STEM education, named after its focus on science, technology, engineering, and math, is getting a big push all over the country. A special school in Los Angeles, however, has put a special spin on its curriculum by focusing on students who have traditionally been seen as special needs kids, including those with autism or ADHD.
Many students who have ADHD or are on the autism spectrum are especially gifted in the sciences and in math, but lack the social skills and communicative abilities to thrive in a standard school. Stem3 Academy opened to serve those students and help them to realize their full potential. Many of the students are sent to Stem3 Academy by their local school districts, which pay the tuition.
At Stem3 Academy, the focus is on learning by doing, a pedagogical approach which is often more suited to the students’ needs than sitting in a lecture-style class. The work approach is also geared to their needs; students focus on projects and homework while they’re at school, and they study at home to learn new subject material.
Stem3 Academy also provides resources that let the students take a hands-on approach to learning science and tech subjects. The school offers a mill, a 3-D printer, and computer-assisted design tools to help the students dive into fields such as engineering, biomedical research, cybersecurity, coding and Web design.
Stem3 Academy also fosters relationships with business and industry and provides job skills development classes to help pave the way into the workforce for students who might otherwise have difficulty. This is especially important, as 80 to 90 percent of special needs individuals are unemployed or underemployed after graduating from high school.
Overall, at Stem3 Academy, a child’s autism or ADHD can be seen as a strength, not a weakness. While this school manages to blend elements of mainstreaming with those of a specialized school, most parents of students with autism must make a choice. Click here to read about the pros and cons of mainstreaming students with autism.Whizzco