- Where is the school located?
The school is located in the Rancho Vistoso neighborhood in Oro Valley off of La Canada Dr. north of Moore Rd. The address is 825 W. Desert Fairways Dr., Oro Valley, AZ 85755.
- How many students can attend the school?
The school has been designed to hold 500 students in grades K-5, or roughly 80 students per grade level.
- Why was the school built in this location?
Back in 1987, when the planned community, Rancho Vistoso, was platted, two sites were set aside for schools. This land was donated to Amphitheater Public Schools by the developers and the district owns the land. One of those sites is the one on which the new STEM school was built. The other site sits in a location which still has no access via paved roads. In addition, the area surrounding this new site is one where future construction is likely. An area within a five-mile radius of the site is currently planned for 3,800 new homes over the next 10 years.
Why a STEM school?
- Why did the district decide to build a STEM school?
The mission of the district is to empower all students to become contributing members of society, equipped with the skills, knowledge, and values necessary to meet the challenges of a changing world. By the time students currently in elementary school graduate, roughly 60% of jobs will involve skill sets associated with science, math, engineering, or technology.
- What makes this a “STEM” school?
Although STEM curriculum is available in ALL of our schools, the opportunity to build a school from the “ground up” which has the proper facilities and classrooms that have been designed with these STEM strategies in mind is unique. All instruction will incorporate some facet of science, technology, engineering and math, and the Scientific Method and the Engineering Design Process will be consistent themes throughout the learning experience.
We have also designed the school to have spaces which are specifically designed for students to build, create, and explore science.
Although the sciences will be incorporated into all aspects of learning, students will also receive a full well-rounded elementary education with reading, writing, social studies, art, music and physical education.
- How are the learning environments designed?
The school building design is completely geared toward a STEM education. The school has three core instructional areas: one for kindergarten and first grade (Youngers), one for second and third grades (Middlers), and one for fourth and fifth grades (Olders).
The “Youngers” area has larger classroom spaces which will allow for more hands-on learning and projects within the comfort and security of their own classroom. The “Middlers” and “Olders” instructional areas each have six classrooms designed around a common learning area with space provided for small group activities and presentations in the center of the building, outside the classroom, but still within the safe oversight of their teachers.
In addition, the “Middlers” and “Olders” buildings have large learning lab/maker spaces where teachers can work with their students on experiments and projects in a larger, specially equipped area with adequate storage space for materials and student work; these rooms have adequate electrical, sink/water, and technology connections.
All three core instructional buildings have an outdoor learning space as well with water harvesting tanks, built in garden spaces, and places for students to conduct experiments and work together.
- How will it differ from the STEM curriculum being taught in other schools?
All of our elementary schools have increased the amount of time children spend learning science. In addition, all teachers have received a “Science Guide” which provides resources for teaching science. Last school year, we added engineering basics at the elementary level district wide. Teachers in all our schools will have some training in STEM, and many teachers have already received training from the Arizona Science Center in this area.
Teachers at the STEM school, however, will focus their curriculum around STEM related topics and will dedicate more time to STEM related projects and activities. We have designed the school facility to have spaces which are specifically designed for students to build, create, and do science. All of the teachers in the new school will receive additional training and will specialize in STEM.
- What do children do in these STEM designed spaces?
Students will have an opportunity to create, experiment and problem-solve based on a combination of guided lessons and student interest. Students will build, experiment, create, test, improve designs, experiment with materials, collaborate, and present their findings.
For example, concrete slopes at various angles will be built into outdoor classroom areas to allow for experimentation in physics. Measurements of height in standard measurement and metrics will be marked on posts or walls, blank timelines will allow for students to post their research on historical events, circles on the floor of the physical education building will assist in teaching circumference and radius, places to hang pulleys will be accessible, and maker labs will be equipped to foster scientific and engineering design thinking.
- Will you still offer classes in fine arts (art, music, etc.) and physical education?
Yes, the new school will still provide a comprehensive foundation in reading, writing, and social studies, and instruction in art, music and physical education, which are essential components of a quality elementary education. This school design incorporates the arts with the inclusion of a large art room with outdoor creative space and a music room with access to a performance area. Students will also have physical education classes in a gymnasium as well as outdoor fields and courts.
Some schools now are adding an “A” (for the arts) to their STEM-focus model, which we are doing. However, we will still call this school a “STEM” school rather than a “STEAM” school because it is more commonly known.
- I am interested in having my child attend the new school. When can I enroll my child?
This school has no attendance boundaries and students from every area are eligible to apply for Open Enrollment. The school has been designed to hold 500 students in grades K-5, or roughly 80-90 students per grade level.
- I live outside the Amphitheater school district. Can my child attend the new school?
Within the processes described in our district’s Open Enrollment policy, students from outside the Amphitheater Public Schools boundaries may apply for Open Enrollment.
- My child already attends another school in the district. Can he/she transfer?
Students from all over the Amphitheater Public Schools attendance boundaries can apply for Open Enrollment at the STEM school.
- Will the district provide bus transportation for students living in other parts of the district?
A transportation plan is being developed to transport students from other parts of the district to this site. Transportation will be provided from all Amphitheater elementary schools to the new school. If you can get your child to an Amphi elementary school, they can be bussed to the new school.
- Will there be before/after school care options available at the new school?
Yes, the STEM school will have before/after school care provided through a partnership with Community Extension Programs (CEP) for parents who are dropping their students off and picking them up from the STEM school site.
For students riding the bus to the new school, the before and after school care options will depend on what each elementary school offers at the site where they will be riding the bus to/from school.
- Will my child have to take a test to be admitted?
No testing is required for admittance. It is strictly an open enrollment school and students will be enrolled on a first come, first-served basis.
- Will this school be able to accommodate students with special needs?
Like all other schools in our district, all student services will be provided – gifted, English Language Learners (ELL), special education, speech therapy, etc.
- Are there special credentials/qualifications that teachers at this school will have?
Yes, we have specifically designed a new job description for STEM school teachers. We want to hire teachers who have a background in STEM and experience implementing STEM-focused lessons. We hope to have the majority of the teaching staff hired by January 1. The job description will be available on www.amphi.com.