of basing their choice on what their friends wanted. It was clear that the kids were willing to join a group with any of their fellow Experimentors if it meant that everyone would enjoy the day. That is something that doesn’t always occur so smoothly with this age group.

Upon arrival, my group and I realized that our biggest enemy of the day would be the heat. My group consisted of Alex Y, Coryell, Amethyst, Gerald, Aerin, and myself. Instead of hearing any complaints from my group, I heard strategies and compromises to avoid the heat and enjoy the day doing things that everyone agreed to. Our first stop was an arcade (that had air conditioning!) where the students played a variety of games. When Coryell noticed a stuffed animal in a claw machine that she really liked, the entire group set out on a mission to get it. They all collected tokens and started to play, surrounding the glass and directing the claw.

Unlike the structured team activities at the ropes course, this teamwork was created solely by the students themselves as they shared the common goal of retrieving the cat for Coryell. As I filmed (see below) I was in awe of their ability to work together without direction from adults. They did not get the prize in the end, (a different lesson about arcade and carnival games there) but the group seemed very happy with their effort regardless. And it was equally satisfying for me to watch them work together the way they did.

Group Collage

Some other fun at Six Flags

As the afternoon wore on, the heat only intensified. While we took a break for ice cream in the shade, Amethyst, Mr. Kelly, and I had a great conversation that helped us fight the New England heat. We shared about our favorite places (especially places without oppressive heat). I enjoyed learning about Amethyst’s home country of Barbados – a place I knew very little about. It served as a good distraction and I think we learned more about each other.

All-in-all, our group had a fun day at the park and I think we all learned about each other and our team’s strengths. As we rejoined everyone else at the buses, I heard many tales about wild rides. Everyone enjoyed the trip and the relaxing movie night that followed. (Which was also, thankfully, air conditioned.)

Ryan C.


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 7  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.  

Day 6 – From Noise to Music

July 18, 2016

This year’s Experimentory theme is E=MC²: “The Experimentory is Maximizing your Creativity and Character.” Program Proctor Marisa Ferrari reflects on how she has seen this aspiration while visiting Music + Film and her dancing co-curricular.


Wrapping up week one in classes, the students in Music + Film had the opportunity to present songs they’ve spent the last week diligently working on with Mr. Westin. The task was to individually collect any five sounds and create a song using an iPad application called Garage Band. Students could incorporate pre-recorded sounds, such as drums or piano, but were encouraged to mainly use their own sounds in order to explore creatively, express their individuality, and make their song one of a kind.

The students’ sounds included coughing, running water, crumpling paper, whistles, laughs, pens dropping, and even the sound of book pages turning.  I have to say I was amazed at how the kids put their imagination to the test – as was Mr. Westin. “[They were] creative with the use of sound and used the program techniques very well,” he explained. While some students admitted it was a difficult project, they felt proud and accomplished when they played their final product.


Student Natasha plays her song in music and film class. Some of the sounds she used to create her song were crumpling paper, dropping a book, and pre-recorded sounds such as the piano and drums. 


This project not only challenged students’ creativity, but was undoubtedly an opportunity to build character as well. Knowing some the students would be shy and uncomfortable with playing

their song for all to hear, Mr. Peisch began class with a discussion on how to effectively give and receive constructive criticism. I was extremely impressed with how the students took this to heart, complimenting their peers while simultaneously offering feedback. They Mr Peisch holds courtwere supportive of each other and I absolutely felt a sense of community within the classroom. It made me realize how the Experimentory instills the motto E=MC2. These relational skills go far beyond the classroom setting. Through the process of making their songs, the students also learned that it is okay to make mistakes and even that mistakes have a value. Mr. Westin stressed that the point was not to make a masterpiece, but to learn concepts and ideas to become better film makers, listeners and viewers.

Later in the day, I watched many of these same skills transfer over to the dance studio where I watched proctor Valentina lead one last dance co-curricular. It was amazing to see the improvement of the five students in this co-curricular just from the beginning of the week. Of course we could only cover so much technique in so short a time, but the students made great strides in confidence and free expression. Monday began with improv, which naturally made many of the students feel shy and uncomfortable. Today, I watched them warm up, perform some ballet techniques, hip hop techniques and even improv dance on their own with no trace of fear or self-consciousness. Throughout the week, they all stepped outside their comfort zone to express originality and creativity through dance. As student Rachel put it, “Dance is something you have to find inside you.”  Inside and out of the classroom, students at the Experimentory are challenged to discover and express themselves.

Students Sami, Rachel, and Aerin lead the class in a dance warm up activity they have mastered throughout the week. Proctor, Valentina, demonstrated and taught a variety of dance warms up ranging from ballet to hip hop. By the end of the week, each student had added a unique variation to the moves showing their personalities and creativity.


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 5  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.  

Day 5 – Class Trip and Marble Contraption

July 15, 2016

Here at the end of our first week, classes are done settling in and our teachers are starting to pick up pace. Proctor Kento Yamamoto visited classes on Day 5 and shares what they are up to in today’s post.


After a long day at the ropes courses yesterday, it was back to the books, or rather IMG_4853iPads. The Experimentors visited various different topics today.

In Theater and Electronics, the students experienced their first “electronics” day with Ms. Jimenez. They were introduced to the Arduino Board, something I wish I had been exposed to when I was in 6th or 7th grade. (I didn’t learn how to use and program an Arduino board until my senior year of high school!) An Arduino board is a micro-controller that you can program using a basic coding language.  Finally they were introduced to LED lights and Ms. Jimenez showed how to blow one up!

I visited the music and film class and Mr. Correa gave a talk on artifacts and how they relate to film. They also shared the music they created during Studio hours last night with each other. However, I spent most of my class visit time going on an Architecture + Culture mini field trip through Historic Deerfield.

For those of you that don’t know, the Village of Deerfield was first settled by European colonists in 1673 – making it old (by American standards). Old Main Street still includes many late Colonial and post-revolutionary buildings on their original sites. The students walked down this street to visit some of the houses of that era. I was impressed with how familiar some students were with U.S. history – they are more IMG_4941knowledgeable than I was at their age! Mr. Payne, Ms. Sherburne, and Ms. Corcoran explained both the historical and architectural aspects of the houses that we visited. The students were given time to sketch of a feature of each house that they found fascinating: the angled roof that allowed snow to fall off in winter, the windows that had simple yet interesting designs, etc. I noticed a student who drew out the entire house to illustrate how the front door opened to the side of the house rather than facing the street.

As the Cluster Courses came to an end, the students had to decide where to spend their DFG (Dorm, Field, Greer) time. I was lucky to be on “Library” duty – not only because it was air conditioned, but also because I had got to witness firsthand the bright and creative minds of two of our students. I had the opportunity to spend time with Jake and Joshua, who were eager to build their own marble course. Moments later, they devised this 2 1/2 foot contraption that was both complex and elegant. I was asked to be the “marble-dropper”, and so came the moment of truth. The marble IMG_4192 (2)was placed at the “start zone”, and down it went along yellow spirals, three paddle wheels, and multiple bridges that interconnected sections of the marble maze. Both boys were jumping up and down and high-fived each other. No better way to end the academic portion of the Experimentory than to see two students go above and beyond with maximizing both their creativity and character.


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 5  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr, YouTube, and other social media.  

Day 4: Learning the Ropes

July 14, 2016

There are some skills that are better learned in places other than a classroom – places like dangling fifty feet in the air, for instance. Day 4 of our program marked our first Experimentory Expedition – a field trip to Morse Hill Educational Center in Shutesbury, MA. Program Proctor Katie Stoll served as chaperone and tells us about her group’s experience in today’s post.


After two full days of classes and co-curricular activities, the Experimentors traveled to Morse Hill Outdoor Education Center for the first of many field trips! With many different levels of experience, the Experimentors supported and encouraged each other during the bus ride to the ropes course. Some students felt unsure if they would be comfortable on the high ropes due to their fear of heights. On the other hand, others were eager to climb all the way to the top of each and every obstacle!


Fun with twirlies

Upon our arrival, the students’ creativity was put to the test as they faced various challenging scenarios. One group of students was presented with a small pile of ‘Twirlies’ enclosed by a large circle traced out by a rope along the ground. The Experimentors were asked to work together to retrieve all of the Twirlies without touching the rope or the ground. This seemed impossible at first, but the students brainstormed with one another until they discovered that they could interlock their hands using a technique called a “circus grip.” In that way they were able to carefully lean into the circle to grab the Twirlies. All of the students were very imaginative and resourceful, and this set the tone for a fun and exciting day!

Later on in the afternoon, we moved on to the high ropes course. This portion of the ropes course tested the students’ boundaries as they climbed up trees and dodged obstacles high in the treetops. Eager to get started, Ava was the first to volunteer to climb up an extremely tall tree to a platform located at the very top. Once she reached the platform, she was asked to literally take a leap of faith relying on our guide to catch and lower her back to the ground. Her brother, Abram, shouted words of encouragement from the ground – all the while realizing that she had set the bar high.

On a different obstacle, Daniel, Sami D, Amethyst, and many more tested their balance on The Catwalk – a long wooden log elevated nearly twenty feet in the air. After climbing onto the log – a feat in itself – two students started on opposite sides and had to work together as they crossed and eventually passed each other in order to reach the other end. All of the students displayed great teamwork and even those that were watching were constantly offering advice and encouragement in support of their peers.

Despite the intense heat and the incessant bugs, the students maintained a positive and optimistic outlook throughout the entire day. Even though some students were afraid of heights at first, they all pushed themselves to take the next step and try new things. All in all, the students all walked away from the day with a heightened character and a deeper understanding of teamwork. Great work, Experimentors!

– Katie S


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 4  – and beyond – visit us on Flickr and other social media.

Day 3: Innovation within Tradition

July 13, 2016

 One of our goals each summer is to give Experimentory students a taste of the benefits and responsibilities particular to boarding school life. As members of Deerfield Academy, we also love to share some of our inherited traditions. In today’s post, Program Proctor John Anthony Bowllan – DA ’15 – shares about how this week we introduced our Experimentors to two of those traditions – School Meeting and Sit-own Meals.


As friendships solidify and students take on new adventures inside and outside the classroom, the Experimentors have completed another successful day in the Pioneer Valley. I have seen firsthand the enjoyable and unique experiences that these students have passionately taken on. In Ms. Speed’s Communications Class, students worked on introductions with one another as Ms. Speed emphasized the importance of confidence in first meetings with people. Students also had the opportunity to explore an intricate music program Garage Band and create their own jingles in Mr. Westin’s Music and Film Studio period. I am truly amazed at the impressive level of intelligence and maturity of this group of students. Good start, Experimentors!

Students have also been getting a taste of some long-standing traditions IMG_4657that form Deerfield Academy’s character: All ‘X’ Meetings and sit-down lunches. The Experimentory’s “All ‘X’ Meeting” is a spin-off of Deerfield’s All School Meeting – a weekly gathering that draws our community together. After students, staff, teachers, and proctors filed into the Concert Hall, we watched skits created by Mr. Thrasher and the proctors that quite comically illustrated several rules and expectations that we expect the students to adhere to during their time at the Experimentory. No skit went without a plethora of giggles. Alex F, one of the Experimentors at my lunch table, later reported that the skit about sit down meal manners was by far the funniest! (Purely coincidentally, that happened to be the skit I was in.) After the skits, Mr. Thrasher asked three volunteers Cami, Abram, and Mr. Westin to perform an interpretive dance while he narrated and played the piano. The Experimentors’ laughs filled the hall! I most certainly expect future All ‘X’ Meetings to be very informativeIMG_4686, entertaining, and most importantly, a great time for our community to touch base.

We have also had the chance to attend “sit down” lunches, another cherished Deerfield tradition that strengthens the community. Similar to sit down meals at Deerfield, students are randomly assigned to different tables every week, which allows them to practice good table manners and “meal etiquette” while meeting other students and staff members that they might not have met in another setting. My table includes Jonathan, Tasha, Reshma, Kevin, Justin, Gerald, Alex F, Ms. Jimenez and Mr. Thrasher. After only two sit down lunches, our conversations have covered such ground as, “Good conversations vs. Awkward conversations,” “What is your favorite food?” and “Tell us about your home.” We also discovered a friendly rivalry between students’ schools!IMG_4699

Another good day at the Experimentory! On to the next!

– John Anthony


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 2 – and beyond – visit us on Flickr and other social media.

Day 2: Dirty Palms and Green Thumbs

July 12, 2016

Monday was our first day of Experimentory Programming: Breakfast, Course Cluster 1, Sit-Down Lunch, Course Cluster 2, DFG (Free time) and finally Co-Curriculars. Everyone started off on the right foot: kids seemed to have a blast starting projects and learned some new pastimes during Co-Curric’s. Today, Experimentory Proctor Jason Bravo reports in about the first day of the Greenhouse Co-Curricular.


IMG_4557The Experimentors have successfully completed their first full day! We tried all sorts of new things following a packed schedule. However, in my mind, the best part of the day was co-curriculars. The kids had the choice to participate in one of four co-curriculars led by the proctors that last for one week. The four co-curriculars offered this week are tennis, dance, acting/improvisation and gardening. As for me, I was in charge of leading my small group to the greenhouse.

The greenhouse is located very close to our dorms (Johnson and Doubleday) so the short walk there and back meant we had moreIMG_4572 time to spend taking care of the plants and smelling their diverse aromas. Katie, who is in charge of overseeing the greenhouse year-round, warmly welcomed us and showed us all of the vegetables and different plants currently growing. After that tour of the plants, Katie put our Experimentors to work. With gloves on and shovels in hand, the kids filled wheelbarrows with dirt and then used their hands to spread the dirt around a bunch of different plants. They all got dirty – which Katie loves. “It’s important for kids to make the connection between growing their food and then enjoying its freshness as well as its rich nutritious content.”

The kids definitely enjoyed the ‘rich nutritious content’ of some vegetables when they tried a couple of different tomatoes and even got to taste some edible flowers. Knowing I’d be writing this post, I was taking pictures of the kids working hard and sweating. Avery’s reaction: “I am not the most photogenic right now.” I could only smile at Avery, who I could see was putting in aIMG_4588 lot of work in the greenhouse.

At the end of the co-curricular period, it was satisfying to see that everyone had gotten their hands dirty together as a team and that they were able to see Katie’s food-meal connection at dinner.

Even though I’ve only known these kids for day or two, they continue to impress me with their independence and maturity, which will only develop more as the days go by. For now, we are all happy to see the friendships the kids are forming and the constant smiles on their faces!


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

To learn more about what happened on Day 2 – and beyond – visit us on Flickr and other social media.


Day 1: Goodbye, Hello

July 11, 2016

Registration and Welcome Day, is an epic day of meeting, moving, touring and bidding farewell to families. In the Experimentory Blog entry for Day 1, Program Proctor Jan Menafee provides a comprehensive overview of the day: essential for those that couldn’t make the trip to campus and even helpful for those of us whose heads are still spinning from such a full day.


IMG_1250Welcome Experimentors!!!

Families arrived on campus today to bring their students to The Experimentory 2016 summer program. New Experimentors received a bag of gear, new room, and sense of the campus upon arrival.

The tours, led by proctors Kento Yamamoto and Jan Menafee (me), visited each of the main locations on Deerfield Academy’s IMG_4449campus that The Experimentory will be using for the next four weeks. At their stop in the library, the tour groups met Ms. Sherburne – Architecture and Culture teacher, Ms. Speed and Ms. Jimenez – Theater and Electronics teachers, and Mr. Correa and Mr. Peisch – Music and Film teachers, who guided the students through an interesting activity in their respective classrooms. At the Theater and Electronics station, students met Philipe, Ms. Jimenez’s robot. Then one student would guide him through a maze with the help of the rest of the group.

After our cookout dinner of burgers and hot dogs in the Dining Hall, students said goodbye to their parents and moved to the gym for get-to-know-you games! We played “Animals” and “Red Shoes”, and the proctors noticed how well the kids opened up over the course of our activities. Before heading to the dormitory Johnson-Doubleday, all of the students met each faculty member.


While in the dorm, proctors led the students through the dorm rules and expectations, answered questions, and then let the students unwind and socialize before a final floor meeting and lights out at 10PM.

Today was certainly busy, but I’d say it was a great start to The Experimentory 2016. Let’s go!

– Jan M.


The Experimentory Blog is a great way to keep abreast with all that’s happening in our 2016 program. Most posts will be a focused story told by one of our Program Proctors. Visit daily for more!

For more Experimentory news, visit us on Flickr and other social media.


Becoming a Team

July 7, 2016

Writer: Tim Schaffer, Program Coordinator

At 6pm Monday, after two flights and a long layover, a travel-weary Mr. Thrasher arrived at the Hartford Airport from his home in California. His first impression of New England: “It’s so green.” (We’re actually having a bit of a drought right now, but there’s a huge difference between a drier spring in the American North East and Los Angeles.)

And so the gathering began. Some, like Mr. Thrasher, flew in the next day from points west – California and Ohio. New Yorkers and New Englanders drove. And a few of us just walked across campus. But by Tuesday afternoon all had arrived to form the Experimentory Staff Team.

It’s been a busy week since then: planning co-curricular times, bonding as a group, anticipating student needs, learning CPR, and eating ice cream. (It is summer, after all.) The result: We are getting very excited.

I asked around to learn what in particular people were looking forward to doing with students. Here are some responses:

Samantha Morse, Proctor: “Dorm life is going to be great – the Johnson and Doubleday dorms form such a welcoming environment. We came up with some great ideas for dorm feeds this morning – things like mac and cheese and brownies, of course, but we’d also like to get ideas from the kids. Maybe we’ll be able to make some of their favorite foods from back home? Then we can learn about one another while we eat.”

Daniel Thrasher, Teaching Fellow: “Being new to Deerfield, I am impressed: our electronics and theater spaces are excellent! It’s been great to have some intense curriculum planning time with Ms. Jimenez and Ms. Speed and figure out how to use those spaces. Today we tried to anticipate different student interests and needs. We want to be ready to be flexible.”

David Payne, Teaching Faculty: “As the architecture teacher, I look forward to introducing students to both the built and natural environment of Deerfield. Since we have students coming from all over the world, I’m also curious to learn what students expect those environments to be like. That will be a great starting point for discussion.”

Jill Schaffer, Director: “One of the great things about the Experimentory is that we pack in as many opportunities to try new things as we can – in the classroom, during co-curriculars, and on fieldtrips. I simply love seeing the look on kids’ faces when they try something new for the first time and discover that they love it.”

We are ready to meet you, Experimentory Class of 2016. We can’t wait to see you soon!

Focus Point

June 30, 2016

“Where dreams come true” – Disney World
“Just do it.” – Nike
“Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus” (“Never tickle a sleeping dragon”) – Hogwarts
“Don’t Be Evil” – Google
“Be Prepared” – Boy Scouts
“Be worthy of your heritage.” – Deerfield Academy


When you read the tagline “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” on a movie screen, you know that the film to follow will be distant from everyday experience, will feel ancient like a myth or legend, and will take place in outer space. When an Apple engineer considers the company motto “Think different,” she knows her methods and products should break from the norm. When the US Marines read “Semper Fidelis” (“Always Faithful”) on their flag, they remember that their purpose is to serve Corp and Country together.

The Experimentory has adopted a motto for the summer that we hope will set expectations, focus the things we do, and remind us of why we’ve come together. This motto is:

Experimentory: Maximize your Creativity and Character
E = mc2

Let’s unpack that a bit.


E is for Experimentory

Have you thought about our funny name before? It is, of course, a completely made-up word, but still made up of meaningful parts. It contains the word “Experiment.” We learn on our feet, by trying, failing, considering what went wrong, and then trying again. It contains the word “mentor.” Our teachers coach and guide rather than lecture and instruct. And the suffix “–tory” – as in factory or dormitory – means place. So we’re a place to experiment with mentors.

M is for Maximize (your)

Our summer together is an opportunity – let’s make the most of it rather than only puttering along at half-speed. Note the verb tense: this is an instruction – the action point for kids and staff alike. And, although it doesn’t get its own letter, the “your” is important, too. You aren’t in a contest to see whose work is the best; you are striving to do your best. Sometimes you’ll make something mind-blowingly awesome, but your daily satisfaction will come when today’s work is a little better than yesterday’s.

C is for Creativity

Reading through all of your applications, it is clear that we are a collection of wild imaginations – let’s let them loose! We should encourage, inspire and challenge one another. But we also hope our imaging will result in creations – tangible projects to share with others – rather than unfinished daydreams. This means coordinating our efforts towards our common goals.

C is for Character

Moral fiber, generosity, grit, empathy. These sorts of personal qualities are essential when working together for a common goal – whether at a summer program or anywhere else in life – so we want to put building character front and center. They also tie into many of our personal Experimentory goals, such as making new friends, learning to live away from home, and engaging with people different from ourselves.

Let’s not forget that little “2”

If we strive together to do our best creative work and be our best selves, the results will be exponential – more than if we added up what we could each do alone.


What do you think of our motto, Experimentory? How does this fit with your hopes for the summer? How will you take part?

Coming Soon…

June 22, 2016

Since Experimentory 2016 course clusters start in less than three weeks, we decided it was time for some preview teaser trailers. Here’s a taste of one project from each cluster.

Roll film … cue music … and action!

When you download an mp3 or purchase your favorite movie on Blu-ray, the culture you’re enjoying isn’t the work of a single artist. Even solo acts are part of a network that discovers their talent, comes up with an album concept, records the music, designs a cover, and finally distributes the final product.

Since Mr. Correa and Mr. Peisch want their Film + Music class to emulate these professionals, one of your first tasks will be to form a production company with a group of classmates. As you choose a specialty, design a logo, and make a short stop-motion commercial with jingle you’ll hone your visual and musical literacy while becoming familiar with the tools of the class.

“C3PO, 3PO, wherefore art thou, 3PO?”

Stage Theater is more than just reading aloud – actors speak as characters with emotion. It also takes place in four dimensions with the players carefully planned movement and pauses across the stage.

Ms. Speed will teach you the essential art of blocking – planning the movement of players on stage as they act out a scene. Meanwhile, you’ll be building robotic players with Ms. Jimenez. Your challenge: programming them to follow your blocking marks and move on cue. Finally, you’ll need to voice the lines: Ms. Speed will direct as you figure out how to convey personality and feeling when your robot is the one physically on stage.

Olive Hut, Pizza House or Garden of Pancakes

If you were magically teleported into an empty restaurant but not shown a menu or any of the food, would you be able to guess what was served there? Could you figure out whether the food was cheap or expensive? Could you guess what city or part of the world you were in? Why does any of this matter?

Students in Ms. Sherburne and Mr. Payne’s classes will spend one of their projects examining the connection between food and place. You’ll start by exploring basic questions: Why do we go out to eat? What do restaurants say about society? After visiting a local restaurant together you’ll discuss the connections between restaurant themes, menus, and buildings. Finally, you’ll choose a theme and design a place of your own.

Experimentory in the Making

June 15, 2016

In March we posted a rough sketch of how our 2016 class and staff rosters were coming together. This past week we officially closed our online application and accepted our final students. It is clearly time for an update!

First Things First: The Students

Our final class size for 2016 is 42 students — a 40% increase from last year’s 30. 42 students + 6 teachers + 3 teaching fellows + 10 proctors + 2 nurses + 3 Experimentory staff members brings our Experimentory community to a population of 66.

More importantly, we’re extremely happy with the particular students who will be joining us. They are an extremely fun, gifted, and hard-working group. Statistics can’t do these kids justice, but since 42 miniature biographies would be rather long for a blog post, they’ll have to do.

  • We have 23 boys and 19 girls.
  • In an entirely unrelated split, we have 23 domestic students and 19 international students.
  • Those students represent 7 countries and 12 states.
  • See this map below for more details on where people are from. The hometowns and colleges of our proctors and teaching fellows are represented as well.
  • We have three pairs of siblings – though all three are a unique combination. One is a brother-sister pair born a year apart; another pair are boy-girl fraternal twins; and our final pair are identical twins.
  • In a crazy quirk that still confounds reason, we ended with twelve students with given names beginning with the letter “A.” Even more surprising is that there is only one repeated name among those twelve!

Fond Farewells

This past spring, Peter Warsaw – Deerfield Academy’s Academic Dean and Music Teacher – accepted a position as Head of School at Vanke Meisha Academy in Shenzhen, China. We are thrilled for both Mr. Warsaw and VMA, even though it means a loss for Deerfield Academy and the Experimentory. As one of the Experimentory’s founding faculty members, Mr. Warsaw has been an essential contributor to our academic vision and philosophy – to say nothing of his work teaching music. We bid him a fond farewell and look forward to following this next phase of his career as an educator. (For more on Mr. Warsaw’s Deerfield Academy career and departure, you may enjoy this article from DA’s student newspaper, The Scroll.)

In addition, after announcing in March that Akshaya Avril-Tucker would be joining us as a teaching fellow again this summer, she was accepted into a grad program in Austin, TX, creating a schedule conflict with our program. As with Mr. Warsaw, we will miss her this summer, but are also excited for this next step in her career.

Our Final Team:

With a rich background teaching music and interdisciplinary education, Steve Peisch was an obvious choice to fill the Music Composition opening in our Faculty Team. In addition, we’re happy to announce our three 2016 Teaching Fellows: Kayla Corcoran, Daniel Thrasher, and Paul Westin. To learn more about these four as well as our other faculty and staff members, visit our Experimentory People page.

Experimentory Assemble!

March 16, 2016

Application season brings a special sort of excitement to the Experimentory Office: There is something wonderfully exciting about watching our class roster transform from a theoretical “60 to 70 students” to a concrete group of names, faces, stories, and interests. Here are some details we can share at this point:

  • We are about 45% – 53% to capacity – which is on target for where we were last year at this time.
  • We have an equal split of domestic and international applicants.
  • Our domestic students represent California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Louisiana, Oregon, Mississippi, Texas, and Illinois.
  • Our international contingent includes students from Hong Kong, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Indonesia, and China.
  • In an inexplicable statistical quirk, we currently have eight students with first names beginning with “A.”
  • We have admitted three pairs of siblings.
  • Some of our student talents and interests include dance, painting and drawing, music of all sorts, Minecraft, baseball, building with Snap Circuits, watching movies, baking pastries, magna, coin collecting, writing, lacrosse, Harry Potter and Percy Jackson books, playing instruments, animal care, martial arts, “the impossible,” a capella, debate, song composition, sailing, computer coding, swimming and diving, calligraphy, Dr. Who, chess, badminton, surfing, Peanuts cartoons, Rubik’s Cube, and Frisbee.

Of course a program of just students would be quite incomplete: we’ve just finished hiring a full line-up of Teaching Fellows and Proctors to complete our staff team. We hope to introduce them formally on our Faculty and Staff page in the weeks to come, but in the meantime here’s an overview:

  • The majority of both Fellows and Proctors are former Deerfield students. The rest have Deerfield connections — family members and friends who are students or faculty members. This informed our hiring process a lot: Deerfield knows them and they know Deerfield.
  • One of our Teaching Fellows — Akshaya Avril-Tucker – is a returnee from last year. We couldn’t be happier to have her back!
  • Proctor talents and interests include Ultimate Frisbee, dance, quidditch, acting, building underwater vehicles, basketball, field hockey, robotics, playing with dogs, and jogging. Needless to say, we’re going to have some fun co-curricular times together…

Stay tuned for more information about our Fellows and Proctors!

Return to the Experimentory Main Page

New Year, New Space

March 16, 2016

Innovation lab - med

The Innovation Lab beckons!

An essential step in creating the Experimentory each year is choosing the workspace we’ll inhabit here on Deerfield’s campus — and we are very pleased to announce that we have a great one for 2016.

In January, Deerfield Academy unveiled their newly renovated Boyden Library. It’s a fantastic space for our classes: it includes an innovation lab for assembling electronics and several multimedia rooms ideal for collaborating on music and film projects. It’s also right next door to the Hess Center where we’ll still have use of the Acting Lab, music practice rooms, and the Concert Hall for our presentation days. Plus, it’s beautiful, comfortable, and functional.

Visit Deerfield’s Flickr Album to checkout more pictures.

Return to the Experimentory Main Page

The Experimentory On The Road

March 9, 2016

Director, Jill Schaffer, and faculty, Jaime Correa, have just returned from a quick trip to San Francisco to share the Experimentory with students and families.  The Experimentory spent a Sunday with Scholar Search Associates at an Educational Forum.  Mr. Correa worked with students to create videos and Ms. Schaffer shared information on the Impostor Syndrome.

  • Zero to Sixty: A Movie in an Hour
    It can be a fast-paced world, movie making that is. Transform words and thoughts into sounds and images as you and your group create a shot list, determine distances, consider angles and assign roles. Directing, acting, screenwriting all come together in an hour’s time of creative fun and imaginary explorations when your team’s original short film will debut in Dublin – less than 400 miles north of Hollywood!
  • You, Your Child & Einstein: The Impostor Syndrome
    Have you ever worried that someday someone will find out your success is due purely to luck? Do you have a fear of failure,or a feeling that your hard work is never enough? If so, then you and about 70% of the population suffer from the Impostor Syndrome. It’s usually the highest achieving and most gifted people that get hit the hardest – Einstein, Tina Fey, Maya Angelou, you … your student. It is hard enough to deal with these feelings as adults, but it is harder when we see our children exhibiting the same fears. Come take a look at the Impostor Syndrome and learn how to combat this condition and give your children the confidence and skills they need to succeed.

Slides from Ms. Schaffer’s presentation can be downloaded here:  You, Your Child, & Einstein Presentation

We look forward to participating in two additional upcoming forums.  On 3/19/16 Ms. Schaffer and faculty, David Payne, will be at the Delbarton School Forum in NJ and on 4/3/16 Ms. Schaffer and faculty, Becca Sherburne, will be at the Beacon School Forum in CT.  Please consider joining us!

Announcing the 2016 Experimentory Course Clusters

December 9, 2015

The Exp16 Course Clusters:
The What, the Who, and You

The Experimentory is growing – and that means more possibilities for playful innovation for our students. Let’s see what our 2016 students have to look forward to…

The What: Course Clusters

Our 2016 program will include three clusters of two subjects:

  • Structures for Society: Architecture and Design + Culture
  • Storytelling for the Eyes and Ears: Music Composition + Film Production
  • Comedy, Tragedy, and Circuitry: Theater + Electronics

In addition, students will have weekly Communications classes where they will learn about presenting information and telling stories – core skills that span all of the clusters.

To put it lightly, we are very excited about these offerings. The mix of visual and performance art, technical and cultural knowledge is ripe with potential and fun. We can’t wait to see what our students and faculty create.

To learn more about these clusters, visit our Cluster page here.

The Who: Our Teachers

Each cluster will be taught and guided by two Deerfield faculty teachers and one teaching fellow. We are still forming our teaching fellow team, but our teachers are:


Rebecca Sherburne – Culture

David Payne

David Payne – Architecture and Design


Peter Warsaw – Music Composition

Jaime Correa

Jaime Correa – Film Production


Katie Speed – Theater

Meghan Jimenez

Meghan Jimenez – Electronics

All six of our faculty members are creative people and engaging teachers – ideal Experimentory experts-in-residence. To learn more about each of them, visit our Experimentory People page here.

And You: Our Students

How do the most important elements – you and your new friends – fit into this arrangement?

These clusters are going to be fun – we couldn’t possibly make you choose just one. Instead, each student will get to take two – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. You’ll rank the clusters by preference on your application and we’ll do our best to honor your preferences.

With our program set, we just need you! Visit our application page and apply today. We look forward to hearing from you.


Tips for Applying

December 9, 2015

Five Tips When Applying to the Experimentory:

  1. Take your time.

    The first thing you’ll do when applying is create an account in our system. This allows you to save your progress and come back later. If you get part way through and realize you don’t have all the necessary information handy, or if you get interrupted, don’t start over from scratch later or rush your answers – save and return.

  2. Be sure to complete the whole thing.

    This tip balances #1. We won’t begin reviewing your application until all parts are in – the personal information, your free response questions, your recommendations, and your school information. Since we have rolling admissions, we’d hate to learn that the program filled up without our reading your application because you had forgotten to log back in with that missing bit of information.

  3. Talk to your contacts ahead of time.

    Our application requires two recommendations: one from an English teacher and a second from another teacher of your choice. We also require information from your school regarding  your records. When you complete these sections of the application, our application system will send those teachers and administrators emails with links to their recommendation forms. Contact the teachers you’d like as references ahead of time and determine who at your school can provide school records – often it is someone in your Guidance Office or the school registrar.  Ask their permission and availability, obtain their email address, and let them know to expect an email.

  4. Back up your work!

    This is a really just a good tip for life. Like any web-based form, your work can be interrupted when a connection fails, or someone kicks a cord from the wall, or a battery dies. We recommend that you write your answers to the free-response questions in a separate program so that if something happens you don’t lose your work and have to start over from scratch.

  5. Relax – have fun – be yourself.

    This isn’t a test or an interrogation – we just want to get to know you and see if our program is a good fit for your summer. You’ll be completing some creative response activities – an opportunity for us to see you flex your creative muscles. We’ve tried to make these fun and playful – so by all means play. There are no “right” answers to those questions, so go wherever your imagination takes you.

Ready to apply now? Visit our Application Page.

Final Projects

July 30, 2015

20114523805_91bed275d5_o-682x1024Cami and Ethan continue to work on their final project, which they call Piano Gloves. These gloves can be played by touching the pads of each fingertip together or on any surface. Once the button on each fingertip pad is triggered, it plays a piano note through Makey Makey technology. The group is already coming up with and practicing compositions to play with their piano glove. Elliot and Megan, however, are approaching composition from a distinctly different perspective. They have designed a musical wheel that plays music as a color scanner that scans different shades of colors and translates these shades into notes. On the inside of the wheel is the group’s ‘track’; this track is an ordered series of colors, which, when organized in time based on the speed the wheel is turning, is the group’s medium for composition.  In the realm of cinema, Angelique, Jack, and Davis are creating a stop-motion movie. Their characters are pieces of candy who are on a journey to find the outside world and escape the couch where they have been stashed. The group has finished filming and is working on finalizing their movie and working on their presentation. They are very excited to present their project on Friday. In fact, as the Experimentory as a whole approaches Friday, presentation day for final projects, the excitement and anticipation throughout campus is palpable.


A Big Weekend and the Start of the Final Week!

July 27, 2015

20029731396_6f62871222_oBefore delving into final projects—and the last week of the program—the Experimentory students took advantage of a fun evening with friends.

This weekend was a big one as the Experimentory packed their bags and headed to the capital of Massachusetts for a tour of history and modernity in the city of Boston. On Friday students walked through the Public Gardens and the Granary Burying Grounds where notable revolutionaries such as Paul Revere and John Hancock are buried. Everyone then had a delicious lunch at the Green Dragon, the “headquarters” of the revolution where the founding fathers held secret meetings to plan the creation of our nation. After lunch we had a boat ride tour of Boston Harbor, where students go salty and sea-worthy while enjoying the great views.

On Saturday, the Experimentors set out for a day of exploring at the Boston Museum of Science, enjoying a special Pixar Exhibit, a Electricity Show, and an Omni movie titled Dinosaurs Alive! After the Omni show, we packed back onto the bus and headed home, tired but excited for the activity scheduled on campus for the evening–a dance!

On Sunday the Experimentory had a “local day,” traveling to Sherbourne Falls, MA, to taste a Deerfield family’s locally famous “Grammy Cream Puffs” and see the Sherbourne Falls Pot Holes and Bridge of Flowers. The afternoon was spent enjoying well-deserved down time back on campus, where we had an outdoor barbecue and played games of football and soccer.

On Monday, students hit the ground running with their final projects, even declining a 10 minute break between classes to keep working!! The groups are collaborating and creating together, and it is awesome to see the strides each student has made since the beginning of the program. Projects include music boxes, stop-motion videos, interactive story-books, chameleon clothes that change color to complement your outfit, and mindful clothes that remind you to reapply sunscreen in the heat. The presentations on Friday are bound to be impressive and captivating!

Hopscotch, Garage Band, and Broadcasting!

July 23, 2015

Yesterday in tech class, the students continued to explore the intro coding and computer science program Hopskotch. More info can be seen here Students created their own animations and games, while learning how to utilize Hopscotch’s extremely interactive interface. Dr. Hills continued to emphasize the concepts of inputs and outputs, which are two pillars of tech class.

In music class, students presented their garage band compositions. Their pieces balanced unity and variety, as students have learned that these are two of the most crucial elements in a good piece of music. Further, the students used their definition of music, “sound organized in time”, to guide them in staggering the entry of different instruments into their pieces.

While in the communications classroom, other students presented news casts, practicing the job of a news anchor. After exploring proper presentation skills in the first half of the program, students were encouraged on focusing their attention on the message of the broadcast rather than the presentation.

Later in the day, students split up into co-curricular groups to try baking, canoeing, and tennis. All in all, another great day at the experimentory!

The Final Projects Take Root!

July 23, 2015

Yesterday, the students began work on their final projects!  There were a total of eight final projects for the students to choose from.  The projects ranged from making a musical instrument connected to your body that is operated by movement to building a article of clothing that reminds you periodically to attend tasks. Color changing clothes and creating “new” musical instruments were also project ideas.  The students all seemed very excited to get started on their final projects and show how much they have improved in their collaborative and presentation skills. Ethan commented, “Our group is working on the musical prosthesis for our final project. We are in the beginning stages, and everything is going smoothly. With our group chemistry, we will be able to succeed in completing the task at hand!”

Later, students tie-dyed shirts for a project involving wearable technology.

During, our  “All X Meeting,” Mr. Kelly gave an informational presentation on Boston and the long history of Massachusetts. Albert said, “Mr. Kelly’s presentation was really interesting! Learning about the history of Boston made me excited for Friday’s trip to Boston.”

Olympics & Talent Show

July 20, 2015

In Saturday’s “Olympic Games”, The KIPP STEP and Experimentory students joined forces for some competitive fun. Collaborative activities such as the three-legged race, the egg-and-spoon relay, and the potato-sack race gave students from both programs a chance to bond over a common goal: victory. But most importantly, the games allowed the Experimentory students to make connections with new friends.19642033059_67017c58ab_o

Hannah enjoyed meeting kids from KIPP and explained that camaraderie was the secret to her team’s success. “Our team won the ‘Blind-folded Maze’ because we were able to support each other—we had to trust our teammates to not let us walk into a tree.”

Saturday evening was dedicated to showcasing the immense talent present in the Experimentory community. Acts in the Talent Show ranged from comedy skits to dance routines; piano pieces to singing performances. The crowd was not only impressed by each student’s abilities, but by their willingness to share their talents—no stage fright in sight!

“[The show] was awesome!” said Sean. “I got to see the people’s talents and learn more about them. If in weren’t for the Talent Show, I may have never known how skilled they were.”

19642033299_c07e4fe9bc_o“We had so much fun practicing and preforming, “ said Kyle, who participated in a choreographed dance to “Gangnam Style” by Psy with over eight other students—a performance that earned many laughs from the audience.

As the second weekend at the Experimentory begins, students look forward to many more days of collaboration, fun, and pushing one’s boundaries to grow and learn.


Adventures on the Deerfield River

July 20, 2015

Sunday was a big day for the Experimentors as everyone took a field trip to Berkshire East for araft 7 day of whitewater rafting! After being fitted for life jackets and helmets, 30 students and eight adults set off on a wet and wild adventure on ten miles of the Deerfield river! Riding class III rapids, including the infamous Zoar Gap, there was lots of fun and thrill involved. After  lunch, the rafting guides led the six teams of rafters in a water fight on the river, as well as  “popped a wheely” by having all those aboard huddle in one end of the raft, while the opposite end of the boat lifted into the air! The day finished with the students jumping out of the boats for a refreshing “cool-off” in the swimming areas.

Today, Monday, students began the second half of their academic courses– brainstorming for their next and final project: wearable technology! With enthusiastic attitudes, the next two weeks are bound to be exciting. A fresh week of co-curricular choices also begins today, with Canoeing, Tennis, Dance, and Baking on the list!


Games Galore

July 17, 2015

Thursday was a big day at the Experimentory. The students took over the concert hall with their amusement park games and put on a show of their own. Each group gave a ten minute presentation (you can watch the presentation19756158791_a36af53fc6_os on the Experimentory Flickr page!) about the game they constructed in Tech class. The games ranged from Toss-a-Ball– which lit up when a point was scored by the use of an infrared LED and sensor– to Salty Tiles which was a musical game played with conductive tiles. Students examined the challenges, processes, and successes they had through the design process and then demonstrated the game in front of the entire program.

After the presentations wrapped up, the students tried the games that their peers had created. The students enjoyed playing with projects they worked so hard to create. The students look forward to the next challenge they will face!


Projects near completion

July 16, 2015

Yesterday the students put the finishing touches on their projects in tech class and watched their first presentations in communications class. Many of them are excited about showcasing what they have learned fromimg_4378_19756161651_o their previous presentations to show off their arcade games to fellow experimenters and head of school Dr. Curtis. The group also went to the movie theater yesterday and watched Minions which they all seemed to enjoy very much! Amethyst thought that it was exhilarating and adorable but wished that there was more plot content. Overall, the group enjoyed the opportunity to get off campus and see a movie.


Week 2 has begun!!!

July 14, 2015

Happily settled into the Experimentory–and well worn from weekend trips to Six Flags and The Rock –the students began work on their second project: creating an amusement park game! The Teachers and Proctors are all very impressed and proud of the progress each student has made. Students are working together in teams and will present their inventions on Thursday! Some of the presentations  include games titled  “Watershoot!” and “Albert-toss,” which are named after group members. (Don’t worry, Albert’s not being thrown anywhere.) During their presentations, the students will practice their communication skills. They’ll  “sell” their game to the audience and give detailed instructions on how to play.

The busy and fun-filled week will culminate with a talent show on Saturday!

Blast Off!

July 10, 2015

The Experimentory Express has taken off and we’re headed into orbit! Crazy to think that we’re almost finished with our first week of classes. What a week it has been! We’ve had a veritable explosion of learning, collaborating, curiosity, and smiles! Over in the co-curricular department, the end of the week signifies the end of a students commitment to a particular activity. Whether they’re getting their last cannon ball off the diving board, or competing to win the squash tournament, everyone is trying to squeeze out their last few bits of whatever they’re doing! Fear not, though, popular co-curriculars will be offered again. Speaking of next week’s co-curriculars, we’ll be adding outdoor exploration, ultimate frisbee, acting, and more!
As we continue to rocket through the week, kids have much to look forwards to for the weekend. Once everything finishes today, they’ll have a scavenger hunt followed by a movie. And, at night, they’ll finally get their cell phones back for a little while, so parents should be getting a call! After presenting their work on Saturday morning, the afternoon is jam-packed as they hike to the rock with KIPP Step (another program at Deerfield) and then head to Shelburne Falls for some old style Candlepin bowling. Finally, on Sunday, students will do their best impressions of rocket ships as we head to Six Flags for the day! With roller coasters, games, and a water park, everyone will have something do to and hopefully a few students will win a prize or two!

The Experimentory climbs high!

July 9, 2015

Yesterday, the Experimentory journeyed to the Morse Hill ropes course for a day of team-building.  After breakfast, the students— all sporting their bright-turquoise Experimentory T-Shirts—filed onto a “Green Machine” for their first off campus field trip. The bus soon filled with excited chatter as students discussed the obstacles they may face at the ropes course.

Before navigating the high ropes, the students practiced several low ropes course elements. These activities not only demanded physical strength and agility, but also required clear communication between group members, in order to establish innovative problem solving strategies. In one activity, nine students were asked to move from one small wooden platform to another using a single rope. The catch? They could not touch the ground. Through a trial-and-error process and organized communication, the students were able to safely and effectively transport all nine students. Success!

The day ended on a high note (pun intended!) when students were given the chance to try the “super-swing” which consisted of a harness that drew forty-five feet in the air, allowing the participant to swing through the tree canopy. While most students chose to be lifted to the highest point, others decided to be pulled to a lower, more comfortable height. No matter what height, all the students cheered for and supported their classmates for reaching their own personal challenges.

Sarah, a student, experienced a similar sense of encouragement from her classmates while climbing the “rapple tower” (a tree fitted with grips). “I was very scared when I was in the middle of climbing the 60 foot tree, but with the support from Angelique (a classmate) I was able to make it to the top,” shared Sarah. “The view from the top was pretty, but what I most remember is the sense of accomplishment.”

The valuable skills of teamwork, trust, and communication that were developed at the ropes course will surely carry over to the student’s collaborative projects back on campus, making for more creative and innovative thinking.

Music & Lyrics

July 9, 2015

Thursday was filled with the analysis of songs. In composition class, we mapped out the different instruments in a song. From there, we defined the structure of the song: the intro, the bridge, and the chorus. After, the students split up and began to dissect a song of their choice on their own.
Over in communication class, they defined what made a “good” story. Going with the theme of music, the students split into groups and had to choose their favorite song. With their song, they were tasked to explore the lyrics and determine whether their song fits the definition of a “good story.” They will continue to dive  into the meanings and nuisances of music over the next few days.
In tech, the students presented to the class their pitch for an amusement park themed game. After, they began to prototype and design their projects!

It’s exciting to see the collaboration as the projects take shape!

The Experimentory has launched!

July 7, 2015

The Experimentory: Day 1! 

Twenty-eight lively, excited, and curious middle school students officially began their adventure at the Experimentory! They started off the day with a hearty breakfast from the Deerfield dining hall— pancakes and syrup, rice and soy sauce, cereal and milk, fluff and Nutella— the sweet and salty combinations were enjoyed by all!

The class day began at 8:45am, and the students—divided into three class groups—began exploring communication, technology, and music composition. In Music Composition with Peter Warsaw and Akshaya Avril-Tucker, the students started with a creative name-game where they came up with sounds and actions to represent their names. Afterwards, they generated a list of hopes and fears for the course, including the hope that “music is fun” and the fear of “screwing up in front of an audience”. Peter and Akshaya had the students meditate for one minute to get their creative juices flowing, and then it was time to start composing! The students began with a “motive”—the smallest unit of musical thought, which can be described as a musical idea. Next they broke into small groups and started tapping their fingers and pencils on desks and water bottles, creating new rhythms and sounds. A lasting message from this first class was the importance of finding balance between unity and variance in music.
Communications, taught by Katie Speed and Rebecca Sherburne, began with a class field trip to the Main School Building so the students could have their photos taken for their ID cards. Back in the classroom, everyone played a lively acting game called, “Sell Your Partner,” in which pairs of students introduced one another with the enthusiasm and certainty of a salesperson. Students then learned their first assignment—a journal entry with a goal for every class, a social goal, and a personal goal. Tomorrow’s class will certainly be a fun and interesting one; students will play the “Neolithic/Paleolithic” game and communicate without spoken language.
In Ivory Hill’s Technology class, students set up their Ipads with Google Docs, in which they will be journaling every night during Studio Time. These Ipads will be used in each class for different purposes, such as recording, filming, writing, and coding. This week Photography is being offered by Katie Speed as a co-curricular, and those students who signed up will take pictures of Deerfield’s beautiful surroundings using the camera on their Ipads with special clip-on lenses that allow for more professional and creative shots.
Although classes are done at 2:00pm, the students are far from through with their day. Next up are co-curriculars, which are offered for a week, and change each week. The first three choices are Squash, Photography, and Swimming in Deerfield’s gorgeous pool. Other highlights of the day will include the Experimentory’s first “All X” meeting in the Concert Hall of the Hess Center, and then Studio Time where the students will begin work on their first projects! During the program-wide meeting, students were given information about their first field trip this Wednesday, to a ropes course, and also got to play a game of Jeopardy, Experimentory addition! The questions were based from the questionnaires students filled out with their peers upon arrival to campus on Sunday, and the game ended with a multi-part math equation.
Other exciting and important things on the itinerary for tonight are a dorm meeting and fire drill! Lights out by 10pm will not be protested by anyone, as all team members are worn out from their big first day!

Meet Anna!

June 16, 2015

Anna Pettee, Proctor

annaAnna grew up learning how to sew and design from her artistic mother, as well as how to wield a hammer and saw from her carpenter father. Anna studies International Health at Georgetown University. She plays for the Georgetown Women’s Ultimate team and is excited to bring the game to the Experimentory!

Meet Pat!

June 15, 2015

Pat Young, Proctor

For his American Studies class at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Pat Young has been researching and wpatriting a proposal for a paper about the influence that musicians and celebrities have on adolescents and future generations.

Outside of the classroom, Pat enjoys all kinds of recreational, as well as competitive, team sports. He has been an avid fisherman since 3rd grade and loves spending time outdoors. Pat has participated in computer summer camps where he learned to take computers apart, code remote control cars, and make music.

Meet Luke!

June 14, 2015

Luke Madronal, Proctor

Luke Madronal recently created an electronic cookbook with an accompanying search engine and user interface to add aScreen Shot 2015-04-22 at 10.10.33 PMnd delete recipes. He is currently studying to be a computer scientist at Lafayette College. Luke is an avid ultimate player; he loves the sport because of its unique, positive, and welcoming community.

When not on the ultimate field or in the computer lab, he enjoys listening to old-school Hip Hop. Luke is currently designing and coding his own web games to start his professional portfolio, as he looks to pursue this interest in video games design after college.

Meet Reed!

June 13, 2015

Reed Horton, Proctor

Reed Horton is an amateur engineer, athlete, and alpinist. While taking a “gap year,” Reed has worked on a boat in San10608257_10203474544357108_7618679769862454163_oFrancisco, for a financial firm in New York, and for a 3-D printing company in Boston.

During his four years at Deerfield Academy, Reed enjoyed his science classes and the close-knit community. This fall, Reed will attend Dartmouth College where he plans to study mechanical engineering.

Meet Michelle!

June 12, 2015

Michelle Kelly, Proctor

IMG_7204The daughter of Deerfield Academy faculty members Xiaofeng and Kevin Kelly, Michelle has called Deerfield home for fourteen years! Michelle played drums for the Deerfield Big Band, worked as an editor for the school newspaper, and served as an Academic Honor Committee member and Day Student Proctor.

Michelle is a self-proclaimed foodie, a master of Chinese Poker, an amateur photographer, and the owner of a Bichon Frise named Bailey.  Michelle plans to attend Georgetown University in the fall. In the meantime, she can’t wait to meet the Experimentory students and show them all her favorite spots on campus.

We’re Social!

February 13, 2015

The Experimentory is on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Come find us!