STEM focus at Hillsborough charter school - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

STEM focus at Hillsborough charter school

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Hillsborough Academy of Math and Science Hillsborough Academy of Math and Science
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) - Advancing science, technology, engineer and math, or STEM, in schools is an important part of President Obama's platform. His 2015 budget includes $170 million in new funding to train the next generation of innovators. A Hillsborough County charter school started this year with hopes to start those innovators as early as kindergarten.

At Hillsborough Academy of Math and Science, located at 9659 West Waters Ave. in Tampa, the focus on innovation runs through each class.

"We just have more of an emphasis on project-based learning and STEM, and having the kids use critical thinking," said Samantha del Ponte, Gifted Resource Teacher at Hillsborough Academy of Math and Science.

The magnet school opened in the fall of 2013.  For its first year, the school teaches Kindergarten through seventh grade.  Next year, it will expand to include eighth graders.

"You talk about one thing, and there's many projects you do from it," said Sarah Lucas, a 5th-grader at Hillsborough Academy of Math and Science.

The school still teaches Common Core standards, but science and engineering become a component of all classes, even languages, arts and social studies.

"We ready a story about a little boy in Peru that found a frog, and he wanted to keep the frog. The frog needs water to live," said del Ponte.

The students learn that the Peruvian village in the story can only collect water a few times a week. The task for the students was to engineer a membrane that would allow water to seep through onto the frog in the story while only using a half cup of the precious water supply.

"We tested all these materials to see which one worked best," said 5th-grader Daniel Deng. "These are the amounts of water that went into the actual cup."

After the research, each group of students chose the best combination of materials for the membranes. The project combines reading comprehension, a cultural study on Peru, biology and engineering.

According to the Department of Education, only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in math and interested in a STEM career.

"It's a great way to expose the children to what's out there, civil engineering, bio engineering," said del Ponte.

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