Do you like to…
- Work collaboratively to find solutions to real-life problems?
- Think of new ways to do things or come up with outside of the box ideas?
- Guide your own learning?
- Read stories and articles related to other things that you are learning or that you care about?
- Present your findings in new and different ways?
- Engage in scientific inquiry?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, SPIRE may be for you!
What does SPIRE acronym mean?
SPIRE stands for STEM Program for Innovation, Rigor, and Excellence.
Our SPIRE students select enrollment in either the Accelerated or Integrated Pathway. These pathways are tailored to meet the learning interests or goals of the student and integrated to encourage more significant critical thinking and content development across the curriculum.
During 9th grade, students begin the Accelerated Pathway by taking Chemistry and Foundations of Engineering and Technology. This course allows for profound practice in implementing the Engineering Design Process through Chemistry academic standards and project research. Students may also select the Integrated Pathway option through enrollment in Honors Biology, 9th Grade Honors Language Arts, and Public Speaking. Language Arts standards are used to facilitate more significant research and inquiry into the Biology content. Students practice additional soft skills by producing artifacts aligned with STEM interests and potential careers. Students also read a variety of texts which are thematically aligned with their corresponding Biology standards to increase the depth of knowledge and authentic content application.
In 10th grade, students on the Accelerated Pathway are enrolled in SPIRE AP Biology with the integration of Science Research. Through these two courses, students are required to select an area of focus and complete a Science Fair project through our district competition. AP Biology content standards are further investigated by using Science Research content standards to develop, refine, and drive the direction of student inquiry. Integrated Pathway students are enrolled in Honors Chemistry integrated with Foundations of Engineering and Technology and 10th Grade Language Arts. This promotes the further application of the Engineering Design Process through Chemistry-based labs and research.
For 11th grade, Accelerated Pathway students complete AP Physics C with an integration of Engineering Concepts, Engineering Application, and Science Fair participation. Students are encouraged to participate in academic design contests and develop authentic projects by implementing the Engineering Design Process through AP Physics principles. Students select an area of focus for participation in the district Science Fair using AP Physics and Engineering content guidance. SPIRE students on the Integrated Pathway are enrolled in Honors Physics, which integrates both Engineering Concepts and Engineering Applications.
During 12th grade, Seniors in our program have multiple courses available according to student inquiry and career interest. Accelerated students complete a variety of fourth-year AP sciences with the opportunity to include Science Research or Internship. At this level, students are expected to produce a Capstone project to document evidence and apply their extensive, multiyear research skill refinement or complete an internship in a STEM-related career area. Integrated pathway students can select a fourth-year Science academic according to their interest and complete an Internship, Work-Based Learning, or Capstone project in a STEM-related field. We also offer a D3 internship through our Gifted Internship Class. Students in the D3 internship work in the D3 Lab daily to learn applications of the machines, including their inner workings and maintenance needs. As a performance task, D3 interns are tasked with engineering and manufacturing commissions from within and outside the school, working directly with clients to develop solutions to various problems.
Engineering concepts and applications are part of the regular instruction to ensure STEM students constantly research, revise, reflect, and express their critical thinking and creative design skills in a collaborative environment. Technology applications and literacy strategies facilitate student learning in a transformative, integrated manner throughout the various grade levels within our program. SPIRE project designs and learning outcomes focus on innovation, critical thinking, and real-world application by utilizing the D3 Space (Dream it, Design It, Develop It). This creative lab space promotes student ownership of building, refining, and producing original creations, projects, or products aligned to content standards and needs. As part of this design process, a culture of collaboration is also created as students must brainstorm strategies or solutions, offer suggestions, and receive feedback from their peers and project facilitators. SPIRE graduates are more equipped for future STEM careers because of the increased collaboration, personal development, and authentic application of the academic content of our program.
D3 Work Space
SPIRE Lab Space
Vertical STEM Team
Some of our SPIRE teachers are also members of our Peachtree Ridge Cluster Vertical STEM team. This group aims to align our STEM K-12 practice throughout all schools within our cluster. Through membership of this team, teachers share their ideas for PBL and STEM improvement, discuss grade-level STEM progressions, visit classrooms, and increase the capacity of all teachers across the cluster. The team meets quarterly and includes teacher representation from each grade level in our cluster. Our SPIRE teachers find great value in hearing what other grade levels are doing to prepare students for their yearly growth and future high school STEM experience.
Vertical STEM Meeting at Northbrook Middle
In line with the vision of #OneRidge, the Peachtree Ridge cluster continues to leverage the engineering design process to create a community of thinkers from kindergarten until graduation.
All Peachtree Ridge cluster schools are working toward or have already received their Georgia Department of Education (DOE) STEM Certification. Whether it is Mason's Hydroponics Lab, Burnette's Innovation Lab and Maker Space/ Imagination Creation Station, Jackson's focus on coding, Parsons' robotics club, engineering connections at the middle school, or the D3 Space in the SPIRE Program, the Peachtree Ridge cluster continues to create a new generation of innovators.
Additional STEM access for all Peachtree Ridge cluster students includes:
- ASPIRE Program (Grades K-5)
- INSPIRE Program (Grades 6-8)
- SPIRE (Grades 9-12)
We strive to create a rigorous, integrated, and authentic STEM curriculum to meet the learning needs and future industry demands of all Peachtree Ridge students.
Elementary students in D3 Space
SPIRE Advisory Board Members
The intent of the SPIRE advisory board is to use the STEM expertise of our members to grow the curriculum and learning experiences of our students to prepare them for all college or career aspirations.
We have several SPIRE advisory board members who serve as guest speakers to support PBL units and develop classroom instruction with teachers. These individuals speak to our students to provide authentic expertise in supporting their current unit of study. The intent behind these guest speakers is to increase the level of inquiry, engagement, and participation of students while also developing the depth of their project research. These experts share relevant experiences outside the content standards to connect the real world to our program curriculum.