MMA Future Scientists Academy
AWARD YEAR: 2017
Martin Millennium Academy
Director: Cherelle Sanders
Project: MMA Future Scientists Academy
Martin Millennium Academy (MMA), a public, Title I K-8 school in rural Edgecombe County, has developed a Future Scientists Academy to excite and teach scholars about STEM-related careers, especially since the population we serve is inequitably underrepresented in STEM fields. Our scholars often do not have access or opportunities to engage with STEM in the same ways or to the extent of scholars in other areas of the state. However, the recent flood has reiterated to our community the importance of STEM education and how science can change people's lives. The MMA Future Scientists Academy hosts a summer week-long STEM Camp for scholars followed by year-long, scholar-selected tracks specific to the field of study that interests them most. The main topics covered are genetics, robotics, coding, astronomy, and medicine. The program uniquely involves scholars in cross-curricular content, covering science, math, CTE, and literacy. Through small-group learning experiences and intentional recruitment, scholars from underrepresented populations receive STEM mentorship throughout STEM Camp and the year-long programming.
Those who finish the program have an opportunity to become a student leader to further their leadership, interest, and exposure. Through partnerships with organizations and individuals such as the Friday Institute with NC State University, BRITE Futures program at NC Central University, Conetoe Family Life Center, Edgecombe County Public Schools, and Vidant Medical Center, scholars are immersed in real-world science experiences that expose scholars to scientists and new future options. The program builds scholars' background knowledge and skills related to scientific inquiry increasing their achievement and ultimately changing their perspectives on STEM. Future Scientists Academy invests scholars in STEM and provides them with tangible opportunities to pursue these careers. By the end of the three year program, 230 scholars at MMA will have engaged in at least 50 contact hours increasing scientific content knowledge and inquiry skills. The goal is for scholars to have have changed mindsets about STEM fields and heightened interest in pursuing these careers. Scholars knowledge, skills, and perceptions are tracked from the beginning to the end of the program to monitor its effectiveness.