Education

Science and engineering themes proposed for 4 Wake magnet schools

Lincoln Heights Elementary fifth-grader Christian Bridgman shows off the pink goop he made for filming a commercial to advertise the Fuquay-Varina school’s STEM program in this 2014 file photo. Wake County school administrators will recommend that Lincoln Heights receive a magnet theme called “environmental connections.”
Lincoln Heights Elementary fifth-grader Christian Bridgman shows off the pink goop he made for filming a commercial to advertise the Fuquay-Varina school’s STEM program in this 2014 file photo. Wake County school administrators will recommend that Lincoln Heights receive a magnet theme called “environmental connections.” News & Observer file photo

New science and engineering related themes are being proposed for four Wake County magnet schools as a way to attract more interest from families.

Wake school administrators recommended new magnet themes Tuesday for Southeast Raleigh High, Bugg and Millbrook elementary schools in Raleigh, and Lincoln Heights Elementary in Fuquay-Varina. The recommended themes deal with topics such as robotics, the environment and engineering.

The school board will vote on the themes on Feb. 7 after no major objections were raised Tuesday to the recommendations. The themes were developed after surveys were done at the four schools.

Since 1982, Wake has offered unique academic programs at magnet schools to try to fill and diversify under-enrolled schools.

In November, the school board voted to revamp the magnet themes at Bugg, Millbrook and Southeast Raleigh and to add a magnet program at Lincoln Heights. All four schools have much higher percentages of students receiving subsidized lunches than the district average, and their test scores are also below Wake’s average.

In addition, Bugg, Millbrook and Southeast Raleigh all have seen large drops in the number of magnet applications.

Southeast Raleigh High is proposed to receive a theme called University Connections: School of Design, Art and Engineering. The theme would include topics such as graphic, fashion and architectural design and visual and performing arts such as theater, culinary and broadcasting.

The engineering program includes areas dealing with aerospace, civil, electrical, mechanical, biomedical and network engineering.

Deputy Superintendent Cathy Moore said school officials are talking with N.C. State University about partnering with Southeast Raleigh High.

Bugg Elementary is recommended for a computer sciences and robotics theme. Elements include learning computational thinking skills, coding and robotics design and participating in activities such as robotics teams.

Both Lincoln Heights and Millbrook elementary schools are recommended to offer a theme called environmental connections. Students would study topics such as pollution, weather patterns and changes and environmentally sustainable energy sources.

Wake is attempting to get millions of dollars from a federal grant to fund the themes at the four schools. School officials say the grant gives priority to themes dealing with science, technology, engineering and math, popularly called STEM.

If Wake doesn’t win the grant, the district will have to fund the new themes with local dollars.

T. Keung Hui: 919-829-4534, @nckhui

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