Frequently Asked Questions

What is the STEM Academy?

The STEM Academy is a special program for highly able students with a systematic and enriched focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics for our school system’s most capable students with demonstrated learning potential in the areas of science and mathematics.

Where will the STEM Academy programs be housed? 

Lexington Park Elementary, Spring Ridge Middle, and Great Mills High School

What grade levels will be included in the STEM Academy?

STEM includes classes in grades 4-12.

Who attends the STEM Academy?

Any student can apply, but there are criteria to select students who are most likely to succeed in this specialized program. Each grade level cohort has a maximum capacity of 48 students. Entrance into the STEM Academy after Grade 8 requires a careful review of student transcripts, and often, some additional coursework.

Why should STEM be in the elementary school? Why is it housed at Lexington Park Elementary, Spring Ridge Middle, and Great Mills High?

STEM programs are beginning throughout the state and SMCPS recognizes the need to provide an advanced program focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics for some of our growing learners. Excitement and passion for STEM studies is developed in the early grades. The three schools selected are located in close proximity to the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River, a major STEM partner. This allows students regular and frequent opportunities for field experiences to the Patuxent River NAS.

What is the structure of the academic day? How does this program differ from the program of studies available at our home school?

The daily schedule is not vastly different from the existing schedule and structure at your home elementary school, middle, or high school. The significant difference is the daily, rigorous content and the stringent emphasis on interrelated science and mathematics opportunities. Each day, students engage in mathematics and science activities along with reading and language arts (with a focus on peer collaboration, problem-solving, and application). Technology and engineering principles are infused as appropriate in all areas. Just like all students, STEM students will be scheduled into other electives as their schedules permit.

Will transportation be provided?

Yes, bus transportation will be provided. Students will be transported from hub stops to and from STEM schools each day. Detailed transportation information will not be fully available until students are selected and enrolled into the STEM program. After finalizing the acceptance lists, we will provide you with a transportation plan. Parents may also choose to transport their children to and from the STEM Academy if that is more convenient.

What technology will my child have access to on a regular basis?

The STEM sites will be equipped with state of the art technology including SMART technology, laptop computers, desktops, iPads, software provided by Peripheral Vision,and Probeware. All technology, in addition to materials of instruction, will be available for you to preview at the Open House and Information Nights.

What is our family commitment to the STEM Academy?

As long as your child is making satisfactory progress in the STEM Academy, and maintaining a 3.0 GPA, your family commitment is for one school year at a time.

When will the selection of students for STEM be made?

Applications will be open online in late February or early March. Students and their families will be notified by early May. At that point, there will be more information and specific orientation nights, transportation information, opportunities to meet the teacher(s), etc. available to accepted students. For students not admitted to the program, they will remain on the wait list.

What about school based extracurricular activities such as sports, dances, intra-murals, clubs, and civic/service groups?

STEM students may participate in any extracurricular event taking place at Lexington Park Elementary School, Spring Ridge Middle, and Great Mills High.

Are special education students eligible to apply to the STEM program?

Yes, all students are eligible to apply to the STEM Academy.

Who should I contact if I have additional questions about the STEM Academy programs?

Please contact Ms. Denise Mandis at ddmandis@smcps.org if you have additional questions.