May Term 2023 Highlights

After two weeks of adventures, learning, and bonding with their fellow classmates, EA May Term 2023 has come to a close! During this two-week academic program, Upper School students and teachers explored a diversity of innovative topics in great depth, with daily updates of their exciting journeys near and far documented on our Instagram stories and on the May Term Twitter

From snorkeling in the crystal clear turquoise waters of the Galapagos to hiking the trails of the Appalachian Mountains, making homemade pasta in Southern Italy to making homemade donuts in EA's own science lab, and seeing historical sights in Philadelphia to singing on the streets of Nashville, our Upper School students have ended this school year with experiences of a lifetime!

This year, 31 courses and trips happened simultaneously! See below for highlights from some of the courses, and be sure to check out our week one photo highlights and our week two photo highlights!

Art rEvolution

Students quickly immersed themselves in this fun May Term course. They spent the first day making creative sketchbooks to record their research and reflections throughout the two weeks. During a trip to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, students toured the "Rising Sun" exhibit, which highlighted works by 11 professional artists that illustrates their interpretation of "democracy now." Teachers David Sigel, Hon. and Hilary Hutchison, Hon. were especially excited when the group was offered a private tour of the PAFA student exhibit. On Thursday, Art rEvolution spent the day at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton Township, New Jersey. Students wrapped up week one with a trip to the Barnes Foundation. 

Northern Italy

The Northern Italy May Term group has been exploring the cuisine and culture of Italy! The group saw Lake Como; visited a dairy and rice farm outside of Milan where everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch of cheese and risotto; toured Duomo (the third largest Catholic Church in the world) and Galleria Vittiorio Emanuele II (Italy's oldest active shopping gallery); took a food and history tour of Turin; explored the beautiful Cinque Terre and enjoyed pesto focaccia bread (a regional specialty!); learned how Parmesan cheese is produced in Parma and how balsamic vinegar is created in Modna; and delighted in the food of Bologna.

Escape EA: Escape Room and Design Challenge

Students spent their first week visiting (and escaping!) two escape rooms in the area. At Houdini's Challenge, students learned about the intricacies and strategy of designing the space with the owners. Divided into teams of three, the class then got to work designing and planning their own rooms. The themes are titled Casino, Fix the Plane (find the joystick to start the plane), and a Birthday Party Gone Wrong as a clown swipes a gift. The teams will try to escape each room before other May Term classes are invited to test them out on Thursday, June 1.

Financial Literacy

The 33 students in the Financial Literacy class started off the week planning a trip for a family of five to Disney. They quickly discovered the challenges of making a budget and that vacations can be expensive! Each student was also allotted a pretend $10,000 to invest in the "stock market" as they learn about trading and strategy. "Trading" has quickly become a class favorite. On Thursday, May 25, the group traveled to New York City to check out Wall Street and visit the New York Stock Exchange. Students played a trading game where they learned how to make quick trades in five minutes. They also saw the Fearless Girl bronze statue that sits across the street from the Stock Exchange, and learned about the country's first Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton.

Leave Early and Be Active, Back Late

The Leave Early and Be Active, Back Late group has been busy immersing themselves in physical challenges throughout the Delaware Valley. During the first week of May Term, the group enjoyed the sunshine during a five-mile bike ride at Ridley Creek, took rock climbing lessons at the Gravity Vault in Radnor, hiked on the Appalachian Trail, biked at Washington Crossing, ziplined and climbed on the Go Apes Ropes Course, and took a surf lesson at the shore!

What’s for Dinner?

Is organic better than non-organic? Which grocery store has the best deals? What ingredients are really in popular snack foods? The students in What's for Dinner course have been actively searching for the answers to these questions as they explore the ingredients, prices, and tastes of various products. Highlights of their first week included shopping at various grocery stores, taking the Herr's Snack Factory tour, and doing a blind taste test of organic vs. non-organic foods before comparing their ingredients and costs. After continuing to investigate how food is produced, the students will present their findings to Lower Schoolers to help them make better, well-informed food choices.

"Takin' it to the Streets" Goes to Nashville 

The talented student-musicians in the Takin' it to the Streets course started off day one singing and rehearsing on campus before heading to Nashville, Tennessee. Upon arrival at the airport, the group wasted no time serenading travelers in the bustling concourse. The first official stop of the trip was the Listening Cafe where students ate lunch and "listened." Then, it was off to the Country Music Hall of Fame. On Thursday, the group started the day with breakfast and a "parking lot" performance at the Loveless Cafe. In the evening, they went to the Wildhorse Saloon for line-dancing and some good-ole country cooking.

Cuciniamo E Mangiamo 

In Cuciniamo E Mangiamo, students are taking their Italian cooking skills up a notch. Using Head of School T.J. Locke's kitchen, the students in this course have been learning about some of the foods that play a central role in the lives of native Italians and those with Italian roots. In addition to learning the basics of making homemade pizza, bread, pasta, gravy (or is it sauce?), they also had the opportunity to visit the Italian Market and feast on ricotta, pastries, sausage, bread, and more. Deliziosa!

Iceland Adventure

The beauty of Iceland is becoming ever apparent to the students on the Iceland Adventure May Term trip. In their first few days in the land of fire and ice, they have seen the amazing Seljalandsfoss and Gljufrabui Waterfalls, took a Solheimajokull Glacier hike, watched the Lava Show (the only live lava show in the world!) and learned about the use of geothermal energy in Iceland, explored the Perlan Museum and Viking World Museum, and visited the Gunnuhver Geothermal Area and the Kerið Crater, a volcanic crater lake.

Life's a Beach - Using an Interdisciplinary Lens for the World

The Life's a Beach - Using an Interdisciplinary Lens for the World May Term course has been using a multifaceted approach to explore the many beaches of New Jersey. In the first week, the group explored the disciplines of literature and music at Asbury Park Beach, home of the famous Stone Pony Music Club (famous for launching both Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi); were naturalists and scientists at Island Beach State Park, the largest reserve of an undeveloped barrier island in NJ while exploring hiking trails to tidal pools and bird watching; explored the art and architecture of historic Cape May; and saw military history firsthand at the historic Sandy Hook Lighthouse.

Mysterious Morocco: History, Literature, and the Arts

From the waterfalls of Talassemtane National Park to the stunning blue Medina of Chefchaouen, Morocco's many wonders have inspired our student tour group this week. By meeting locals, staying in traditional riads (family-owned hotels), bartering for goods in the marketplace, crafting textiles, making bread, and so much more, students got a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of Moroccan history and culture. The group started its tour by exploring the scenic Casablanca and wrapped up the week in the oldest Medina, Fez, where they will visit the oldest university in the world. Next week, they will learn about Berber tribes, the French protectorate, and women's role in Moroccan society as they explore Marrakech and beyond.

Digital Design

This week, our budding designers harnessed cutting-edge technology, professional-grade software, and their mastery of design principles to create original work. In the mornings, students designed and 3D-printed pieces such as spinning tops, puzzles, and boxes using the state-of-the-art Prusa printer. Focus shifted to 2D design in the afternoons, when students were tasked with designing logos and creating vector graphics in Adobe Illustrator. The class wrapped up the week by learning about the principles of flag design and creating their own city, state, and school flags.

CSI: Episcopal Academy

There's a murderer on the loose, but our expert forensic scientists are on the case! This week in CSI: Episcopal Academy, students gathered and processed evidence from a mock crime scene, learned about blood type/spatter analysis, and conducted a virtual autopsy using the new Anatomage Table. They discovered more about forensic science and criminal history through trips to the Mütter Museum and Eastern State Penitentiary. By the end of the week, they are closer to discovering which suspect—Mr. Memmo, Mrs. Edwards, or Mrs. Jones— killed Dr. Colyer (who also happens to co-teach the course). 

A League of Our Own

After seven days of research, interviews, and field trips, students in A League of Our Own made their "pitch" to start a new MLB expansion team—complete with operating budget, environmental impact study, proposed stadium, logo, uniform design, and the team's proposed ties to its community—to team of four judges who intently listened and questioned students. Students "pitched" the Kentucky Comets (Lexington), Reno High Rollers, Memphis Rhythm, Indianapolis Mustangs, and the Buffalo Boar, with the the cities of Lexington, Kentucky (Kentucky Comets) and Reno, Nevada (Reno High Rollers) being selected for expansion teams. "What I love most about this class is how much it challenges the students to think about a fun and interesting problem," said Upper School English Teacher Anna Safford '09. "The students all get very into the enjoyable process of designing uniforms and logos and picking a name, and then they very quickly realize that they also have to consider a wide range of financial, civic, environmental, and historic concerns and working out creative solutions to all of those questions really forces them to elevate their thinking."


It was a fascinating 11 days for students who traveled to the Galapagos Islands during May Term. Upper Schoolers started the trip off in the heart of the Andean Valley, where they learned about the processing of milk, wool, and medicinal plants. They then made their way to Isabela Island (via boat!), where they suited up in snorkel gear to explore incredible marine life. The highlight of the trip was snorkeling with turtles and exploring a maze of lava bridges in crystal clear turquoise water. The group also also hiked along the rim of the second largest volcano in the world and experienced microclimates and different life zones on the island. Another highlight was a visit to Floreana, one of the region’s oldest islands, that is filled with endemic species, including native seals and geckos. Junior Shelby Pasternack's video recapped many of the group's adventures!

The Art of Noticing

Do you ever stop to smell the roses? Throughout the two weeks of May Term, The Art of Noticing course aimed to truly notice the world around them. Through interdisciplinary methods, students engaged in the teaching and writings of ornithologists, photographers, meditation guides, naturalists, poets, artists, architects, and more. Highlights of the course included outings to the Brandywine Museum of Art, The Discovery Center, Blue Bell and Wissahickon Parks, and Stoneleigh Mansion, as well as hatha yoga and breathwork with Middle School Psychologist Dr. Lily Hall. Their final project included the creation of DIY magazines representing how they've come to freshly notice the world around them.

Seriously, Dough! 

Over the eight days of May Term, students in Seriously, Dough! mastered the craft of baking, from foundational sourdough starters to from-scratch donuts, cookies, and breads. The class toured local bakeries to learn from the experts in addition to experimenting in the science lab-turned-kitchen. The final two days provided a delicious challenge, as student teams participated in themed bake-offs with a panel of four faculty judges. In these half-day competitions, students created cake with a surprise, edible architectural pieces, and more. They also made perfectly-decorated sugar cookies with the help of the Digital Design students, who provided 3D-printed cookie cutters.

Get Real: Internships to Gain Real-World Experience

The unique Get Real: Internships to Gain Real-World Experience course offered students the opportunity to work alongside EA parents and alumni in diverse industries including architecture, business, interior design, environmental services, fashion, medicine and non-profits. Students began the course by learning about the importance of internships from speakers like Digital Marketer Isabella Sanchez '16 and Oxbridge Group Managing Director Ann Kraftson '85. Then, each student worked at their assigned internship for the rest of May Term. By the end, they summarized their experience and reflected on the skills they've learned. Students spent their internships shadowing everyone from Judge Karen Marston '86 to eye surgeon Dr. Paula Ko.  

Defining Independence: Philadelphia During the Revolution

What was Philadelphia like at the time of the American Revolution? From Independence Hall, the Museum of the American Revolution, and Christ Church, to Fort Mifflin and Valley Forge, students visited many sites in the footsteps of our forefathers to gain a sense of what occurred in our nation's infancy. They also developed a timeline of the Revolution and examined different perspectives of freedom and independence by learning the stories of people who either supported or opposed the revolution. By the last day, students premiered their original documentary videos about what independence means to them.

Writing, Directing, Performing

In Writing, Directing, Performing, Upper School students explored the fundamentals of both creative writing and the dramatic arts. In groups, students focused on which aspects most interested them, from screenwriting to music to acting. They developed short scenes based on dramatic prompts, such as "a noise off-stage" and "a broken expectation," and played improv games to help gain artistic confidence and openness. In the end, each student group had a finished piece of work that was crafted through a highly collaborative creative process. 

Culture Vultures

With an appreciation for the arts, the Culture Vultures course spent May Term exploring the various ways in which artists have left their mark on modern society via painting, film, literature, music, and culinary arts. Some of their projects included writing and illustrating a children's book with the help of Lower School students, learning the ropes (or silks!) at Philadelphia School of the Circus Arts, learning about African Diasporic dance and culture from EA Dance Instructor Nai-Whedai Sheriff before heading to the Berrard Brown Dance Studio for a performance and instruction, visiting the Barnes Foundation, and viewing cultural films at Regal Edgmont Square.

Positive Vibes Only

After garnering an understanding of positive psychology, the Positive Vibes Only group spent their eight days discovering how happiness and optimism can lead to achievement. Through taking an indoor cycling class, traveling into Philadelphia to volunteer at MANNA and Broad Street Ministries, performing mindfulness and breathing techniques, flowing through an outdoor vinyasa yoga session on Smith Field, and performing random acts of kindness, students embarked on a personal experiment to become more positive thinkers and actors.

Southern Italy

The Southern Italy May Term trip was nothing short of spectacular! After spending their first few days in Naples visiting the Herculaneum ruins, the Spanish Quarter, and Mt. Vesuvius, the group headed to Matera, where they took the path of the Seven Stones, saw the Crypt of the Original Sin, harvested and prepare their own Italian meal (including fresh pasta!), and hiked the Sassi. A visit to Masseria Scalera Farm to make cheese, hiking at Vallone della, visiting a Donkey Farm at La Valle Degli Asini, olive oil tasting, and spending a beach day at Torre Canne were additional highlights. After feasting on traditional Italian foods such as bruschetta, gelato, and pasta, the group ended their Italian adventure in Rome, where they took in sights such as the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Arch of Constantine, Roman Forum, and the Vatican.