It’s a big year for the STEM Academy at Forsyth Central High School.
The program — short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — has entered its third year, the first time it is eligible for state certification.
As the school works toward the 10-step process, it recently was named a finalist for the Technology Association of Georgia’s STEM Education Awards.
“We are very excited to be able to go and represent our program,” said Kim Head, assistant principal. “Our teachers and students have worked hard and they deserve this.”
The award recognizes schools programs and companies for efforts and achievements in supporting and promoting STEM education in the state.
Central’s academy is a merit-based program with 120 students taking an engineering or biotechnology pathway. They can earn college credit and work through internships and research universities during their senior year.
Head said in addition to the pathway, STEM students also compete in a variety of challenges, including science olympiads, fairs, design challenges and various robotics tournaments, including BEST, MATE and VEX.
“It’s taking them to the next level and it’s integrating their academics in that hands-on pathway,” Head said. “It’s making those extra connections for them and taking them deeper into the curriculum.”
Kelly Price, the local school system’s director of academic standards, said she was impressed with how quickly Central’s program has “grown from an idea on paper to a highly recognized reality for the students and educators.”
“The success of our program is the result of a phenomenal group of educators researching and developing a connected program that provides engaging and effective STEM learning environments for our students,” she said.
“The success of the FCHS STEM Academy stretches statewide and even across the Southeast. They are sought out by educators and leaders throughout the year who want to visit and learn.”
Finalists for the award were chosen in eight categories, including elementary, middle and high school, as well as extracurricular programs and corporate outreach.
Michael Robertson, executive director of the association’s education collaborative, hailed the finalists.
“We must continue building a wave of activities that will prepare our students for the global work force they will inherit,” he said. “ … We hope recognizing these organizations and their programs will raise awareness on the importance of STEM education for our state's economic future.”
In addition to the award, Head said the school is applying for state certification, a “very lengthy process.”
“There are very few people in the state of Georgia that are STEM certified,” she said. “We’re very excited about being part of the process.”
According to Head, just being nominated for the award should help boost the school’s pursuit of state certification.
Winners in each category will be honored during the second annual STEM Education Awards on Sept. 27.
“We are very excited that things have come together this soon,” Head said.