Urban Assembly Maker Academy
Manhattan NY 10038
Hands-on instruction in design and technology
Too soon to tell how the school will develop.
The Urban Assembly Maker Academy (UA Maker) is a CTE (career and technical education) school inspired by the maker movement, which promotes the use of technology and design principles to solve everyday problems. The school opened in September 2014 with strong partnerships with Control Group, a design firm that helped develop the maker components of the curriculum, Parsons School of Design and Spring Point Schools, which helped design the school and provided start-up funds. UA Maker started with a 9th grade and plans to expand by one grade each year.
Founding principal Luke Bauer worked at Odell Education as the director of professional development prior to opening UA Maker. Bauer also taught high school and middle school social studies for many years, first in Kansas and then as a teacher and assistant principal at East Bronx Academy for the Future.
All students take a full load of academic classes in addition to learning design skills in maker classes. Ninth- and 10th-graders study three core areas in design: interaction design (which focuses on the user experience of design), physical computing and digital media. In the upper grades students will pick one area to major in. Seniors will have to complete an exit or capstone project where they will work in teams to design a marketable solution to an industry problem.
Plans are in place to open a maker space at the school during the 2015-16 school year. The large open space is set to be the hub for all hands-on design work, equipped with heavy-duty equipment such as laser and vinyl cutters and 3-D printers that the school has already purchased.
As an unscreened school, UA Maker serves a broad range of struggling, average and high-achieving students. The school has put in place some innovative measures to ensure all students get individual attention and the opportunity to work at their own pace and skill level.
For example, students take structured study halls called independent choice periods. They set goals at the start of each period such as working on a group project or doing some extra practice exercises in a skill they struggle in, and the teacher in charge monitors students fulfillment of their goals. Teachers also use this time to work with individual students to help them identify learning obstacles and devise solutions. One girls solution to incomplete homework was to eliminate a big distraction at home: She gave her cell phone to her mom for one-and-a-half hours each night.
Classes in each subject meet three times a week for varying lengths of 45, 70 and 90 minutes. This allows teachers time to incorporate lots of discussion and projects into the lengthier classes, and to focus on specific skills and review during the 45-minute classes.
All freshmen take an applied physics course that emphasizes more design concepts and hands-on learning than the standard Regents physics curriculum. They also take United States history and either algebra or geometry, depending on their incoming skill level.
To help all students keep up with instruction in English, teachers rely on differentiated texts (middle-, high school- and college- level) covering the same topics of study.
The upper-grade academic curriculum was still in development at the time of our visit, but will include standard Regents courses such as living environment, chemistry, global history and algebra II/trigonometry as well as Advanced Placement courses, said Bauer.
UA Maker is housed in the Murry Bergtraum High School building, which is home to the Manhattan Early College School for Advertising and Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management. In addition to school-run activities such as photography, debate and dance clubs, students from all schools in the building may participate in campus-wide sports teams.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school has ICT (integrated co-teaching) classes and SETSS (special education teacher support services).
ADMISSIONS: Priority to Manhattan residents or students who attend an information session and then to all New York City students who attend an information session. (Laura Zingmond, March 2015)
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Programs and Admissions
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Volleyball, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Badminton, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Flag Football, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball
Coed PSAL teams