STEM Shout-Out to Thurgood Marshall Academy

Kids looking through telescope.

Kids at Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School check out the stars over Manhattan using a telescope they built themselves.

Saskia TraillI don’t know if Justice Thurgood Marshall was interested in science or technology, but students at Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School and the Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change sure are.

The Lower School just had the national spotlight swing over to their direction, with an in-depth profile of how they are using more time in the school day, in partnership with Abyssinian Development Corporation, to enhance their science, technology, engineering and math activities—known as STEM.

I’ve experienced STEM learning in action there, and it is wonderful to see students designing and carrying out their own fun, informative experiments with little more than food coloring and corn starch. You see them working cooperatively in small groups—something many of my fellow commuters might have spent more time learning—and deepening their understanding of science concepts and skills they learned in their science class.

I also recently visited the Thurgood Marshall Academy, a secondary school that is also founded in partnership with Abysinnian Development Corporation, and that is also committed to expanding learning for all students. In the afternoon hours, middle school students have the opportunity to use the science labs that are used by high school students during the day.

The day I visited, students were sitting comfortably at lab benches, getting familiar with the school’s microscopes. The students were still in uniform (“so they know it’s still part of the school day” says the principal), but were chatty, laughing and yelling to one another to “come see what is on my slide!”

The power of those additional hours to offer opportunities like time in that lab in an atmosphere where students are themselves, and also actively pursuing science and technology, seems like it deserves some national recognition. Kudos to all the leaders at both schools and their community partner for doing some great STEM work!