Roughly 200 students participated in the first year of the STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Math) and Early College High School academic programs in place at the and at Marlborough High. As the program enters its second year, 135 sixth graders and 75 ninth graders have signed on to the science, math and technology focused learning program.
"It really does get students who wouldn't traditionally look at science and math as a career path to get interested in it and follow up," said Beth Wagner, the communications liaison for Marlborough Public Schools.
The program is part of Race to the Top where the state was awarded $250 million from the U.S. Department of Education to be funded through academic year 2013-2014. The STEM program is one of the ways the state is encouraging students to pursue education through science and technology.
"It focuses on a lot of group learning and investigative learning," said Wagner. "You get your english-language arts skills by putting together a report on what you are learning in math class. It is very interdisciplinary."
The program at the Whitcomb Middle School was honored in September of last year by a visit from Governor Deval Patrick to celebrate the program.
"Race to the Top is providing critical support to our statewide reforms aimed at closing achievement gaps and ensuring that all children have access to a world-class education," said Gov. Patrick at the time. "I look forward to building upon the successes of the first year to see continued improvement for all children."
In addition to the different learning style, each of the students receives a laptop.
"If you are going to be science, engineering and math you need to use your technology and have the world of information at your fingertips," said Wagner who explained the students are even allowed to take the laptops home.
The High School students are also given dual enrollment opportunities with Framingham State University. This allows them to get a head-start on college, said Wagner, by accumulating up to 16 college credits.
College is ultimately what this program is all about, she said. While the students in the program represent a cross-section of all the students in the district, many are first-generation college students. This program can help them get on a path to college and form connections among a peer group that has the same goals.
"We have a lot of kids who may have shied away from the traditional AP Science, but now they are in with a group of kids and then they really like math," said Wagner.