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Interdisciplinary STEM Essay Writing Foundations

Open to: Grades 5-8

Eligibility: CTY-level or Advanced CTY-level math or verbal score required

Prerequisites: Successful completion of Interdisciplinary STEM Writing Foundations or a CTY English Language Development placement test.

Course Format: Session BasedSee calendar for session dates and application deadlines.

Course Length: 12 weeks (Early Fall, Late Fall, Winter, Spring, Early Summer, Mid-Summer)

Course Code: ISW2

Course Description


CTY’s online English language development courses are challenging, above-grade-level courses designed for students in grades 5 and up who seek to enhance their English writing skills with the emphasis on building strong grammar and vocabulary. These courses advance each student’s English academic content language in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) for academic writing in those areas.

Interdisciplinary STEM Essay Writing Foundations is designed for both native and non-native English speakers. In this course, students will improve and augment their STEM essay writing skills and advance their general and STEM vocabulary and grammar through a focus on writing effective essays.

This course has synchronous virtual class meetings and students will also schedule one-on-one virtual meetings directly with the instructor and teaching assistant. View the schedule for class meeting times. Meetings will be recorded for students who are unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts. The interactive lessons will give students the opportunity to take risks and have fun while working on improving English grammar, speaking, listening, reading, and composition skills. The virtual classroom includes live audio and video interaction with the instructor and online classmates, interactive whiteboard, multimedia learning materials including games, and other features to enhance online learning.

In this course, students will:

  • Identify the main idea in STEM reading selections.
  • Appropriately incorporate the STEM vocabulary covered in this course in your communications and writing.
  • Use several techniques for brainstorming and generating ideas for your essays.
  • Develop a plan for outlining your essays.
  • Critically analyze paragraphs and essays to extract and identify the main components of a well-written paragraph and essay.
  • Effectively compose essays in four domains of writing: descriptive, comparison, cause and effect, and classification.
  • Appropriately use the grammar and composition skills covered in this course in your writing.

By the end of this course, students will acquire more STEM concepts, knowledge, and vocabulary. This course will prepare eligible students to take CTY’s online science, engineering, and math courses. Review course prerequisites carefully prior to enrolling.

Virtual classrooms, and student activities in the classroom, may be recorded and added to the course as an ongoing asset for all class students to review. Students may be invited to interact in CTY community spaces that include students and instructors and potentially specially invited guests that are not enrolled in their course. Videos from YouTube or other web providers may be present in the course. Video recommendations or links provided at end of videos are generated by the video host provider and are not CTY recommendations. Student contributions (e.g., projects, forum posts, etc.) may remain in the course after the student completes the course. These artifacts may be preserved to showcase student work or to continue important conversations.

Materials Needed

Students must purchase a headset with a microphone. A microphone with an on/off switch is recommended.

Detailed Course Information

Course Details

This course will focus on improving essay writing and understanding the differences between different types of essays.

Students will:

  • Explore the distinct features of a well written essay
  • Acquire new vocabulary that can be used in writing (essay-specific vocabulary)
WeekLessonSTEM TopicGrammar Topic
11The Scientific MethodIntroductions
Course Overview and Tour 
Five Elements of Good Writing
Peer Editing
2The Scientific MethodMain Features of Paragraphs Vs. Essays, Different Types of Paragraphs and Essays, Building Better Vocabulary, Phrasal Verbs
21Water BiomesFive-Paragraph Essay Blueprint, Understanding the Writing Process: The Seven Steps, Introduction to Descriptive Essays
2Water BiomesThe Hook, Using Quotations and Citing Ideas to Avoid Plagiarism, Descriptive Essay Outline
31Animal DiversityLanguage Focus: Describing with the Five Senses, Reading a Diagram, Steps to Writing a Descriptive Essay
2Animal DiversityLanguage Focus: Prepositions of Place, Two Ways to Organize Descriptive Essays, Descriptive Essay Drafts
41The Plant KingdomConnectors and Transitions, Adverbs of Degree, Organization of a Comparison Essay
2The Plant KingdomForming the Comparative and Superlative of Adjectives and Adverbs,  Parallel Structure, Comparison Essay Outline
51Food Chains and Food WebsPrefixes, Variety of Outlines, Working with Language in a Comparison Essay
2Food Chains and Food WebsSentence Types, Features of a Concluding Sentence, Transitions with Concluding Sentences, Comparison Essay Draft
61STEM Midterm ReviewMidterm Review
2STEM Midterm ReviewMidterm Review
71Heat TransferWays of Expressing Past Actions, Clear Pronoun Reference, Organization of a Cause-Effect Essay
2Heat TransferSuffixes, Connectors and Transitions, Proofreading Strategies, Cause and Effect Outline
81Newton’s Laws of MotionPreposition Combinations with Nouns, Titles for Your Work, Working with Language in a Cause-Effect Essay
2Newton’s Laws of MotionSuffixes, Use of the Pronoun in Academic Writing, Cause and Effect Final Draft
91Cell Structure and FunctionsClassifying information, The Passive Voice, Organization of a Classification Essay
2Cell Structure and FunctionsIntegrating Information, Classification Essay Outline
101Cell Structure and FunctionsAdjective Clauses, Working with Language in a Classification Essay
2Cell Structure and FunctionsLooking for Patterns, Capitalization and Punctuation Activities, Classification Essay Draft
111Mixtures and SolutionsWorking on Final Essay of Choice
Review 1st 4 Weeks of STEM Topics
2Mixtures and SolutionsWorking on Final Essay of Choice
Review 2nd 4 Weeks of STEM Topics
121Final Review of All STEM Topics CoveredGrammar Review for Final Exam Part 1 & 2


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Time Required

Students should expect to spend about 5-7 hours per week on this course.

Technical Requirements

This course requires a properly maintained computer with high-speed internet access and an up-to-date web browser (such as Chrome or Firefox). The student must be able to communicate with the instructor via email. Visit the Technical Requirements and Support page for more details.

Zoom online virtual classroom
This course uses an online virtual classroom which can be used for instructor-student communication if the student has any questions about the course or curriculum. The classroom works on standard computers with the Zoom desktop client and also tablets or handhelds that support the Zoom Mobile app. Students will need a computer with the Zoom desktop client installed to watch any recorded meetings. The Zoom desktop client and Zoom Mobile App are both available for free download.

This course uses Respondus LockDown Browser proctoring software for designated assessments. LockDown Browser is a client application that is installed to a local computer. Visit the Respondus website for system requirements.

While Chromebook can be used to progress through the course, all exams must be completed on a PC or Mac.