Innovation in the Upper School

The Rutgers Prep Innovation Program is a yearlong, in-depth exploration of creative problem-solving and collaborative learning. Students in 8th to 12th grades will embark on their choice of nine different programs, led by expert faculty with the additional support of local professionals and enthusiastic alumni. Our goal is to extend the learning our students have traditionally achieved in our classrooms to real-world application.

Our teachers have developed exciting and memorable opportunities that will encourage Rutgers Prep students to follow their passions and even discover new ones.

Upper School Innovation Programs

Guatemala Rising

Led by Spanish teacher Jennifer Bautista Burk, this multi-disciplinary experience combines storytelling, digital media, investigative journalism, cultural discovery, and language immersion with adventure travel. Students involved in this Innovation Program will embark on a cultural exchange to Guatemala, where they will learn about the pre-Columbian Mayan civilization, meet locals working on social enterprises, and explore how this South American country impacts the rest of our hemisphere. Both in the classroom and through travel, students will create their final project - a digital narrative telling their own personal story of Guatemala. Through a comprehensive itinerary balancing active learning and reflection, students will have the opportunity to share the story of the Guatemalan people through a lens of compassion and understanding.

As part of this Innovation, students will travel to Guatemala over Spring Break. There will be an extra cost for participation in this Innovation.

To register go to

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GIVE'NAPP is a Rutgers Prep Innovation that allows students to use their software engineering skills to give back to our community while documenting the experience.Students will "give an app" to a local non-profit organization in need of one. They will research local non-profit organizations and find out those that are in need of an iOS app.Every student will be assigned to a team.A team will have two main components: (1) software developers and (2) video documentary crew. The teams will research the organizations and conduct interviews to find out the app requirements.The documentary crew will record every step of the process.Once the requirements are finalized, the software developers will go into the design phase.Teams will present design(s) to the organization for approval.After a design is approved, the software developers will begin the implementation phase of the project.The documentary crew will compile and edit the recordings to produce a documentary.The motive is to set realistic goals to complete the first beta version of the app.The capstone project will be an app on the App Store and a video documentary of the entire software engineering process.


Students are expected to:

  • Have at least one of the skills mentioned above.
  • Work through sample programming tutorials.
  • Learn how to manage a large project using GitHub.
  • Create a project timeline.
  • Complete any tasks assigned to them.
  • Provide weekly contributions to the project.
  • Create a functional iOS app that is available on the App Store.
  • Create a documentary of the process.

Technical Skills: Programming, Photoshop, Photography, Video Recording and Editing

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Mock Trial

A mock trial is a simulation of a judicial proceeding, that is, the actual enactment of a trial of either a civil or criminal case. Participation in and analysis of mock trials provides students with an insider's perspective from which to learn about courtroom procedures. Students will have the opportunity to reenact trials by serving in a variety of roles such has judge, juror, witness, defense attorney and prosecution attorney. Given the facts of the cases, the participants will present arguments, question witnesses, and make decisions based on the testimonies given.

The objectives of the program are:

  1. To promote increased confidence, poise, oral skills, critical thinking skills and teamwork skills, plus increase proficiency in basic skills such as reading, writing, speaking, analyzing and reasoning, and interpersonal skills such as listening and cooperating.
  2. To give students a better understanding of the legal system-from the rules of evidence to proper court decorum. This increases their awareness of the importance of law in a democratic society and strengthens understanding of their fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution.
  3. To help students better understand the roles of persons in the justice system.
  4. Provide a hands-on experience from which students can learn about law, society, and themselves. To offer students an opportunity to think about how society resolves its disputes and to measure the fairness of those decisions.


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Chemistry Olympics

The Chemistry Olympics is a one-day competition designed to test the knowledge of talented high school chemistry students throughout New Jersey. Events include performing timed laboratory experiments, writing computer programs, building models of chemical apparatus, designing chemical apparatus, and developing projects. The students work as a team, select events that they wish to participate in, and eventually compete for a team score. The event is co-sponsored by NJIT and the North Jersey Section of the American Chemical Society - Teacher Affiliates, and the final competition is held in May at NJIT.

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Sports Analytics

We live in a world of increasingly big data and information, and students will need to learn how to mine data when they graduate from Rutgers Prep. In addition to learning how to analyze data, it is essential for students to continue to develop their thinking and writing skills, and the sports analytics program will give them an avenue to use their creativity to pursue both of these ends.

The world of sports has long been known to be a bastion of provincial insiders who clung to traditionally held beliefs, but that world started to change abruptly as statisticians, economists, financiers and scientists began trying to apply their academic tools to better understand this arena of human endeavor. Part of the tension that has been introduced into sports management revolves around how to adequately convey this new thinking to coaches, players and management, and anyone who has ever competed in sports at a high level knows that an athlete cannot reach peak performance with a cluttered mind.

The world of sports analytics is a huge one, but it is our hope to give the students a little sampling of some of the kinds of questions that teams, leagues and sports owners are grappling with. Additionally, we will introduce students to some basic statistical techniques, and the goal will be for each student to find a research project that interests them, and they will share their findings by producing a poster and giving a short talk to their peers and instructors in order to reach successful conclusion of this academic innovation experience.

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Hands on History

The Hands-On History Innovation Program exposes students to various subjects within the field of history. The program's aim is to take the skills they've been learning in the classroom--critical thinking, analysis of facts, and interpretation of multiple points of view--and apply them to real situations.

This year, the program's main focus will be to research, design, and construct a series of wall displays celebrating Rutgers Prep's 250-year story. These permanent displays will be mounted in the Learning Commons, where they will be enjoyed by students, faculty and staff, and the public for many years to come.

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Business & Entrepreneurship

The RPS Business & Entrepreneurship Program provides students in 8th-12th grade with the skills and background necessary to transform a business idea into reality. The program aims to expose students to skills required to become a successful entrepreneur, encouraging a self-starter mentality and teaching tangible and practical business skills. The series of workshops will cover the topics of Idea Generation, Finance, Marketing & P.R., and Operations.

Sessions will begin with insights from a successful businessperson and include interactive workshops that aim to teach a variety of business skills and thinking. During these interactive sessions students will be encouraged to ask questions both theoretical and practical questions. As students progress through the various topics of the program, they will move from the brainstorming and idea generation phase through the process of creating the full-fledged business plan necessary to launch their business. The Program culminates with a "demo day," when students who have successfully completed a business plan are able to present their businesses to the community.

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Ideas cannot be fenced in. They tend to creep out, explode and create. Rutgers Prep students are creative, intellectually curious, and have the desire to make new connections. They want to make use of the different academic, cultural, social and religious backgrounds of all the people in the greater Rutgers Prep community, and all the connections that they have throughout the world to make those connections, and introduce new ideas.

What better way to do that than hold a TEDxRutgersPrep event in a day filled with brilliant speakers, thought-provoking video and mind-blowing conversations? At this event, to be held in May, students will create a unique gathering in their community that will unleash new ideas, inspire and inform. Working throughout the academic year, they will coordinate a suite of talks, demonstrations, and performances that are idea-focused and cover a wide range of subjects to foster learning, inspiration and wonder - and ultimately provoke conversations that matter.

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Sir Isaac's Army

This program involves highly motivated students who like to tinker with their hands and are curious about the world around them. No previous physics background is required. For the first semester, they will prepare for the NJ Physics Olympics, at which teams compete in designing and building innovative and creative machines. For the second semester, they will design and fabricate water purification systems for people living in third world countries, who do not have access to clean water.

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Middle School Ideas and Innovations

Twice a week, Middle School students head to an Ideas & Innovations course (I&I). I&I courses, which change four times a year, offer an opportunity for students to select a class and try something new. In all I&I courses, there are mixed groups of students in grades six, seven, and eight. I&I courses are taught by instructors who are excited about the subject they have chosen to teach. Students are able to select from the following courses:

  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Chinese Language & Culture
  • Creative Writing
  • Digital Media Production
  • Financial Literacy
  • Mad Learn App Development
  • Sports Analytics
  • Yearbook Production
I&I learning is hands-on, interactive, and student-led. From the structure of a Chinese character to the worm digestion track and practical design applications, students in our I&I classes are seeing and doing.