This year some students will go to class in a museum or a hospital, as newly created academies off campus give kids new opportunities.
In Springfield, the public schools have started programs that take place outside of traditional school buildings. There are two academies, the Health Sciences Academy which will be at Mercy Hospital, and the STEM focused Academy of Exploration at the Discovery Center of Springfield.
This is the largest expansion of off site choice programs in recent years. Springfield also benefits from the popularity of the Wonders of the Ozarks Learning Facility (WOLF) which operates in partnership with Bass Pro Shops.
Superintendent John Jungmann said the programs wouldn’t be possible without strong community support and partnerships. He added that while locales may be unorthodox, the curriculum was crafted to better engage and empower students to learn in hands-on ways.
“We need to give parents and kids options relevant to experiences that excite them,” he said.
Technology and flexible learning spaces — utilizing the entire science museum and hospital campus — is designed to allow students to conquer traditional academic subjects, such as science, through different approaches.
Students were selected through a random lottery, although there was an even split of boys and girls. All students could apply as long as they had a history of good behavior and attendance.
At the Academy of Exploration, Jungmann said students will “explore the world around them through multiple lenses of science, technology, engineering and math.” He added: “We know the future job market for our kids lie in a lot of those areas.”
Grafton Miller, 10, knew immediately the academy at the Discovery Center was for him.
“It seems really fun. There will be a lot of projects,” said Miller, who attended Cowden Elementary last year. Grafton’s dad, Steve Miller, said his son has always been good at science and building things.