This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.
Arts-oriented students have SOTA, and come fall there will be a left-brain counterpart for those with a math-science bent.
Is there any rule against middle-aged editorial writers going back to high school?
If not, where’s the sign-up sheet for the Tacoma School District’s new Science and Math Institute – otherwise known as SAMI?
Who wouldn’t like to take a hike through Point Defiance Park for P.E., muck around on the beach for science class and learn about the physics of rock climbing? For kids who like math and science, SAMI sounds like a dream come true. No wonder competition is heated for the 130 to 140 slots in the school opening this fall.
SAMI would be the left-brain counterpart to SOTA – the district’s downtown-based School of the Arts. That high school, which opened in 2001, has been a huge success academically, and its students lead the district in test scores and graduation rates.
SAMI – a collaboration between Tacoma schools and Metro Parks – has the potential to be that kind of school for students with a math/science bent. They’ll have classrooms in portables at Point Defiance Park, where they’ll take English, history, arts and foreign language. Much of the day, however, they’ll be out in the woods, down on the beach, at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and in the Metro Parks greenhouses – learning by doing. Their school uniform? Rubber boots and raingear.
Partnerships will be key to SAMI’s success, just as they are at SOTA, whose partners include the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, Tacoma Art Museum, the Museum of Glass, the Grand Cinema and Tacoma Little Theater. The district hopes to partner with the zoo, the University of Washington Tacoma, the University of Puget Sound and science-based institutions.
Educators know that a greater focus on math and science is crucial for today’s students. But many students are turned off by those subjects. In addition to being a special place to learn, SAMI should also be a laboratory for finding more user-friendly ways of teaching math and science at other schools in the district.