Wildwood School - The Institute Model

Wildwood School’s Institute Model takes the word “student” out of our educational vernacular. Our kids are scientists, entrepreneurs, creators, and innovators.

In conventional educational models, teachers decide what students will study. Wildwood’s Institute Model flips this paradigm on its head. Students become the leaders, with teachers as guides and mentors. Our Institute Model brings together student-scholars with deep passions in particular areas of interest. Institute members are charged with deciding what it is they want to learn, a process similar to that used by university labs and think tanks to define priorities and strategically identify areas of focus. Coached by Wildwood teachers, and with support from outside experts in their fields of study, Institute scholars then figure out how to acquire the knowledge. They do so through original work that addresses complex, real-world issues.

Thanks to funding from EE Ford and several Wildwood families, the Wildwood Institute for STEM Research and Development (WISRD) is the first of several planned Institutes at Wildwood. WISRD scholars serve as Institute staff—from Program and Outreach Directors, to Journal Editors, to Public Relations Manager—gaining important professional experience. WISRD has founded labs in Astronomy and Space Science; Coding and Electronics; Engineering and Design; Life Science, and Math Theory. Institute scholars present their work at global conferences and publish an annual research journal.

Partnerships with outside organizations are a foundational tenet of Wildwood’s Institute Model. For example, WISRD collaborates with an international non-profit to design and manufacture affordable robotic prosthetic hands for children who are missing digits. Institute scholars conduct research for NASA’s Dawn Mission; develop original curricula for GameDesk, a provider of leading-edge learning technologies; partner on projects with UCLA’s Plasma Physics Lab, and much more.

For more information about the Institute Model, please visit www.wildwood.org.