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Newsweek ranks EHS in top 500 of America’s Best STEM High Schools

Nov. 8, 2019 - Edina High School is one of two Minnesota public high schools in the top 500 on Newsweek’s list of America’s Best STEM High Schools. The list, released on Nov. 8 – National STEM Day – names eight Minnesota schools in the top 500. Four are private schools and two are charter schools. Orono High School, ranked 356, and Edina High School, ranked 363, are the only public high schools in the state listed in Newsweek’s highest ranking.

Newsweek partnered with STEM.org, “one of the Top 100 STEM Education Resources,” to rank high schools across the country. The list includes rankings for the top 5,000 schools.

The methodology used to compare and rank schools includes:

  • Number and types of STEM courses offered
  • Activities offered to strengthen 21st century skills, such as: media proficiency, creativity, environmental literacy and social/cross-cultural awareness
  • Original STEM content
  • Celebration of diversity and topics for a wide variety of learning needs
  • Opportunities for students to socialize and work with others during and after school
  • Access to technology
  • Hands-on problem solving and project-based learning
  • Opportunities for real-world challenges and introduction to career opportunities in STEM fields

At EHS and throughout Edina’s K-12 system, there is a “strong foundation” in STEM learning, according to Dr. Randy Smasal, director of teaching and learning. EHS offers more than 10 AP STEM courses and, with funding from the Edina Education Foundation, provides the SMATH Lab for tutoring and support for learners in areas of math and science.

Principal Andy Beaton lists the many STEM courses the school offers that are beyond the required coursework:  Multi-variable Calculus, Discrete Math, College Algebra, Organic Chemistry, Anatomy, Forensics, Physical Universe, Computer Science, Cybersecurity and Project Lead The Way.

“And robotics is a very strong program in grades 6-12,” Beaton said. Last spring the EHS Green Machine robotics team was the first Minnesota team inducted to the FIRST Robotics Hall of Fame after receiving the Chairman’s Award and other high honors in competition. Additional courses in computer science and engineering were recently added to the middle and high school curriculum.

Smasal said the use of time and space have also advanced STEM learning throughout the district. Flex or WIN time in grades K-12 provides time to meet the needs of learners and opportunities. Flexible learning spaces in every school offer learners an opportunity to practice collaboration, creativity and develop student agency skills. “Makerspaces exist in every school as part of the state-of-the-art learning spaces created in the facilities construction plan recently completed,” he said.

The Early Learning Center even offers STEM enrichment classes for the district’s littlest learners. In one class, preschool “engineers” follow blueprints and use various building materials to construct a pirate ship.

“America is a nation of entrepreneurs and innovators, and our economic vitality and national security depend on our sustaining that vibrant culture,” said Nancy Cooper, Newsweek Global Editor in Chief in her introduction to the list of top schools. “The STEM skills that only specialists have today will be expected of virtually everyone in the American workforce tomorrow.”