The Experimentory

The Experimentory at Deerfield Academy welcomes middle school students from around the world to delve into project-based, creative learning that focuses on collaboration, communication, fostering creativity, building character, and developing how we look at the world. While there is a lot of uncertainty about what the world will look like this summer, we are certain The Experimentory will be full of amazing opportunities for students to connect with each other, grow as an individual, and get a taste of Deerfield from wherever they are in the world. We are currently exploring options for both virtual and in-person programs this summer and will have more information available very soon! In the meantime we would love to hear from you, so click the “I’m Interested” button below to be notified as soon as our application is available.

Deerfield’s summer program is a fantastic opportunity for students entering seventh, eighth and ninth grade to sample Deerfield Academy. The Experimentory at Deerfield Academy’s innovative program allows students to delve into project-based, creative learning and focuses on collaboration, communication, fostering creativity, building character, and developing how we look at the world.

The Experimentory also strives to provide our middle school students with a sample of the Deerfield Experience. The majority of our teachers and senior staff are Deerfield Academy faculty and staff members, and many of our classroom and dorm assistants are recent DA alums. The Experimentory is a great way to try boarding school life to decide if it is a good fit for you.

Visit the Experimentory online to learn more and apply. Get a taste of the Experimentory experience on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Flickr. And if you have any questions, please schedule a phone appointment with our office or email us at


Experimentory = Maximize your Creativity and Character


One of the beauties of boarding school is the way all parts of life intersect. We want our summer community to be a safe place to take creative risks and strive to be our best selves. This means striking a good work-life balance and considering non-academic time just as important as our course work. During our in-person sessions, we schedule open-ended free time in the afternoons and evenings; we plan casual gatherings like weekend picnics; and we have structured co-curriculars, field trips, and sit-down meals. Our remote program will strive to create the same sense of community and place where students can step outside of their comfort zone, collaborate and find creative solutions to all types of problems.


Our program consists of project-based, creative classes that approach subjects in fresh and exciting ways. What subjects? What ways? We love to try new things — which means the Experimentory changes from year-to-year as we play and experiment.

Below you’ll find information about our 2019 courses. We are working on a fresh set of courses for our 2021 program, but the information below will give you an idea of what’s to come.

13.8 Billion Years: Big History

Where did everything come from?  How did we get where we are now?   Where do humans fit in?  Where are things heading? Come explore the modern scientific origin story of how the universe and life have grown more complex. We’ll engage the powerful ideas winding through the Big Bang, the birth of star systems, Earth’s first life, and the rise of humanity. We’ll juggle galaxies and atoms. We’ll consider events that took a billionth of a second and stories that span billions of years.  Along the way we’ll discuss how scholars develop, justify, refute and refine claims about the past.  Students will also work on their own narratives and explanations of “Big History’s” essential questions.  Let’s build a framework for learning about anything or everything.

Break a Leg: Performance on the Stage

“We must all do theatre, to find out who we are, and to discover who we could become.” As stated by Augusto Boal, theater is a powerful experience and you will be sure to find discovery at every turn.  After building an ensemble as a class, you’ll move on to scene study, improvisation, monologue work, and performance techniques. The course will conclude with a short performance of your work. Whether you’ve been in every school play since kindergarten or have never set foot on stage, this course will hone your critical thinking, strengthen your collaboration skills, and increase your self-confidence.

Finding Your Voice: Public Speaking

The human voice does more than just place orders at a drive-thru: we can use the spoken word to teach, chastise, influence, and inspire. In this course, you will learn both how to speak comfortably in front of others and how to write text that yearns to be delivered. Beginning with the written word, we will move toward utilizing the full capabilities of the human voice and engaging the body. Along the way, students will develop strategies for memorization and tricks for calming nervous jitters. The power of speech will come alive through dramatic monologues, debate, and delivering a final speech that you will write yourself.

Functional Art: Architectural Sketching and Design

Architects design spaces so that we can live, work, and play in them. We will study designed spaces with frequent trips around the buildings of the Deerfield Academy campus with sketchbooks in hand. Then, put your business hats on as we consider the functional aspects of our art when our class transforms into a mock architectural firm hired to reshape those existing DA spaces for a new purpose.  Students will finish the course with experience in architectural sketching and plenty of principles of design. Let’s get drawing!

Lab Coat Jerseys: The Science of Sports

There is science everywhere, but perhaps nowhere is it more overlooked than in sports. Why put dimples on a golf ball? What happens in your blood when you run? Why do spinning balls curve? How does your body’s starting position influence your jump shot? Why do we become so committed to a team we love? These are the sorts of questions we will be exploring this summer.  We will play and study the science that underlays several different sports while taking full advantage of DA’s Athletic Center. Are you game to join us?

Makerspace: Creative Problem Solving

Creativity is often about using what you have well. This course will feature daily hands-on team challenges that will force you to think on your feet, collaborate with others, and build things of your own design. For example: How fast can you transport 10 marbles across a room using newspaper, toothpicks, and mailing labels? How tall of a tower can you build using spaghetti, tape, and yarn in just 10 minutes? Accommodating limited time and materials will teach you creative problem solving techniques.

Speak for the Trees: Environmental Citizenship

What does it mean to be an environmentally conscious citizen in a globally connected world? We are going to find out! We will begin by learning about some environmental challenges facing the planet, especially climate change. After drawing on biology, chemistry, and environmental science to understand the problem, we will learn about the different steps that countries around the world are taking to address these issues. Then, we will be engaging in an interactive, immersive Model U.N. activity to look at if and how this complicated global issue can be solved by countries with various and sometimes competing interests.

Songwriting and Video Production

We live in an auto play, like and share, pop-up enabled, upload and publish world. This means music and video are EVERYWHERE–and that means they are both incredibly important and easy to take for granted. Our class centers on writing songs and producing music videos–challenging but fun work with a final product you can take pride in. Along the way you’ll learn techniques for pursing creative work and collaborating with others. And as you develop your visual and musical literacies, you’ll start to see how the songs and videos we see every day work–and how you can use them to share your own messages with the world. Come, become a fish that understands its water!


Experimentory teaching faculty members are smart and curious–just like you! They will guide you through a process of discovery, while allowing you to follow your own unique interests–wherever they may take you.

Experimentory teaching faculty members are smart and curious–just like you! They will guide you through a process of discovery, while allowing you to follow your own unique interests–wherever they may take you. Our residential assistants are essential to the functioning of the program. They live in the dorms, plan activities, assist teachers in the classroom, and have fun alongside our students. The office staff works year-round to provide an exceptional program each summer. They are your go-to resources as you learn about the program, apply, and make your way to campus.

Below you’ll see our 2019 staff team. Check back in the months to come to see who joins us in 2021!

Parker Lawlor, Faculty

“Lab Coat Jerseys”

Megan Hayes-Golding, Faculty

“Makerspace: Creative Problem Solving”

Marissa Cornelius, Faculty

“Speak for the Trees: Environmental Citizenship” and “Finding Your Voice: Public Speaking”

Jaime Correa, Faculty

“Your First Drop: Lyric Writing and Video Production”

The daily co-curricular period is a chance to enjoy a favorite past time or try a new one on for size. These change year-to-year—and even week-to-week—but past co-curriculars have included squash, dance, hiking, computer coding, ultimate Frisbee, baking, and much more.


The Experimentory is an opportunity to try new things – whether it be an architecture class, a squash co-curricular, or a friendship with someone from the other side of the world. But our interdisciplinary edge pushes even familiar subjects into new light. Our goal is that all our students will return home with new and refreshed passions.


to the Max

The passions students discover at the Experimentory are just fuel. We then teach them how to use the iterative process, learn from failure, and collaborate with others. These are the skills and processes innovators use when they are creative.

Free time is an opportunity to recharge in whatever way suits you: reading in the Dorm, a pickup soccer game in the Fields, ice cream over a game of cards in the Greer Cafe—or a little bit of all three.

Dorms aren’t just the place you sleep: your evenings there include snacks, impromptu dance parties, birthday celebrations, and time to reflect on all you learned and experienced during the day.

to the Max

Between the collaborative class projects and summer boarding school life, the Experimentory is a community—students, teachers, and staff who work and live together. Our focus on moral character is a necessity: a community only succeeds and thrives if individuals respect and support one another.

The passions students discover at the Experimentory are just fuel. We then teach them how to use the iterative process, learn from failure, and collaborate with others. These are the skills and processes innovators use when they are creative.

Frequently Asked Questions

All 2020 residential summer programs at Deerfield Academy have been cancelled as of April 7, 2020. We are confident that suspending the Experimentory 2020 is the most prudent path forward to support the health of our participants and the public health of our greater community.

However, we’re already excitedly anticipating the Experimentory 2021! We will set the dates for our two week sessions and four week session this coming fall. Be sure to check back in September!

A hearty soup can be a delicious meal in itself or served in a cup to accompany other courses. Likewise, the Experimentory is wonderful in large or small servings. Our students can strive to maximize their creativity and character over the course of four weeks or just two.

That said, if at all possible, we highly recommend the four week experience if it works for your family. And don’t just take our word for it.  Students who have taken the two week courses in the past all wish they could have stayed for the four week program.  Time is a key ingredient when building collaborative friendships, working on a project, and building creative confidence. Attending the four week session will also mean you will be able to take more classes, take the four-week version of some classes, and go on more field trips.

For many, the deciding factor is the impossibility of being two places at once: if your summer menu already includes a family vacation or an early first day of school for example, the side order of Experimentory is for you! If you have other concerns that put you on the fence, please feel free to contact our office to address your specific questions and concerns.

Day students are important members of the Deerfield Academy community during the school year, so we’re happy to have them join us.

Generally, day students live within a driving radius of campus. Day students will join us either during or after breakfast and participate in all daily activities: courses, sit-down lunch, co-curriculars, and free time. They’ll stay into the late afternoon ending around 5:30 each day with the option to stay for dinner and evening activities until 8:30. Day students may also choose to join us for some evening and weekend field trips and activities.

That said, day students will obviously miss out on living in the dorm and the activities that happen there. There is great value in community with your classmates away from home. However, while day students may be on campus part time, they are full Experimentors – we are passionate about helping them maximize their creativity and character.

The Experimentory is designed to be an immersive learning experience where students form a close-knit community that learns, works, lives and plays together. Interruptions inhibit both community building and learning.

Full attendance is expected of all students.  All students are expected to arrive on their check-in day and stay through the end of their session.  Leaving early will forfeit the student’s session completion certificate and session comments and feedback from teachers.  As a rule, students cannot leave the program for any reason, including weddings, family events, athletic or arts events, or academic events.

Likewise, day students are required to follow the full day schedule all weekdays, but are always welcome to join in for extra events.

Of course family or medical emergencies sometimes arise and we accommodate these however we can.

The Experimentory is designed to introduce our students to Deerfield Academy and boarding school life in general.  Our teachers and many of our staff members are at Deerfield all year round.  Further, the skills and concepts of the Experimentory are just the sort of skills that we believe make a successful student at any institution.  However, the Experimentory is not linked to Deerfield’s admission process and brings no specific advantage in admission to the Academy.

That said, Experimentory students get a taste of Deerfield Academy’s campus, teachers, culture, and values. This personal, experiential knowledge is valuable data for students and parents to know whether Deerfield Academy – or boarding school in general – is a good fit for them.

The Experimentory offers a limited amount of financial assistance for domestic students. Financial aid is based on need and is applied for along with the program application. We are not able to provide financial aid to cover the cost of the entire program. We are ready to consider financial aid applicants of all kinds – i.e. both day and boarding student and two week and four week students.

All students applying for financial aid must apply for both the program and financial aid by February 1 to be considered.  Financial aid applicants will be notified of their admissions decision and financial aid decision together via email later that month.

It is, of course, a completely made-up word, but still made up of meaningful parts. To start, it contains the word “Experiment.” We learn on our feet by trying, failing, considering what went wrong, and then trying again. It contains the word “mentor.” Our teachers coach and guide rather than simply lecture and instruct. And the suffix “–tory” – as in factory or dormitory – means place. So we’re a place to experiment with mentors.

Contact the Experimentory

7 Boyden Lane, PO Box 87
Deerfield, MA 01342