Remember the days when magnet programs were limited to a few schools here and there?
That was the Stone Age of education. These days, there are literally hundreds of magnet programs to choose from, from elementary to middle to high schools, in South Florida’s public schools.
“Each program offers the kids the opportunity to maybe study in an area that’s of interest to them, or that they’re talented in,” said Virna Kaufman, director of magnet programs for Miami-Dade Public Schools.
As an example, we went to the engineering magnet program at Miami Lakes Educational Center, an all-magnet high school.
The room is a hive of activity, from robotics on one side to 3D modeling on the other, with teacher Paul Kynerd roaming around, offering help and suggestions to groups of students who are working on their projects.
“Remember, you’ve gotta program is at this point,” Kynerd told one student who was designing a jewelry box on the computer screen, “and then you need to make it symmetrical."
“I think we have a program for every student in this district, I mean it’s a matter of parents going in, speaking to their kids, if they’re younger making a decision for their child, but putting them in something that would make them want to go to school, make them enjoy attending school,” Kaufman said.
The engineering students are a case in point.
“Of course, you know, when you come to school you do hands-on work, you learn something new, you always want to come, it makes you more involved in your community,” said freshman A'Raya Smith.
“I feel like I like this a lot more than if I was to be anywhere else,” said junior Eric Gras, as he worked on a pneumatic piston.
The main idea, the foundation of the class, is to create problem solvers by fostering critical thinking.
“The idea that the students can incorporate the engineering design cycle into all aspects of their life, they identify the problem, they look for existing solutions, they make prototypes, they re-evaluate the prototype, make the final product, it’s problem-solving full circle,” Kynerd explained.
It’s as hands-on as you can get, but this engineering course if also academically rigorous.
Like all magnet programs, it can help students decide on a career path. If they dream it, they can build it.
THE DEADLINE TO SIGN UP FOR MAGNET PROGRAMS IN MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS IS JANUARY 15th. FOR A FULL LIST OF PROGRAMS BEING OFFERED NEXT SCHOOL YEAR, GO TO WWW.DADESCHOOLS.NET