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Charter Schools Lay the Groundwork for STEM Education

Charter Schools Lay the Groundwork for STEM Education

November 30, 2023

This blog post is from Sahaana, a charter school senior and one of the National Alliance’s Rising Leaders, about her experience as a STEM advocate.

STEM is an ever-changing canvas drenched in the vibrant colors of friends and teachers. An Imaginarium where rampant curiosity was rewarded with sublime moments of discovery. A nursery where seeds were sown to uncover tender branches with layers of personality. It’s a magical place to be in and my own charter school has fostered this very feeling in me.

As a senior at the Charter School of Wilmington, I have been exposed to a myriad of STEM experiences, from opportunities to conduct CRISPR in a box at the Christiana Gene Editing Institute, explore chemistry labs with gravimetric analysis of a tablet, venture to landfills on environmental science field trips, and even drive my own antibacterial research.

The underlying philosophy at my school of experiential learning and independence plays a part when it comes to these STEM opportunities. “Research & Innovation” are huge cultural pillars at my school and students are required to create and implement their own research. The STEM research project at the Charter School of Wilmington exemplifies how STEM isn’t arbitrary, but rather discovery. Students don’t need to study a field of STEM for their project, but rather use STEM research skills to delve into a subject of passion, so projects have ranged from cultivating plants to analyzing business patterns.

At the Charter School of Wilmington, STEM education wouldn’t be what it is without the brilliant and passionate teachers we have. All of them are so amazing and truly passionate about what they do and many have conducted research in the field they teach. They are energized to lecture, explain, and experiment with us whether it be early in the morning or into the afternoon. Having a passionate individual teach definitely leads to more engagement and increases the likelihood students will become passionate in the subject as well. At my school, this happens often!

The Charter School of Wilmington sparked my passion in STEM and taught me about STEM advocacy. At my school, I started the S.P.A.R.K.S. Project to promote equitable and interactive STEM education to K-5 children, bridging any gap that may exist. My school has contributed heavily to my nonprofit as they have reinforced the values I had of immersion, innovation, and interactivity when it comes to STEM.

As a Rising Leader through the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, I hope to ensure people understand that many charter schools foster this curiosity and excitement which is a trademark of STEM—just one of the ways that charter schools stand out.

Sahaana Rajagopalan is in the Rising Leaders Initiative class of 2023-24 and a senior at the Charter School of Wilmington in Delaware.

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