Middle Years Courses

Summer 2020 Offerings

One-Week Courses for Enrichment: 
July 20-24, 2020 & July 27-31, 2020

Escape Room Challenge [Half Day]

There are few things as strangely enthralling as the immersive challenge of a good escape room challenge. But how do they come about? What makes some escape room challenges so much better than others? How are those puzzles created and sequenced and how are they made to belong to a particular time and place, with a story of their own? In this popular course, students will spend the week working as a team to design their own escape room in a classroom. Instructors with expertise in the design arts, math, and creative writing will work with the team to create a setting, narrative structure, and theme for the room, and to design and sequence challenging puzzles for participants. Students will end the week by watching a group attempt to escape the room they designed!

Sample Activities: 

  • Visit to local escape room 
  • Use MBS’ new MakersSpace equipment to construct puzzles
  • Brainstorm creative stories and themes for the escape room 

Tuition: $500.00 (register by April 1 and receive $100.00 discount)

Wordsmithing: Writing Skills through Creativity [Half Day]

Whether you love to write or whether you find it boring and tedious, you’ll improve your writing skills and have fun doing it in this low pressure course! Improve writing fundamentals through weird and creative prompts and exercises.

Tuition: $500.00 (register by April 1 and receive $100.00 discount)

Math Madness [Half Day]

Polish your math skills and get a leg up on the year through math centered projects and puzzles. In a low stress environment, you’ll build your skills in fractions, algebraic manipulations and variables, number sense, error analysis, and beyond. For students pre-Integrated 1 or Algebra 1. 

Tuition: $500.00 (register by April 1 and receive $100.00 discount)

Previous Offerings

A Show Is Born

When creative passion collides with the harsh realities of the theater world, some are crushed with disappointment. Others, however, find new creative inspiration in the constraints imposed by producers. In this course, students will do just that, working together to craft a musical within a set of demanding limits: write and tell a story around a selection of classic pop songs. Confronting new challenges and possibilities every step of the way, students will tap into their creativity under pressure to design a set, imagine roles, act, sing, and make a show worthy of the Founders Stage. Along the way, students will experience rehearsal as a process of ideation and innovation: giving and receiving helpful feedback, build off ideas, and learn from mistakes. As a performance class, students should come ready to embrace all that the stage has to offer. 

Sample Activities: 

  • Daily improv exercises
  • Song interpretation
  • Critique and feedback sessions

Environmental Science and Solutions

Through exploration, demonstrations, and creative activities students will confront environmental challenges and work together to imagine possible solutions.Whether they are learning about different ecosystems in the forest and river adjacent to our campus, observing meteorological trends on our Science on a Sphere, or honing communication skills, students will be engaged in a hands-on learning experience, developing leadership skills, making new connections with peers, and becoming stewards for the environment. 

Sample Activities: 

  • Testing the Waters: students take excursions to the Arboretum and sample the local Whippany river to discover what goes into our water and how it changes over time
  • Predicting the Big One: students take a global look at environmental threats around the world on the Science on a Sphere
  • Drought, Famine, and Farming: students study solutions for farms and countries that face resource shortages and population changes
  • Students visit a local sustainable farm and evaluate how it has incorporated environmental solutions
  • Call the foul: learn to recognize argumentative fallacies and apply them all in a disastrously bad debate. Worst argument wins!

Podcasting America

The immigrant experience in the United States cannot be reduced to a single story. But narrative provides a uniquely invaluable means of understanding what it is like to be an immigrant in the United States. Taking on the role of documentarians, students in this course will design a podcast interview that weaves together recordings to tell a story that reflects the diversity and complexity of the immigrant experience in Morris County. Even within this single county, overlapping ethnic neighborhoods sustain unique cultural epicenters. In these continuously evolving communities, immigrants find solace in the familiarity of their native language, while maintaining customs and practices from their homelands. Visiting a number of nearby communities, students will engage in interviews and panel discussions to record the voices and stories of individuals who immigrated to the United States. Then, students will decide how best to present those voices and those stories to do justice to the complex reality of which they are a part. The week will culminate a podcast episode that sheds new light on the lives around us.

  • Visit to Science On a Sphere to observe regions of the world that have contributed to US immigration historically 
  • Interview with immigration attorney to learn about the legal process 
  • Creating a Local History Archive celebrating local immigrant experiences.

Tech Design Studio

Near the top of any school supply list these days, you’ll likely see “iPad” or “laptop.” But what if you could design a piece of technology intended specifically for the requirements of the classroom? How large would it be, how would you interface with it, what functions should it perform and not perform? In this week-long course, students will take on the role of a Design Thinking team facing just those questions. Seeking inspiration from unlikely sources, huddling in brainstorming sessions, ideating, prototyping, refining ideas, and eliciting client feedback, they will learn the essentials of the design thinking process as it has been pioneered by agencies such as IDEO. At the end of the week, you’ll make your final pitch to your clients: what will they say about what you’ve designed?

Sample Activities: 

  • Begin each session with a creative team-building game (akin to a “theater game”).
  • Visit classrooms and offices on campus and, through observation and interviews, gather data on how their peers use and interact with technology in the classroom.
  • Use various tools to ideate collaboratively – paper, whiteboards, infinite workspace apps, digital drawing/painting and vector-based illustration apps.
  • Design and prototype devices using cardstock, sticky notes, wire, and other “makerspace” materials.
  •  Craft and present the “story” of their design to a stand-in client 

Ways of World-Making: Crafting Fantasy Worlds

Behind some of the most absorbing novels, movies, graphic novels and video games is the strange, seemingly useless activity known as world-making. In this weeklong course, students will work together to re-imagine geography, language, biology, forces of nature, and even the laws of reality in the service of constructing worlds that do not exist—except in the imagination. World-making is pure imaginative play, but it is also rigorous, leading students to puzzles of consistency, probability, natural laws, history, and power. Fundamental to world-making is a question essential to design thinking: “What else could this be?” Starting with features and artifacts of our world, taking inspiration from everything around them, students will be challenged to redesign reality. Students with an interest in programming, science, literature, creative writing, and world cultures will find a chance to push their limits, constructing objects, glossaries, maps, and storyboards, all adding up to a museum displaying showcasing the world they’ve imagined.

Sample Activities: 

  • Develop a linguistic framework for your world; invent words and their histories, record their pronunciation and write texts in your invented language.
  • Anthropological inspiration: starting with a found object from our world, reimagine what it might be or do in the world you have created. Develop a family of related objects, and then model relevant artifacts, explaining their meaning
  • Imaginary ethnography: apply basic principles of ethnography to describe daily rituals of life. Communicate your observations through recordings of performance.
  • Fictional Cartography: how does geography influence history? With a randomly generated map, work to imagine how the civilizations on your world develop in harmony, or in conflict, with the natural world.

Program Details

To ensure the highest quality experience for all our students, class sizes will be limited. Once the courses are full, students will be put on a waitlist.

Full-day programs: 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Half-day morning: 9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Half-day afternoon: 12:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Half-Day Enrichment Courses: $500.00 (Register by April 1 and receive a $100.00 discount)
Full-Day Credit Courses: $1750.00 (Register by April 1 and receive a $100.00 discount)

Scholarships/Financial Aid
The MBS Summer Institute is committed to enrolling motivated learners. If cost proves to be prohibitive, please contact summerinstitute@mbs.net to inquire about financial aid.

MBS Summer Institute Handbook
An updated handbook for 2020 is coming soon.

Courses for Middle Years

(rising 6th-8th grade)

Hands-on courses in creative writing, mathematics, and design.

Read Course Descriptions

Courses for Upper Years

(rising 9th-12th grade)

Interactive and challenging courses in music, scientific research, entrepreneurship, and design.

Read Course Descriptions

Have Questions?

Please write to us at summerinstitute@mbs.net.