STEM FAQ's

Q: Who can attend the STEM School?

A: Any student on track to complete the 8th grade with residency in Hamilton County. This includes students in Hamilton County schools, private schools or home school programs. Admission is limited to a cohort of 75 students for 9th grade, adding a new cohort of 75 each year until the school reaches a maximum capacity of 300 in grades 9-12.

Q: How do I apply?

A: Applications are available on the Hamilton County Department of Education website.

Q: How will students be selected?

A: A two part lottery system will be used. First, there are allocated slots across the county per each zone school. The allocations are done by the size of the existing student population at the zone school. If there are more applicants per zone than slots, a mini‐lottery for those zone slots will be conducted. If there are less zone slots than applicants for a particular zone, those applicants will be admitted and the unfilled slots will go into a second lottery for all students who did not get accepted through their zone lottery.

Here is an illustrative example only:
Zone School 1: 10 slots, 5 applicants: All 5 applicants accepted and 5 slots go to second lottery.
Zone School 2: 10 slots, 13 applicants: Lottery held between all 13 applicants for the 10 slots. The three that are not selected go into second lottery.

If there are more spots than applicants in the second lottery, everyone will be admitted. If there are more applicants than spots, all the applicants will be entered into the second lottery.

Q: If my student doesn't get in through the lottery or the waitlist, can they still benefit from the curriculum at the school?

A: Yes. The STEM Innovation Hub works to push out STEM School curriculum and initiatives throughout the Southeast TN region. 

Q: Do I have to get my student to and from school - won't there be transportation?

A: Transportation will be planned after the school lottery process so that HCDE (Hamilton County Department of Education) knows where the students who will attend the school live. Since students come from all over the county region and are part of the entire Hamilton County Schools transportation plan, transportation details are established just prior to the school year beginning.  Initial bus routes will be shared each year at registration and finalized bus routes will take place when school begins. 

Q: What if my student isn't happy with the school; can they transfer back to their zoned school?

A: Mid‐year transfers will not be allowed but after completing the first year, if it truly isn't a good fit, the student can transfer back to their zone school.

Q: Where is the STEM School located?

A: On the beautiful campus of Chattanooga State Community College, 4325 Amnicola Highway, Chattanooga, TN. Through a collaborative effort with Hamilton County Department of Education and Chattanooga State, students attending this school will enjoy over 17,000 square foot of space in an open concept design. The school is on the Tennessee River affording unique opportunities for the establishment of outdoor classrooms and lab work.

Q: A high school on a college campus, is this safe?

A: YES! Students who attend the STEM school will have limited interaction with the Chattanooga State students while enjoying the benefits of access to the libraries, labs and faculty. Chattanooga State has already successfully demonstrated their ability to provide a safe learning environment for their own students as well as Hamilton County students attending Middle‐College, also located on the Chattanooga State campus.

Q: I've heard that the school does not have "traditional" hours. Is this true?

A: In short, yes. Research has proven that the adolescent brain is most active and ready to learn later in the morning. What parent can't relate to this when trying to rouse a teenager on an early weekday morning! This school will adapt practices wherever possible to ensure that the student is at the center of the education model and this includes changing school times to better reflect when students are ready to learn. Consequently, school begins each day at 9:30am.

Q: Does this mean that the school day will end later too?

A: Yes. The length of a school day is set by Tennessee State law. Since the school day starts at 9:30am, the school day ends at 4:30pm.

Q: What time will the school be opened each day and what time will the school close?

A: The school doors will open to students at 9:00am each day.  The school will close each day at 4:45pm.

Q: My child is interested in athletics, band and other extracurricular activities. Will students at the STEM School have these types of opportunities?

A: We have a partnership with Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences for Boys' baseball, Boys' and Girls' basketball, Boys' and Girls' Cross Country, Boys' and Girls' Soccer, Girls' Softball, Boys' and Girls' Tennis, Boys' and Girls' Track and Field and Girls' Volleyball.  As the STEM School program matures, new opportunities will develop as led by student interest.  For a list of current extra-curricular opportunities, click on the link titled "Clubs, Athletics, and Extracurricular Organizations" under the section Get Involved.

Q: Will my student be able to buy a lunch at school or do they have to bring a sack‐lunch every day?

A: Hamilton County Department of Education Nutrition program will be available to all students. Free and reduced prices lunches based on individual circumstances are available at the STEM School as at any other HCDE school. However, no money is collected during lunch. Students who want to pay for meal items must go online and add money into MyPaymentsPlus meal plan.  

Q: Can parents take their child out to lunch or deliver lunch to school?
 
A: In order to minimize distractions, we follow these procedures. First, students cannot be signed out for lunch unless they are leaving for the day or have a doctor's appointment. Second, parents cannot deliver restaurant food for lunch. Students should pack lunch if not eating the served school lunch. Third, a parent is welcome to come and eat lunch with their child at the school on any day. However, they should not bring restaurant food. Please keep in mind that lunch time at the STEM School is an important part of the day for students to have access to each teacher, and each teacher to have access to each student. By minimizing distractions, students learn to use this time as a valuable resource in their learning process.

Q: What is the curriculum for the STEM School? Is it really going to be different than what any other school does?

A:  Though the curriculum is aligned with State of Tennessee and Common Core Standards just like any other school, the STEM School focus is on applying State of Tennessee and Common Core Standards to provide authentic and relevant learning experiences as part of everyday learning.  The keystone of the STEM School is an integrated curricular model with a central focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, Mathematics, & Medicine (STEAM2).
Partnerships with postsecondary institutions and regional businesses will provide opportunities for nontraditional 11th & 12th grade years in which college coursework, internships, and apprenticeships will teach students through modern day application of the academic concepts.
The instruction at the STEM School will be rooted in a project and problem based learning philosophy. Project and problem based learning is a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real world problems and challenges, simultaneously developing cross curricular skills while working in small collaborative groups. Because project and problem based education yields active and engaged learning, it inspires students to obtain a deeper knowledge of the subjects they are studying. Strong related arts programs and sophisticated technological resources will foster creativity and advance technical capabilities among the students. The teaching model will guide students through a unique, cutting-edge learning experience and challenge them to shift their thinking to the practical applications of academic material.
In collaboration with the Southeast Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub, the STEM School will also disseminate its educational strategies throughout the entire region.