OSSINING, N.Y. -- A background in science, technology, engineering and math -- STEM -- is becoming an increasingly important pathway for students in college and in their careers, and the Ossining School District has created a STEM program and certificate.
The district has formalized its offerings in these subjects, and it will award a STEM certificate to students who complete the 12 credits coursework and meet the GPA requirement.
Students' high school transcripts will also note the certificate.
“This is a tremendous addition to our already nationally recognized science program, and I believe it will help us encourage more students to pursue a comprehensive STEM education,” Principal Joshua Mandel said.
There is great interest in preparation for careers in STEM, said Alexandra Greenberg, the district's director of Science, Engineering and Mathematics.
"Our district prides itself on offering an extensive array of elective courses, many in the area of STEM," she said. "Engineering, math and science teachers launched the initiative to organize a certificate program and developed it in the last couple of years."
Many of the courses are already being taught at Ossining High School, but the STEM Certificate program has more of an academic focus because it includes the core prerequisites.
"Our belief is that this program will give students an advantage in terms of being prepared for the intensity of college and a STEM career," Greenberg said. "We think it will give our kids a competitive edge."
The district noted that demand for employees with a background in STEM subjects has been growing, but not enough young people are preparing for those careers in this country. There is a need for additional emphasis on technology and engineering at all levels of education, according to the National Science Foundation.
"In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy," the organization's National Science Board wrote in its action plan to expand STEM education.
"To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past," the report added.
Greenberg said the program isn't just for students who like computer science and engineering. The maker, architecture and design track includes game and app design, math in architecture, math in 2D/3D art and other courses.
The STEM Certificate program took effect this school year. Since many current OHS students are already taking core classes and courses in a specialization area, they may qualify for the certificate before they graduate.
"We want students to self-identify that this is something they want to pursue and seek out guidance counselors, other teachers and administrators," Greenberg said.
The program requires all students to take certain science -- Earth science, living environment, chemistry, physics and one college-level science course -- and math -- three core math sequence courses and one college-level math course.
They then choose one specialization, engineering; computer science; or maker, architecture and design. The engineering track includes introduction to engineering, engineering design and computer science principles. The computer science one includes computer science principles, AP computer science and introduction to engineering.
Finally, the maker, architecture and design specialization requires math in 2D/3D art; math in architecture; AutoCAD: draft and design; game and app design; and make, innovate, design.