Explore Week Adds New Meaning to the Term ‘Alternative Education’

Jimmy_FrickeyThis week at Eagle Rock School, we find ourselves once again immersed in Explore Week, a thrice annual offering of lectures, classroom experiences and events that have little to do with credits or curriculum leading to a high school diploma, and everything to do with engaging students in their own education.

This special week enables Eagle Rock School students the opportunity to look at different job choices, hobbies, art and music, trending exercise regimens and outdoor activities they may have never experienced in the past.

So, instead of wondering if you’d maybe like to take up rock climbing as a pastime, Explore Week gets you past the “future planning stage” and onto the mountainside, learning the ropes and helping each other reach the peak.

Explore Week is also an opportunity during this — an intentional week on the School’s schedule — for many of our instructors to catch up on future schoolwork. Meanwhile, students explore alternative learning options, with many of the instructors coming from outside the Eagle Rock faculty family.

Below is an offering of this week’s “classroom” opportunities that already have students doing everything from writing songs to creating their own robot:

Instructors: Jacob Guggenheim and Daniela DiGiamcomo

Students in this Explore Week course create their own robot under the watchful eyes of MIT Engineer Jacob Guggenheim and University of Colorado Boulder Learning Scientist Daniela DiGiamcomo. Here, students are exploring the fascinating field of engineering by learning how to program and going on visits with local design experts. Taking a deep dive into the life cycle of design and iteration, they are constructing robots and navigating them through mazes and challenges that the class created and will showcase for the final day’s presentations.


About the Instructors: Jacob is a first year masters student in mechanical engineering at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He originally became interested in engineering — and robotics in particular — when he joined his high school’s first robotics team. What really hooked Jacob into robotics was the ability to take a problem (how to kick a soccer ball) and build something that could do it. During college he sought out projects and research that would continue to allow him to tinker and play with new systems. Today he applies this same mindset —though backed with a significant amount of math and theory — to automating single cell micromanipulation.

Daniela is a third year doctoral candidate in educational psychology and learning sciences and ethnic studies. She is working as a research assistant for the MacArthur Foundation’s Connected Learning Research Network as well as for the Ford Foundation’s “More and Better Learning Time” national initiatives. Daniela is a graduate instructor for Continue reading…

Meet The Team: Eagle Rock’s Chef Instructor, Mark Dougherty

Today’s interview is with Eagle Rock staffer Mark Dougherty, a professional chef who has worked in the kitchens of notable high-end restaurants, hotels, inns, and corporate settings in a number of states. In fact, he’s practiced his culinary skills in New York City as well as four states: Vermont, Connecticut, North Carolina and Florida.

Meet Mark:

Mark-Dougherty-Eagle-RockEagle Rock: How did you get into the culinary field?

Mark: I was a cook on a Coast Guard cutter for two years before pursuing a professional career. Cooking comes easy to me. I love the instant gratification that comes with cooking.

Eagle Rock: What’s your favorite meal/dish to prepare?

Mark: Favorite dish? Depends on the day or season. It is very easy to prepare a dish when you have exceptionally fresh ingredients. I love Asian ingredients and balance of flavors. I love French food because — contrary to popular belief — it embodies a simple approach to cooking. Fresh ingredients and proper techniques equals great food!

Eagle Rock: What’s the one thing you’d never order when eating out, and why?

Mark: I would never order Moo goo gai pan from a Greek diner. (Stick to the basics).

Eagle Rock: What advice do you have aspiring chefs?

Mark: If you are seriously thinking about becoming a chef, I suggest you be prepared to do some very basic tasks over and over again. (Wax on, wax off grasshopper). You need a thick skin and a good sense of humor and a strong grasp of sarcasm, along with a strong work ethic in order to prosper.

Eagle Rock: What is your all-time Eagle Rock success story?

Mark: About six years ago we had several Continue reading…