The Miami Valley School’s nationally-recognized Immersion program is a four-week experiential learning program focusing on a single, elected subject and a highlight of the upper school program.
Immersion provides the opportunity for teachers to present learning experiences in a manner and context that would not otherwise fit into the regular curriculum. It also enriches students and refreshes teachers with a wellspring of new ideas and experiences for the entire school community.
The program occurs between the second and third trimesters and is required for all upper school faculty and students. Faculty members design, teach and participate in all Immersion offerings. The normal school schedule ceases during Immersion because most programmatic activities take place off campus.
Students select one course from the Immersion offerings in a given year. They can propose an independent study or internship as well, with the assistance and supervision of a faculty committee.
Immersion offers students the opportunity to explore unique learning, life and pre-professional experiences in preparing them for college and the life beyond.
Sample of Past Immersion Programs
A PERUVIAN ADVENTURE AN INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL PROGRAM
Imagine yourself within 15 degrees of the equator exploring one of the highest ruins of an ancient civilization on earth, or fishing for piranha in the world’s mightiest river.
Geographical, cultural, and biological diversity are woven together in this Immersion offering. The Amazon rainforest is a region in our own hemisphere that has captured the imagination of many. It thrives on the world’s most powerful river, the Amazon, which flows 2,600 miles to the Atlantic Ocean and it supports the most biologically diverse ecosystem on the planet. This region of the world is equally rich in the diversity and culture of its people. Peru will be our destination for a study of this important ecological region.
We will begin in the frontier city of Iquitos on the Amazon and take a boat to a rustic lodge in the rainforest. Activities in the rainforest may include canoeing, swimming with freshwater dolphins, night hikes into the rainforest, and exploring the rainforest canopy via a series of ziplines that will allow you fly among the treetops. Throughout the Immersion we will be emphasizing culture, natural history, ecology, and art of the rainforest region where we will visit. Visual art will be an important component of our study. While in the rainforest region, we will be involved in a significant community service project with the Riberenos villagers who live along the tributaries of the Amazon.
Within the boundaries of the same nation, there are ruins of the great Inca civilization atop an Andean peak at Machu Picchu. The ruins of Machu Picchu are one of the most beautiful and enigmatic ancient sites in the world. While the Inca people utilized the Andean mountain top (9060 feet elevation), erecting massive stone structures from the early 1400′s, legends and myths indicate that Machu Picchu (meaning ‘Old Peak’ in the Quechua language) was revered as a sacred place from a far earlier time. Not far from there is the culturally rich city of Cuzco where we will visit local markets and gain a taste (literally) of modern Peru.
FOR THE BIRDS AN DOMESTIC TRAVEL PROGRAM
If you can’t take your eyes off a beautiful hawk soaring in the sky or if you rush to your computer to look up an unusual bird that you just spotted, For the Birds is definitely for you! This Immersion will involve the study of different bird species, habitat, conservation, and migration. The Dayton Audubon Society is a very strong organization and a wonderful resource for educational programs. We have many parks in the area that are prime birding spots. Over 278 bird species have been spotted and recorded by the Dayton Audubon Society. We will visit the home of injured owls, hawks, and other birds of prey at the Rapture Center at Glen Helen. The Cincinnati Zoo will bring birds to us through their Great American Wings of Wonder Program.
To gain an understanding of migration and to see an abundance of shore birds, we will travel to beautiful Sanibel Island, Florida, where The J.N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge is located. This wildlife refuge is home to over 220 bird species, such as pileated woodpeckers, rosette spoonbills, ospreys, and bald eagles. The center offers an abundance of educational programs, including some of the following free classes: “Our Feathered Friends,” “Nocturnal Animals,” “Animal Adaptation,” “Circle of Life,” and “Animals in Jeopardy.” There are other wildlife refuges near by, just waiting to be explored.
As amazing as it is to observe interesting birds and other wildlife in their natural habitat, getting it on film allows us to take our time in looking at the detail of what we see, not to mention capturing and enjoying the beauty of the wildlife. Learning about wild life photography will be an element of this Immersion, as well. Service learning and volunteer opportunities may arise during this Immersion.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE A LOCAL PROGRAM
The Criminal Justice Immersion will explore the United States criminal justice system at the federal, county, and municipal levels. Guest speakers will include attorneys, prosecutors, and judges. Students will visit communication centers, detention facilities, courtrooms, crime labs, etc. Exposure to courtroom procedures is a major component of the course. There is no experience in this course more exciting than shadowing uniformed detectives and police officers during a weekend night shift. Some basic self-defense techniques will be taught to each student participant.
Students will have the opportunity to observe the canine law enforcement unit in a demonstration session. Depending on their availability, representatives from the following organizations– FBI, DEA, IRS, & US Marshals–will speak to the class. There will also be a three day session detailing the profiling of serial killers. Students will explore in depth issues such as community policing, racial profiling, and gang control. Students will complete a major research project to present to the class and write an essay detailing reflections upon these various experiences. There will be at least two required readings.
HABITAT FOR HUMANITY A DOMESTIC TRAVEL PROGRAM
Would you like to travel to and learn about another community while enriching the lives of others? Would you like to invest time and labor in service to another while learning new skills and developing new interests? Would you like to become a member of a cooperative living community through planning and work?
Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. It challenges people of all faith traditions and cultural backgrounds to join in partnership with low-income families to improve the conditions in which they live. Habitat affiliates are located throughout the United States and abroad. Through volunteer labor and donations of money and materials, Habitat for Humanity builds and renovates houses in partnership with homeowner families who are required to invest a specified number of hours into the construction or renovation.
Students will travel to a site in the southern U.S (yet to be identified) to spend two weeks working with a local affiliate of Habitat. Housing will be provided by the host agency (could be a church, private homes, a local dormitory). Participants will be responsible for the planning and preparation of most meals. In addition to work, students will be involved in the local community, getting to know the homeowner and others in the area. Participants must be sixteen years of age at the beginning of Immersion. Maximum group size is ten students. Sophomores will be back on campus in time for the OGT.
PROJECT RUNWAY: APPAREL CONSTRUCTION AND DESIGN A LOCAL PROGRAM
In this Immersion, we will study art as it is manifested in clothing, what we might term as “fashion”. The program will be divided between a study of clothing as way of creating beauty and expressing ideas, as well as our own explorations in design with plenty of hands-on sewing instruction. We will study the history of clothing, and explore a wide range of potential sources of inspiration, such as art from all over the world, architecture, and the natural world in order to translate their beauty into clothing.
Students will create a design portfolio using a variety of design idiom. They will also create several articles of clothing for our culminating fashion show. In addition to clothing construction, we will explore various methods of embellishment, such as embroidery, fabric painting, beading, crochet, knitting, dye-work, etc. We will also take local trips to investigate museums, beautiful buildings, and the natural world to inspire our designs. The various projects we will undertake will include remaking a top from a big t-shirt, making over an item from a thrift store, constructing simple pants or a skirt, as well as a dress or top. If time allows, we will create accessories such as hats, scarves, and bags.
We will also research where our clothing comes from- i.e. how do clothes that we buy from the Gap, Hudson, or Forever 21 come into being and make their way to our malls? What choices do we have as consumers and stylish people in dressing ourselves? Students will be responsible for supplying their own sewing machines, although finding loan machines may be possible. Class supplies are included in the cost of the Immersion.
TOUR DE FRANCE AN INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL PROGRAM
La Tour Eiffel, le Louvre, Mont St. Michel, the châteaux of the Loire Valley, Provence, the Côte d’Azur… This Immersion introduces students to the beauty, the history, the culture and the language of France. We begin our stay of two and a half weeks in France in Paris enjoying the monuments, the cafés (try a croque-monsieur), the museums, the streets and shops of the City of Lights.
Our tour within France by bus and train (the fast TGV) then takes us to the city of Tours in the Loire Valley known as the garden of France, where the most pure form of French is spoken. We spend a week studying French at the welcoming Institut de Touraine, grouped according to level of fluency, beginning to advanced. We also visit the medieval abbey of Mont St. Michel, and the famed châteaux of the Loire, the Renaissance palaces of the aristocracy. We stay in French homes while in Tours, the best way to experience the culture.
We then travel south, admiring the Roman architecture of the Pont du Gard and the Nîmes amphitheater, as we savor the sights, sounds and tastes of Provence. Our last stop will be in Nice, the beautiful Mediterranean city on the Côte D’Azur, allowing a day trip to Monaco.
This program should be particularly appealing to students of French but it is open to all students. We will return from France before the final week of Immersion, allowing sophomores to participate.