Building Relationships to Create Self-Directed Learners
The founders of The ASK Academy – A STEM Innovation were so excited to bring a 6th-through-12th-grade public school of choice to Northwest Albuquerque and the greater Rio Rancho area in 2010. They had a burning passion to provide a public charter school to families who desire an education focusing on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) attitudes, skills, and knowledge. The founders used their collective forty-plus years of educational experience to shape a 100% STEM curriculum for middle/high school scholars in this area of the state.
The founders created a unique curriculum that does not exist in other places. The scholars at ASK take elective courses designed specifically to develop their attitudes, skills, and knowledge in preparation for engineering, design, and biomedical-science careers. This clear mission defines the focus of the Academy’s curriculum and helps families determine if ASK’s learning environment is right for them. The curriculum is more challenging at ASK. This prepares the scholar for the post-secondary challenges in STEM degrees and careers.
The founders designed the attitude of ASK to provide freedom with responsibility. Learning should be fun, free, and engaging. ASK’s charter built in these learning expectations to improve the level of engagement, thus the level of learning. Don’t misunderstand, the curriculum of ASK works the learner at a high level, but the founders knew if they forgot the fundamental elements of fun, free, and engaging, they would jeopardize the level of authentic learning.
Research showed the founders that a larger percentage of this generation of learners demand relevance to the tasks they are asked to accomplish. Without relevance, many learners will respectfully not engage into the learning experience. To address this, the founders designed a learning environment that didn’t just speak to the relevance to the lesson or provide a word problem relating the standard to a specific career. Instead, they wrote in the charter a requirement that learners use the standards to produce a relevant project, test relevant products, and answer relevant questions through research and development and a problem-solving process. Scholars learn a thinking process they can trust and replicate for any future problems they may face. Providing relevance of the standards to learners produces a larger number of strongly-engaged thinkers, and a greater level of lesson retention.
Thus the ASK Academy – A STEM Innovation was born.
The subsequent years of data have provided verification that the founders knew something. The measure of success the ASK Academy has enjoyed since 2010 has been wonderful and humbling.
The founders welcome all to come and see the STEM Innovation in person.
We hope to see you soon,
ASK Founders: Paul Stephenson, Daniel Barbour, and Edgar Short