The number of registrations for Reynoldsburg City Schools' new STEM Middle @ Baldwin Road program topped 520 recently and is still growing, said Scott Bennett, who will be principal of the new STEM Academy school of choice for grades five through eight.

The number of registrations for Reynoldsburg City Schools' new STEM Middle @ Baldwin Road program topped 520 recently and is still growing, said Scott Bennett, who will be principal of the new STEM Academy school of choice for grades five through eight.

The school will open as a "school of choice" in the fall inside Baldwin Road Junior High School, 2300 Baldwin Place.

Bennett is currently teacher leader at the eSTEM Academy high school on Summit Road.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

"We will be heavily focused on inquiry and project-based learning, as well as integrating the various disciplines along with science, technology, engineering and math," he said. "We are one of very few schools in the state that will have a K-12 STEM program up and running for next year."
Bennett said opening the STEM program for middle and junior high grades would bridge the elementary and high school STEM programs.
Summit Road STEM Elementary School opened as an elementary school of choice at the beginning of this year.

"We want kids not just to do the work but to excel in the work they do," Bennett said. "STEM programming helps students understand the topics we are teaching. They get a better understanding of every subject when they are solving problems, which will really help out in the future with college coursework."

He said there is no extra charge for attending the new school and students who attend do not necessarily have to go on to the eSTEM high school.

"After you complete your eighth grade, you will still have all of the academy choices open to you, but you will also be prepared for the next STEM courses, if you choose to take them," he said.

The district held a parent information night in March.

"The next step after receiving all of our registrations will be to have another parent information night, when we know how many students will be attending the new school," Bennett said.

He said the new middle school could accommodate 800-900 students.

A letter to parents went out in January from Tina-Thomas Manning, principal at Hannah Ashton Middle School and lead principal for grades 5-8, about the effort to bring STEM courses to the mid-grade levels.

She wrote that data from the Reynoldsburg Reach Campaign, conducted in 2008, indicated the majority of Reynoldsburg parents like the option of academic choice.

"The new program will follow in the district's tradition of providing high-quality instruction in English language, arts, science, math and social studies in order to provide students with a strong foundation for future studies," she wrote.

Manning said the different aspects to a STEM education are that projects will encourage creative problem-solving and be focused on the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines.

She said inquiry-based study means students will be challenged to come up with answers to problems on their own or in groups through research, experimentation or application of prior knowledge.

Manning said local experts in the fields of environmental science and engineering are collaborating with Reynoldsburg teachers to plan student projects and curriculum for the school.

Information about the program is on the district website at www.reyn.org.

Bennett said parents may email him with questions at sbennett@reyn.org.