PORTLAND JEWISH ACADEMY (P–8)
6651 SW Capitol Hwy
“You know ‘no child left behind’?” says Joe Minato, a Porland Jewish Academy middle school science teacher. “Here it’s ‘no child left on their behind.’”
Indeed, at PJA the goal is to inspire young inventors and explorers by encouraging them to ask questions and seek the solutions through observation and experimentation instead of by spending hours sitting with a textbook.
Beginning as early as preschool, active science lessons go hand in hand with social studies, history, and literature. “They’ll study the moon cycle, keep a moon journal that incorporates writing and art, and attend a constellation party,” says principal Merrill Hendin.
Field trips and outdoor projects supplement the in-school instruction. For example, every year the fifth-grade class takes a weeklong trip to an environmental education program on Bainbridge Island. They then return home and translate what they’ve learned to a wetlands restoration project at nearby Gabriel Park. PJA also maintains three labs, including a project room in which science-fair hopefuls—like Amiel Patton-Hall, who last year won four awards at the Intel Northwest Science Expo—can work after-hours.
The result? Students who are as excited about science as they are about Miley Cyrus—and a classroom full of empty seats. —Anna Sachse
OREGON EPISCOPAL SCHOOL (P–12)
6300 SW Nicol Rd; oes.edu
At Oregon Episcopal’s thrice-weekly “Gathering” assemblies, athletes aren’t the only ones who get cheers: the yells for science award winners are just as loud.
And that means there’s a lot of noise in them thar Raleigh Hills. Since 1995, this 141-year-old institution has racked up 66 total finalists and semifinalists in two prestigious national contests (Siemens Westinghouse and the Intel Science Talent Search). Among them are juniors Matthew Fernandez and Akash Krishnan, whose emotion recognition software won first place in the Siemens Competition for Math, Science and Technology in December.
“Our real goal is to develop lifelong learners who have a natural curiosity and explore the unknown,” says interim head of school Kathleen Z. Layendecker.
To that end, the school—which boasts the highest average SAT math score (670) of any Oregon school—advocates a hands-on approach in which students design experiments to find the answers to questions they pose. OES provides support with a center dedicated to science, technology, and math; state-of-the-art labs; mentors from local high-tech companies and universities; and a broad range of science classes. From grades 6 to 11, pupils conduct annual research projects—a program Krishnan credits for his team’s winning software, which has already garnered interest from the likes of Johns Hopkins and the US government. Now does that deserve a hurrah or what? —AS
ARBOR SCHOOL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES (K–8)
4201 SW Borland Rd, Tualatin
Arbor’s 21 acres of woods become a living lab for its 160 students. The experiments? Archaeological digs, tending pygmy goats, and even re-creating the Oregon Trail.
CATLIN GABEL (P–12)
8825 SW Barnes Rd
In five years Catlin’s high school robotics team has won 20 FIRST competition awards, becoming the only Oregon team to qualify for the world championships four years in a row.