Dexter Weekly | April 18 - 24, 2020

At-Home Learning

These times have brought incredible changes to our daily lives. We have normalized many things we never thought we might. If someone told me a few months ago that I’d be quarantined at home, working remotely, homeschooling both kids, and wearing a mask to grocery shop, I would have laughed. But here we are.

Recognizing these changes and the challenges it presents to families, we have continued our focus on providing a fun and engaging online education. This becomes increasingly important as schools continue to extend closures. The State of Texas announced last week that schools would remain closed for the remainder of this semester. Beyond that, we still don’t know when we will be able to return to school.

We are optimistic that we will be able to open our new campus site for the Fall semester this year. Even though we continue to focus on the online learning platform, we are also planning in the background for our reopening. March was our last month in Big Blue. Everything has been moved out of Big Blue and into storage near our new building. Renovations will be ongoing while schools are closed and everything is on track for Fall. We’ve really missed seeing all our students and are very much looking forward to having everyone back! Behind the scenes we are planning and working to reopen with a space that is bigger and better than before. We cannot wait to share the new space and it’s features with everyone. So let’s beat this pandemic!

A Blast From the Past!

In December we took a photo of the first Dexter cohort, copies of which we intended to distribute to our Dexter families. Somehow life got in the way and that didn't happen. You'll be pleased to know that we are in the process of having these printed and they will be distributed to the students in the photo very soon.

If you want to see the same photo, but with some of the Dexter staff included, scroll down!

Schedules are Becoming Finalized

Thanks for your support in helping your child develop a routine and make it to their live classes and live streams.

In this second week of live classes,  we have added math classes and improved the math schedule, so classes are at a consistent time.

  • Elementary students now have live math classes on Zoom three times a week in the morning (T, W, Th 9-9:50 am).
  • Middle school students have live math classes on Zoom twice a week either in the morning or afternoon, depending on their section.
  • We have a middle school girls math class on Monday and Friday 2-2:50 pm.
  • Algebra students have live class on Zoom once a week, but they are welcome to attend Conway math on Tuesday and Thursday 2-2:50 pm as a dedicated work time with a Learning Coach and peers to help them.

Class schedules will remain the same for next week and the following weeks until the end of term on May 21.

Live Stream Course Credit

Students are given course credit for their active participation in live stream chats and their task work. For example, we have some students turning in beautiful and deeply mathematical work that they do after learning about the topic on the Geometry Snacks live stream. Their work will count for part of their math course requirements for this term.

Here are some exemplary student assignments submitted after watching the Geometry Snacks live stream:

J Ponder’s Impossible Triangle (a type of optical illusion).

Jonah M’s Strange Maze, programmed in Scratch and inspired by a Geometry Snacks assignment.

Noah J’s Escape Room game, programmed in Scratch and inspired by a Geometry Snacks assignment. He’s recently been working on a 3D version of this game in Blender.

Dexter Graduation Requirements

We encourage you to read our summer and fall course offerings and requirements for high school, middle school, and elementary levels on our website.

We will be sending home an end-of-term report card, which will communicate your student’s progress and include course credit for Dexter courses. A parent-teacher conference is recommended and date/times will be offered in mid/late May.

As always, we welcome parent feedback and questions.

Michael Olaya, CEO:

Lora Saarnio, Chief Learning Officer:

Maria Alejandra, Learning Coach:

Ryan Dawson, Learning Coach:

Dexter Live Streams

Special Guest Mithuna Yoganathan

On Saturday many Dexter students gave up their weekend time to participate in a live stream with Mithuna Yoganathan, a quantum physicist and PhD student of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics in the Quantum Information Group, at the University of Cambridge in the UK.

Mithuna is interested in understanding why quantum computers are more powerful than classical ones, and what this tells us about quantum mechanics. Mithuna had a very early start to her day, as she was live streaming from her home country of Australia. As you can see from the photos below, a multitude of very engaged Dexter students presented Mithuna with many questions about quantum computing.

Mithuna is also the creator of the"Looking Glass Universe", a YouTube channel that explores physics and mathematics in a fun illustrated way.

Special Guest Dr. James Hughes

On Monday, Dexter Futurology students were joined by Dr. James Hughes, the Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology. Dr. Hughes spoke directly to students about the most important ethical issues arising in our era of unprecedented technological change. Dr. Hughes spoke about issues of individual liberty, about who in an age of biological and technological enhancement should get what rights and what are the limits of those rights. He talked about the risks of technologies that could create "superhumans", or indefinitely extend life spans, or control the human brain. He defined "rights" as mostly just agreements between people, and a "ball constantly moving".  

After his short introductory address, students joined him on the LiveStream for a panel to interact freely with him. Students expressed their own excitements and anxieties about the emerging technological changes ahead, including concerns about environmental harm, global warming, and increasing economic inequality. These discussions sparked lively debate about the nature of our economic system, possibilities like Universal Basic Income, and what the world needs to do to be weary of deepening environmental damage and social and economic inequality. Dr. Hughes reminded students that the world that is coming about is one that needs careful consideration about ethical consequences, not merely something we should enter into with blind excitement.

LiveStream Library

For those of you who have missed some Dexter Live Streams and want to catch up, we have good news! The LiveStream library will be ready to access in one week. We had hoped to have the LiveStreams available before now, but logistical issues delayed the process. We thank you for your patience and look forward to sharing past LiveStreams with you soon.

Dexter Spotlight

My name is Lacey Giles, and I'm a new grader with Dexter.  I was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and have spent much of my adult life overseas. I started university in London, and after a few international transfers and some time working for an NGO, I finished my degree in Los Angeles. I then taught chemistry, biology, and physics for ten years, ending with three years in New Delhi.  After this, I took a break from pedagogy and moved back to London to complete a master's in Classical Reception.

Now, I'm taking advantage of London as much as I can while working on PhD proposals for next year. I'm enjoying my time at Dexter, getting to know this unique system and the students who use it. I look forward to knowing the community better! In my spare time I read about the history of science, science literacy, arts from the 17th and 18th centuries, the Greaco-Roman world, and watch too much MotoGP and Formula 1.

Dexter Calendar (Important  upcoming dates and deadlines):

Dexter Movie Night! Thu, 30 April 7.00 pm CT
Dexter Movie Night will take place next Thursday at 7 pm CT. The first movie we will watch is WALL-E. We will broadcast the film through Dexter Live, do a short five-minute introduction to the film, and then hold a brief discussion following the movie. Here's a description of the film: "In the distant future, a small waste-collecting robot inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind."

Upcoming LiveStreams

Be sure to watch the amazing livestreams we have on soon at Dexter! We have a selection of world-class guest speakers that we know will appeal to you all. Ask your student to show you where to watch these. They are also available for viewing at the same time on Facebook Live.

Mon, 27 April 2.00 pm CT, Marshall Brain, famous author of the HowStuffWorks series.

Blog Post written by:
Anna Winn
Director of Operations