Where All Girls Engage In...

Science | Technology | Engineering | Math

Somewhere between developing an interest in STEM as children and choosing to pursue a STEM degree and career girls lose confidence in their abilities to be successful. GPS has changed that narrative. 

Through an interdisciplinary approach to STEM, girls are emboldened to take risks, daring them to step beyond the classroom to collaborate, solve problems within the community, and develop the skills that feed their aspirations. Whether she wants to be an engineer, an astronaut, a doctor, or an entrepreneur, GPS students are uniquely supported by their teachers.

With STEM serving as the fastest growing segment of the American labor force, GPS is committed to growing a nationally recognized STEM program, leveraging our existing robust curriculum with real-world integration and early exposure to coding, programming, robotics, 3D printing, engineering, and more.

Throughout their years at GPS, girls hone their skills in...

  • computational thinking
  • algorithm development and logic
  • program design
  • collaboration
  • creative problem-solving
  • and more as they learn what it means to engage with and ultimately change the world

Our STEM Learning Philosophy

The GPS STEM program is designed to allow all students to gain a mastery of foundational skills that will empower them as global citizens and future contributors in whatever field they choose. To do so, we believe in:

List of 5 items.

  • + Starting Early

    Girls are exposed to STEM in sixth grade to increase familiarity and fluency. An early start to STEM programming helps girls gain confidence in themselves and their abilities in STEM subjects. Continued opportunities are offered throughout Middle and Upper Schools.
  • + STEM for All

    Each girl benefits from the skills obtained in STEM classes, and girls can choose projects that align with their interests and passions—from designing a hoverboard car to 3D printing virtually designed pottery.
  • + Embracing the Power of YET

    Nothing is easy the first time around, and there is no reason to expect it should be. GPS encourages a growth mindset and changes the narrative from “I’m not good at math” to “I’m not good at math YET!”
  • + Collaboration

    Problem solving is done in a collaborative setting to which girls are naturally drawn. Students are encouraged to work in teams, creating a positive and supportive environment where risk taking and failure are safe.
  • + Keeping It Real

    Courses focus on human-centered instruction by involving mentors and solving real-world problems.

List of 5 items.

  • + Inspiration for Aspiration

    Girls are inspired through interactions with women in a wide variety of STEM careers, including GPS alumnae, who often return to campus to meet with them.
  • + Low-Stakes Options

    Our clubs, enrichment opportunities, and STEM electives allow girls to take risks, problem solve, try new things, and explore areas of interest without focusing on perfection.
  • + Hands-On Opportunities

    STEM at GPS is designed to maximize learning through approaches that leverage how girls learn best. They are instructed to be planful but not overly cautious, and to be open to a messy process as they make allowances for the unexpected.
  • + Problem Solving and Critical Thinking

    Students are exposed to myriad problem-solving opportunities and real-world applications of knowledge and skills in math, science, and other STEM classes.
  • + Lab-Based Sciences

    Students learn to identify problems, design experiments and explorations, analyze data, and draw scientific conclusions.


Library and Makerspace

GPS is committed to creating a purposeful intersection among the individual areas of STEM, and integrated, hands-on experiences make an impact. Our library and makerspace studio is one of the best-equipped in the region, offering girls an ever-growing number of opportunities to play and learn with the real-world tools and technologies that will define their futures. With 3D printers, laser cutters, virtual reality headsets, and more, our girls can begin their journeys toward innovation and creative problem solving. Our resources include:

  • Nine virtual reality stations with software integration across curricula
  • 3D printing studio with six Tax printers and eight mini printers
  • Makerspace including a laser cutter, drill presses, cordless hand tools, CNC machine, glassworking band saws, vacuum former, tile saws, and more
  • Podcast studio with professional mixing board and computer with audio recording/editing software
  • Video production studio with green screen and animation capabilities
  • Robotics studio with Lego Mindstorm EV3 robots, Spheros, Mini Spheros, remote control vehicles, 22 coding drones, a wide variety of small and large drones, and 12 soldering stations as well as a wide variety of electronic components
  • Woodworking equipment including a wood-turning lathe, scroll saws, and desktop belt sander
  • 9,000+ nonfiction books, 5,000+ fiction books, 850+ multimedia offerings, and nearly 200 new books added annually
  • Databases including EBSCO Discovery Service


Curriculum

Beginning in sixth grade, students are exposed to STEM through innovative and thought-provoking course offerings in science, mathematics, computer science, and engineering. As they gain a working knowledge of the fundamentals of STEM in Middle School, they can create their own paths in Upper School based on their areas of interest and their aspirations. From web design to neuroscience, our robust curriculum allows students to realize their full potential.

Cocurricular Opportunities

List of 3 items.

  • + STEM Clubs

    In addition to the strong STEM curriculum offered at GPS, numerous cross-disciplinary activities are available to meet and challenge the curious student. Middle School STEM club opportunities include Girls Who Code, Math Club, and STEM Club. In Upper School, girls can join Computer Science Club, Computer Science Community Service Club, Science Club, and the GPS chapter of the Society of Women Engineers - Next Generation (SWENext). Through the Health Club, they can explore careers in health care. 

    Enrichment programs are also available in the Robotics, Math, and Science Olympiad teams.
  • + Community Outreach

    A crucial element of a woman’s success in a STEM career is establishing mentors. To that end, GPS offers the Women in STEM Lunchtime Learning Series, which brings alumnae and other local women working in STEM to school to discuss with current students their careers and how they interact and support each other. Over the years, companies represented have included UNUM, UTC, Woods Engineering, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Tennessee American Water.

    Our students also have the opportunity to work on site with UTC professors in STEM fields, conducting research and developing semester-long projects that address community needs. We have relationships with the biology department, geology and environmental science department, chemistry department, and engineering department.

    Community outreach has also expanded through participation in local STEM events such as Creative Discovery Museum’s Family Night, Chattanooga State’s STEM Summit, UNUM Tech Day, and STEM Jubilee.
  • + Signature Programming

    Tucker River Fellows is an endowed, multi-year cocurricular program started by the Board of Trustees and named after longtime former headmaster Randy Tucker. Selected prior to their freshman year, Fellows spend part of the summer and following academic year engaged in interdisciplinary scholarship and experiential learning about the many issues impacting their local watershed as well as learning about the historical, ecological, political, economic and aesthetic significance of the Tennessee River. 

    During the second year in the program, River Fellows focus on leadership skills while continuing to learn about the river and watershed. They read and discuss the works of current and historic environmental thinkers. They choose a focus and work with local experts, scientific literature, and policy to become more knowledgeable about their chosen topic. They then collect, analyze, and publish data, and propose solutions for healthier watersheds in the Chattanooga area and beyond. River Girls is a Middle School club led by members of Tucker River Fellows.
“STEM teaches our girls how to look at different situations and think of ways to approach them. While not everyone will end up being an engineer, working in the medical field, or solving a major environmental problem, each girl will be equipped to listen to the information, review the data, and make informed decisions for herself.”

—Tracie Marlin Durham ’80, science teacher & STEM Department Chair