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STEAM/ Maker / Design Thinking


At The Willows, we regard STEAM as STEAM. The M stands for both Math and Maker. All of these disciplines–science, technology, engineering, art, math–are seamlessly integrated into our curriculum. Our Maker program allows students to fully engage in each discipline. Our students apply the Stanford University d.School of design thinking steps to creatively think critically and analyze effectively. Problem solving, doing, designing, and making all invigorate curriculum and bring learning to life.

The Willows has had a strong Science, Technology, and Mathematics curriculum in place since the founding in 1994. While we have always strived to integrate subjects across the curriculum, the STEAM2 approach (one that is inclusive of the Arts and Maker) truly invites the interdisciplinary bridging of subjects while honoring the skills inherent in each.

Great learning is open-ended, dynamic, authentic, and interconnected. With this in mind, we continually enhance our Maker and STEAM programs to challenge our students to DESIGN, MAKE, CREATE, and EXPLORE in very intentional ways. STEAM2 builds our students’ capacity for empathy, physical skill set, and problem solving abilities.

We inspire our students to realize their potential and view themselves as makers, designers, and doers, who take action to discover and create. A maker mindset enables students to take ownership of their learning and fully engage with the subject matter.

STEAMactivates and energizes learning, expands curriculum, and empowers students to take their Maker mindset, design thinking, and skills into all experiences, preparing them for our constantly evolving world. Our students are well equipped and ready for the 21st century global community. They become the designers of their own destinies.

It was actually my time at The Willows that ended up inspiring my love for Apple and its products. Through designing games, editing videos, and doing assignments on the student laptops we got in 8th grade, I developed a real appreciation for Apple's design and integration between software and hardware. My math/science interests continued through Harvard-Westlake, Cornell, and now Apple, where I get to design the next generation of hardware as a Product Design Engineer. It's a 13-year dream come true - one that started at The Willows.

James Wu, Willows Alum

Image of student cardboard robot  at The Willows, a school in Los Angeles

Where does this all happen? Across our campus in our makerLabs, designLab, STEAMStudio, outdoor spaces, and designated classroom areas. Students innovate and take their ideas to a new level collaborating with others as they envision, prototype, design, build, rebuild, and share.

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The Toolkit for STEAM2