Hyde Goes All In on STEAM

by David Brooks, faculty

I am a software engineer by trade and training with approximately 30 years of experience in the trenches. I was introduced to Hyde as a parent, not an educator. My wife, Stacey (Goldberg) Brooks and I have two children, Eliana Goldberg ’13 Woodstock and PG ’14 Bath, and Ethan Goldberg ’15 Woodstock. I was intrigued the moment I stepped onto a Hyde campus. I don’t think I need to go into too much detail; you know what I mean. The level of genuine concern, the depth of the connections made, the passion of the faculty and staff all mix to make Hyde School a unique and powerful place of possibility and change.

Robotics classroom
The Hyde Robotics classroom

After the kids graduated, Stacey rejoined the Bath Hyde faculty, and I took part in the HAPA program, but that wasn’t enough. I knew I wanted to be more deeply involved, but how could I contribute as a software engineer? My opportunity came when I was asked to be a community mentor for Hyde’s fledgling FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics program during the winter of the 2015–2016 school year.

Working so closely with the Hyde students just pulled me in deeper. I was well and truly hooked.

I spent the spring of 2016 talking with Laura Gauld about how I might be able to come on board. We discussed a wide variety of options, all centered around the idea of creating a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) program at Hyde. We didn’t have a budget, but we had ideas and passion. I agreed to leave my job behind and become a Hyde faculty member and the Director of STEAM Engineering with a charter to develop the program.

Student works on a car model
A student works on his remote-controlled vehicle

The vision for the program was, by necessity, limited at first. We didn’t have the funding to go big in the first years so we planned to start small and grow as we raised funds. Fortunately for us, we didn’t have long to wait. Blake Matheny ’98 heard of the new STEAM program during the Hyde 50th bash and got involved.

FIRST competition
David Brooks with a Hyde student at a FIRST Robotics competition

Everything changed when he gave the school a generous gift to jump-start our plans. Instead of starting with a single class in the first year, which would have been me teaching computer science in the writing center, we were able to

  • build a state of the art computer science lab
  • refurbish the physics classroom
  • purchase LEGOR MindstormsR kits for the Introduction to Robotics class
  • build the MakerSpaces and Innovation Lab
  • purchase three 3D printers, purchase new Macintosh computers for the Mac lab…

…and the list goes on.

David Brooks with a student in the classroom
David Brooks with a student in the classroom

We have received other donations from Hyde families as well. All of these gifts, both large and small, have helped us build a great program in a short period of time. With continued help from generous souls, we will continue to build on these successes by offering cross-curricular programming, updating our basic science labs, creating a dedicated space for the FIRST Robotics team, capital investment in tooling for the Robotics team, and more.