Mini-Courses Return to The Brook

by Luke Trouwborst | Assistant Academic Dean

Brookers visit Google headquarters in NYC

Caesar Augustus has been credited with the phrase festina lente – translated from Latin, “make haste slowly.” The paradox communicates much of what makes for a great school: an urgency and seriousness about learning that refuses to rush ahead or skip steps. At Stony Brook, our school year’s ebbs and flows invite students to balance activity and rest. This is perhaps most obvious during our mini-course weeks, two weeks during the school year where our students are enrolled in interdisciplinary courses designed to deepen understanding, develop new skills, and remember the love of learning for its own sake. 

This October, students participated in one of over 25 courses that bridged a variety of fields and interests, all designed by faculty mentors to share expertise and passions. These courses traveled, built, and practiced. Here are just some of the highlights from the week:

  • Ten middle school students traveled to Canada with the Jeffrey family and Mrs. Brummeler and stayed at a family farm in Ontario where they studied ecology and sustainable farming, cared for animals, and planted a tree.
  • Another group of middle school students, working with Dean of Students Tonja Detwiler, ran a health fair for our entire community showcasing their week’s research and study.
  • Under the guidance of our Marine Programs Director Johnny Everitt, our Build a Guitar course built, painted, and played an electric guitar!
  • A team of counselors and science teachers showed students how to construct their own escape rooms in Escape Room Design, studying both cryptology and design processes. At the end of the week, teams challenged each other and other students to work together and escape each room.
  • Both middle schoolers and high schoolers joined age-specific versions of Exploring Long Island, where they discovered historical sites like Sagamore Hill and natural beauty as far as Orient Point.
  • In our Fashion Design course, run by Visual Arts teacher Melinda Johnson, students designed and ultimately made their own garments.
  • Two members of our English Department, Andrew Barber and Dr. Jake Morley, walked students through the basics of film criticism in Film Review. The course also featured a visit and talk with film critic Joel Mayward.
  • In Forensics, our Science Department led a course that combined crime-solving and forensic science, featuring a trip to Stony Brook University labs and a number of simulated crime scenes.
  • Hamilton: Myth & Musical studied the history and art form of Hamilton, including a trip to Broadway to see the play itself.
  • If you spent last week dissecting specimens, visiting the Bronx Zoo, and touring the Riverhead Aquarium, you were likely in our Comparative Zoology mini-course, led by fearless science teachers Danielle Davey and Erol Altug.
  • Our Global Business course, led by Linda Thiele, introduced students to the driving forces behind the growing global economy. The course included a visit from entrepreneur Marcus Gilmore and a trip to Google’s headquarters in Manhattan.

This is just a taste of the many opportunities Brookers have during mini-course week. Students also studied the development of anime, military history, and the evolution of soccer tactics. They swam, built robots, and spoke in ethics bowls and mock trials. During mini-course weeks, our students are encouraged to remember that learning is not a spectator sport and that it should be pursued for its own sake both inside and outside the classroom.

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