Middle School Expedition

Welcome to Middle School Expedition

Thank you to everyone who participated in Middle School Expedition! More information about our 2019 offerings will be available soon.


Please explore the 2018 offerings below:

Our Middle School Expedition program is designed to be rigorous and engaging, showcasing the best of Nueva's "learn by doing" philosophy. Each offering aims to provide campers unique opportunities to explore academic passions in greater depth while working with Nueva teachers, students, and visiting college professors. Campers will experience Nueva's constructivist, project- and inquiry-based learning environment, and cultivate new skills and interests. 

This year, our middle school program is a full-day program, campers entering grades 5–8 will choose from one morning offering and one afternoon offering. Four weeks of unique content is available to all middle school campers. 

Here is the program schedule followed by individual course descriptions:


Grades 5 - 6


Grades 7 - 8


July 2-6


WW: Unforgettable Monologues 


Mock Trial 

Lego Robotics



Mock Trial

Lego Robotics

WW: Unforgettable Monologues 


July 9-13


Create Your Own Math Games and Puzzles

Model United Nations

Environmental Science

WW: Starting Your Novel



Design Thinking: Tiny Houses

WW: “Green Chill Upon the Heat”

Rocket Science: Propulsion and Flight Aerodynamics

Model United Nations

July 16-20


Environmental Science

WW: Choose Your Own Adventure

Mock Trial

Patterns & Symmetry



Pattern & Symmetry

Mock Trial

Simple Machines

WW: 1,000 Word Challenge

July 23-27


Playing Politics

WW: Short Stories


Food Science



Rocket Science


Art of Mathematics

Playing Politics


Writer’s Workshop Series


Writers Workshop: Unforgettable Monologues (5–8)

Jennifer Perry,  Middle and Upper School Writing Teacher

Join us for a writing intensive workshop where we will devote equal time to creating unique, memorable characters and to animating those characters through riveting, unforgettable monologues. We will dig deep, devising back stories, motivations, and emotional landscapes for each character, then bring them to life through dialogue.

By the end of the week, we will use the creative writing workshop format to gather feedback and revise the monologues. Finally, we will celebrate by performing the monologues.

Writer's Workshop: Choose Your Own Adventure (5/6)

Karen Tiegel, Middle School Writing Teacher 

You sit in front of your laptop, stunned by the information you are now seeing. If you choose to take the summer camp, sign up now. If you choose to move on to a different description, scroll down. That's right! It's a Choose Your Own Adventure summer camp! We'll spend the week writing twists and turns to an adventure of your choice. In the process, we'll study models of the genre by R.A. Montgomery and other authors, practice creating tension and suspense, consider what types of adventures make the best stories, and develop effective plot lines. At the end of the camp, we'll share our stories and print them out in booklet form.

Writer's Workshop: Short Stories (5/6)

Karen Tiegel, Middle School Writing Teacher 

Rebecca Loveless, LS Structured Word Inquiry Coach 

“Words create sentences; sentences create paragraphs; sometimes paragraphs quicken and begin to breathe.” ― Stephen King, On Writing

Sharpen your writing skills with a one-week session of instruction, writing, and sharing. Work purposely through the writing process, experience the motivation to follow through on longer pieces, and receive expert advice on revision. Join other writers as we explore a variety of writing genres, including creative writing, poetry, historical fiction, descriptive pieces, and fun writing challenges. We will focus on key writing skills such as character and setting development, plot structures, and pre-writing organization.

“A Green Chill Upon the Heat” (5/6)

Jennifer Perry,  Middle and Upper School Writing Teacher
Interested in improving your descriptive writing skills? Would you like to write effectively and persuasively about climate change and other ecological dangers facing our world? Are you curious about the unique power of poetry to capture the beauty and majesty of the natural world? Join our writing intensive to explore inspirational mentor texts from many writers (including Emily Dickinson as the title comes from a line of her poetry) and to draft and revise personal narratives, poetry, and essays.

Writer's Workshop: Starting Your Novel (7/8)

Karen Tiegel, 6th Grade Dean/Middle School Teacher 

Rebecca Loveless, LS Structured Word Inquiry Coach 

“When I want to read a novel, I write one.” ― Benjamin Disraeli

You know that moment when you put down a book, sigh, and enjoy the last bit of an amazing piece of literature? And then you really, really, really wish that there was another book you could immediately pick up and start? Well, maybe it’s time to write that book… your novel. This camp will focus on the development of your novel—from choosing a plotline and characters to defining the conflict. You’ll have time to outline and begin writing the first chapters of your novel, and you’ll receive feedback both from the teacher and fellow writers on your work.

Writer's Workshop: 1,000 Word Challenge (7/8)

Karen Tiegel, Middle School Writing Teacher 

Rebecca Loveless, LS Structured Word Inquiry Coach 

The 1,000 Word Challenge is a writers’ workshop in which students write a story in exactly 1,000 words. Writing with a word limit forces the writers to make choices about plot, diction, and conflict. You’ll practice developing an idea, determining the key elements of the plot and characters, and then writing and revising until the piece is exactly 1,000 words long. Campers will receive regular feedback on their writing as well as have time to write at least one polished story. Campers are encouraged to submit their 1,000 word stories to a local writing contest.

Mathematical Explorations

Fractals (5–8)

Steven Channan Middle School Math Teacher

Patterns of chaos are all around us, from shells on the beach and spiral galaxies to the complex structure of the human lung.Take a close look at a stalk of broccoli, for example, and note the pattern is the same regardless of scale.A big stalk branches into smaller stalks, each of which branches into even smaller stalks, down and down several levels. This is an example of a fractal—a mathematical object that is similar to itself at different size scales. In this intensive, we will study fractals mostly by building them, both with physical objects (paper, envelopes, Zome tools, and so on) and using computer software. Fractals studied will include the Koch snowflake, Sierpinski triangle, dragon fractal, Hilbert curve, and others.

Patterns and Symmetry (5–8)

Dan Bennett, Middle School Math Teacher

Symmetry is a unifying concept across different branches of mathematics, different disciplines, and every culture. What is symmetry, and how is it defined mathematically? What geometric transformations produce symmetric designs? We'll explore these questions by creating designs with pattern blocks, experimenting with mirrors (including making kaleidoscopes), constructing geometry designs using geometry software and compass and straightedge, and more.

Make Your Own Math Games and Puzzles (5/6)

Lori Mustille, 4th Grade Teacher

In this session, you will infuse your love of math with your artistic entrepreneurial side! In groups we will explore fun math puzzles and games, then make our own! Day 1: We’ll dive into math operations and develop a board game based on multiplication and division. Students will pick a mythical world in which to base their game and build a mathematical card deck to advance the theme. Day 2: We’ll explore fraction puzzles and equivalencies. Students will design their own fraction games based on pixel based computer art and peer edit/ beta test with others. Day 3: We’ll explore percentages and decimals and build games around these concepts. Students will learn about gains and losses of earnings and money while building real life money skills. Day 4: We’ll dive into rate/distance/time puzzles and build a choose your own adventure game as a class. Day 5: We’ll look at some classic logic puzzles and build brain teasers in paired groups. Students will also have time to test and finalize games built earlier in the week.

The Art of Mathematics (7/8)

Karen Tiegel, Middle School Writing Teacher 

Rebecca Loveless, LS Structured Word Inquiry Coach 

"All mathematics share… a sense of amazement over the infinite depth and the mysterious beauty and usefulness of mathematics." – Martin Gardner

Spend five days exploring the relationship between art and mathematics. We will work with a variety of media including Zentangle drawing, sketching, collage, and mixed media. Each day, students will be introduced to a mathematician (such as Eratosthenes, Fibonacci, and Hypatia), and work on an art project that is rooted in mathematical concepts such as recursion, the Golden Mean, square roots, hexaflexagons, and Fibonacci numbers, curves, and impossible geometrical shapes. All materials will be provided ; this class is perfect for all levels of artistic and mathematical skills!

Summer STEM Series

Environmental Science (5–8)

Lauren Fieberg, Lower School Science Teacher and Garden Coordinator 

Environment Science provides students with the foundational concepts to understand the interconnectedness of all things in the natural world and analyze the major environmental issues that are occurring in our world today. Throughout the course students will be engaged in a combination of classroom, laboratory and field work to gain an understanding of how theses issues are affecting the environment and looking at alternative solutions for restoration and prevention. Emphasis will be placed on the ability to analyze data and make connections. Environmental Science will challenge students to think outside of the box and apply all of their previous years of science experience. The course will end with a solutions-based design project driven by each student and the issue they are passionate about.

Lego Robotics (5–8)

Michelle Grau, Technology, Innovation Design and Engineerying Coach

Students from the Upper School Robotics Team

In this program, students will learn the basics of robotics, computer science, engineering, and teamwork while using Lego Mindstorms EV3 platform to program and control a robot that completes challenges! Students will learn to apply design and programming skills to create an autonomous robot that can complete tasks like going through a course, lifting levers, moving pieces from one part of the field to another, and navigating over obstacles. Additionally, students will learn how to use a multitude of sensors, which are an integral part of real-world robots too.

Students will leave the week equipped with a variety of STEM skills that will enrich their education and inspire a love for robotics!

Tiny House Camp (5/6)

Karen Tiegle, Middle School Writing Teacher 

Lori Mustille, 4th Grade Teacher

Ever watched Tiny House Nation and thought, I’d like to build a tiny house! Well, this summer you can—in miniature. Spend five days constructing a model home from popsicle sticks and tongue depressors, and then decorating and enhancing it using materials such as clay, fabric, found items, and paper. We’ll also electrify parts of the houses with LED lights. No experience in circuitry or woodworking is required; this is a great place to explore a variety of materials!

Rocket Science: Propulsion and Flight Aerodynamics (5–8)

Dalton Lobo Dias, 6th Grade Science Teacher 

In our Rocket Science class, we’re all about trial and error learning. We will use pressurized water and air as our rocket fuel, and use computer simulations to help us design prototypes and study the physics behind propulsion, flight aerodynamics, and Newton's laws. We will also use Design Thinking skills in our building process. We don’t give kids the answers. Instead, we guide them in exploring and discovering the answers for themselves. Why? Because we love to see their eyes light up when they have that “Aha!” moment.

Food Science (7/8)

Lelia Youn, 8th Grade Science Teacher 

Perhaps you know that yeast makes bread rise or that baking soda makes cake rise, but do you know how and why? Why don't the gases produced just escape? What traps them?

In this course we will take a look at all the ways humans transform the world around us to create a tasty, nutritious meal that sustains us. Whether you are a lover of cooking, science, or just eating; we'll explore how cooking is really science. Students will be encouraged to explore with curiosity and creativity as we learn about food science together.

Simple Machines (7/8)

Dalton Lobo Dias, 6th Grade Science Teacher 

Our Rube Goldberg Machines class is all about Design Thinking, thinking outside the box, and using everyday items to complete challenges or specific tasks. Each day we will learn different kinds of "actions,", which kids will then combine to make their own series of wacky contraptions.

Humanities Deep-Dives

Debate (5–8)

Les Phillips, Upper School Debate Teacher

Join us this summer for our Debate Intensive! This is the perfect course for students who are interested in current affairs and like to think and argue – and the speaking and organization skills you learn are central to all kinds of academic success. We’ll do both impromptu and prepared debates, culminating in a mini-tournament. The course will also feature guest appearances from members of Nueva’s nationally ranked debate team.

Mock Trial (5–8)

Lee Ryan Miller, Political Science Professor, College of San Mateo

Do you have a passion for justice? Are you someone who likes to win arguments? Have you ever considered a career in law? In this intensive, you will practice your argumentation skills in a simulated court of law, as an attorney in civil and criminal trials. You will learn the rules of evidence and how to question witnesses. Hopefully, you will gain a greater appreciation for the American system of justice.

Playing Politics (5–8)

Lee Ryan Miller, Political Science Professor, College of San Mateo

Prepare to practice the art of politics in The Civic Mirror® political role-playing game. You will inhabit a country modeled after the US and will have the opportunity to manage a business, run for office, and serve on a jury. If someone sues you or charges you with a crime, you will be put on trial. You will have to find a way to keep the members of your family alive (provide them with food, shelter, medical care, etc.) while pursuing your "hidden agenda" (secret goals). You will work through the real-life challenges and trade-offs necessary to enact legislation in a country where people's goals are often in conflict.

Model United Nations (5–8)

Lee Ryan Miller, Political Science Professor, College of San Mateo

Do you dream of solving the world's problems? In Model UN, you will play the role of a delegate representing one of the 193 countries in the United Nations. You will learn about your country's politics, society, economy and, most of all, it's relations with other countries in the world. You and the other delegates will debate contemporary world problems. Do you have the diplomatic skills to create a consensus with other countries on how to solve them?



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Nueva Summer

CWe will be announcing the dates of Nueva Summer 2019 in early December.


The Nueva School
San Mateo Campus
131 E. 28th Avenue
San Mateo, CA 94403

Nueva Expedition Times

9:00 am-4:00 pm* Daily 

*Families can enroll for before care (which begins at 8:00 am) and after care (which ends at 6:00 pm) through the parent dashboard. We do not offer drop-in before and after care.


Nueva Summer Employment

While we are currently fully staffed for our 2018 program, please be in touch if you are interested in joining our team. We will be in touch should things change as summer approaches.


If you are interested in working with Nueva Summer 2018:

Submit a resume with cover letter and list of references to Nueva Summer: summer@nuevaschool.org

Lunch Service

Lunch will be served each day and is included in tuition. There will always be vegetarian and gluten-free options. All food served (and allowed on campus) at Nueva is nut-free.

For Nueva Summer 2018 Lunch menu

Click Here