STEM Academy at Bartlett named finalist for national award - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

STEM Academy at Bartlett named finalist for national award


A Chatham County school is in the spotlight after being named a finalist for a national award.

The STEM Academy at Bartlett is among three middle schools in the country that are in the running for a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Excellence Award.

The Future of Education Technology Conference gives out the awards each year, but out of more than 100 schools that applied nationwide this year, only three finalists were chosen in the elementary, middle and high school divisions.

At the STEM Academy, classes aren't always confined to classrooms.
"You come into our school, you won't pass organized structured students sitting at desks. It looks like chaos, it's just organized chaos. They're out, they're making, they're creating, they're loud, they're busy, but they're on-task," said Amanda Fox, a teacher at STEM Academy.
And they're working together to solve problems. One of the criteria for the award is an emphasis on collaboration, something the STEM Academy is big on.
“You have collaborations with your teachers, your students around you, and your friends,” said 7th grader Ella Kay. “And it's not just about what you want to learn, it's about how you learn it."

Here, iPads replace textbooks and students take classes like computer science, broadcasting and Lego robotics.

Some teachers also utilize a flipped classroom approach, where students review instructional content at home, and applied activities are moved into the classroom.

But curriculum aside, students say how their teachers approach learning that makes the difference.
"They are teachers, but to me they're not teachers, they're more like good friends,” said 7th grader David Benda. “If I have an issue, I would ask my teacher to help me out and he would sit down with me as long as possible to make sure that I understand that."
"They're kind of like students. They don't just sit there at their desk and tell you to write notes. They come over and they talk to you and ask you what you need help with," added Kay.
But the teachers here will be quick to tell you that it's not about any one classroom or any one person, it's a team effort of establishing that culture.

"And I've been able to dream with this entire faculty for the last three years about what education should be and could be, and we've been able to make that a reality,” said Fox.
She and a few other teachers will be driving down to Orlando next week for the FETC conference. The award winners will be announced Thursday morning.
Earlier this year, the STEM Academy at Bartlett was the first middle school in Georgia to receive schoolwide STEM certification.

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