published Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Chattanooga has 1 of 3 new Tennessee STEM schools this fall

When it opens on Monday, Hamilton County's science, technology, engineering and math school will be among three new STEM-focused schools in Tennessee.

Hamilton County's STEM school will house 75 freshmen this year on the campus of Chattanooga State Community College, with an eventual projected capacity of 300 high school students. The school is supported by the Public Education Foundation, Chatt State, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and regional businesses.

Students will get to name the school, design a logo and choose a mascot this year. Teachers will work with local businesses and post-secondary educational institutions to design hands-on coursework.

"Business leaders are working with our teachers to create curriculum projects that reflect real-world business situations. This collaboration will not only enhance the students' problem-solving and critical thinking skills, but will also expose them to STEM career opportunities," Superintendent Rick Smith said.

The Innovation Academy of Northeast Tennessee houses 80 students in each sixth and seventh grades. The school is a joint venture between Kingsport City Schools and Sullivan County Schools and is supported by Eastern Tennessee State University. It plans to expand to expand to eighth grade in the 2013-14 school year.

The Upper Cumberland Rural STEM Initiative kicked off its school year in July at Prescott South Elementary School and Prescott South Middle School in Putnam County. Teachers there will collaborate with hub leaders at the Millard Oakley STEM Center at Tennessee Tech University.

The Tennessee STEM Innovation Network is funded by the state's federal First to the Top grant and comprises five regional STEM hubs and five associated platform schools. A sixth school and hub will open in West Tennessee in 2013. Two other schools and hubs have operated for a year already: the Karst STEM Innovation Hub and L&N STEM Academy in Knoxville, and the Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub and Stratford STEM Magnet High School in Nashville.

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