Memphis Virtual STEM Academy at East High School
More than 140 urban students in the Memphis/Shelby County Area, grades 9-12, are engaged in a virtual, pre-engineering curriculum program that also provides hands-on, project-based learning opportunities in a centralized laboratory setting.
The Memphis Virtual STEM Academy at East High School project investigates the implementation of a virtual STEM curriculum that utilizes self-paced modules, face-to-face STEM laboratory projects, and field experiences designed to help students (grades 9-12) understand pre-engineering concepts and principles as well as develop an interest in and motivation to pursue STEM and ICT careers. The four project objectives are to: 1) increase Virtual STEM Academy students' use and integration of technology into their learning experiences; 2) increase Virtual STEM Academy students' STEM learning as compared to students in other district STEM-focused programs; 3) decrease gaps in achievement and technical skills among student populations by gender, racial/ethnic background, and economic level; and 4) increase the Virtual STEM Academy students' STEM career awareness and interest.
The Academy establishes a single site, centrally located in the district, which provides a state-of-the-art laboratory facility and well-trained teachers with engineering degrees. Students from the district's more than 40 high schools are able to access high quality lab facilities and teachers not typically available to local high schools. Approximately 100 freshmen will enroll in the Academy each year, selected on the basis of qualifying scores on the ACT Explore assessment, completion of a statement of interest for engineering or engineering technology, and a letter of parental support. Primary partners in the project are Shelby County Schools (formerly Memphis City Schools) and the Herff College of Engineering at the University of Memphis. The project design is a hybrid model that permits students to remain at their geographically assigned school for a program of study that incorporates Internet-based curriculum intended for flexible use based upon national best practice implementation and integration strategies.