STEM school prepares for opening day

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This was not the typical summer off for Anthony Matthews, principal of Colorado STEM Academy in Westminster. The former Flynn Elementary principal has been very busy the past few months working to prepare the new STEM, science, technology, engineering and math education school in Adams County School District 50.

With the first day of school just around the corner on Aug. 19, Matthews is excited to finally open the doors to Colorado STEM Academy to 200 students in grades third through sixth for the first year. After the initial year, the school will increase in size to 250 students followed by a build-out of 300 students by the 2015-2016 school year with students in grades three through eight.

For months renovations have been happening to the school, which is the old Crown Pointe Academy building at 72nd Avenue and Irving Street in Westminster. Matthews said majority of the renovations have taken place in the west wing the building and include the design and construction of larger classrooms and science and engineering labs.

“We have two big labs, a design lab and a build lab that will be utilized by all of the students,” he said. “The design lab includes a 3D printer and scanner and a laser engraver and our build lab has a variety of tools for the students to use and build items for projects and assignments.”

Every classroom will have 15 iPads, 15 Chromebooks and will be equipped with SMART Boards and a SMART sound system. Matthews said classrooms will also have some desk top computers and the furniture will allow for a more collaborative approach to learning.

“We purposely bought desks that could be maneuvered into different size groups so that the teachers had the freedom to set up their classroom the way they wanted to allow for their students to be able to work collaboratively together,” he said. “

For Edgar Lista, the technology education and engineering teacher at Colorado STEM Academy, the idea of collaborative teaching is something he’s very excited about. Lista, who is new to the district and comes from the Douglas County School District, jumped at the opportunity to work in a smaller school where he could continually work with the same students from third grade to eight grade.

He said it’s exciting to work in a brand new school with amazing resources and tools that will allow his students to create something and actually have the opportunity to build their creation.

“Working here is a great opportunity for me to create a culture of collaboration among not only the students but also the teachers,” Lista said. “I’m just so excited to see what drives the students and be a part of that. I just want the students to be excited about what they’re doing and I think this school will provide that excitement.”

Lista is just one of 13 educational staff hired at Colorado STEM Academy. Matthews said for the past couple weeks the staff’s been attending training in preparation of the first day of school.  Colorado STEM academy will also be the first school in Adams County School District 50 to be an innovation school, which allows the school to offer extended days and an extended year.

For more information on Colorado STEM Academy, visit http://costemacademy.org.