Using Engineering as a Pathway to STEM

Florida Atlantic University Lab School District, Florida
By: | July 8, 2019
District Name: Florida Atlantic University Lab School District
District State: Florida
District Website: adhus.fau.edu
By engaging in myriad active, hands-on STEM learning and activities, students at Florida Atlantic University Lab School District have gained critical life skills.

Challenge: The Florida Atlantic University Lab School District (A.D. Henderson University School and FAU High School) needed to address low participation in STEM-related classes, career paths and activities, particularly among female and minority students.

Initiative: STEM-related research and hands-on discovery is encouraged from the earliest grades through STEM pathway clubs, activities and elective courses. Early on, students engage in activities such as FIRST Lego League and Wonder Workshop Robotics League, and then in middle school, compete in Science Olympiad, competitive robotics and other events. FAU High School offers a STEM-focused, dual-enrollment program at FAU. Another option is the MD Pipeline program, a first-of-its-kind endeavor that allows students to pursue medical school while still in high school.

Impact: More than 60% of FAU Lab School District’s high school students now enroll in STEM-related classes. FAU High School students have co-authored 30 peer-reviewed journal articles, and 33 have been awarded research grants and have delivered research presentations nationwide. Another student won the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist award.

Advice: District administrators should make sure that students are engaged early and often in STEM activities and project-based learning through a broad scope of courses, electives and clubs. Guest speakers, researchers and professors can also boost student interest in STEM fields.