A new opportunity for students

An academy becomes available for science, tech, engineering and mathematics students


Garrett Wilcoxen

This is one of the academies Millard Public schools offer. Students will be learning in similar ways that high schoolers in the education academy are, but will be apprehending different content. “It’s exciting to meet people from other schools who have the same passions as me,” Education academy student Hope Belcastro said. “I like that the teachers push you to do your best and challenge you constantly throughout the year.”

Garrett Wilcoxen, Staff Reporter

For students interested in extending their knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, there is an academy for them. 

The academy was introduced into the curriculum to raise competitiveness in science and technology development. STEM was approved on September 8 at the board of education meeting and will begin in the 2021/2022 school year.

The science in STEM typically refers to natural science like physics, biology and chemistry. It also focuses on formal sciences which are mathematics, logic and statistics. STEM curriculum believes that the scientific method and higher order thinking can be applied to everyday life. They try to prove that finding a unique solution to a problem is a key motivator in improving innovative thinking. One of the STEM program’s sample lessons shows pictures of large barges carrying crates. The students would experiment with different materials and computer-aided designs in an attempt to build a model boat capable of holding large amounts of pennies. This experiment models how real world engineers and scientists try to improve the efficiency of the current shipping designs.

“STEM provides diverse opportunities for students to explore their interests and be college and career ready,” Coordinator of Secondary Programs Melanie Olson said. “Many students who join this academy have internship opportunities, courses and certifications they wouldn’t have been able to obtain without STEM.”

Along with this, technology is an indispensable component of STEM. Technology refers to the design and implementation of activities in two main ways. It does this through the direct integration and embedding of technology and using it as a tool or facilitator to enrich public based learning activities. The STEM academy believes that advances in computer and network technologies facilitate and provide constructive learning environments. The goal of the technology in STEM is to help students develop certain forms of literacy and skills. Some examples of this are technological literacy, critical thinking, problem solving and social skills.

“The STEM Academy will impact students positively by providing another opportunity to explore possible future career paths in fields where there are a lot of openings,” Education Academy teacher Ali Bragg said. “I have seen my education students go through a unique experience that bonds them for life, and STEM will do the exact same.”

The engineering in STEM focuses on projects that ask students to design solutions for real-world problems. These problems steer students past simple questions and toward authentic problem solving solutions. Creativity is another essential tool in engineering that is taught in STEM, and it helps students interpret possible outcomes and their solutions. Although organization and logic are completely different from creativity, it is important for engineers because it helps improve principles and reason. Lastly, the program teaches how to make clear and concise decisions quickly in crucial situations.

“STEM gives students an opportunity to participate in a curriculum that ties directly to personal areas of interest, along with connecting them to workplace internship opportunities,” Coordinator of Secondary Programs Anthony Weers said. “The overall goal in STEM and any other academy is to prepare students for college and give them a career path in the future.”

Mathematics is the last part of STEM. Mathematical modeling is an important part of the STEM program and involves a complex process in which a problem encountered in real life is formulated mathematically and solved with the help of mathematical models. In STEM, mathematics is used to represent, analyze, predict or otherwise make sense of real-world situations. In STEM, mathematics is not just about finding the answer but about making assumptions, estimations and using mathematical tools to get the solution.

“The academy also helps students develop industry contacts, enhance employment opportunities and save money by starting college courses and job training early,” Olson said. “Along with this, students will have the opportunity to dual enroll and earn even more college credit.”

For all students interested in STEM based ideas, the academy is a great place to start. With these advanced learning processes, students will be able to extend their knowledge and excel in real world situations.