Criteria Being Developed for SMHS/Caltech Collaboration

San Marino High School officials Monday highlighted what could be part of the selection criteria for the school’s pioneering STEM program with nearby Caltech starting next school year.
The endeavor, which was recently announced, follows a few years’ worth of effort from officials at each campus. New SMHS Principal Issaic Gates helped mold those ideas into what the district announced in February.
“This type of partnership happens through the connections of the community,” he said. “That’s the gift of your child living and going to school in this community.”
Under the program, between 20-25 junior and senior students from SMHS will spend part of their day with one of four professors at Caltech working on a STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and math) project that coincides with said professors’ specialties.
Proposed selection criteria for students included a points system based on grades in AP or regular science courses, the student’s overall GPA and also participation in STEM-oriented clubs such as Girls Who Code or Titanium Robotics.
“Those are sort of the ‘intangibles’ with this criteria,” Assistant Principal Doug Berry said. “Critical thinking is absolutely something we’re looking for in the students who want to complete this course.”
Other factors proposed included a written response essay based on a prompt provided by professors and interviews of each student. Gates said he would recommend students’ written responses and points totals be considered anonymously.
“I do like the written response,” board member Lisa Link said. “I assume that’s giving them an opportunity to talk about why this would be a good match for them and their professor.”
The forthcoming program, hailed as a unique perk for the state’s top-rated public school district, attracted a standing room-only crowd at an informational meeting with the involved professors last week. Gates called it a great opportunity for students hoping to jump-start potential STEM careers.
“It’s like science for science’s sake,” he said.

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