I recently stumbled upon an article that highlighted the country’s best “magnet” elementary and high schools. What I discovered was an interesting, and really innovative approach to education that I wish I had access to growing up. “Magnet schools” are essentially theme-based schools that offer specialized programs such as arts or athletics in addition to a traditional core curriculum. The idea behind the school’s overarching theme is to introduce students to an array of concepts in a really unconventional, hands-on way!
One of these schools is called the EARTHS Academy, a California-based elementary school that offers a challenging curriculum that is interlaced with environmental science and technology programs. EARTHS stands for “Environmental Academy of Research Technology and Earth Sciences,” which sounds really intimidating for young students, but offers the kind of hands-on, engaging approach to learning that every child deserves access to. Students at EARTHS receive more exposure to environmental science than they would at a traditional elementary school, and are taught to be imaginative, curious learners.
There is a huge community and hands-on parent presence at the EARTHS Academy, which promotes volunteerism, relationship building, and educational growth. The school is supported by local organizations, both large and small, that donate funds and resources to help with the students’ growth. The Lawrence Hall of Science, The Aquarium Connection, National Resources Conservation Service and more support the school in various ways; Cydcor, a locally based corporation, has sent members to volunteer with students in their community garden, and inside the classroom. The opportunities are endless for these kids!
I think what stood out to me the most about EARTHS is that it isn’t a private school (although there is an application process to attend), but rather an alternative option for elementary school students in one of California’s school districts. It’s so vital for young people to feel connected to their environment and to not be intimidated by technology and science. There is a huge gender gap in scientific and technology-based careers, and experts link this to young girls shrinking back from the sciences early on in their schooling. With more programs like those offered at EARTHS, maybe more children will embrace the earth sciences.
What do you think about magnet or theme-based schools?