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How to become a STEM school of distinction

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  • Time is running out to apply to be a North Carolina STEM School of Distinction. What is this recognition about? Learn more here.
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The Department of Public Instruction and State Board of Education each year recognize schools around North Carolina who incorporate STEM instruction into the standards and daily lives of their students. This designation is known as a STEM School of Distinction and interested schools should complete their intent to apply no later than Oct. 7, 2022.

DPI believes these schools “represent the very best in STEM education in North Carolina.” Elementary, middle, and high schools are all eligible to apply.

Do you think your school falls into this category, but don’t know where to start? Check out the STEM School Progress Rubric, which serves as a self-assessment tool for the recognition.

This rubric focuses on five overarching principles: student opportunity, classroom environment, school structure, school culture and community connections.

The STEM recognition intent to apply form for the 2022-23 school year can be found here.

Timeline of STEM School of Distinction applications

Taken from North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s website.

For more information about the application process, visit the STEM Education and Leadership home page or contact DPI STEM Consultant Howard Ginsburg at 984-236-2844.

Inside a STEM School of Distinction

The NC STEM School of Distinction program began during the 2014 – 2015 school year with 11 schools. Thirty-six schools now sit on this list. Want to see what it looks like inside these schools?

Sidney Ramsey and Katelynn Walters are 10th grade students at Greene Central High School, showing off their Biology Grand Challenge project. They developed an affordable air filtration system for Brazil to detect COVID-19. They researched the Brazilian health care system, history, and economy to create an affordable system that could be made to scale. Caroline Parker/EducationNC
How do you trap a ghost in a house? In Henderson Elementary School, a NC STEM School of Distinction, you build one out of legos. This is a Halloween-themed STEM design project. Caroline Parker/EducationNC
At Green Central High School in the Core and Sustainable Construction class, they built this arcade game. The class used all items already in shop and a Raspberry Pi computer. The only thing purchased for the build were the controls. Caroline Parker/EducationNC
Blending the standards about mosaics, and teaching about the use of modern day pixel, this Rubik’s cube project is popular every year in art class. “Honestly (the Rubik’s cube project), it’s success for them. That’s the biggest thing for me, is that they’re able to get a problem that they don’t know what to do and within a very short amount of time have huge success,” said Ashley Shiosaky, art teacher at Greene Central High School. Time-lapse courtesy of Ashley Shiosaky.
Caroline Parker

Caroline Parker is the director of rural storytelling and strategy for EducationNC. She covers the stories of rural North Carolina, the arts, STEM education and nutrition.