CREST (Center for Research in Engineering, Science and Technology)

Phoenix, AZ | Submitted by Linda Coyle

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CREST, the Center for Research in Engineering, Science and Technology is a rigorous, honors based program of studies focusing on the practical application of knowledge in three integrated areas: engineering, biotechnology and environmental sustainability. CREST is a STEM specialty high school in the Paradise Valley Unified School District, which encompasses 100 square miles of northeast Phoenix and Scottsdale. CREST enhances real world, multi-disciplinary learning while providing the advantages of a comprehensive high school experience. Students enroll in CREST to participate in a focused curriculum of study, with a complete array of honors courses, electives, and traditional school activities.

Housed in a newly constructed green building, the program received development support from a city of Phoenix block grant to support small learning communities. The sustainable-building architecture functions as a student-centered teaching and learning tool. CREST leads and inspires students within a collaborative, active, project-based learning environment emphasizing rigor, relevance, and relationships in the integrated fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

The learning experiences of the students involve interdisciplinary studies, real-world problem solving, product development, and practical internships. A technology-rich environment provides opportunities for collaboration with other educational institutions as well as business and industry practitioners from around the world; students collaborate with peers, teachers, universities and industry experts. Students are tasked with acquiring technical and soft skills while learning and applying 21st century workplace competencies. The school receives academic support from university and business partnerships that include shadowing experiences, internships, guest lectures and site visits. Students graduate highly motivated and fully qualified to pursue STEM-oriented degrees at the post-secondary level.

CREST program elements

Environmental Sustainability is aimed at ensuring the prosperity and cohesion of the three Es (ecology, equity and economy) through the fourth E, education. Through high level conceptual theory and discourse coupled with applied projects and community collaborations, sustainability program students receive and create for themselves an education stressing critical thinking and problem solving, developing leaders ready to lead communities into the challenges of the 21st century. We teach the future how to sustain the future.

Biotechnology is a program of study that focuses on the agricultural, ethical, genetic, medical and technological components of this emerging profession. Students in this program develop valuable laboratory skills and experience by being a part of a state-of-the-art working lab.

Engineering is a four-year, rigorous Project Lead the Way program. Students interested in electrical, mechanical, biomechanics, aeronautics, and other engineering specialties participate in activities, and project and problem-based learning. Research shows that schools practicing this pedagogic approach experience an increase in student motivation, an increase in cooperative learning skills and higher-order thinking, and an improvement in student achievement. Project Lead the Way is a nationally recognized program that adds rigor to traditional technical programs and relevance to traditional academics.

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