It’s a STEM school, which means they integrate science, technology, engineering and math into all areas of the curriculum, but McNicol Middle School in Hollywood takes that concept a step further.
"So our science, technology, engineering, mathematics programs in our school offer our students opportunities to apply what they learn in the classroom to real-life experiences," said principal Melissa Gurreonero.
The school has two magnet programs, including a science and pre-engineering course of study that allows kids to design creations and see them emerge on the 3D printer, study rockets by launching them, and learn to fly drones like a pro.
"Instead of being stuck with just your core curriculum, with PE and maybe some music, these kids get to explore something they have a high level of interest in," said Phillip Shaver, the school’s magnet programs coordinator.
McNicol has its own team competing in the First Lego League robotics tournament, and a course called phytostematics, which teaches kids to grow exotic fruits, vegetables, and to cultivate a butterfly garden.
"It's totally cool, we live in a very subtropical area where a lot of things in the northern area and southern area come together so we get to see a lot of different species of butterflies unique to our area," said Richard Torres, the phytostematics teacher.
Students learn to identify the various caterpillars, butterflies, and the plants that attract them.
In the school’s international affairs and business magnet, students are immersed in foreign cultures, from language to food to government structures in those countries.
"Our vision is to create the high-school ready, college-bound student, so when you talk to our students, they're able to articulate that to you, they're accountable learners," said Gurreonero, explaining that from the sixth grade, her students are encouraged to already begin scouting which high school options are best for them.
"They get a vision of their own futures from this program," Shaver said.
So whether that future is in agriculture, high-tech, or even veterinary medicine, the McNicol Hawks are ready to fly.