A technical opportunity for kids

Published 10:36 pm Thursday, March 6, 2014

It is, if you’ll pardon the pun, full steam ahead for the Virginia STEAM Academy, a magnet school developed by two Suffolk women at Fort Monroe, where, if all goes according to plan, the first cohort of talented ninth- through 12th-graders could begin classes this fall.

STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering and applied mathematics, and the idea is to give students who exhibit talent in those academic disciplines a place where they can hone their abilities in those subjects and prepare themselves for advanced studies — and, eventually, careers — in technology fields.

The academy is the brainchild of former Suffolk First Citizen M. Caroline Martin and Judy Stewart, president of Taylor Education Consulting Inc. Both women have strong expertise in education, operations and non-profit board leadership, and they have worked tirelessly since 2010 to advance the cause of the academy.

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They have big plans for the residential school. In addition to opening it to high school students with a high level of interest and ability in advanced technical fields, they hope to offer professional development opportunities there and to develop an online component that would allow any student in the commonwealth to receive supplementary learning in the subjects offered.

They also recognize the importance of developing the interests of younger students and held their first free residential week-long STEAM camps at the facility last year for middle school students. Two more camps are planned this summer, and applications are being accepted through March 28.

Parents with children in the sixth through eighth grades who exhibit aptitude and interest in these subjects, which are vital to the nation’s future, would do well to consider the STEAM camp as an alternative to the typical summer activities that, though potentially memorable, might not have nearly the potential impact on their children’s future.

For more information about the STEAM Academy or the summer camps, visit www.vasteam.org.