Parallel Curriculum

Juniors will have distribution requirements to consider as they choose their modules. They will choose one module from each of four categories; their final two modules can be from any category they like. The categories are:

  • Developing Creativity
  • Exploring Self
  • Learning How
  • Asking Why 

These mini-courses cover a diverse set of exciting and engaging interdisciplinary topics and will introduce students to new skills and concepts that they do not normally have the chance to learn from their core classes. Facilitated by Shattuck-St. Mary’s faculty and staff and by guest lecturers, students will step out of their comfort zone and learn more about themselves before they head off to college. We are excited for students to be able to choose their own path through this rich curriculum, reflect on who they are as people, as learners, and as leaders, and engage deeply with ideas and problems they see in the world today.

Read more here about the different modules we are offering in the coming year.

Developing Creativity
Exploring the opportunities in weCreate

Introduction to Filmmaking

This module will cover the basic elements of filmmaking, including cinematography, lighting, and editing. All students will complete a short short short film (under five minutes) to complete the module. 

Documentary Filmmaking

This module will cover the fundamentals of short subject documentary film making, including pacing, editing, lighting, and direction. Each student will create a short subject documentary film at the completion of this module. Prerequisite: Basic iMovie skills or instructor permission.

Film Studies

In this module we will watch two films and discuss their impact on film, society, culture, and on your lives today. Using iMovie, or another weCreate resource, students will react to how one or both films impacted their personal lives.

Constructing Environments

Curious about interior design, art installations, model building, or environmental design? In this module we will make models of environments. The environments can be re-creations of places that already exist or completely made-up; it’s up to you to decide!

Basic Building

Have you tried making something without it breaking? What about making something to hold items? This module will teach you the basics of construction (using wood, plastic, metals, or paper!) including weight distribution, measuring, adhering, planning, and the varying steps to go from nothing to something!

Electric Paint & Bare-conductive

Touch a wall and it plays a sound?! What about an object? How does electricity get conducted through human-touch? Program your own music/sounds/recordings into a Bare-conductive sound board, and, using electric paint, witness images or objects come to life with sound. 

Bobbin Lace/History

Learn how to make a bobbin lace bookmark while learning how this textile art is related to the history of Shattuck- St. Mary’s. Student will create their own bobbin pillow and learn the basic techniques of lace making. 

Basic Weaving

Students will create their own small loom and experiment with weaving to create a textile art piece. Students will learn about various fibers and how to weave a textile picture. 

Fabric Dying

Students will experiment with a variety of fabric dying techniques to create their own fabric or t-shirt design.

Introduction to GarageBand

This module will introduce students to the basic elements of musical composition and recording using GarageBand software. Students will learn to construct and record music using both virtual and real instruments. Each student will create an original composition as the end of the module. 

Introduction to Podcasting

This module will focus on recording and publishing a podcast. We will cover editing and interview techniques as well as soundbed and sound effect creation. Each student will create a five minute podcast at the end of this module.

Introduction to Green Screen Video

Green screen technology allows the filmmaker to visually transport subjects to any imaginable location. This module will introduce students to the use of this technology in filmmaking. At the end of the module each student will create a three minute video implementing three distinct virtual settings. Prerequisite: basic knowledge of iMovie or instructor approval

Elements of Cinematography

This course will cover the basics of cinematography, or the art and science of motion picture photography. Students will cover topics such as camera movement, lighting, depth of field/focus, and framing. At the conclusion of the module students will make a 90 second short film demonstrating the skills covered in this module. 

Learn to Crochet

Crocheting is a traditional form of needlework where you learn how to knit the thread using a hook. It can be used to create clothing, coverlets, stuffed animals, and curtains; the projects are endless. Learn the basic stitches of crocheting and use these skills to create a infinity scarf, throw, or project of your choice. 

Deck your Dorm Room

Learn basic sewing skills and how to use the weCreate FD machines. Use these skills to create a quilt, curtains, cell-phone holders, study organizer, chair covers, or pillows to personalize your dorm room. 

Creating an iBook - An Intro to iBooks Author

Learn how to create your own digital ebook. This skills is perfect for projects and large assignments. Learn to include text, images, video, audio and web content as well as navigation tools like links, bookmarks and tables of contents in your work. 

Film Music

Learn about the importance of music in movies! Before movies had voices, they had music. From silent films to today’s computer-generated extravaganzas, film composers use the score to help tell the story. A movie’s score engages the senses of the moviegoer, instilling emotions, establishing a mood, creating plot relationships and communicating time and place. Compose your own music for a short movie clip or preview!

Asking Why
Exploring the world beyond the Arch

Election USA 2016

This module will explore the history and function/dysfunction of the electoral system in the United States (based on the documentary Electoral Dysfunction). Students will explore the pros and cons of the American electoral system and the problems with our electoral system. We will watch the documentary, do a little research and comparison to systems in other countries, and hear from guest speakers. This module can culminate in a project for interested students in the fall of 2016 (a state and federal election year) involving local get out the vote efforts using social media, telephoning, a GOTV video for local high schools, or working for one of the local campaigns.

2016 Presidential Election Discussion

Are you interested in following the 2016 Presidential Election closely? If so, this module is for you! We will gather once a week during the election to discuss how it works, the beliefs of the candidates, and newsworthy events surrounding the process. This will be a highly interactive activity and will rely heavily on student participation. At the end of the module you will not only know which candidate you support, but more importantly WHY you want that individual to win. 

Race and Social Justice in the USA

This module will explore the history and the laws based on race that have affected African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Native-Americans, Hispanics and other minority groups in the USA over the past four hundred years. We will have a guest speaker on DNA/genetics from the science department and visit the Race Exhibit at the Science Museum in St. Paul. We will also hold discussion groups about modern issues such as race and policing and other relevant topics. 

Gender Roles in the Media

In this module, students will explore the roles of gender throughout history by studying sitcoms and movies. 

Native American Ceremony

This is an opportunity to accompany Jim Beard to a traditional Native American ceremony. This module will allow participants a unique insight into Native American culture through hearing their stories, learning about their wisdom tradition, and actively engaging in their multi-day ceremony 

The Visual Arts: Is a picture really worth 1000 Words?

Is a picture really worth 1000 words? Visual artists use their gifts to send a message to the viewer. That message can be about something as specific as a time and place or it can be about something as nebulous as an idea. Different eras in history have generated many different kinds of paintings or sculptures. We will pick one or two time periods, take a look at some of the art created during those times, and see how those two times in history compare. 

Psychology 101

We will be studying 2-3 psychological disorders and learn about the various theories of the disorders, along with their current treatment. 

Golf’s Impact on Society

The golf industry is a $76 billion dollar industry. You can choose from any of the following areas of interest and research golf’s impact on society: Health and Wellness / Economic / Environmental / Architecture / Charitable Giving / Cultural Demographics. Your research would choose one of the areas to study come up with a conclusion to the effects golf provide to our daily lives. Ideally, work in this module could lead to longer term research. 

Winter Adaptations of Minnesota Plant Life

Students will explore our local woods and learn about simple adaptations plants have developed to survive long, harsh Minnesota winters. Research and writing will be stressed during this module as will walking outdoors in the cold for short periods of time. 

Minnesota Spring Flowers

Students will construct dichotomous keys to help identify native and ornamental flowers that thrive in Minnesota. We will explore our campus looking for flowering plants to identify and appreciate. 

What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

Since 1950, the United Nations has sponsored Human Rights Day in December. In this module, students will explore events that led to the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN in 1948. We will research both the process of drafting this resolution and the resulting document that the UN has used to protect the rights of people around the world since then. 

Documenting History: Photography from America’s Rural Past

As part of the New Deal after the Great Depression, Roosevelt’s administration sponsored the work of many American photographers, including Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Gordon Parks, through the Farm Security Administration. Their task? Document poverty in rural America. Through their work, we now have a lasting visual record of life during the Great Depression. In this module, we’ll study the work of these photographers, paying particular attention to images of Minnesota from that time. 

75 Years at the Walker Art Center

The Walker Art Center has been at the center of the visual arts in Minnesota for 75 years. Currently, they have an exhibition on display celebrating almost eight centuries of art collecting. Why did they choose these pieces to be part of their collection? Why did they choose to highlight the specific pieces in the anniversary exhibition? What can each piece teach us? We’ll spend time at the Walker exploring the exhibition, and then we will each pick the one artist who resonates most with each us to study in depth. 

My Voice - Poet’s Voices: Reading and Writing Poetry

Students in this module will sample some great poetry from great poets (and songwriters). As we explore these poems we will think about how poetry speaks to us as the poets share –as Wordsworth wrote- their “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.” Along the way students will write their own poems in the style and form of the great bards, while also trying their hand at freer forms. This module would be helpful to those interested in songwriting, particularly through its exploration of meter.

Python Programming for the Absolute Beginner

The goal of this course is to teach you the Python programming language, learning to program by creating simple games. There’s something more exciting about learning to program by writing software that’s fun. And even though the examples are entertaining, you’ll see some serious programming. Python is the perfect beginners’ language. It has a clear and simple syntax that will get you writing useful programs in short order. If you’ve done some programming before, you’ve still made the right choice. Python has all the power and flexibility you’d expect from a modern, object-oriented programming language. 

Adopting the Superior Trail

The Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) extends over 250 miles along the North Shore of Lake Superior, from Jay Cook State Park south of Duluth to the Canadian Border near Grand Portage, MN. We’ll take a two-day trip north to assist the SHT Association with trail maintenance by “adopting” a section of the trail, learn about the SHTA and other similar organizations and enjoy the beauty of the serene setting along the world’s largest freshwater lake. Gain valuable off-campus community service hours while helping a good cause, and seeing some of the most rugged and beautiful scenery in the United States.

Cross-Country Skiing

Enjoy the peace and tranquility of silently skiing over snow using your own power. Considered one of the best full body workouts, XC skiing also connects people to their environment because you are in touch with plant and animal life in beautiful, secluded settings as you negotiate the trails. This module will includes some dry land training off season, getting to understand equipment and waxing techniques, and traveling to local skiing venues (or not so local) to ski and explore. 

The World of the Conductor

What does a conductor really do? Learn what it takes to conduct an orchestra or choir. We will focus on gesture, musicality, communication, and score reading. Students will have time to practice their own conducting skills and learn effective communication gestures. 

Physics of Superheroes

Superheroes are integral to American culture. This module looks at the physics of superheroes and how we can use or modify the laws of physics to describe some of what they can do. 


Learn the art of sticking two pieces of metal together. This module will teach Mig Welding, the easiest method of welding using professional equipment at Southern Central College. You will be amazed at how often welding can be useful once you know how to do it! 


While earth is generally regarded as a “water planet,” less than 3% of the water is non-saline and an even smaller percentage of this is easily accessible, the majority of which is tied up in polar ice caps. With increasing demands being placed on our water supply water management is becoming increasingly more important. With this in mind we plan to look at water quality in and around the Shattuck - St. Mary’s campus. While our initial work will revolve around storm water ponds, we would hope to expand this work as interest and opportunity dictate.

Chess and the Brain

In addition to the basic rules of the game, students will learn tactics and strategy for each of the parts of the game—opening, middle game, and end game—by learning important principles of positional and strategic thinking and by applying them in games and tactical exercises. Students will also learn how to notate and analyze their own games and the games of professional players.

Exploring the Culture and Food of the Hispanic World

This module will provide students with some insights into many different Hispanic foods and cultures as we explore the rich and varied food traditions in different Hispanic cultures. Activities will include virtual trips to other countries, hands on cooking, and tasting of prepared food. 

Exploring the World of Modern Physics Research

In high school physics, even the most advanced student will only be exposed to Newtonian physics (also known as classical mechanics), which has been very well-understood and well-defined since the 17th century. However, today’s modern physics landscape looks nothing like Newton’s, as countless landmark discoveries have reshaped our understanding of the physical world. It is the goal of this module to expose students to the awe-inspiring and peculiar consequences of modern physics. They will also be able to witness the manpower and technology required to conduct modern-day physics research, and get a glimpse into how students, academia, industry, and government collaborate.

Dendrology: Mapping Campus Trees

Have you ever wondered how to tell an oak apart from a maple or a pine from a cedar? In this module, we will learn how to identify trees on campus. Then, we will use our skills to create a map to the trees in a portion of our campus. Lots of time spent outdoors enjoying nature!

Exploring Self
Reflecting on who you are as people, as learners, and as leaders

Bodies in Motion

Bodies in Motion in an evidenced-based program designed to help female athletes develop a more positive perception of their bodies and themselves. In promoting a positive body and self-image, this program will help athletes optimize their performance across contexts, like sports and school, and enhance overall well-being.

Intro to Sport Psychology and Peak Performance

This module will provide students with knowledge about psychological factors that affect performance in sports such as motivation, concentration, focus, confidence, anxiety, and relaxation. Students will be introduced to specific mental skills that will enhance performance and make athletic participation more enjoyable; they will also learn skills that can be transferred to other aspects of their lives. 


Improvisation is a fun way to learn how to think on your feet, develop confidence, and stay open to suggestions around you. Spend some time learning the basic principles of Improv, while having fun and discovering the joy of “making stuff up!”

Personality: What Kind of Person Are You?

Learn more about your personality—and how it influences your perception of the world and interactions with others—in this day-long intensive module. We will spend part of the day taking personality tests and part of the day exploring the results through introspection, discussion, and low ropes course activities. 

Lowering your Ecological Footprint

Have you wondered how to lower your ecological impact? Students will first calculate their individual footprint and then learn methods to lower it through discussions and activities. 

Exploring your DNA/Ancestry

This module will allow students to explore their individual ancestry as well as their ancestors’ direct relationship to the historical record through interviews with family members, examination of the historical data, and DNA testing. The module will also briefly explore the science of DNA testing and what this technology tells us about human evolution and the flux of humanity across the globe. Students will document/cite their findings in a formal presentation that evaluates his or her connection to the greater human story. 

Clear Head, Open Heart, Peak Performance

Brain science has all but proven that we experience the world from the inside out. In other words, our mood controls our circumstance, rather than the other way around. The intuitive knowledge gained through this module will help student in all aspects of their lives, but specifically in their chosen area of focus in any kind of performance mode from sports to PAVA to the classroom.

Learning How
Developing New Skills and Talents

Cooking Course: Healthy in a Hurry

Have you ever thought about how you’ll feed yourself once you’re living away from home? When there are no more SSM or university dining halls? This course will teach you how to create dishes that will feed your taste buds, and, at the same time, fuel your body in a healthy way. The preparation time is designed to be completed, from start to finish, in less than 15 minutes—thus, benefiting those who have busy, hectic schedules. 

Spanish for Travellers

When traveling to a Spanish-speaking country have you ever wanted to say more than “¿Dónde está el baño?” You will learn real situational vocabulary and have fun participating in role plays to use your new vocabulary. 

Gone Fishing

Learn to target the numerous fish species of the Cannon River Valley through a variety of techniques. We’ll try some of the local fishing holes and try to identify as many different kinds of fish as we can catch. You’ll learn to tie a variety of rigs and utilize many kinds of tackle. 

From the Ground to Your Table: Pottery from the Ground Up!

Students will make their own pottery from locally sourced clay. The module begins with digging on campus for native clay. After processing the clay, the students will then create their own place setting for a meal either on the wheel or by hand building methods. This includes plates, mugs, and tumblers!

Home Economics: Meal Planning and Prep, Basic Sewing Skills

Meal planning, budgeting, and preparation from start to finish will be one of the main objectives of this module. In addition, you will take home treats for you and your roommate(s). We will also focus on some basic sewing skills: buttons, fixing hems, etc. 

Bread: Yeast, Flour, Water, Salt

We’ll first learn how to make a basic pizza dough and a no-knead bread, and then we’ll choose more challenging bread recipes to explore. Students will learn about the magic that happens when these simple ingredients are combined. We’ll also head out into the local community to visit some local bakeries to see professional bread making in action. 

Basic Sewing Skills

Students will learn basic life skills related to sewing. They will learn to sew on a button, how to hand sew, how to use the sewing machines, how to use the serger and other basic sewing skills. They will then use these skills to create a final project.

Intro to French Cuisine

We will watch a film that introduces us to the importance of cooking in French culture and the work chef Julia Child did to make French culinary arts accessible to the American public. Then, after learning about a few techniques, we will cook a French meal. By the end of this module, students should gain an appreciation for French cuisine and also learn hands-on skills that they can later use to make some simple dishes for family or friends. 

Car Engine Technology

What goes on under the hood of a car? Learn the basics of engine technology by studying key concepts and taking an engine apart. You will also be introduced to current and future hybrid technology, the rise of Tesla Motors, and the future of autonomous vehicles.