Students will take the courses required for the NC Future Ready Core Course of Study for a high school diploma. These are the same basic requirements as at all NC public high schools. However, all courses will carry the theme of science, technology, engineering, and math throughout the curriculum. Some courses will not be offered in our program because they are outside the scope of our theme. We will not offer high school level dramatic, musical, or visual arts courses nor will we offer career and technical education courses. Students will spend the majority of the first two years of study completing credits required for a high school diploma. Students will continue to take at least one high school course every year that they are in the program. Students will begin taking college courses in the second year of the program and by the fourth and fifth years, students will be taking primarily college level courses. While many courses will be prescribed, students will be able to customize their college study in the last two years of the program. Problem based learning strategies will be utilized to bring real world relevance to learning throughout the program.
Students will examine science, technology, engineering, and math topics through the lens of the Grand Challenges for Engineering from the National Academy of Engineering. The 14 Grand Challenges represent the most critical problems to be solved in the 21st Century. These challenges cannot be solved by engineers alone. Instead, they will likely be solved by interdisciplinary teams including engineers, scientists, mathematicians, policy makers, and researchers in business, law, the social sciences and humanities. Exploring the Grand Challenges will prepare Wake NC State University STEM Early College High School students to collaborate, think critically, and search for solutions to society’s most urgent problems.
- make solar energy economical
- provide energy from fusion
- develop carbon sequestration methods (clean air)
- manage the nitrogen cycle
- provide access to clean water
- restore and improve urban infrastructure
- advance health informatics
- engineer better medications
- reverse-engineer the brain (figure out how the brain works)
- prevent nuclear terror
- secure cyberspace
- enhance virtual reality
- advance personal learning
- engineer the tools of scientific discovery
School Size and Location
The early college high school movement encourages the creation of small schools to build highly personalized and supportive learning environments. It is our goal that students will know the school staff and each other well. This will be accomplished through active advising, innovative teaching, counseling, and a small school design. Our school will have 50 students in its first year. Every year, a new 9th grade class will be added, until our program reaches its full size of 250 students. In addition to the small size our students will benefit from the power of place. The Wake NC State University STEM ECHS will be located on or near the NC State University Campus. This close proximity will allow our students to gain place-based learning experiences on the NC State University Campus exposing them to world leading research and development in the STEM fields. Students will also get a feel for what it is like to be a college student as they attend college classes on the NC State University Campus. High school courses will be taught at the high school campus.
Students will have opportunities for tutoring and being tutored as well as mandatory participation in seminars that help students know how to be successful in college studies. Along with staff advisors students will have access to a school counselor who can aid with personal, academic, and social concerns. Students in the STEM ECHS will benefit from participation in internship experiences. These experiences will help students understand what it’s like to work in their chosen fields and will help them in defining their interests and strengths. Students will earn college credit at NC State University upon successful completion of college courses. This college credit may be used at NC State University or transferred to another institution (transfer credit acceptance is determined by the receiving institution). While students are not automatically guaranteed admission to NC State University, it is our hope that STEM ECHS graduates will be highly competitive for admission to NC State University and that they will want to continue their studies there. Students may choose to apply to any college or university upon graduation from the STEM ECHS program.
Students at the STEM ECHS will enjoy many of the social activities found in larger schools such as student led clubs, honor societies, service organizations, dances, and other school events. Students will also be encouraged to participate in academic contests like Quiz Bowl and Science Olympiad. However, there will be no athletic teams fielded at the school due to its small size. Students who wish to participate in athletics may try out to participate at our partner school, Athens Drive High School.