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Students dive into STEM at Northeast Academy for Aerospace and Advanced Technologies

“When I heard that this innovative STEM school was going to be in Elizabeth City, I was definitely drawn to it,” said Tonya Little, chief operating officer of the Northeast Academy for Aerospace and Advanced Technologies (NEAAAT).  “Science education, math education — these are the skills that every child needs to be able to think critically.”

NEAAAT launched in 2015 with 120 students and has grown to approximately 350 students from eight different counties. As a public charter school for grades seven through twelve, the Academy’s admissions are based on a lottery system for the region. Elizabeth City State University houses NEAAAT’s campus, so students can also enroll in college courses.

“We are teaching in an innovative way, and it’s working,” said Edward O’Neal, founding board member of NEAAAT. “Our students are so engaged in every single thing that you see here in this school.”

See the video below from the NEAAAT student learning exposition where students shared some of their STEM projects as well as photos from a campus visit to learn more about this innovative school. 

NEAAAT students
A group of students at NEAAAT set up a course to maneuver their robot. Yasmin Bendaas/EducationNC
NEAAAT student
A NEAAAT student makes adjustments to the programming of her robot. Yasmin Bendaas/EducationNC
NEAAAT students program their robot. Yasmin Bendaas/EducationNC
A NEAAAT student makes adjustments to her robot during a classroom project. Yasmin Bendaas/EducationNC
NEAAAT students
Students set up their robots to “save the animals” in an obstacle course. Yasmin Bendaas/EducationNC
NEAAAT student Christian Brothers
NEAAAT student Christian Brothers gives a presentation on his internship at Museum of the Albemarle, where he worked with historical artifacts from the region. Yasmin Bendaas/EducationNC


Yasmin Bendaas

Yasmin Bendaas is a Science writer.  A North Carolina native, she received her master’s degree in Science & Medical Journalism at UNC Chapel Hill, where she was a Park Fellow. She received her Bachelor of Arts in anthropology in 2013 from Wake Forest University, where she double-minored in journalism and Middle East and South Asia studies. As an undergraduate student, Bendaas gained insight into public health when she interned at the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, a statewide grantmaker focused on rural health, including access to primary care, diabetes, community-centered prevention, and mental health and substance abuse. 

As a journalist, Bendaas has been funded twice by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for fieldwork in Algeria — first to cover a disappearing indigenous tattoo tradition, and again to look at how climate change affects rural sheepherding practices. 

Robert Kinlaw

Robert was director of multimedia for EducationNC. He is a journalist and award-winning documentary filmmaker in the Triangle. Robert attended both public and private grade schools in North Carolina and graduated from the Media and Journalism school at UNC-Chapel Hill. He has produced video content for The News & Observer, ABC11-WTVD, UNC-Chapel Hill, The News Reporter and more. His short documentary Princess Warrior received an Excellence in Filmmaking award at the 2017 Carrboro Film Festival. Visit his website at