Since STEM³ Academy was established four years ago, the school has had a tremendous impact on the lives of its students, and has touched the hearts and minds of parents, faculty and the community. The school shines as a beacon of opportunity for its students. From being accepted to top colleges and universities, to interning with leaders in their fields—the students of STEM3 Academy are excelling. “We recognized the need for a school dedicated to STEM when we piloted a program from K-12 on the Sherman Oaks Campus,” said Dr. Susan Berman, Help Group COO. “It was readily apparent that students with social and learning differences, including autism, were able to excel at a very high level in areas where they had not previously been challenged, like robotics and computer programming.”
After the high school robotics team earned the Rookie All-Star title at the FIRST Robotics Ventura regional, and won a place in the World Championship competition in 2015, opening STEM³ Academy became a top priority. The students at STEM³ Academy have a wide-range of natural strengths and abilities. The faculty is dedicated to helping students develop their strengths in these areas. Some students are drawn to areas such as coding, designing, and engineering. For example, a student team participated at Raytheon’s engineering challenge with 25 other teams from the southland. The challenge was to code an Arduino to act as a location finder— and STEM³ Academy’s team had the fastest time.
“We are enormously proud of our students for competing and thriving with their peers. It is tremendously positive for them, does wonders for their self-esteem, and shows all of our students that anything is within their reach if they have the will and the determination,” said Dr. Ellis Crasnow, Director STEM³ Academy and STEM Education at The Help Group.
“At STEM³ Academy, we never lose sight of the fact that in addition to our students’ strengths, they have a variety of differences that require supports and accommodations. However, we recognize that our student’s potential is not limited by their needs or differences,” continued Dr. Crasnow. Currently, there is a student who is interning at the City of Hope with a mentor who is at the cutting edge of cancer research; a 9th grade student who just scored a 5 on the AP Calculus BC exam, and the Robotics team competed yet again in the FIRST Robotics World Championship. The value and benefit of engaging students from their earliest years continues to grow more evident.
Currently, there are 5th grade students who are already able to code in 3 or 4 different languages. In addition to core classes, elementary grade level students are taking Spanish so they can become fluent by the time of graduation; and coding in Alice and Scratch and Processing, so they can learn Python in middle school, a very useful language for data analytics that can lead to a job for the 21st century. By providing a rigorous K-12 education, including instruction in 21st century skills, STEM³ Academy is improving the outcomes for its students in preparation for college and careers. By starting on such a path early in life, there is no limit to what these bright and capable students might achieve!