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STEM school to start in 2012

STEM school to start in 2012

Maggie Cassidy

Senior Sara Turks help one of the prospective students from the STEM Open House package an egg to be dropped from a ladder. The Oct. 8 event publicized the addition of the STEM curriculum to the 2012-13 school year.

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The 2012-2013 school-year will mark the beginning of the new STEM Academy within JC.

The STEM Academy will be a program that focuses on the four parts of STEM, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Students will take classes that are geared towards these subjects and receive an education that is based on the four pillars of STEM.

Due to the presence of other STEM-based schools in the Harford County area, such as the Math and Science Academy at Aberdeen High School and the Magnet Program at Edgewood High School, Principal Madelyn Ball believes that this will make JC more competitive and alluring to prospective students.

“I think a lot of kids will come here because of the STEM Academy.  Their parents are so thrilled that this school will have a STEM academy,” Ball said. “Because people in this area are choosing between us and Edgewood and Aberdeen, I wouldn’t want somebody to be choosing public education over us because of a program. We have what we need here.”

Senior Sara Turks agrees with Ball that the STEM Academy will be a success. “I think the STEM program that will be put into place next year seems awesome. It will give students so many opportunities to explore the different fields of math, science, and engineering,” Turks said.

Students from the freshman class of 2016 will be able to apply to and, if admitted, attend the STEM Academy. Ball has high hopes for this venture into the STEM world, aiming to properly prepare students for the work force.

“We know for a fact that when you [students] graduate, all the majority of jobs are going to require a field of STEM. So we have to get you prepared. We also have people in the community, businesses, come to us asking us to start a program like this [STEM]. People involved in our advisory group on this are people from Battelle and places like that are very interested in being involved with this,“ Ball said.

According to Ball, there will be a different admission process for students interested in attending the STEM Academy.  “You [students] have to have some different scores in your high school placement test in math and science.” These higher scores will indicate if the student applying to JC is STEM material.

Next year the STEM Academy will not be separate from JC, but rather it will have its own curriculum integrated with typical courses such as religion, English, and foreign language. According to Ball, JC already has STEM related courses, but they aren’t organized into a formal program yet. The STEM Academy will have a set curriculum for the students to matriculate through.

“In terms of science, over a four-year period you will take Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and at least another AP type science course. And in math, you will have to get through AP Calculus. But then in terms of technology and engineering, we will offer an Intro to Drawing course, C.A.D. (computer assisted design), an Intro to Engineering course,” Ball said.

According to Ball, Environmental Science and Chemistry teacher Julie Baker will be teaching Intro to Engineering due to her training and degree in Chemical Engineering.  Baker and science department chair Rebecca Jansing-Kaestner have already begun planning for this course.

“Mrs. Jansing-Kaestner  came to me and asked if I could come up with the curriculum for an Intro to Engineering course. The plan for the course is to give the kids a chance to see what engineers do,” Baker said.

New courses will also include Robotics, Computer Programming, and Forensics.  Students not enrolled in the STEM Academy will be able to take the same courses that are offered to the STEM students, but “STEM kids would get first crack at registering for classes,” Ball said.

Students who are admitted and enrolled in the STEM Academy will be able to graduate in four years from JC’s Stem Academy after completing all of the required STEM courses.

Maggie Cassidy is Print Chief for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.

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