Page 20

Reynoldsburg eSTEM Academy “I’ve been trying to get all my friends to come here!” Students are excitedly distributing pizza as I arrive around lunchtime. School is out for summer, but students are assisting with the teacher interview process. They are more than thrilled to stick around and lead a tour. Reynoldsburg eSTEM Academy is one of four specialized high schools in the Reynoldsburg school district. The diversification is six years removed from the traditional high school system, splitting one high school into four based on subject areas. My student tour guides gush about their school, hurriedly finishing their pizza to show me “everything.” As we walk to the greenhouse, they emphasize the “e” in eSTEM, standing for environmental science. “Last year, our seniors grew all the stuff that we made our salads with, and nobody told us until the end of the school year!” Tyler, whose grin is plastered across the mobile FabLab parked outside, says they were “pretty good.” My other guides agree, though admittedly were caught off guard. eSTEM doesn’t only excel in environmental endeavors. Just this past year, their FIRST robotics team, “Technical Difficulties,” competed in a worldwide competition. Members of the team take me back into the Robotics Lounge: essentially a large closet housing their “family” of past robots. A team leader fills in some of the details.

After introducing robots with names like Sir Lancebot, they lead me to their workspace, known as “The Pit.” The tables are full of tools and abandoned robot bits. White boards provide a backdrop, offering enough space for both technical planning and friendly doodles. The kids are comfortable and it shows; they all but run The Pit and adjacent FabLab. A team leader mentions in passing that she’s logged “like, 260 hours after school.” The robotic focus does not take away from the small “e” at the beginning of the acronym. Tricia Moore, Director of Partnerships and Shared Services for the district, walks me past the tennis courts to the edge of the school property. We find two yurts and a wetlands crawling with life. We search for a herd of baby toads but these prove elusive. Throughout the year, sharper eyed teachers take advantage of the biodiversity to help subjects come to life. Robots, toads, and salads aside, the academy system prepares students for life after high school, be that in medical school or technical college. Moore explains the sea change following the shift to the academy structure. “I bet we had 10-20 students taking a dual-enrollment course at any given time. And of our seniors that graduated last week, 60% of them have some college under their belt. That’s just a huge shift. And we’re really proud of that.” The kids are too. But like their students, school leadership can’t rest yet. “We’ve still got a lot of work left to do.”

“This was our fifth year as a team, so we have all of our robots in some shape or form.” Interview and tour took place on Friday, June 3rd, 2016.

BATTELLE Education

Profile for Battelle Education

STEM School Road Trip  

At the end of the 2015-16 school here, one of staff members called out to our member schools. In the following weeks, he visited 13 differen...

STEM School Road Trip  

At the end of the 2015-16 school here, one of staff members called out to our member schools. In the following weeks, he visited 13 differen...