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boys playing with STEM and robotics at Tampa Prep

Our Commitment to Inspire

It’s human nature to venture beyond the next horizon. To push past boundaries. Out-think obstacles. To challenge. To question. Tampa Prep’s commitment to INSPIRE NEXT is personified in our STEM studies. Our progressive curriculum in science, technology, engineering and math focuses on computer science and programming in grades 6 – 12. We are not just a 1-to-1 iPad school . . . we are a 1-to-1 robot school within the STEM curriculum.

“I think that is one of the things that distinguishes us. Tampa Prep has maintained the belief that it is safe to have your own ideas, and our students are encouraged to bring them forward.” — Suzy Lassacher ‘85, alumna and faculty member

About STEM


Middle School STEM Courses

Grade 6 | Robotics (LEGO EV3 and iPad app)
Grade 7 | Intermediate Robotics (VEX IQ, Graphical Robot C, Arduino and Text-based C)
Grade 8 | Intermediate Robotics II (Processing Language on iPads, Python, Swift, Raspberry Pi)

Upper School STEM Courses

Grades 9-12 | Computer Science and Software Engineering Progressive curriculum on programming with Python, Swift, Advanced Python and Raspberry Pi
Grades 9-12 | iOS App Development and Student Help Desk
Grade 10 | Intro to Engineering Design (IED) 60% projects, 40% math, CAD on Autodesk Inventor
Grade 11 | Principles of Engineering (POE) 70% formulas, 30% projects, survey of engineering
Grade 12 | Aerospace Engineering 80% projects, planes, rockets
Grade 12 | Computer Science Principles (CSP) Programming

STEM Clubs

  • Virtual Reality Development Club
  • Robotics Club
  • Makers Club
  • Programming Club
  • Architecture Club


Students are given the opportunity to take the Autodesk Certified User (ACU) test, which is an industry-recognized certification for the Computer Aided Drawing software Autodesk Inventor Professional. In 2019, 12 students took the test, and all received the certification, which brings the total count of students certified to 56 in the last 8 years.  

Through Project Lead the Way, a STEM curriculum in use at more than 9,000 schools in the U.S., end-of-course assessments are given to the following classes:  

  • Introduction to Engineering Design (IED)
  • Principles of Engineering (POE)
  • Aerospace Engineering (AE)
  • Computer Science Principles (CSP)

Students with stanine of 6 or higher on these Project Lead the Way assessments receive up to six college credits for IED and POE classes. A stanine of 8 or 9 is considered an “A” grade when applying for college credit.

In 2019, our students scored as follows:

Intro to Engineering Design (IED)

  • Eleven of 12 students scored 6 or above (92%), and of those, seven (58% of the class) scored stanine 8 or 9.

Principles of Engineering (POE)

  • Eight of nine students scored 6 or above (89%), and of those, five (56% of the class) scored stanine 8 or 9.

Computer Science Principles (CSP) / Aerospace Engineering (AE)

  • Thirteen of 15 students scored 6 or above (87%), and of those, 13 students (87% of the class) scored stanine 8 or 9.


Tampa Prep offers an interdisciplinary STEM Concentration for rising 10th grade students who relish the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The underlying goal is to equip graduating students with a range of experiences that prepare them for further opportunities in these fields, while also completing Tampa Prep’s graduation requirements.

STEM Camps

  • LEGO Club – Castle, World Wonders, Star Wars
  • Intro to Circuits and Coding for Girls
  • Basic Engineering I & II Combo
  • Arduino and C Programming
  • Introduction to Robotics using EV3
  • Coding for Girls
  • Intro to Unity 3D
  • Strategy Board Games
  • VEX IQ
  • VEX V5 Coding and Building


Tardy System: Pedro Lima ‘14

Tardy sign-in used to create a lineup of students, because each sign-in took several minutes per student. This was incredibly inefficient–especially on heavy traffic days–making them even more late to class than they already were. Pedro took it upon himself to solve this pain point for all students and staff. He used a Raspberry Pi brain to program a scanner for the barcode on student IDs, a keypad (so those who forgot their ID could just type it in), and a printer that spit out tardy slips. With Pedro’s system, late sign-in now takes less than 10 seconds per student. His invention is still used today at the front desk.

student check-in system created in STEM programming class
student check-in system created in programming class

“Recording” Sign for the Video Production Recording Studio: Xander Spriggs ‘17
Interruption in the Video Production Recording Studio became an issue for students trying to record a clean take. Students outside the studio weren’t aware of the recording and often knocked on the door or opened it, causing disruption and retakes. So Xander used Arduino to program the electronic control, and used a laser cutter to build a RECORDING sign out of wood and glass. Now students inside the studio can flip a switch when they are recording to let everyone know.

student recording sign created in STEM engineering class

Laser Foam Cutter: Seyi Oluwaleimu ‘17 & Conor Danahy ‘17
This project was built from scratch by Seyi and Conor. It was designed to allow students in fine arts classes to easily cut foam using the heated vertical nichrome wire in the device. They designed it using Autodesk Inventor, and used a laser engraver in the STEM lab to cut the wood and engrave it with our Terrapin logo. The device was then assembled and wired to an external power source. It cuts through foam like butter, allowing students to easily make curved cuts.

Student STEM project for engineering


True to our school’s culture of innovation and creativity, our willingness to always do what’s best for students, and our role as educational thought leaders, our VR curriculum was a student-driven initiative. Stemming from a student’s question of “can I try this?” in 2017, just a few years later our virtual and augmented reality IDEA Lab (Innovate Design Explore Apply) has:

  • 2 HTC Vive headsets
  • 3 Oculus Rift headsets
  • 2 daVinci 3D printers  
  • Dremel 3D45 3D printer

We are one of the first schools in the nation to offer courses in immersive technology, some of which will be taught in this lab, and our Upper School Virtual Reality Development Club meets there twice a week. Our librarian and resident “maker” hosts an 8th grade VR Club in the lab, and art classes use it as well. Additionally, our VR App Development class uses the portable Oculus Go headsets, an almost 1:1 for that course.

Read more about how our students are using VR.

Our virtual and augmented reality resources are not just used in STEM classes!

  • 3D Art/Ceramics students prototype their pieces in the Medium app on the Oculus Rift. They can ideate, scale and visualize their pieces in virtual spaces without wasting materials, and have the freedom to use imagination to the fullest. See this Tampa Prep Student-Created Sculpture Which Can Also Be Viewed in VR.
  • European History students are able to step inside the paintings of Salvador Dali and explore the world of the surrealist master on HTC Vive and Oculus Rift VR systems.
  • English students explore real nature in our courtyard as well as virtual nature through the Nature Treks app, then write Japanese haikus based on what inspired them there. They can then compare poems and imagery and discuss how each experience differed, be it in real life or virtual.
  • World & Classical Languages students visit countries where their language of study is spoken and virtually immerse themselves into the culture by running with the bulls in Spain or going to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
  • Middle School Science students explore solar systems using the class set of Merge VR headsets.
  • Many classes explore Google Expeditions which use stereoscopic 360 3D imagery for experiential trips and academic content. For instance, students were able to:
    • see close-up 3D images of an eye and its anatomy.
    • witness World War I in the trenches and learn historical facts about warfare.
    • visit different countries to be immersed in alternative cultures, architecture and nature.
    • take on the role of paleontologist and see trilobites in 3D, formations and types of fossils, excavation sites and tools of paleontologists.
    • visit impressionist museums, then built their own versions of it in the CoSpaces app and present them to each other in VR.