Our vision: to inspire, engage, and empower a community that fosters innovation, creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving within and across the curriculum and co-curriculum.


  • To provide unique learning experiences through collaboration.
  • To inspire creative, critical, and analytical thinking.
  • To inspire an appreciation for and the imagination needed to design, create, and utilize advanced technologies.
  • To develop leaders who support one another through collaboration.
  • To provide professional learning and resources for educators.

S.T.E.A.M. in Action


Located in the Cohen Center for the Creative Arts is the innovative design makerspace, a creativity lab for projects related to STEAM and design thinking. This space serves as a hub of creativity and invention on campus, bringing together traditional engineering and manufacturing equipment such as computer-controlled machining tools, hardware supplies, motors, sensors, microcontrollers and related electronics, 3D printers and scanners, laser cutting machines, traditional power tools, electrical equipment, and other design equipment. This space will inspire new modes of design-oriented thinking, hands on learning, collaboration, and inventing.


Faculty from across disciplines have come together to develop Engineering curriculum for RCDS Upper School students:

Want to solve real life problems? Enjoy designing and making? This course will introduce students to various fields of engineering through interdisciplinary problem solving and the completion of student-designed projects. Engineers apply the principles of design, mathematics, science, and computer science to solve real-world problems. Students will plan, design, build, analyze, and stress test a variety of projects of their own designs. Have an interest in designing buildings, ships, or bridges? How about rockets, cars, or playground equipment? Robots, alarms, or digital maps? Renewable energy technologies? If so, Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Computer, or Chemical Engineering may be in your future! Students will complete several such projects, including a capstone design.

This course will introduce students to the process of designing, constructing and programming robots. Students will learn principles of electrical and mechanical engineering including building and programming sensors and motors. Students will have hands-on experience constructing their own robot either individually and in teams.Throughout the course students will compete in robotics challenges. Students in this course may attend the VEX Robotics Competitions with the Robotics Club.


Women in Science Club (WISC), is a student led club in the Upper School that strives to advocate for equal education, exposure, opportunity, and recognition for women in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. The unfortunate reality of the science world today is that there is an underrepresentation and lack of recognition for women and minorities in these fields. WISC is working to spread awareness of the gender deficiency that exists in the STEM field. Some of these deficiencies take root in the decreased number of females in Advanced Placement science courses. This is the case both nationally and at RCDS.

The Women in Science Enrichment (WISE) After School Program, which is free of charge, is designed to expose middle school girls to the fascinating world of science through intriguing experiments. The entire program, which will meet once a week from 3:30pm-5pm, will be led by members of the upper school Women in Science Club and a rotation of science department faculty. The experiments, which will be created with the help of faculty, will each target a different field within STEM, such as cosmetic chemistry, DNA fingerprinting using gel electrophoresis, DNA extraction, muscle physiology using electromyograms (EMGs), topics in neuroscience, etc. Each of these experiments will help to ignite the spark for girls in STEM.

Building Participation, Performance, and Confidence in S.T.E.A.M.

STEAM, a key component of 21st-century education, provides foundations such as a growth mindset, perseverance, critical thinking, problem solving, observation, and exploration - all vital to success across disciplines. As students build these skills, their sense of empowerment or agency grows exponentially, helping them to tackle issues in our increasingly complex world. A STEAM skillset is fundamental in today’s tech-savvy and saturated world, providing more pathways to academic success and many of the most in-demand and fulfilling careers.

Through a three-tiered and cyclical approach of research, coordination, and outreach, RCDS faculty are facilitating diversity of STEAM participation and therefore, student agency, across gender, socioeconomic class, race, and academic tracks, by providing more opportunities to more students. We hope to build student, faculty, and parent awareness of underrepresentation in STEM subjects, bringing it into the forefront of mindfulness so that the opportunities that currently exist at RCDS may be leveraged to include more underrepresented students. Faculty hope to change the persistent student perception that math and science are only for certain groups of people, involve more students, and therefore, create more leaders in the world of STEM.

Makerspace Apprenticeship Program

The Cohen Center for the Creative Arts features an innovative design makerspace. A creativity lab for projects that encompass RCDS’s commitment to STEAM and design thinking.


Students in both Middle and Upper School have the opportunity to participate in after school robotics teams. The two Middle School First Lego League strategize, design, and program EV3 robots that compete against each other throughout the year. Students focus on learning the basics of robotics competition: robot game, research project, and core values. In Upper School, the RCDS Vex Robotics team works throughout the year to to develop, tweak, and re-design two RCDS robots. The team then competes in both local and regional competitions, including the New York State Vex Robotics Competition.


SiSTEM (Students in STEM) is a tuition-free after-school academic enrichment program focused on developing participants’ skills and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. RCDS Upper School student volunteers teach fifth grade students from local public schools through engaging hands-on activities designed to spark curiosity and excitement.

S.T.E.A.M. Coordinator
Cathie Bischoff

S.T.E.A.M. News

Skills Spotlight: The Physics Behind Instruments

To demonstrate their understanding of mechanical waves, particularly sound waves, eighth grade physical science students designed and built musical instruments made out of recycled materials and common hardware items in the makerspace.