The Experimentory FAQs

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What are the 2017 program dates?

The Experimentory 2017 will run from July 9th through August 5th.

Can students attend just a portion of the program – arriving late or leaving early? Can students leave campus for previously planned events?

The Experimentory is designed to be an immersive learning experience where students form a close-knit community that learns, works, lives and plays together. The students’ group projects are designed to be challenging – enough that they simply can’t be completed without all hands on deck. Interruptions inhibit both community building and learning.

For that reason, full attendance is required for all students. All students are expected to arrive on Sunday, July 9, 2017 between noon and 5 pm and stay through the end of the program on Saturday, August 5, 2017. Leaving early will forfeit the student’s graduation certificate, all comments and feedback from teachers, interns, and proctors. Students will not be allowed to leave the program for any reason, including weddings, family events, athletic or arts events, or academic events. In addition, all students are expected to be boarders – we cannot accommodate day students at this time.

Of course family or medical emergencies sometimes arise and we accommodate these however we can.

Will attending the Experimentory help my application to Deerfield Academy someday?

The Experimentory is a program owned and operated by Deerfield Academy, and the courses are taught by Deerfield teachers. Further, the skills and concepts of the Experimentory are just the sort of skills that we believe make a successful Deerfield student. However, the Experimentory is not linked to Deerfield’s admission process and brings no specific advantage in admission to the Academy.

That said, Experimentory students get a taste of Deerfield Academy’s campus, teachers, culture and values. This personal knowledge can help students know whether Deerfield Academy – or boarding school in general – is a good fit for them. So although attending the Experimentory may not influence Deerfield Admissions in their decision to accept an applicant, it can inform students’ decision to apply.

Is financial aid available?

The Experimentory offers a limited amount of financial assistance for domestic students. Financial aid is based on need and is applied for along with the program application. We are not able to provide financial aid to cover the cost of the entire program.

All students applying for financial aid must apply for both the program and financial aid by March 10, 2017 to be considered.  Financial aid applicants will be notified of their admissions decision and financial aid decision together via email by March 24, 2017.

Is “Experimentory” a real word?

It is, of course, a completely made-up word, but still made up of meaningful parts. To start, 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 simply lecture and instruct. And the suffix “–tory” – as in factory or dormitory – means place. So we’re a place to experiment with mentors.

Course Clusters

How many classes are offered? Does everyone take the same classes? Do students choose their classes?

The answer to this question changes from year-to-year – after all, the Experimentory is all about trying new things!

Our 2017 Program will include three “course clusters.” Students will indicate their first, second and third preferences on their application. Once we have our complete roster of admitted students we will divide students so that each takes two of the three clusters. We do our best to see that each student is in their first and second choice classes. Students will be notified of their cluster assignments just before they arrive for the program.

You can read about our 2017 clusters on our Clusters and Teachers pages.

What are the classes like?

Experimentory subjects are grouped together into clusters. While each cluster includes separate classes in each subject area, the larger goal is to discover where the disciplines overlap and work in that space.

For that reason, it’s hard to pin down exactly what a “typical” class is like – things change from subject to subject, from cluster to cluster, and from week to week. Each cluster has project times each weekday. Sometimes these are divided into traditional school classes; sometimes they join for a team-taught activity; and very often these classes operate like labs where students work on collaborative projects.

What is the student-to-teacher ratio?

Course Clusters will be team taught by two teachers and one teaching intern. This aims for a student-teacher ratio of 8:1 or lower.

How many teachers are there at the Experimentory?

Each of the your project classes are taught by faculty and teaching interns. In addition, there are residential proctors, a dorm head, and a community-life director. To learn more about the Experimentory educators, visit the People page.

Will students be graded?

We believe learning should be about having fun and exploring new things. We do not give grades as we believe that this reduces a student’s fear of failure and encourages them to push the boundaries of learning. Students and parents receive comments from teachers and staff at the middle of the session and again at the end.

Will students have homework?

Students can expect homework each evening. Students are allotted time to complete this homework during a one and a half hour study hall and lab time in the evening. Staff are available during this time to assist students with their work.


Is there an application deadline?

Students are accepted on a rolling basis starting in January. While the official deadline is June 1, 2017, if the program fills before then, we will close down the application submission process.

What types of graded writing samples should students submit?

International students must submit a graded writing sample as part of their application. We are looking for a writing sample that shows the applicant’s English writing competency and includes teacher comments that push the writer to improve. Any graded writing assignment from the applicant’s current school year that includes teacher comments will suffice.

Is it OK for parents to help their students as they write their application?

We encourage students to involve their parents in the application process – in fact there may be details in the application that parents will need to help with. However, essays and creative problem solving questions must be written by the student.

Applicants, remember: this isn’t a test with “right” and “wrong” answers or a grade at the end – it’s a snapshot of you and your interests. We look forward to getting to know you!

Student Life

How many students attend each summer?

Our 2016 class included just over 40 students. We hope to increase our numbers to about 60 students in 2017.

What are the dorms like?

Dorm life is based on the corridor where between 12 and 14 students live with teaching fellows and proctors. Staff are involved in the lives of the students who live on their “halls” and are a daily presence in their lives shaping the familial atmosphere found during The Experimentory.

All rooms are furnished to provide each student a small closet or wardrobe, an 80” twin bed (with linens), bureau, desk and chair, mirror, wastebasket, and an overhead light. Window curtains are provided. Every room has carpeting in it. Each dorm floor has a filtered water system to provide filtered tap water for drinking. Desk lamps, smart strip surge protectors, alarm clocks, and fans are not provided but students are encouraged to bring these items with them or purchase them locally.

Will students have roommates?

Although our dorm arrangements for next summer are still being determined, it is likely that students will have roommates during our 2017 program. Our double dorm rooms are spacious to give both roommates ample space and their own furniture. Admitted students will be notified of their room assignment in the weeks before the program starts in order to give roommates the opportunity to get to know each other before they arrive.

What kind of activities are available during free time? Is free time structured or unstructured?

There are two kinds of free time built into the daily schedule: co-curricular time and free time.

Co-curriculars are structured. Students sign up for one activity they will participate in every afternoon that week. These activities can vary from visual arts to sports to hobbies to games. Past years’ co-curriculars have included open swimming at the pool, squash, digital photography, soccer, baking, hiking, and “life skills.” The options available depend on a mix of student and staff interest. We purposely change the lineup each week to encourage students to enjoy a mix of favorite activities and new activities.

Free time is much more open. Students can spend their free time at the dorm, in the field/gym, in the library, or at the Greer Café where they can purchase snacks. This is time to hang out with friends, play cards, read a book, play pick-up sports games, etc. Sometimes students and proctors plan activities for these times that are less-formal than co-curriculars but still organized – Capture the Flag, for example, or an arts time.

Our schedules are open enough that there are other free moments throughout the day. Usually there are Frisbees and footballs flying in the quad until they are hard to see in the evening light. Uno games break out between meal time and class. We have fun.

What do students do on the weekends?

We try to model a good life balance at the Experimentory and so our weekends take a break from our normal academic programming – although that’s not to say we aren’t busy. In past years we’ve taken daylong field trips to visit Six Flags, go whitewater rafting, and participate in team building at a ropes course. Our big excursion this past year was a trip to Boston that included a harbor dinner cruise, lunch at Quincy Market, and cluster-specific visits to museums and historical sites. We also have plenty of closer-to-home excursions: an evening candlepin bowling, a dorm Olympics, and a picnic at the park, for example. There may be some changes for the 2017 program, but our weekend schedules will look very similar.

Who will chaperone the off-campus excursions?

Excursions are chaperoned by our Head of Community Life, the proctors, and any teaching faculty and interns that wish to attend. We ensure that groups maintain a low staff-to-student ratio so that everyone is cared for during all excursions.

Who can students talk to if they need help during the Experimentory?

There are many sources of help and guidance during The Experimentory. Students are encouraged to approach any faculty member, teaching intern, proctor, office staff, medical staff, or the director with any issues they encounter. Staff are well-trained on how to help with needs that arise – from academic questions to homesickness.

What if a student is homesick?

Given that this is the first time many of our students are away from home, we understand that students may be nervous and/or homesick. It is important that parents talk about this as a family before the program begins and create a plan for how to handle homesickness. Our staff are trained on how to work with students who are homesick. Usually, after a few days students realize that they are not alone and that their experience is a normal transition in building confidence.

What is the dining experience like?

Dining at Deerfield during the summer is a treat. The menu features foods from around the world including vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan options. Though many meals are walk-through style, students will also experience Deerfield sit-down meals every weekday at lunch.

Will there be food choices to accommodate students’ allergies and food restrictions?

The dining hall offers vegetarian options for every meal, and its staff are ready to accommodate any allergies, medical restrictions, and cultural or religious restrictions. Our Director of Dining Services is also readily available to discuss any specific dietary needs students might have. Students will notify us of any allergies and food restrictions in their enrollment forms.

Can students bring their personal electronic devices with them? Can they bring and use cellphones?

We want our students to come to the Experimentory to be at the Experimentory, and often electronics encourage us to withdraw rather than engage with others. In fact, Deerfield has a strict phone use policy during the academic year because we value the community that is formed in face-to-face communications. For this reason, we limit electronics and cellphone usage to designated times and purposes.

Students may be issued iPads for use in coursework during class and study time. They are valued essential tools for our programming. They will also be given a Gmail address that will allow them to communicate and share documents with home and within the program. However, the iPads are usually collected and charged during activity and community times.

Having a cell phone while at The Experimentory is a great way for students to keep in touch with their families while away from home. It is also a good way for the staff to maintain contact with students when traveling off campus on fieldtrips. However, there are certain rules that students are required to follow in regards to cell phone use.

When students first arrive on campus, they are required to call their families to let them know they arrived safely. After these phone calls, the staff will collect all cell phones. They will be securely stored for the first five days of The Experimentory. This allows students to adjust more quickly to being away from home through development of new friendships and full engagement in activities. If parents would like to check in or contact their student during this time period, they may call the Experimentory Office.

After that first week, cellphone use is restricted to designated evenings. Again, this helps students unplug from outside distractions to fully engage in our program and one another.

Students are welcome to bring personal laptops, tablets, smart watches, e-books, etc, but their access and use are, like the cellphones, limited. When students have access to these tools and toys, they should be use for communication with loved ones and program-appropriate activities – not online gaming. Videogame systems and televisions are prohibited.

We would like to say that our students don’t even miss gaming, texting, watching TV, following social media, etc. while they are here, but that’s not quite possible. We can say that our students have plenty of other things to do, have a lot of fun, and create a wonderful community.