Midwinter Term, or M-Term, is an opportunity for Upper School students and teachers to work intensively on group and individual projects during three weeks, usually in March, between Winter and Spring Terms. Classes and programs in a wide variety of subjects are offered to expose students to in-depth study, new interests, possible college/career paths, volunteer opportunities, and recreational pursuits. Many of these occur in conjunction with travel, both abroad and within the United States. Independent study projects may also be proposed for M-Term. M-Term projects often form the basis for continued study or interaction, expansion into a Senior Project, or the impetus for fundraising or other service efforts.
|OFF-CAMPUS COURSES WITH TRAVEL 2014|Adventure on the South Pacific: Founder’s Trip to French Polynesia Read blogThe Coastal Ecology of St. John, U.S. Virgin Island Read blogEthnomusicology in Cuba Read blogAn Exploration of the Culture, History, and the Environment of Panama Read blogHiking the Ridgeway: Sustainable Travel on the Oldest Road in Europe Read blogIsolated Like an Island in the Planetary Sea: Myanmar Read blogRSTA Travel Course to Greece: The Olympics and the Meaning of Sport Read blog
Grades 7/8: Ethnology and Sustainable Ecology in Belize Read blog
Adventure on the South Pacific: Founder’s Trip to French Polynesia
Travel to the island of Mo'orea in French Polynesia to explore the crystal clear waters, rare biodiversity, and indigenous cultures of the area. Mo'orea is considered to be one of the most beautiful islands in the world for its rich natural history, geology, and tropical diversity. This travel course offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to launch Ross School’s collaboration with University of California Berkeley’s Gump Station for Marine Research. Students will collaborate with locals and expert scientists through art, media, and science. They will explore the relationship between indigenous knowledge and scientific data being collected at the Gump Station. Time will be spent in the water collecting and cataloging rare marine species, participating in native dance and music, navigating by the stars in dugout canoes, and exploring the undersea world and reef by day and night through snorkel and scuba excursions. Students will work onsite to develop collaborative photography and video projects as well as to create their own media portfolios about the people, flora, and fauna of this rich island. The service component of this trip will focus on researching, developing, and sharing curricular resources with the Attia Cultural Center.
The Coastal Ecology of St. John, U.S. Virgin Island
Students will experience the island of St. John and its surrounding islands and all their beauty while learning about the challenges facing the local coral reefs, the island’s flora and fauna, and the island communities. Students will learn about the islands’ fragile ecosystems and the steps that are being taken to respect and preserve them. Hands-on activities include working in a waterside marine biology laboratory as well as field studies. Students will dive into experiential learning through field activities that will include hiking, swimming, snorkeling, and boating. Lectures by local experts will prepare students to optimally experience and synthesize their experiences. Students will also engage in community service activities to assist in the preservation of the island’s natural form. This Ross travel group will stay at the Virgin Island Resource Station (VIERS) for 9 days of the course. Additional course time will be spent on campus and in surrounding local learning spaces.
Ethnomusicology in Cuba
In this Ethnomusicology course, students will travel to Cuba in order to study traditional music or dance. They will stay in Old Havana and work intensively with master percussionists and dancers on Rumba and Bata rhythms, exploring the relationship between these musical forms and the Afro-Cuban Santería religion. In addition to performances and cultural sites, excursions will take place to locations representing the pristine beauty of the island.
An Exploration of the Culture, History, and Environment of Panama
Panama is considered as one of the leading destinations for students interested in tropical biology and rainforest preservation. As a land bridge between two continents, Panama is a meeting place of more than 950 species of birds from North and South America. Its tremendous biodiversity and the accessibility of its tropical forests make Panama a paradise for nature and ecological studies. Panama itself is a flower garden with more than 1,500 species of trees and more than 10,000 species of plants. With two oceans washing its shores, Panama is also rich in marine life. In the rainforest are monkeys, sloths, pumas, ocelots, armadillos, peccaries, anteaters, jaguars, and other native animals of the American Tropic. Panama is home to an incredible variety of insects, three times as many as found in Canada, the United States, and Europe combined. Additionally, there are three major Indian groups in Panama: the Kunas of the San Blas Islands off the Caribbean coast, the Embera in the provinces of Darien, and the Nogbe Bugle in the provinces of Chiriqui, Bocas del Toro, and Veraguas.
This trip will expose students to the natural wonders of lowland tropical forest, cloud forest and coral reef ecosystems. Culturally, students will have the opportunity to interact with and learn about two indigenous groups, the Emberas and the Kuna, and to experience city life in the developing world. In Panama City, the group will discover three cities in one: Old Panama, Colonial Panama, and Modern Panama. Day trips to national parks for birding and wildlife observations will help everyone acclimate to the heat and humidity. Students will also visit the Panama Canal and one of the three sets of locks. Extensive briefing and handouts will prepare all students for travel in the developing world. In addition to collaborative research projects, the students will keep a daily field book of their natural history and cultural observations.
Hiking the Ridgeway: Long-Term Sustainable Travel on the Oldest Road in Europe
Humans walk. For tens of thousands of years, humans have migrated across the world by walking. As they passed through the world, they left behind changes to the environment. This is a clear example of sustainable use of the environment. For the M-Term course "Hiking the Ridgeway: Long-term Sustainable Travel on the Oldest Road in Europe," students will walk the length of the Ridgeway, an 87-mile trail in England. For at least 5,000 years, travelers have used the Ridgeway, which provided a reliable trading route through western England. The high, dry ground made travel easy and provided a measure of protection by giving traders a commanding view to guard against potential attacks. The trail passes near the Bronze Age Uffington White Horse and numerous stone circles near Avebury. During the Iron Age, inhabitants took advantage of the high ground by building hill forts along the Ridgeway to help defend the trading route. Following the collapse of Roman authority in Western Europe, the trail was used by invading Saxon and Viking armies. In medieval times and later, drovers used the Ridgeway, moving their livestock from the West Country and Wales to markets in London. After the Enclosure Acts of the 18th century, the current path developed through the building of earth banks and the planting of hedges. Students will investigate the historical development of human travel and the construction of historical monuments, including stone circles, barrows, hill forts, and chalk monuments. Through writing, photography, and video, students will document the alteration to the environment and the long-term sustainable agriculture of the area that is now threatened due to population growth and environmental changes. The course will include time in London to investigate Bronze and Iron Age artifacts in the British Museum as well as visits to important historical sites such as the Tower of London and Stonehenge.
Isolated Like an Island in the Planetary Sea: Myanmar
In this intensive course, students explore the beautiful and ancient land of Myanmar. They will begin at the capital city of Yangon and travel to Bagan, Mandalay, and Inle Lake, then boat up the Irrawaddy River, visit the villages of Indein, Amarapura, and Mingun, and end their adventures at the fishing village of Ngapali on the Bay of Bengal. Students will document their travels through various media with interviews, photographs, and video, and use these to integrate their experience of this diverse and enigmatic land. They will attempt to assimilate Myanmar’s rich cultural history and begin to understand the country's place in a planetary vision of sustainability. Amidst the ruins of Bagan, the 11th–13th century capital of the Pagan Empire, students will have the opportunity to study the complexities of societal collapse.
Filled with paradox, Myanmar is home to some of the earliest hominid migrations out of Africa and to the early beginnings of agriculture and civilization. It has been a nexus for invaders, kingdoms, empires, European colonization, World War II battles, independence, and a recent descent into military rule. It has been isolated from economic globalism for several decades, and stands poised today to rejoin the world community. Once one of the region’s wealthiest countries, the country has become one of the world’s most impoverished. Carts pulled by oxen, plows yoked to water buffalo, wooden boats paddled by hand—Myanmar feels exotic to the tourist and pre-industrial to the historian, and is an important case study in our quest for sustainability. Its forests are lush, its fields are fertile, and it is rich in resources. The country is also presently undergoing some of the greatest environmental destruction on the planet. “This is Burma,” wrote Rudyard Kipling. “And it is quite unlike any place you know about.”
RSTA Travel Course to Greece: The Olympics and the Meaning of Sport
This RSTA-sponsored course will be used to expose students to the historical birthplace of the Olympics. They will understand the historical significance of Greece as the birthplace of the Olympics and the impact the event and Greek culture has had on the present-day concept of athleticism. They will compare how sports events were participated in then to now. Students will learn the actual concept behind the Greek concerns and views on competition, what it meant to them, and why they even created the Olympic Games. As part of the RSTA focus, students will learn how, where, and when tennis started at the Olympics and how some of the characteristics of tennis are still similar to the original Olympic concept of the sport. While in Greece, RSTA students will continue a rigorous schedule of training. They will compete against other academy tennis teams as well as in handicapped (wheelchair) tennis to understand how in the tradition of Olympian spirit, physical ailments cannot and have never stopped the will of an athlete. Lastly, they will enjoy the overall culture and philosophy of the traditional and present-day Greek lifestyle.
Grades 7/8: Ethnology and Sustainable Ecology in Belize
During this nine-day course, students will study the history and ethnology of Belize, while exploring the diverse ecologies of its barrier reef and tropical rainforest ecosystems. Partnering with IZE Belize, students will spend the first portion of the expedition visiting Maya archaeological sites and observing hundreds of species of exotic birds and plants, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals in the remote mountains of southern Belize. During this time, students will have the opportunity to observe Mayan hieroglyphs and explore magnificent limestone caves while learning about the geological processes that form them. Additional cultural activities will include engaging in a community service project at a local school; learning about the medicinal and culinary uses of the local herbs, plants, and trees through visits to local farms; dining on traditional meals; and participating in a drumming class and performance with local instructors.
For the second portion of the expedition, students will transition their focus to the marine ecosystems of the Belize barrier reef. Relocating to South Water Caye, a small island covered with coconut palms and tropical flowers, students will spend their days snorkeling the reef formations of this UNESCO world heritage site and learning about marine ecology and sustainability issues from marine scientists at the nearby Smithsonian Research Station. Possible marine encounters include wrasses, octopuses, rays, angelfish, groupers, seahorses, upside-down photosynthesizing jellyfish, and maybe even a giant manatee.
|ON-CAMPUS COURSES 2014|Art and CommunityExplore Long Island: A Program of Service and Learning Read blogJ.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-EarthThe Life Behind the Lyrics: A Study of the Rhetoric in Popular MusicMangiamo: Learning Italian Language and Culture Through CuisineMusical Theater WorkshopProgrammer’s Workshop: Autonomous Systems and Artificial IntelligenceGrades 7/8: Environmental AdventuresGrades 7/8: Making Ross a Little Greener
Art and Community
In this course, motivated students will explore contemporary art, writing, theater, movement, and film on the East End and in New York City. Students examine how the arts nourish and sustain cultural identity and community by experiencing the vibrancy of current locations in Brooklyn, New York City, and the East End. Students will investigate their own identity and relationship to community by engaging in their own art production and experimental writing, drawing inspiration from visits to artist studios, art centers, museums, music, and theater and dance performances.
Explore Long Island: A Program of Service and Learning
In this course, students will engage in discussion and exploration regarding local environmental issues right here on Long Island! Students will focus on the source of these particular problems and brainstorm potential solutions collaboratively. Areas of study include invasive species removal, environmental upkeep of historical areas, seal tagging, biome-specific issues on Long Island, and environmental disaster cleanup. Students will work with local organizations such as Group for the East End, Accabonac Protection Agency, the East Hampton Town Planning Department, the East Hampton Town Natural Resources Department, and the Riverhead Foundation to enact true, quantifiable change in the issues being investigated. Based on their experiences and process folios documenting these experiences, students will present their work in the form of an educational fair to the Ross students on the Lower School campus.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth
J.R.R. Tolkien created an entire world known as Middle-earth. This world has its own geography, history, cultures, peoples, languages, traditions, and conflicts. In this M-Term, students will read The Hobbit as well as excerpts from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Additionally, students will view films based on these novels. While discussion topics vary, special emphasis will be placed on the issue of sustainability as it relates to cultural heritage, the environment, and technology. The protagonists Tolkien's works are the peaceful hobbits, whose traditions include leading a largely pastoral life, living off the land without exploiting it. Then there are the forest-loving elves and the ents, or “tree herders.” Of course, dwarves and men have their flaws, while the technology and war-driven Saruman destroys the natural environment in the name of industry. The ultimate evil is the dark lord, Sauron, who has turned Mordor into a wasteland, and who threatens to do the same to the rest of Middle-earth. The ultimate battle is not only among different cultures, races, and language groups. It is also between those who would preserve the natural environment and those who would destroy it. As a final project, students will write an original chapter for a Tolkien work and/or create their own film version of a scene from one of the works studied.
The Life Behind the Lyrics: A Study of the Rhetoric in Popular Music
Since becoming widely accessible in the early 20th century, popular music has been an integral and symbiotic aspect of American culture. It influences our culture, and at the same time, is influenced by our culture. However, the significance and depth within some lyrics in popular music are often overlooked. In response, students in this course will examine, interpret, and synthesize the narratives and cultural context of lyrics to popular music in a mission to understand the artists' rhetoric. Specifically, students will analyze music albums as holistic bodies of work and discuss the parallels between the albums’ lyrics and literature by identifying literary elements and devices within the lyrics. Students will engage in discourse about the rhetoric and collaborate to create individual written products. Through these products, students will translate pop music albums into works of literature in various formats, including poetry collections, short stories, and plays. Together, the class will create an exploratory documentary and accompanying digital/online magazine that answers essential questions. Students will also present their individual creative products. The course includes at least two trips to New York City to further put class discourse into context and film the documentary.
Mangiamo: Learning Italian Language and Culture Through Cuisine
In this course, students will experience Italian language and culture through the medium of traditional Italian food. In each morning session, students will learn new vocabulary and sentence structures, and then will apply their new linguistic knowledge to a hands-on cooking lesson in the afternoon. By communicating in Italian with their classmates and instructors while creating and sharing delicious food together, students will “live the language” in an interactive and fun real-world context.
This course goes beyond pizza and pasta stereotypes of Italian food to explore the rich diversity and authenticity of traditional Italian cuisine. Under the instruction of experienced cook and native speaker Anna Castellazzi, students will use a variety of ingredients to create a wide range of traditional dishes from all over Italy while also exploring each recipe’s historical and regional background. In addition to building basic language and culinary skills, students will explore Italian table manners and dining etiquette, stereotypes about Italian culture and food, and how ethnic food is altered when it is exported to a different culture. The course culminates in a culinary research project that students must present to the class.
Musical Theater Workshop
Students will work in pairs and small groups to prepare excerpts from Broadway musicals where a scene of dialogue flows into a song. The course will particularly emphasize how an actor can derive clues to a character’s motivations and subtext through careful examination of the character’s words, other characters’ words, and the melodic and harmonic structures present in what the character sings. Students will explore techniques for healthy vocalization, character-driven movement onstage, and effective pacing of lines (both spoken and sung). The course also includes a trip to Manhattan to see a Broadway show. The student performers will present their musical theater excerpts in a culminating performance at the end of M-Term.
Programmer’s Workshop: Autonomous Systems and Artificial Intelligence
In this hands-on workshop, students will construct and program intelligent agents that respond to their environment, from robotic rovers, to “smart” appliances, to GPS-aware applications. Students will apply their prior programming experience to create both real and virtual systems that display awareness of their surroundings and intelligent responses to outside stimuli. Teams of students will work together to enhance and refine Innovation Lab projects such as robotic rovers and underwater vehicles to make them more capable of autonomous operation. In a series of seminar-style discussions, students will discuss the moral, ethical, and legal implications of the fact that we will soon be living in a world filled with driverless cars and robotic aerial drones. Students will also explore the history of the idea of artificial intelligence in fact and fiction and discuss the accuracy of various futurists' predictions. Finally, students will address the “hard problem of consciousness” when it comes to creating computers that might cross the boundary from “intelligent” to truly “sentient."
Grades 7/8: Environmental Adventures
This course focuses on the environment at our fingertips here on the Ross campus and our immediate surroundings on the East End of Long Island. The course involves local field trips. Students will explore what it means to interact with the natural environment through outdoor activities, games, science, art-based projects, and individual reflection. This M-Term course will challenge students' teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills. Much of the course takes place outdoors.
Grades 7/8: Making Ross a Little Greener
Greenhouses are buildings that utilize the greenhouse effect to trap heat and extend the growing season of numerous plants, sometimes all the way through the winter season. Many greenhouses are used to produce food or ornamental flowers for sale or individual consumption, and greenhouses can be used to create a more sustainable form of agriculture with a lower impact on the environment. In this course, students will build and visit a greenhouse, build a compost area, and prepare the greenhouse for spring planting. A greenhouse allows us to garden most of the year with our favorite veggies. In addition, a greenhouse enables us to garden easily in such difficult situations as a short growing season, wind, low nighttime temperatures, hungry wildlife, low rainfall, high altitude, urban gardening, low humidity, and/or cold winters. Imagine—fresh food, not canned or processed.