Guilford County Schools (GCS) is working hard to renew an emphasis in STEM education in grades pre-K-12. The district’s Strategic Plan 2012 recognized the importance of STEM by calling for the implementation of inquiry-based science instruction at all grade levels and the integration of technology into the teaching and learning process. GCS is also expanding the number of choice schools offered that focus on STEM education. This fall, The STEM Early College at N.C. A&T will open on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University. High school students in program will be able to take college-level courses and focus in one of three career pathways: renewable energy, engineering and biomedical sciences. The district is also home to STEM-related magnet programs at Bluford STEM Academy, General Greene Elementary (science and technology), Montlieu Academy of Technology (one-to-one technology), Welborn Academy of Science and Technology, Andrews Aviation Academy and The Middle College at UNCG (health sciences).
During the past decade, Guilford County has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs. The county is now working on a plan to attract technology-based corporations into the area. One of the first steps was the development of the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering. This is a joint venture between North Carolina A&T State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The state has invested in the infrastructure to create a pathway to STEM graduates in Guilford County and provide a “magnet” to draw STEM-related businesses to the area.
With the advent of opportunities like the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering and new STEM programs within schools, GCS would like to forge partnerships to help inspire students in math, science, engineering and technology from a young age. The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a way to do that. Participation in the program will help GCS cultivate and reward STEM teachers who prepare and inspire students. It will also help direct inquiry-based learning in real science and encourage students to develop critical thinking and communication skills through the planning, proposal, experimentation and presentation components of the SSEP program.