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Academics & Arts


STEAM = Science + Technology + Engineering + Arts + Mathematics

STEAM Programming

Our STEAM programming provides a myriad of experiences designed to allow students to make cross-disciplinary connections, and to develop the skills necessary for them to be: engaged citizens, competent evaluators of information, capable problem solvers, innovative thinkers and creators.

Why Arts? Arts is a crucial component of STEAM education because it brings creativity, imagination, and a holistic perspective to the traditionally analytical and technical aspects of STEM fields.
We believe through early engagement with STEAM, students acquire skills to develop innovative solutions to real-world challenges, ignite creativity, and build the confidence to excel in fields traditionally underrepresented by women. Embracing STEAM not only offers exciting career opportunities but also equips our students with critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and a global perspective that will enable them to make a significant impact in a rapidly evolving world. Our students leave Laurel well equipped to pave the way for their academic success, contribute to the advancement of society, and shatter any glass ceilings that may exist! #WomeninSTEM

STEAM in Action

List of 4 items.

  • Rube Goldberg Machines in Middle School

    Sixth Grade students put their knowledge of the Law of Conservation of Energy together with their understanding of forces and simple machines to build Rube Goldberg Machines. A Rube Goldberg Machine is a complex machine to complete a simple task. Often these machines combine “chain reactions” with simple machines such as pulleys, levers, and wheel and axles to toast bread, flip a switch or push a button. Students utilize content knowledge and creative engineering skills and practice resiliency and the power of “yet” with a growth mindset in order to be successful in this challenge.
  • Sustainable Ecobottle Study

    Upper School biology students engineer freshwater terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems using core ecological principles of energy transfer, niche/habitat, carrying capacity, limiting factors, cycling of matter, trophic pyramids and photosynthesis. Students build their designs, seal up their bottles, and collect quantitative data of pH, dissolved oxygen, soil fertility, temperature, and total dissolved solids. Qualitative observations on the health of aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna are recorded and changes are made to the ecosystem over four weeks to keep it in balance. An ecobottle “autopsy” is done at the end of the investigation to assess overall health of the ecosystem, and all biotic and abiotic items are returned to the environment or recycled.
  • First Graders Observe Insect Life Cycle

    A long-term study of meal worms reveals the changes these insects undergo throughout their lives. Students receive a larva—the mealworm—which they name, feed, and create a home for. Over the course of a few weeks, they make regular observations of the insects. During this time they make graphs of the stages the insects are in, perform simple experiments with their specimen, and provide care and feeding for the insects.
  • Ninth Grade Physics Egg Drop

    Upper School Physics students look forward to the annual Egg Drop Challenge. The goal of the challenge is to drop an egg from the Tippit Gymnasium balcony and hit their teacher on the head. The teacher walks in a straight line and matches their steps to a constant beat. Students must determine what measurements to take, how to use those measurements and calculate where the teacher should be when they drop the egg. Finally, they have to come up with a plan to communicate with each other so the person on the balcony knows when to drop the egg, taking into account human reaction time. This project has become an annual all-community attraction with spectators from all divisions of the school.

Why STEAM at Laurel?

Interdisciplinary learning is a hallmark of Laurel School’s academic programming from Early Childhood through Grade 12. As a national leader in STEM, Laurel School thinks strategically about how the skillset of an artist overlaps with and enhances skills mastered by professionals in traditional STEM fields.

Where practical, our students are offered the opportunity to observe, to think critically, to interpret, to appreciate precision and scale and to communicate from the perspectives of a scientist, visual artist, mathematician, computer scientist, performance artist and engineer. Below are just a few examples of our interdisciplinary programming that incorporate the elements of STEAM.

STEAM in Action

List of 3 items.

  • Osmosis and Pickles in Middle School

    Seventh Graders use the power of osmosis to make pickles! While studying the way salt affects plant cells and what osmosis reveals about the inner workings of the cell, students in Seventh Grade harness this phenomena to preserve cucumbers. An ancient practice for putting up food before refrigeration, pickling brine draws water out of the cucumber while also creating an environment inhospitable to bad microorganisms, fostering healthy microbes and improving taste.
  • Third Grade Bird Investigation

    During the Third Grade, students study the unique adaptations of birds! This interdisciplinary unit combines studies in science, technology, math, engineering, art and even French. Students dissect eggs and learn about each structure and its function in protecting the chick. They run a beak adaptation experiment that answers the question about which bird uses which shape/size of beak, and they identify winter birds using careful observation skills and field marks. During the unit, students use the Merlin app to identify birds by sound. They also explore the diversity of eggs (a unique bird adaptation) by weighing and measuring eggs from different species. Students also use measurement skills to collect data on bird features like beak, wingspan, and tail length. Students use the engineering design process to brainstorm, plan, create and make iterations to build nests that hold eggs in a tree. In art, students learn about bird proportion and shape to complete realistic scientific illustrations of birds they study in their National Park unit, complete with labels using French language vocabulary words.
  • Fabric & Fibers Deep Dive Projects

    After learning about a broad variety of fabric and fiber techniques and materials, Upper School students are challenged to choose an area of interest, brainstorm a unique idea, and dive deep into their own independent projects. Projects have included creating tufted rugs, designing costumes, stitching or crocheting clothing, and altering vintage shoes.

Recent Awards & Programs

STEM Research students may participate in regional and state science competitions, such as the Northeast Ohio Science Fair. Recent highlights:
  • NASA Glenn Capstone Participants, Electrical Engineering & Hydrology (2024)
  • Independent Research Project, Engineering a Cost-Effective Fully-Automatic Insulin Pump Using 3D Printing Technology and Machine Learning (2024)
  • NEOSEF Honorable Mention Winner, Heroux Devtek Special Award (2024)
  • Grand prize award in the Biomedical and Health Science category at the International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Dallas, TX (2023)
  • International Science & Engineering Fair participant, Cell Biology in Atlanta, GA (2022) 
  • Two 1st place and one 2nd place at Northeast Ohio Science & Engineering Fair (NEOSEF) (2023)
  • State Science Day 1st place award winners (2022 & 2023)
  • Northeast Ohio Science & Engineering Fair (NEOSEF) special awards from Cleveland Clinic - Dept of Inflammation & Immunity, Cleveland Clinic - Dept of Neurosciences, CWRU - Women Faculty of the School of Medicine (2023)
  • Northeast Ohio Science & Engineering Fair (NEOSEF) special awards from American Statistical Association - Cleveland Chapter, Cleveland Clinic - Lerner College of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic - Lerner Research Institute (2023)
  • Northeast Ohio Science & Engineering Fair (NEOSEF) special awards from American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics - Northern Ohio Section, American Statistical Association - Cleveland Chapter (2023)
  • 1st place for the Governor's Thomas Edison Award for Excellence in Biotechnology and Biomedical Technologies (2022)
  • 1st place for the Future Physician Scientist Award and a Superior standing for the Ohio Academy of Science Award (2022)
  • NASA Glenn Capstone program participants (2022)
  • Summer Biomedical engineering research with Case Western Reserve University’s Comprehensive Cancer Research Center, as well as other lab partnerships (yearly)
  • International Coalition of Girls Schools Hafize Gaye Erkan Fellow participant (2021-2024)

STEAM in Action

List of 4 items.

  • Environmental Justice Semester

    Laurel’s Environmental Justice (EJ) Semester is open to Tenth and Eleventh Grade girls from any public, private, charter or parochial school in Northeast Ohio. Imagine spending a “semester away” alongside passionate changemakers, learning from experts in the field, and contributing to meaningful positive change in Northeast Ohio and beyond. The learner-centered Semester takes place on Laurel’s 150-acre Butler Campus in Novelty, Ohio, which offers a natural space with terrestrial, aquatic, and agricultural ecosystems for student changemakers to devise solutions for the ecological and social challenges facing urban Cleveland, a rustbelt city grappling with many environmental and social justice issues.
  • Fourth Grade Research Symposium

    Each spring, Fourth Graders display their research made possible by their Power & Purpose experiential learning curriculum at the Butler Campus. A culmination of a year's worth of exploration in scientific field research, library research, applied mathematics, informational writing, and more. They study a variety of topics from local and invasive species at Butler, to the age of the oak trees in Butler’s forest. These Power & Purpose "passion projects" are a favorite part of the Fourth Grade experience.
  • Second Graders Track Deer

    During their Eastern Woodlands immersion at the Butler Campus, Second Graders learn about the signs and signals of animals in the forest. They use their new skills to follow the markings of deer to its resting place—scrapes, rubs, tracks and scat lead the way to their quarry.
  • Engineering Cardboard Chair Design

    Eleventh and Twelfth Grade Principles of Engineering students test their skills as part of their "structures" unit by creating a chair out of cardboard that measures at least 18" off the ground. Chairs require a back and have to hold the weight of their teacher. Students prepare by creating detailed Orthographic and Isometric drawings of their chairs, plus build 3D models using CAD software. A key challenge for the project is that students cannot use any tape or adhesives to construct their chairs.

STEM & STEAM Leadership

List of 2 items.

Alumnae in STEM

List of 24 items.

  • Laurel School alumna, Lisa Blumenthal ’13

    Lisa Blumenthal ’13

    Whirlpool Engineering Rotational Leadership Development Engineer • Whirlpool Corporation
    B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University 2017
    M.S.(C), Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University 2020
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  • Laurel School alumna, Haoxue “Lily” Yan ’13

    Haoxue “Lily” Yan ’13

    Ph.D. Track Graduate Student in Materials Science and Engineering • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    B.S., Materials Science and Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) 2017
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  • Laurel School Alumna, Jenna Bailey '12

    Jenna Bailey '12

    Business Analyst • Cisco
    B.S., Industrial and Systems Engineering, The Ohio State University 2016
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  • Laurel School alumna, Kristen Nemeth ’12

    Kristen Nemeth ’12

    Engineer • Universal Creative
    B.S., Mechanical Engineering, The Ohio State University 2016
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  • Laurel School alumna, Emily Richards '11

    Emily Richards '11

    Architectural Designer • Marvel Architects
    B.S., Architecture, University of Virginia 2015
    M. Architecture, University of Michigan 2019
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  • Laurel School alumna, Jacquelyn Daugherty ’10

    Jacquelyn Daugherty ’10

    Lead Design Engineer • GE Current, a Daintree Company
    B.S., Chemical Engineering and Minor in General Business, The Ohio State University 2015
    M.S., Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, 2019
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  • Laurel School alumna, Ivy Krislov ’10

    Ivy Krislov ’10

    Senior Program Manager, Xbox Game Pass • Microsoft
    B.S., Technical Writing and Creative Writing, Carnegie Mellon University 2014
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  • Laurel School alumna, Sarah Lane Czerwien ’05

    Sarah Lane Czerwien ’05

    Aerospace Engineer/Thermal Analyst • Zin Technologies, Inc. (NASA Glenn Contractor)
    B.S., Aerospace Engineering, University of Notre Dame 2009
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  • Laurel School Alumna, Tamara Broderick ’03

    Tamara Broderick ’03

    Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
    B.A., Mathematics, Princeton University 2007
    M.A.S., Completion of Part III of the Mathematical Tripos, University of Cambridge 2008
    M.Phil., Physics, University of Cambridge 2009
    M.S., Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley 2013
    Ph.D., Statistics, University of California, Berkeley 2014
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  • Laurel School Alumna, Victoria Willard ’00

    Victoria Willard ’00

    Assistant Member and Psychologist • St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
    B.A., Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis 2004
    Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Duke University 2011
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  • Laurel School Alumna, Carly Levin Filgueira ’99

    Carly Levin Filgueira ’99

    Assistant Professor of Nanomedicine and Cardiovascular Surgery • Houston Methodist Hospital
    B.S., Chemistry, The George Washington University (GWU) 2003
    M.S., (2006) and Ph.D. (2009) Chemistry, Rice University
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  • Laurel School alumna, Sandhia Varyani ’91

    Sandhia Varyani ’91

    OB/GYN • University Hospitals
    Chief of Staff • Ahuja Medical Center
    B.A., Johns Hopkins University 1995
    M.D., Northeast Ohio Medical University 1999
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  • Laurel School alumna, Noon Kampani ’90

    Noon Kampani ’90

    B.S., Biology, Cornell University 1994
    M.B.A., Georgetown University 2001
    D.V.M., Virginia Tech (Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine) 2008
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  • Laurel School alumna, Renee White ’84

    Renee White ’84

    Chemistry Teacher • Marblehead High School
    B.A., Molecular Biology, Wesleyan University 1988
    Ph.D., Biological Oceanography, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 1995
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  • Laurel School alumna, Kathleen Collen Gisser ’83

    Kathleen Collen Gisser ’83

    Staff Scientist • The Sherwin-Williams Company
    B.S., Chemistry and Classical Civilization, Yale University 1987
    Ph.D., Inorganic Chemistry, University of Wisconsin, Madison 1992
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  • Laurel School alumna, Jennifer Coleman ’81

    Jennifer Coleman ’81

    Senior Program Officer, Arts • George Gund Foundation
    B. Architecture, Cornell University 1986
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  • Laurel School alumna, Ellen Rome ’80

    Ellen Rome ’80

    Head of the Center for Adolescent Medicine • Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital
    Professor of Pediatrics • Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University
    B.A., Psychology, Yale University 1984
    M. D., Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine 1988
    M. P.H., Harvard University School of Public Health 1994
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  • Laurel School Alumna, Sharon Mitchell ’80

    Sharon Mitchell ’80

    Senior Director of Student Wellness • University of Buffalo
    B.A., Psychology 1984
    M.A., (1987) and Ph.D. (1990) Counseling Psychology, The Ohio State University
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  • Laurel School alumna, Amy Ritzenberg Graves ’75

    Amy Ritzenberg Graves ’75

    Professor of Physics and Astronomy • Swarthmore College
    B.A., Mathematics and Physics, Williams College 1979
    Ph.D., Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1984
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  • Laurel School alumna, Anne S. Lindblad ’75

    Anne S. Lindblad ’75

    President and CEO • The Emmes Corporation
    B.S., Statistics, Hollins College 1979
    M.S., Biostatistics, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University 1981
    Ph.D., Statistics, George Washington University 1990
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  • Laurel School alumna, Catherine Lindblad Ketel ’69

    Catherine Lindblad Ketel ’69

    Veterinarian • Oceanside Animal Clinic
    B.A., Honors English Literature, Connecticut College 1973
    M.S., Veterinary Science, University of Idaho 1977
    B.S., Veterinary Science, Washington State University 1979
    D.V.M., Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, Washington State University 1981
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  • Laurel School alumna, Ellen Brown Lapham ’61

    Ellen Brown Lapham ’61

    Founder • American Climber Science Program, a nonprofit that brings together climbers and scientists to facilitate field data collection opportunities in remote mountain regions that are difficult to access
    B.A., Industrial Design, Syracuse University 1966
    M.B.A., Stanford University School of Business 1977
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