Accolades for the work at STEM School Chattanooga have been steady in recent months, officials said, and coming to the school from points around the world. The latest recognition of the work at the school focused on teaching science, technology, engineering and math comes from America Achieves, an organization "accelerating, launching and evaluating promising education interventions." STEM School Chattanooga is a featured school on the organization’s website, America Achieves Educator Networks.
Representatives from America Achieves visited STEM School Chattanooga recently, and the article on the website provides a review of the learning opportunities found at the school. The group reported they were impressed by the school’s open and spacious feel, the colorful FabLab, project-based learning curriculum and its open access to nearby Chattanooga State, where students can work toward an associate degree.
“Throughout the various components of the school, STEM School Chattanooga keeps its goal for project-based learning front and center,” stated the article on the America Achieves website. “STEM School Chattanooga’s curriculum is rooted in a project-based learning philosophy with each grade level experiencing a deepened focus as students progress through high school.”
"Collaboration, critical thinking, and innovation are key elements to the school and America Achieves as both seek to help more students be successful after high school," officials said. "The FabLab led to staff member invitations to France recently, and the lab was equally impressive to the visitors from America Achieves. The FabLab provides hands-on experience, and technology-focused tools for students to design, prototype and test products. The lab features computers, 3D printers, electronics workbenches, digital fabrication tools, and traditional wood shop tools. Student projects mentioned in the article included students fabricating solar array panels for outdoor classrooms, making an Arduino-based electronic garden monitoring system, and inventing a charging device for smartphones powered by swinging a door."
The national visitors were also impressed with the school’s student voice and choice. The article noted, “Students develop self-sufficiency by identifying what they need to work on and completing project-based learning tasks that offer students independence, opportunities to explore interests, and ownership of their learning environment.” By the time students are seniors, the problems driving school projects are no longer provided by teachers but developed by the students to design a solution to something STEM-related. “STEM School Chattanooga emphasizes authenticity by connecting project-based learning to life beyond the classroom and creating projects that identify problems that pertain to local business and community needs,” the article concluded. “By working on community projects with real impact (for example, helping to design a new public park), students feel deeper connection, ownership, and pride.”
Other recent honors for STEM School Chattanooga include the invitation to the World Digital Fabrication event in France, the school earned Tennessee STEM School designation and America Achieves recognized the school as one of thirty schools worldwide to be designated a “World-Leading Learner School.” Students and staff have also been honored as a STEM student was accepted to the BASF Summer Academy, and Dr. Tony Donen, the school principal, was a recent recipient of the STEM Innovator Award.
STEM School Chattanooga is a magnet school in Hamilton County Schools and part of the Missionary Ridge Learning Community.