Keeping Up With the Spartans

Learn what our students have been doing to continue fueling their minds over the summer.

School may be out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean our students stop growing and learning. This summer, students shared their unique educational experiences with us through a series of student-written articles with accompanying photos.

Exploring Nanotechnology Through “I Am Nano”

By Drew Thompson ’21

During the end of June and in early July, I was honored to attend the “I Am Nano” course through the Summer Regional Governor’s School at the MathScience Innovation Center. This program is supported by the Virginia Department of Education and the MathScience Innovation Center and it offers six course options to students in grades 6-8 in the fields of math, science, and technology. Students in school divisions from 13 counties and cities are eligible to apply and participate.

Over the course of two weeks, I explored nanotechnology and discovered the many applications it has in our everyday lives. The first day of class provided two fundamental lessons in developing an understanding of nanotechnology. First, I learned that nanometers, the measurement for nanotechnology, are larger than a picometer and smaller than a micrometer. Secondly, the term ‘nanotechnology’ encompasses all technology that is smaller than half a micrometer (500 nanometers) and makes our lives better.

While I thoroughly enjoyed learning the science behind nanotechnology and its applications in our everyday lives, I also loved hearing the four VCU professors who visited us discuss what they each teach as well as share their groundbreaking research. First, Dr. Jayasimha Atulasimha visited the class and taught us about magnetism and the shape of electron clouds in atoms. The next day, Dr. Joseph Reiner shared how he has cleverly made use of nanopores in a cell membrane to measure objects at the nanoscale. Dr. Jason Reed then paid us a visit and showed how scanning tunneling microscopes and atomic force microscopes work. Finally, Dr. Shiv Khanna and his associate, Dr. Arthur Reber, told us about “superatoms,” which are clusters of atoms forced together in a lab, and how their special magnetic properties may be able to replicate those of rare earths.

Another aspect of the class that I enjoyed was the hands-on experiments that we did throughout the course. I was fascinated by the nanopants that I was given the opportunity to play around with and how they repel water by using nano-fibers to increase the surface tension of water on the pants to prevent the water from being absorbed. The class also used small tea cups (no, not nanocups) to observe how, when the small cups are filled up with water and turned upside down, the water remains in the cup. This happens because the water better adheres to that side of the cup due to the smaller scale, and this demonstrated how forces at the nanoscale are stronger than even gravity. Additionally, we put a drop of clear nail polish in water to create an iridescent field on the surface of the water and then learned about how iridescence is caused by structures at the nanoscale. Finally, we blew bubbles to show how an object as simple and common as a bubble is, in fact, nanotechnology.

The course culminated with a group project through which we developed a product application using nanotechnology, and then these projects were presented to the parents of the “I Am Nano” participants. My group designed the “penfinity,” which utilizes iron nanoparticles in place of ink. After use, the iron nanoparticles can be vacuumed up by an electromagnet and saved inside the pen for later use. Other projects focused on medical applications of nanotechnology, improvements in entertainment with nanotechnology, and products that would even reduce frizzy hair with nanotechnology! I truly enjoyed taking this course and now have a better understanding of nanotechnology and its use in our world.

Experiencing France as an Au Pair

By Crary Moore ’20

My mom has always been pushing me to be more adventurous, so when she suggested that I try to become an au pair (a young person who helps with housework or child care in exchange for room and board) in France this summer; I was like, “sign me up!” I advertised myself as dedicated, hardworking, and someone who has the energy to go all day with kids in a paragraph that a friend posted to some “mom” sites to draw attention to me. My mom told me not to get my hopes up, but I was still hoping that a family would want me for the summer. When Amy De Leusse contacted me, my excitement soared at the opportunity to be a “big sister” for three kids and to live in the countryside of Burgundy, France for six weeks. Amy is originally from London and her husband, Pierre Emmanuel, is from Paris, which means that their kids are becoming bilingual! Amy and I kept in contact, figuring out details and the expectations for me when I “joined” the family. I wanted so badly for them to like me! When my mom booked my plane ticket—direct to Paris!I realized my summer was going to be incredible no matter what I faced.

When I said goodbye to my family, it hit me that six weeks is a long time to be gone from the people I love most. My mom drove me to Washington Dulles International Airport, came to the gate with me, and waited until I boarded the plane. I knew she was happy for me and had complete faith that I would be great, but the butterflies did not fully leave until I called her from Paris. Even though I have flown on planes many times before, I was most worried about crossing the Atlantic by myself, having to get through customs alone, and then finding Pierre Emmanuel at the airport when I arrived.

When I exited the plane, I followed the flow of people and looked for signs everywhere. Everything went well and I felt empowered after accomplishing something that forced me to observe all the specifics. The first two nights, we stayed in the family’s Paris apartment. It was so fun as I got to pick the kids up from school, walk around alone, and have dinner with Pierre Emmanuel’s sister and friends. It was only when we made it to the country house in Burgundy that I realized I would in fact be an asset to the family. As time flew past this summer, I got to know Amy pretty well; she is a hip mom and what I like to call a ‘foodie’she is always trying new recipes from health blogs, etc. We did not eat a lot of meat, the kids only drank almond milk, and the 'goûter' (snack) was normally fruit. There was not a lot of snacking because each meal was a proper meal, and right off the bat I knew I would like Amy’s cooking.

It definitely took some time for Jean (three years old) and Alice (a year and a half) to warm up to me, but Camile (five years old) and I got along well from the start. After three weeks in, everybody gained a rhythm and although there was still screaming and crying, I figured out that Alice will calm down if you take her to look for cows, Jean needs his dad when he’s in a bad mood, and Camille needs a hug and a story after a tantrum. From puzzles to ridiculous hide and seek games, I have grown to view these kids as my own siblingsalthough they can be pains sometimes, they are pretty great youngsters. I cannot tell someone how happy it makes me when Alice cuddles close to my chest or when Jean lets me play with him. These little moments of satisfaction make living here the absolute best!

Whilst here, I have been exposed to so many different traditions (like kisses on the cheek) and introduced to so many people. For example, Amy’s godmother came to visit and she has a daughter my age, Amelia, and we clicked instantly. I hope that I will stay connected to that family and that we cross paths again because I do not want to give up a friendship that seemed to work so well. Amy and Pierre Emmanuel’s friends have come and gone all summer and after meeting them, I am so impressed with how cool these parents are.

There have been many ups and downs and decisions that might not have been the smartest but we all overcome them as a small army of teamwork and positivity. Being a part of a different family allows me to appreciate my parents more and understand that every family has their own routines, and even eating habits. The only way I feel I can truly value an opportunity as incredible as this one, is to find myself as an inhabitant and not a tourist. I cannot stress my gratitude to my mom for trusting and believing in me, and to Amy who opened her home to me and treated me as a part of her family. Hopefully during the next summers I will find myself back with the De Leusse family!

Pursuing Architecture as a Career at Tulane University

By Lauren Cantor 18

This summer, I was given the opportunity to attend Tulane University's Career Explorations in Architecture. It’s a three-week program that takes place on Tulane's campus in uptown New Orleans. While attending the program, I stayed on campus in one of Tulane's finest dorms and experienced college life first hand.

The program offers three elective credits, should the student later matriculate to Tulane. We had class every day and began with lectures from world-class Tulane professors. After the lectures about the city of New Orleans or Tulane, we had studio time. During studio, we were given assignments. The first week we had to draw shoes as a “floor plan,” “elevation plan,” and “section plan.” This experience was really difficult as we dived right in with hard sketching and measured every curve and almost every design element in our shoe. The second week we built models in the shape of cubes to explore the concept of space. The third week, we drew our cubes and explored the scale of our models. In addition to class time, we had field trips to explore the beautiful city around us. We visited the French Quarter, Grow Dat Youth Farm (farm created by Tulane Architecture students to help the community), the Ninth Ward, and all over the rest of New Orleans.

In addition to studio, we had other assignments every day. Typically, we had sketching due every morning and other long-term projects due throughout the program. For example, we researched famous architects and gave a presentation on them. The architect I researched is Liz Diller. We were also assigned numerous reading and creative assignments.

I really enjoyed this experience as it was super eye-opening to what architecture school is like. After completing my internship earlier this year during minimester at Gresham, Smith, and Partners, I really got excited about pursuing this field. Architecture interests me because architecture is always innovative. Despite lots of late nights and early mornings to finish projects, I still remain extremely interested in this field and want to pursue architecture school in the future.


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Steward is an atmosphere that fosters confidence—something we have seen in all three of our kids. Whether it is playing a new sport, running for a seat on the Honor Council, or singing a solo on Talent Night, they have been encouraged to try, to experience, and to grow.
- Dan and Kathi Campbell, Parents of Abbie ’19, Emma ’17, and Ben ’14

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Steward is the right place for Micah and Kiri because they are able to develop strong connections with their teachers, which in turn facilitates confidence and resilience in their learning. Everyone at Steward knows your name and makes you feel so welcome.
- Paul and Janet Yoon, Parents of Kiri ’27 and Micah ’26

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Steward helped me develop the skills I needed to succeed in college and the courage and confidence to set competitive career goals for myself. But, these skills weren’t lessons I learned just in Steward’s classrooms; they came from the athletic fields, in the hallways, and during Honor Council meetings, too.
- Grace Henderson ’10

Steward Voices

Steward provides Andrew with a nurturing environment which fosters his individualism, develops exemplary character traits, and continuously provides him with creative learning experiences. Consequently, Andrew ‘loves’ school and anticipates each day with joy, enthusiasm, and excitement.
- Betsy Jollay, Grandmother of Andrew O’Leary ’25

Steward Voices

I love all that The Steward School has done for Trace. Steward has uncovered Trace’s talents, celebrated his individuality, and strengthened his belief in himself. The faculty and staff offer an amazing balance of challenge and comfort, encouraging the best from all students. I can’t imagine Trace being anywhere else. Thank you, Steward School.
- Ron Coles, Father of Trace Coles ’19 and Grade 5 Teacher

Steward Voices

Being a member of The Steward School international program has been an awesome experience. The community has helped me tremendously along the way.
- Bowen Chen ’15


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