Survey of Best Practices and Key Learning Objectives in a Secondary STEM Academy Setting, A
thesisposted on 01.04.2016, 00:00 authored by Paul Kasza
Specialized secondary schools, sometimes called academies, that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) are becoming commonplace in the United States. Natrona County School District in Casper, WY, is opening such an academy called Pathways Innovation Center (PIC) in 2016, of which I am a part of. In an attempt to aid in the design of curriculum for PIC, and to provide a resource to others involved with STEM Academies, I reviewed the literature and conducted phone and email interviews with five different STEM Academy educators throughout the United States. Through this research, I addressed two questions, a) what are the best practices of STEM Academies, and b) what are the key learning objectives of STEM Academies? Subject Integration, In-house Engineering Curriculum Design, Student Cohorts, Community Involvement, and Internships were revealed as being some of the best practices for STEM Academies. I also found Problem Solving/The Engineering Design Process and Soft Skills, such as Student Collaboration, Communication, Presentation Skills and Time Management to be some of the key learning objectives. While these results are useful and a step toward providing better education for our students, these best practices and learning objectives must be implemented, further researched, and refined in STEM Academies.