RCSA M-H Connect
The most important area of strength for STEM at River City Science Academy rests on a strong foundation of STEM education involving projects which center on hands- on learning and opportunities for real life application of STEM. RCSA students participate in many STEM-related academic competitions, local community activities, and college visit opportunities.
RCSA organizes an annual STEM and HEALTH EXPO on its campus which is open to the general public free of charge. Its purpose is to expose students and adults to STEM careers and STEM-related local businesses, all centered around entertaining STEM-related demonstrations by RCSA students. This event is advertised extensively to our school community, as well as on local community news websites. It is even featured on Clear Channel billboards across Jacksonville.
RCSA is the only school in Jacksonville which is a part of the Florida Science Olympiad. We send volunteers to both the elementary and middle division in more than five different competitions in our northeast region and at the state level to increase their love of STEM education. Students who see this heavy STEM involvement apply to RCSA for the opportunity to participate in the lottery selection process.
Students at RCSA have experienced many valuable STEM outreach activities. Every year RCSA students are invited to the National High Magnetic Field Lab field trip and Future Physicists of Florida induction ceremony co-sponsored by Florida State University physics department, the Florida A& M University vice- president, and the director of the High Magnet Lab. The data showed that students repeat this induction, go to same location each year .
The STEM programs are focused on maximizing student involvement in those programs and on providing opportunities for students who want to get involved in STEM fields beyond what RCSA offers during regular school hours. No students or parents are left out if they want to participate in any special Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math program to improve their knowledge through activities outside of their regular school work. Some examples include Science Olympiad, Science Fair, Invention Convention, Science Fun Night, Landscaping Committee and Club, FIRST Robotics, FLL Lego Robotics, Engineering Club, Math League, Math Counts, Mathletes events, Math Counts, STEM Expo events, and weekend Duke TIP math prep sessions and SAT practice sessions.
The RCSA Math curriculum is the CPM Reading Intervention program, which utilizes Accelerated Reader 360 to boost comprehension of science and math questions and manipulatives. The science Program is Glencoe iScience.
These curricula have proven to be successful at many schools and have been designated as exemplary by numerous institutions, as demonstrated by research such as that found at
RCSA has well established learning experiences which are problem based and provided by teachers well trained in inquiry based, student centered approaches in STEM fields. These teacher trainings are provided at the beginning of each school year, on early release days, at biweekly department meetings, and at monthly science and math workshops. There are also district programs which match first year teachers with experienced mentors and curriculum coaches who are experts in classroom management and inquiry based learning.
There are predetermined essential questions and learning objectives in teacher lesson designs which are prepared by curriculum coaches for math and science classes to assist teachers in providing inquiry based instruction according to relevant standards. These essential questions are posted on the board or otherwise communicated students as core concepts. State standards determine the nature of essential questions and objectives.
RCSA has state-of -the-art research based student performance tools which provide comprehensive feedback to students, parents, faculty members, and different school personnel, including ESE, ESOL, and 504 coordinators, as well as college counselors. The student performance tracking is done in the form of data queries on RCSA connect, which provides student and parent portals to access grades and other performance information. The weekly grade summary, including missing assignments, is automatically sent home with actual course links so parents and students can see detailed performance summaries. Students are able to upload their projects and science essays, and to get teacher feedback online without the need for a flash drive. Benchmark performance is an additional feature which shows standard proficiency so that faculty members, parents, and students can see the big picture regarding end-of-year course assessment statuses. These benchmark performance reports and other reports are available online at RCSA Connect.
RCSA teachers have regular team meetings. Discussion normally centers around student academics and behavior, in addition to cross-curricular work such as reading in core subjects (across curriculum) and discussion of at-risk students. The teams prepare RTI work lists for any academic or behavioral needs. These are reported to the RTI director, and the team schedules needed parent conferences. All of these activities are fully recorded in meeting minutes.
STEM teams at RCSA meet regularly regarding how Science, Math, Technology, and Engineering can be presented and coordinated in STEM Expo Science nights and other school wide STEM events one or two months prior to those events taking place. The agendas for these meetings are determined based on needs assessment for students and parents within school’s mission and vision.
The RCSA curricula and courses are rigorous and prepare students to be college ready. Free response questions are important in students’ readiness for college. These questions may have predetermined fact checklists. Points are awarded if students can defend their claims based on facts. The math curriculum CPM has problem-based approaches throughout the curriculum. These problems are solved through the collective efforts of group partners.