DPIE Summer STEM Academy Enrollment Soars


June 18, 2017
Instructor Jim Parsons, works with his students in the Automation & Robotics class being taught in this summer's DPIE STEM Academy.

A total of 775 students enrolled in 6-week high school courses ranging from Algebra 1 to Honors Chemistry and 281 middle schoolers are participating in 3-week writing, technology, leadership and the newly created Bridge to Algebra 1 classes. The Academy, now in it’s 6th year, was established in the summer of 2012 when it opened its doors to 150 Dublin students and utilized 6 classrooms. The program was started at the suggestion of the former DUSD Superintendent, Steve Hanke, for the purpose of helping students accelerate their academic programs and/or to make room in their regular school-year schedules to take classes of interest.

Academy Enrollment Grows from 150 to 1,056 in Six Years

The Academy has worked well for Dublin and Tri-Valley families and has seen enrollment growth each year of the programs existence. Enrollment more than doubled in 2016, growing from 401 to 877 students. This year’s Academy has grown another 20% which represents 177 new students in the Academy. This summer 27 classrooms are being utilized for Academy courses.

Academy Format Challenges Students in a Different Way

Discussing the popularity of the Academy, Dublin High Assistant Principal, Lenni Velez, who is serving as this year’s Academy Principal recognized the value of the program.

The Academy is valuable because the kids come ready to learn and they enjoy the subject matter. Since kids are taking only one class for 5 hours a day, it allows teachers to go deeper into their subject matter and to challenge students in a different way. There is no time to waste or time for students to be bored. Lenni Velez, DPIE Summer Program Principal

Ms. Velez, who taught Trigonometry/Pre-Calculus in the Academy the last two summers explained how the program makes teaching even more fun.

The Academy is great for teachers as well. It makes teaching more fun because we get to work with kids who are eager to learn and want to delve deeper into the subject matter. Classroom conversations tend to be at a higher level and because kids learn concepts so quickly it frees teachers to introduce projects into their curriculum. Ms. Velez, DPIE Summer Program Principal

Program Growth in Math & Science

Geometry is once again the most popular class offered in the Academy with 9 full sections. Algebra 1 and Honors Chemistry are also high demand courses with enough enrollment to offer 4 sections of each class. Other high school classes being offered include Algebra2/Trigonometry, Trigonometry/Precalculus, Biology and Physical Education. Each class runs 5 hours, from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 8 – 10 on Fridays. The six-week courses cover a full year’s curriculum. Longitudinal studies indicated that students who perform well in DPIE classes tend to do just as well in subsequent classes during the regular school year.

Middle School Classes Appeal to Student Interests

Middle School classes are ungraded high interest courses designed to spur student interest in learning. Classes are 2 hours and 20 minutes in length and students can enroll in two classes each three-week session. Middle school courses include Computer Programming, Automation & Robotics, Design & Modeling and Leadership. This summer we introduced three new classes that are popular with students, “Using Drones 101” is a class where students learn about the laws and ethics of using drones, have the opportunity to build a drone and actually practice flying them. Additionally, we have been able to offer a “Writing as an Exploration” class that affords students the opportunity to work and learn different writing styles.

Bridge to Algebra 1 Helps Students Advance

One of the more popular new classes, “Bridge to Algebra 1” is designed to help students learn concepts which will better prepare them for taking Algebra 1. Middle school students who are already assigned to Algebra 1 in the fall will benefit by being exposed to concepts they may not have mastered. Students who are assigned to grade level Common Core Math 3 in the fall will have the opportunity to broaden their math base and improve their performance on the fall math assessment. Students who do well enough on the assessment will have the opportunity to be placed in an Algebra 1 class in the fall. The Stem Enrichment Academy summer program began on Tuesday June 6th and will end on Friday July 14th. Enrollments for the 2018 Academy will open on December 1, 2017.