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STEM Education, K-12 Schools, STEM Academy, Education Research, 21ST Century Soft Skills, Curriculum Development
Specialized secondary schools in the United States focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) are becoming commonplace in the United States. Such schools are generally referred to by U.S. teachers as Academies. In a purposeful effort to provide a resource to educators building new STEM Academies, this study provides both a review of scholarly literature and the interview results from five successful STEM Academy educators from across the United States. This research addresses two overarching questions, a) what are the best practices of STEM Academies, and b) what are the key learning objectives of STEM Academies? Subject integration, in-house engineering curriculum design, student cohorts, community involvement, and internships were all revealed as being consistently reflective of best practices used in successful STEM Academies. Key learning objectives consistent across the literature and in interview results were: problem solving/the engineering design process and soft skills, such as student collaboration, communication, presentation skills and time management.