"It's about grabbing student interest and facilitating amazing opportunities for kids," said Maureen McMahon, Arundel's STEM coordinator. "From the point of student engagement, we've seen the numbers in the clubs grow from four or five hundred to over 5,000 students involved in after-school clubs and online learning over four years."
In addition to the two high school magnet programs, Arundel offers a STEM technology, STEM biomedical and Allied Health program at Glen Burnie High School, a robotics program at Woodside Elementary and STEM co-curricular programs for all the county's elementary schools and some middle schools.
"At the Woodside Elementary School, you should see these children; you can't get them out of the STEM classrooms," said McMahon. "At the end of the day, the teachers have to go home to their families and the kids are still in there programming their Lego robotics and using iPads to take photos and digitally change them."
McMahon said that the local technology community helped design the program, adding, "They told us, 'We want to have creative children,' and we ended up putting art as a mandatory, fundamental component in ninth- and 10th-grade STEM."
South River's Deacon said she has always had a interest in math and science classes, but some of her friends didn't — until they started taking STEM classes.
Now, she says, her friends aspire to be doctors and engineers, and though she entered the STEM program with the intention of becoming an architect, she now is seeking a career in genetic counseling, which involves advising those with a relative who has a genetically inherited disease on prevention, testing and personal risks.
Deacon called it "a career I would not have even known existed without this program. The program prepares their students for college, careers and the rest of their professional lives."
McMahon said its next STEM initiative will be a magnet at Old Mill Middle School South, which will open next calendar year and be the county's first for middle schools. It is also launching a biotechnical engineering program at Glen Burnie High that will be the only such program in the state.
Jack Andraka said that since winning the Intel honor, he has taken part in many cancer awareness conferences and will spend his sophomore year honing his invention. But he added he will also continue to further his interest in art, which likely would not have happened if the county didn't have a STEM program that includes other subjects.
"I used to hate art," he said, added that art classes at the school showed him how to integrate the discipline into science. "That's a really helpful thing that made me understand that art isn't really ... useless, but it can actually be useful and fun."
Anne Arundel's STEM successes
•North County High School's Jack Andraka won the $75,000 grand prize in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May for his new way to test for early-stage pancreatic cancer. The contest is among the most renowned worldwide for school sciences, with more than 1,500 entries from 70 countries.
•A group from the North County High School Technology Student Association placed second overall in a state engineering challenge sponsored by the Baltimore Museum of Industry in April.
•Beth Foster, Annapolis Middle School's resource teacher for science, was among two educators from the state recently chosen for a 2012 Siemens Teachers as Researchers fellowship.
•Severn Middle School's Kevin Garner was one of two teachers in Maryland selected for a Siemens STEM Institute fellowship. Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts