The Needham Education Foundation Brings Interdisciplinary Learning to Needham High School
The Interdisciplinary Learning Initiative (ILI) between the Needham Public Schools (NPS) and the NEF was established in 2012. The goal of this collaboration was to launch an interdisciplinary academic model of teaching and learning at Needham High School. The collaboration is managed by an Interdisciplinary Learning Team including representatives from the NEF, Needham High teachers and administrators and the NPS District Director of Student Learning.
Greater Boston Project
The cornerstone of the ILI was the development and implementation of the Greater Boston Project, a course that combines instruction in English, History, and Statistics. The course challenges students to use primary research and draw upon skills in English, Math, and Social Studies to investigate how individuals and groups perceived themselves and worked to affect change. The course helps students learn to make crucial connections between different academic disciplines and develop problem-solving skills that are essential for success in higher education and beyond.
For more information, visit the Needham High School’s Greater Boston Project website.
“…the creativity and energy around developing this course has spread throughout the district and has become a springboard for more interdisciplinary learning throughout the Needham school culture.”
Dr. Dan Gutekanst, Superintendent, Needham Public Schools
Additionally, an Interdisciplinary Learning Fund was established that provides “mini grants” that fund smaller interdisciplinary programs or units of study within existing curriculum. An example of a mini grant is “Kinetic Sculptures”, a course combining Art and Robotics where students combine disciplines to create moving sculptures.
In an effort to further spread and cement the impact of ILI, the NEF helped fund an “Interdisciplinary Learning Specialist” position at NHS for both the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 academic years. This position both supports current IL initiatives and promotes the expansion of IL programming through collaboration with teachers and administrators.
Da Vinci Workshop
In honor of its 25th anniversary, NEF chose to grant $50,000 to support the creation of the Da Vinci Workshop for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Fabrication. The workshop was built for engineering instruction, but the large fabrication space was designed to be used by a variety of classes and clubs.
Since 2012, NEF has provided over $500,000 in funding to implement and expand interdisciplinary learning at NHS.
Interdisciplinary Learning Initiative Video – History and Impact