In the Spring of 2018, Wasatch Academy introduced an added element to the already robust project-based curriculum: mini-courses called Experiential Immersions (EIs). Spearheaded by Dr. J. Dianne Brederson, Assistant Head of School for Academics, and Dr. Joel Barnes, Wasatch Academy’s Director of Experiential Education and Sustainability, EIs encourage students to explore beyond their comfort zones and experience intensive learning outside the classroom.
Experiential Immersions are 5-day mini-courses that provide students with new opportunities to learn outside of a traditional classroom setting and structure. Students engage in experiential learning that is interdisciplinary, project-based, and focused on real-world topics. They build valuable life skills and their classroom environment is enhanced with adventurous field trips, guest speakers, and hands-on activities. Students are encouraged to explore beyond their comfort zones (familiar topics and teachers), to investigate new areas of interest, to embrace new experiences, and to have fun. These EIs are taught by faculty teams from different departments and are designed to create small learning communities made up of students with diverse academic interests and personal backgrounds. This added program is quickly becoming a signature component of the “Wasatch Way.”
Students kicked off the second week of school immersed in the newly formed EI program. The EIs serve as a springboard for the rest of the academic year – they embrace the kind of experiential, interdisciplinary, project-based, academically rich learning that Wasatch Academy aims to integrate across the entire curriculum and throughout the year.
Students engaged with topics and projects like gardening and food preservation, the performing arts and stage technology, ghost towns and mining towns of Utah, and the cultures and customs of Brazil.
Dr. Barnes states, “These EIs are living, breathing examples of what Wasatch Academy is doing in terms of progressive, creative education that is experiential, project-based, and academically rich. Students are engaged in project-based learning that involves collaborative learning and problem-solving.”