FETC field trips highlight Miami-Dade magnet schools

FETC® educators visit maritime-themed academy and downtown magnet school
By: | January 14, 2020
Students at Miami's MAST Academy show off a science project, with the waters of Biscayne Bay behind them.Students at Miami's MAST Academy show off a science project, with the waters of Biscayne Bay behind them.

How many public schools have sweeping views of Miami’s iconic waterways?

Some Future of Education Technology Conference® educators were treated to a day outside of the session rooms and visited Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ leading programs, including MAST Academy, a maritime-focused, grades 6 through 12 school (that’s designed to resemble a cruise ship) on the shores of Biscayne Bay.

“I was impressed by the level of project-based learning activities and the students finding solutions to real-world problems,” said FETC® attendee Ed Acevedo, superintendent of Long Hill Township Schools in New Jersey.

Students at MAST Academy take college level courses in math, ELA, science and other core subjects.

They also work with University of Miami researchers and organizations such as NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard on projects, including shark tagging, underwater robotics, coral reef conservation and ocean temperature analysis.

The school, where students can study marine biology and other maritime sciences, is so tied to the water just outside its back door that all ninth-graders are required to take swimming lessons, and their electives include scuba diving, lifeguard training and kayaking.

FETC attendees and MAST Academy's lead teacher walk the waterfront trail behind the school.

FETC® attendees and MAST Academy’s lead teacher walk the waterfront trail behind the school.

The magnet school operates on a lottery system and boasts a 100 percent graduation rate. It also sends all of its students to college or the military. But FETC® attendees were impressed by more than just the academic programs.

“We look out our windows and see cows and pastures, which are beautiful in their own way,” said Lance Alston, the information technology director for the Great Plains Technology Center in Lawton, Oklahoma.

Downtown innovations

Though only about a 15-minute drive away, the pre-K through 12 iPrep Academy, in the heart of downtown Miami, offers students a much different experience. The tech-driven magnet school takes more of a liberal arts approach, in which students navigate their learning and career pathways.

Middle and high school students do their work in open classroom environments that foster heavy collaboration and experimentation with technology. Students working with laptops on couches and sitting in hallways give iPrep the feel of a college campus.

The school even has a row of treadmills and elliptical machines that students can use to burn off energy at any time they want.

FETC® attendees get details on Miami’s iPrep Academy from the school’s lead teacher.

Other FETC® field trip attendees visited the BioTECH @ Richmond Heights High School, a magnet high school that features the Zoo Miami Research Station, where students work on conservation research.

Some attendees got a chance to tour the Barbara Goleman Senior High, a STEM magnet high school, where students can pursue eight career pathways, including cybersecurity, digital marketing and financial technologies.

For all FETC® coverage, click here. 

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