July 1, 2023 • 5 min read • Monthly Brief  • Complex Systems
Synthesis Teams

What do interstate highways, human brains, the Earth’s climate, and the ecology of your nearest lake have in common?

Answer→ these are all examples of Complex Systems: systems with many interconnected parts which can’t be properly understood by focusing only on one component. Complex systems are, by definition, difficult to comprehend and impossible to dissect. This month at Synthesis, we focus on the skills children need to recognize and navigate these systems. We’ll explore and reinforce these skills through customized Play, weekly Intensives, and in ongoing Classes.

What You’ll Find in Play:
  • New features in HYPERBALL transform the courts with added depth and interactive components.
  • The debut of POLIS, our most complex strategy game to date. Harness resources, manage supply lines, and coordinate trade routes as you grow your Roman city-state.
What To Expect in Intensives:
  • Centralized and Decentralized Systems
  • Teams as Emergent Systems
  • Domino Effects & Second-Order Thinking in Interdependent Systems
  • Metaphors and Systems Modeling
What's upcoming in class:
Week 1: Defining Complexity.
Experts don’t agree on one definition of complex systems. Through Socratic dialogue, students form their own.
Week 2: Interdependence.
Children dust off second-order thinking muscles as they explore cascading impacts from small changes to the system.
Week 3: Emergence.
When does a collection of stars become a constellation? This week explores what makes a complex system greater than the sum of its parts.
Week 4: Modeling Systems.
Modeling is generally accepted as the best way to understand and explore a complex system, but how do we determine what goes into the model?
What you can do:
If you’re interested in helping your child explore at home, visit our Complex Systems: Continuing the Conversation With Your Student page.
Continuing the Conversation: TEAM DYNAMICS
How do you know what you know?
Continuing the Conversation: FIRST PRINCIPLES
Is risk a good thing, or a bad thing?
Continuing the Conversation: RISK