Study.com recently released a list of the top 30 high school science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs in the United States, and the Cobb County School District’s own Wheeler High School ranked #2 on the prestigious list.
The schools were ranked using a system that places different weights on important aspects like student/teacher ratios, AP test participation, scores in STEM subjects, and a special STEM innovation score. The innovation score evaluates the uniqueness, thoroughness, and cutting-edge nature of each school’s curricular and extra-curricular STEM offerings.
According to Study.com, rigorous STEM education, like what is taught at Wheeler High School, can give a head start to students interested in pursuing work in these fields before they even reach college.
The U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration said STEM jobs grew three times as fast as non-STEM jobs from 2000-2010, and the Department of Education has recommended adding 100,000 more STEM teachers to United States schools over the next decade. Innovative and increasing uses of technology in the classroom mean that the top STEM schools of today provide access to technologies like 3D printers, robotics labs, programming and design facilities, smart boards, and 1:1 laptop programs.
All U.S. high schools are required to follow national math and science standards. So, what makes Wheeler High School and the other top STEM schools stand out?
Study.com points to the way Wheeler and the other schools place special emphasis on STEM academics and unique STEM educational experiences. Top STEM high schools provide research and hands-on opportunities as well as preparation for a college degree in a STEM field, giving high school students freedom to explore their passions and interests before they even reach college. The strength of the top STEM schools, like Wheeler, is in large part due to teachers who champion STEM principles, seek the relevant curriculum and professional development resources, and implement the hands-on assessments that provide such exemplary school experiences for STEM students.
The Study.com release specifically praised Wheeler High School’s STEM magnet program as the first to achieve STEM certification in the state of Georgia in 2012 as well as STEAM certification in 2017. The release recognized Wheeler for the school’s outreach in helping other schools develop STEM programs. The Wheeler STEM Center offers an accelerated and advanced course of study focusing on medical biotechnology, engineering/robotics, chemical engineering, and advanced chemistry. The program culminates in senior research and internships with local business and institution partners. Students have the opportunity to take twice as many math and science courses as they would in a traditional curriculum. Example courses include Honors Multivariable Calculus, Advanced Physics Robotics, Advanced DNA/Genetics Research, Essentials of Healthcare, and Architectural Drawing and Design.