Intel Corporation honored 18 US schools as finalists of the Intel Schools of Distinction Awards in 2012. Of these 18 schools, 5 were announced as winners and one as the Star Innovator at an awards gala in Washington D.C. in September. These top schools serve as outstanding examples of leaders in preparing tomorrow’s innovators.
A philosophy of inclusion guides STEM instruction at Ossining where all students – regardless of test scores or grades – are encouraged to enroll in the school’s scientific research course, gain hands-on experience in STEM projects, and consider the possibility of a career in science. Through project-based instruction, students act as scientists, working both individually and collaboratively, and reaching out to experts in their field to further learning. All students are encouraged to present their work in an annual symposium. In recent years, Ossining students have gained 17 percentage points in earth science, 7 points in chemistry and 1 point in physics.
Mathematics: Elementary Schools
George Hall Elementary School, Mobile, Alabama
At George Hall, instruction is differentiated to meet the varied learning styles and levels of understanding of students, 99 percent of whom represent minorities and 90 percent of whom come from poverty. Instructors engage students in hands-on activities where they are given the opportunity to work with manipulatives and see concrete examples before thinking about abstract meanings. Lessons are designed to help students make real-world connections and engage in authentic problem solving.
The results of George Hall’s transformation are staggering: Whereas only 30 percent of students reached proficiency in math eight years ago, 96 percent of fourth graders achieved proficiency in 2011.
Technology Access Foundation Academy, Kent, Washington
Technology Access Foundation Academy strives to provide local, underserved youth with exposure to STEM education and careers. Math and science are taught as a singular class where students engage in interdisciplinary projects that allow them to make authentic connections and solve problems. Field trips and visits from STEM professionals are an essential part of TAF’s approach. Since 2009, the percent of students achieving proficiency in mathematics has more than doubled, jumping from 35 to 77 percent.
School of Science/Engineering Magnet, Dallas, TX
At Dallas’s School of Science/Engineering Magnet, the study of mathematics is viewed as the cornerstone for academic success. Thus, math content is integrated throughout the school’s fast-track, STEM curricula. Working both independently and collaboratively, students engage in research projects which allow them to discover authentic, real-world connections. Impressively, 100 percent of SEM students, including those in at-risk groups, have demonstrated proficiency in math since 2007.
Legacy Elementary School, Madison, Alabama
At Legacy, students don’t acquire science knowledge by reading about it; instead, they experience it firsthand in the school’s outdoor learning laboratory. Instruction is inquiry based, student centered, and technology infused. Students plant vegetable gardens, create and study habitats for wildlife, examine microscopic organisms, and apply math strategies as they learn about land and water ecosystems. Students manage the high-tech weather station and produce educational videos with teachers acting as guides on the side. More than 90 percent of fifth graders achieved proficiency on state tests in 2009, 2010, and 2011.
Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander University of Pennsylvania Partnership School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
At Penn Alexander, students are engaged in hands-on, inquiry-driven projects that enable them to grasp scientific concepts and connect them to the real world. Students are taught to integrate social media tools in projects beginning in Kindergarten, and technology is an integral part of projects thereafter. Teachers collaborate with professors from the nearby University of Pennsylvania to enhance instruction and address challenges such as closing the achievement gap through strategies such as differentiated instruction and tutoring. All students participate in an annual science fair. In 2011, 65 percent of eighth graders achieved proficiency in science, exceeding the state average of 58 percent.
Dana Elementary School (Dana, N.C.), Forest Hills School (Florence, Ala.)
Dowell Middle School (McKinney, Texas), St. Therese Chinese Catholic School (Chicago)
Baruch College Campus High School (New York, N.Y.), Peachtree Ridge High School (Suwanee, Ga)
Gary And Bobbye Jack Minshew Elementary School (McKinney, Texas), W. Melbourne Elementary School for Science (West Melbourne, Fla.)
Edison Computech Middle School (Fresno, Calif.), Ni River Middle School (Spotsylvania, Va.)
Boston Latin School (Boston, Mass.), Gatton Academy (Bowling Green, Ky.)
We have recently reviewed our portfolio of education offerings and after much deliberation have decided we will not continue the Intel Schools of Distinction competition. Thank you to all of the schools that participated in the program and congratulations to all of the winners.
We will continue to seek new opportunities to support STEM education in the United States and around the world and encourage schools to keep on pursuing excellence in science and mathematics teaching and learning. Stay Tuned!