An International Preschool-Grade 12 Academy 
Academics

STEAM at GEMS

Connecting Students to The Future

GEMS World Academy Chicago threads an innovative STEAM program (science, technology, engineering, art & design and math) throughout our International Baccalaureate curriculum.

Our approach is integrated; teachers work together to develop lessons and activities that resonate across disciplines. This is why, when students study a painting in a museum, they consider how light refraction is visualized in it, and it is why students use robotics kits to build versions of characters they explore in literature classes.

Our commitment to STEAM begins with our youngest learners, who are provided access to state-of-the-art technology and encouraged to see the world in terms of systems.  All GEMS students are issued iPads, and starting in Grade 4, they are issued MacBooks, as well.

As students progress into the Upper School years (grades 6 and up), their use of technology becomes more sophisticated, as they begin to create, prototype and model. They develop an entrepreneurial “maker spirit” in our Design & Innovation Lab, a unique learning space that includes robotics and coding stations, laser cutters, 3-D printers and power tools.



Technology is not an end in itself at GEMS World Academy Chicago. Rather, it is a mindset that allows students to translate and interact with the world around them in meaningful, reflective ways. In 2016, GEMS was recognized as an Apple Distinguished School for the way it integrates technology into the curriculum.

Math and science are integrated into the regular Primary Years Program units of inquiry for Lower School students, providing a nuanced exploration of the order, patterns and systemic underpinnings of the world around us. In the Middle Years Program, math and sciences are two of the eight subject groups that form the framework of the program.

GEMS students explore art throughout their academic journey. In the Lower School, students examine the basics of visual art and music, using those as springboards for larger engagements with creativity and problem solving. In the Upper School, drama and design are added to the program.

Our integrated STEAM program, ultimately, transforms students into creative problem solvers who know how to study challenges through multiple lenses. Our pedagogical approach is based on research and partnership with such institutions as Carnegie Mellon University and Tufts University, providing our teachers and students with the latests in STEAM theory and practice. 

Our Technology Environment

List of 4 items.

  • iPad Mini (1:1 Program)

    Every student at GEMS World Academy is issued an iPad Mini. The iPad Mini is a multifaceted tool for learning in the classroom and field studies. As a primary tool in support of our Field Studies and Mobile Learning Program, students use iPads to capture and create a multimedia media record. iPads are also used across the school as research tools and note-taking and reading devices. As our students study the city, iPad Minis enable students to bring the school with them into the field and the field back into school, while reflecting upon data that directly ties to their research and classroom unit of inquiry. 
  • MacBook Pro (2:1 Program)

    Beginning in fourth grade, every student is issued a MacBook. The MacBooks are adjunct with the iPad Minis for students to work on analysis, mapping of data, multimedia production, coding, robotics and word processing. Having a 2:1 student environment creates a complete mobile lab environment. 
  • Digital Learning Software

    We provide our educational community with a powerful and collaborative Learning Management System called Canvas by Instructure. This eLearning tool provides an ideal interactive cloud-based classroom. Canvas enables the teacher to post multimedia course materials, engage students in an interactive forum for discussions,and use the site for global school-to-school project-based learning. Students can be co-enrolled in the system with their parents, who gain a window into the classroom and ask questions of the teacher. Canvas also provides a platform to enhance and extend teacher professional development. 
  • Design and Innovation Lab

    Our Design & Innovation Lab is an ideal space in which to imagine, design, prototype and create in a hands-on, project-based learning environment. Students think like inventors, designers, engineers and scientists as they create products to address problems in the world and learn essential skills for new careers. Our lab features 3D printers, a laser cutter, Scatch and other programming language stations, electronics stations featuring Arduino and Rasberry Pi, hand and power tools and robotics. 

Partners in Innovation




GEMS World Academy Chicago has entered a partnership with the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University. Our teachers collaborate with experts from CMU to find new ways to build upon the robotics programs already in place in our school and explore additional STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) concepts in the classroom.  

The partnership with CMU underscores our commitment to remaining on the leading of thought and practice when it comes to integrating technology into a rigorous academic program.

For more about our robotics efforts and our work with CMU, read blog posts here and here

Global Design Challenge



A highlight of our STEAM program is the GEMS Global Design Challenge, which brings together young innovators from all over the city to work on projects with a distinguished group of adult mentors.

The two-day event, hosted by and at our school, challenges teams of students in grades 5 through 10 to design and create solutions to one of the U.N. Global Goals for Sustainable Development. In the past, GEMS has partnered with organizations such as the United Nations Association Chicago, National Geographic, Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE Lab and Lemelson-MIT to make the Global Design Challenge a success.

The Challenge, which encourages students to be critical thinkers and creative problem solvers, and stands as an example of our dynamic STEAM program in action.

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