Digital Media

StairWay5 Digital Media curriculum offers an exciting pathway in Graphic Art, Design and Movie production!


Introductory Courses

Digital Media I – Graphic Art and Design
  • Learn the fundamental principles and elements of design
  • Be introduced to several types of image manipulation software, and learn the basics of 2D and 3D image manipulation.
  • Learn the basics of visual storytelling
  • Create and edit designs that will be added to their Digital Web Portfolio
Digital Media I – Movie Production and Editing
  • Learn the fundamentals of videography and video production basics
  • Work individually or as a group to explore different roles in video production
  • Be introduced to audio and video recording, as well as editing software
  • Create and edit videos which will be added to their Digital Web Portfolio

Intermediate Courses

Digital Media II –  Animated Storytelling
  • Be introduced to character animation tools and techniques using the professional Adobe Cloud suite
  • Continue to develop their 2D and 3D design skills by incorporating them into new projects.
  • Learn how to integrate different software to create animation assets
  • Create animated shorts which will be added to their Digital Web Portfolios
Digital Media II –  Graphic Design for Marketing
  • Learn about designing for print, web, and other forms of multimedia communication.
  • Advance their understanding of visual storytelling
  • Learn advanced design techniques using the professional Adobe Cloud suite
  • Develop designs for print and web, and add them to their Digital Web Portfolios.
Digital Media II –  CAD and 3D Printing
  • Learn the fundamentals of designing for 3D
  • Be introduced to 3D modeling software, and different approaches to modeling in 3D
  • Be introduced to 3D printing, including different techniques and materials
  • Create and print a 3D model for their Digital Web Portfolio
Digital Media II –  Movie Production and Editing
  • Students will develop larger scale projects, and work as a team to execute them
  • Be introduced to special effects and advanced editing techniques
  • Learn to integrate different software and assets to create a more complex project
  • Develop a script, storyboard, produce and edit a short film for their Digital Web Portfolio

Advanced Courses

Digital Media III –  Video Game Design

Recommended courses: CAD and 3D Printing, Animated Storytelling OR Intermediate Movie Production and Editing, Programming I (Web/HTML/CSS)

  • Develop and script an idea for a short video game
  • Learn 2D and/or 3D game development software
  • Create an interactive story which will be added to their Digital Web Portfolio
Digital Media III –  Product Design

Recommended courses: Intermediate Graphic Art and Design and/or CAD and 3D Printing

  • Develop a product to create and market to a specific audience
  • Research potential audiences, similar products, and marketing techniques
  • Learn about the process of developing products, the basics of manufacturing, and fundamental marketing techniques
  • Create a brand, logo, and web page to market their product as part of their Digital Web Portfolio
Digital Media IV –  Applied Digital Media (Real World Service Project)

Recommended courses: Intermediate Graphic Art and Design, 1 additional Intermediate or Advanced Course, Programming I (Web/HTML/CSS)

  • Students will meet with a real world organization and develop a service project
  • Students will be able to get professional insight into their work, as well as see how their graphic design skills can be applied in professional settings
  • Work as a team to create and execute a service project, such as a fundraiser or educational video

Problem Solving

Applied Math

MathKidsWe want to encourage students to *LOVE* Math and experience and explore it in the context of real applications as one of the foundations of a technology education.

Our tutors, who include Univ of Iowa Math/Applied Math PhD and Undergraduate students, will ensure during 1×1 sessions that students are mastering math concepts based on school standards, and then also spend time in small groups exploring and applying math to all kinds of fascinating topics including robotics, engineering, music, computer programming, biology and many, many other fields of interest.

Each small group (2-3) students will be assigned a tutor. Each session will include tutoring to focus on student-specific math gaps and goals, supervised student practice and then logic puzzles, games and activities that use Applied Math to develop computational, analytical and algorithmic thinking.


Scholastic Chess

This new course starts in Spring 2020 and is presented by National Master of Chess, James Neal of Iowa City.  James has been teaching chess privately in Iowa City for the past 10 years. This course focuses on the critical thinking aspect of chess. The goal for this class is to break down tactical themes and find solutions based on a systematic approach. It is not required that students have a background or experience in chess to take this course.

ChessPawnDuring each session we will break down a theme and students will have time to work on solving chess problems associated with that theme. Students will work on key puzzles from the problem and record progress in student web portfolios.  James will review a game each session with the students to give them a practical idea of how these tactics may arise in their own games. Also, key positions will be provided for each of the students to spar among the group to test their tactical prowess and record their oversights.

Expect students to walk away with advanced tactical skills and a deeper understanding of chess. Most importantly, they would have greatly improved their critical thinking skills by regularly solving problems in an enjoyable atmosphere.

Computer Science

We use technology more and more every day as we go about our lives –  our cell phones, TVs, cars, appliances, banks, businesses.  Imagine all apps and data that control and live in these devices and services.  Software (app and data) and computer (hardware) engineers have created all this amazing technology around us and now our kids can hardly image a life without it. Countless manual jobs are being replaced and this trend will continue, while the need for technologists is not being met even now.  It’s time to get our kids ready for their future!

StairWay5 computer science courses ensure students understand how computers work as well as how to code in multiple programming languages.  Every student designs and builds their own Digital Web Portfolio – something they can take with them and set them apart as they make their journey into their amazing futures.


Here’s our line up of courses that step them up from beginning to full-blown developer:

Programming 1 – Web Development with HTML, CSS 

  • Build a digital web portfolio
  • Learn about binary information flow, internet and website architecture and elements – how web pages, servers, routers and browsers function.
  • Learn HTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) using the industry standard Eclipse Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
  • Design, plan, implement and present multiple web page projects that increase in complexity.

Programming 2 – Web Development with  JavaScript

  • JavaScript is one of the most common languages used to create interactive web content
  • Design and build more complex, interactive Web applications utilizing JavaScript.  These include interactive websites and simple game development.
  • Learn fundamental code concepts such as inputs, variables, data processing and functions as well as debugging and testing code
  • Learn more advanced software application design, algorithm development, coding principles and tools will be practiced through individual projects.

Programming 3 – Intro to Databases/SQL

  • Data is the new Oil – As more and more data is gathered by technology all around us, data analysis and engineering is now one of the most lucrative technology careers and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.
  • Introduction to the highly integral skill of organizing managing, storing and querying data using a relational database.
  • More advanced coding concepts and algorithms will be covered along with software development life cycles principles of requirements, design, coding, testing and deployment.
  • Introduction to Cloud software Amazon Web Services (AWS) is included.
  • This course adds the next step to becoming a full stack developer and also the basis for more advanced programming projects and courses such as machine language (AI).

Programming Open Labs

Practice, practice, practice – Programming like any other complex skill such learning to play a sport or musical instrument requires guided, consistent practice to achieve mastery.

Programming open labs are specifically designed to provide students projects to continue to develop coding skills and algorithm development. Students are encouraged to work independently and practice their technical and core skills.

Instructors will provide guidance and mentoring as needed to ensure students meet the objectives they have set for themselves. Projects completed during the Lab will be added to each student’s Digital Portfolio.


Programming Certification Prep & Test – HTML

Extensive review and practice of HTML5 coding concepts, theory and usage in preparation for the HTML5 certification test.  Students will need to sign up with and pay testing fees separate from course fees.  Following successful completion of the certification – Digital certificates can be added to student digital portfolios.

Robotics & Engineering

The Robots are here to stay.  If you’re using a machine that has electronic components and is programmed to move – then it’s a robot.  Automation is fast taking over manual jobs and robotics engineers are, and will continue to be in high demand for old and new industries.

The StairWay5 robotics curriculum aims to make students well versed in the basics of robotics and then use their unbounded imagination and creativity to design and build robots of their choice. All student creations are added to individual Digital Web Portfolios – something they can take with them and set them apart as they make their journey into their amazing futures.


Here’s our robotics/engineering course line up:

Junior Robotics-Web – Robot Build Projects and Introduction to HTML

Ignite your child’s passion for robotics and coding with this project-based course that lets them show off their technological creations on the internet!

Each student in this course will be provided their robotics sets and kits (Lego, Vex, other) to build multiple motorized robots with sensors.  Robotics and programming concepts will be introduced using the the Graphical Coding Interface to automate the robots.  Students will also be introduced to the Eclipse Integrated Development Environment and HTML to enable them to document and share their builds in their individual Digital Portfolios.

Electronics 1 

This course provides a gentle introduction to the fundamentals of electronics.  Students will learn about the basic components that make up and control electronic circuits.  Students will learn how to create Circuit Diagrams using standard circuit symbols and then create and test their circuits using SNAP Circuits (no soldering required!).  Each diagram and circuit will be added to Student Digital Portfolios with descriptions. Each SNAP Circuit model and it’s components will be discussed and documented.

Robotics 1 (Ages 10+)  Understand components of robots and how they make these machines function, along with their varied uses. Multiple design, plan and build projects to gain hands on understanding of the following:

  • mechanisms that push, pull and lift using wheels/axles, inclined plane, wedge, lever, pulley and screw.
  • machines with motorized movement using motors, gears, drive trains. Understand speed and torque.
  • machines that use plows, scoops and friction grabbers for object manipulation mechanisms.
  • lifting mechanisms such as rotating joints, elevators, and linkages.
  • the robot’s computer (brain) for processing inputs and performing tasks through programming
  • robot sensors to detect inputs such as light, color, objects and motion

At the conclusion of this course, students will be ready build more complex robots and graduate from graphical interface programming to ROBOTC.

See Robotics for more curriculum details.