STEM Initiative drives home science, technology in Horry County

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A drive to increase student performance in science and math has Horry County Schools on the brink of debuting a new academic initiative this fall.

The program, called the STEM Initiative, will allow selected students to study concentrated course offerings in science, technology, engineering and math. Officials say all courses will be taught at the Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology.

"We're not necessarily looking for geniuses," Horry County Schools Superintendent Dr. Cindy Elsberry said. "We're really looking for students who have interests in math and science areas."

Officials with Horry County Schools say rising ninth graders who have pre-qualified for the program based on test scores have received information in the mail on the STEM Initiative. In its pilot year, officials hope to enroll 100 incoming freshman.

From there on, Elsberry says the school will continue to stock the 4-year program with 100 students at the beginning of each school year.

A district steering committee helped to develop the program after being tasked with reviewing program offerings at the Academy for Technology and Academics, in addition to the Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology.

"Following research, the steering committee recommended making programmatic revisions at the Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology to include a 9-12 STEM program with equity of access for students in all attendance areas," an informational brochure on the program said.

Students enrolled in the STEM Initiative, according to Elsberry, will have the opportunity for classroom and on-site experience in programs such as 3D animation, green methods, robotics, anatomy and physiology, microbiology and web page design.

Officials also anticipate offering AP courses in subjects like biology, studio art, world history and physics.

District officials in Horry County have also applied to receive part of a $4.3 billion STEM grant that would further boost funding to launch the local initiative. Elsberry says district leaders hope to learn the status of that grant opportunity this week.

Students and parents interested in learning more about the STEM Initiative will have the opportunity to meet with program officials during an Open House on Thursday from 5-7 p.m. The Open House will take place at the Academy of the Arts, Science and Technology.

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