Viewpoint: New Phoenix high school sustainability model a crucial endeavor

November 10, 2009

By Flinn Foundation

Viewpoint: New Phoenix highschool sustainability model a crucial endeavor

Darcy Renfro, Special for the Republic, Nov. 10, 2009

Congratulations to Metro Tech High School in Phoenix for being chosen as the recipient of a $900,000 Math or Science Achievement Grant funded through the state Board of Education and awarded by Science Foundation Arizona to create a new and innovative sustainability high school for Arizona.

Metro Tech’s “Leading EcoExplorations and Demonstrations of Sustainability” – known as Metro LEADS – creates a new learning environment that combines career and technical education, community and family engagement and peer mentoring of younger students. It enables participants to take what they learn in school and apply it to current and future real-world situations. What is of utmost significance is that Metro Tech’s model is an interactive, hands-on curriculum based on Arizona’s real need to transition to renewable energies and energy efficiency. It also is based on the need to invest in sustainable approaches to manage growth, conserve water and increase recycling efforts. These are necessary steps to support Arizona’s and the nation’s continued quality of life.

Metro LEADS students will be required to do more than pass a class to get through the program. Like the real world, students will have to show results, such as a reduction in water and energy use, and an increase in recycling efforts on campus. These goals will enable students to experience math and science, rather than simply memorize facts.

Science Foundation Arizona’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Initiative is committed to being a vital bridge between business and those working to advance education in our state by enhancing relevant and effective STEM education for all Arizona students. By building strong math, science and “21st century” skills, STEM education fills the needs and desires of students to learn through integrated studies, embedded technologies, hands-on applications, exploration and real-world relevance. This education is critical to the future of Arizona and our economy, and we must provide students with access to more hands-on programs and give teachers the tools to expand their STEM capabilities.

Metro LEADS is a prime example of STEM excellence, combining hands-on experiences with fundamental math and science education that translates into the real world and can be replicated statewide. Students throughout Arizona could eventually benefit from a LEADS model, as well as from other emerging programs that are addressing the need for STEM learning. We need to work together to make these more widespread so that children in all parts of the state have the same access to high-quality STEM learning experiences.

Darcy Renfro is executive director of Science Foundation Arizona’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Initiative.