Cobb County schools will build a new $29.9 million College and Career Academy in Marietta.

The academy will primarily target students who want to graduate from high school to a job, but Cobb County School Board Vice Chair David Chastain said it won't be your average vocational technical school of decades past.

"It's not just learning to use a skillsaw and making a cutting board that looks like a rooster or something,” Chastain said. “This is working with technology, maybe even learning coding."

City Lights: Henry Diltz; Art And STEM Subjects; And More

Mar 29, 2016

Tuesday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Galloway Students Study Science Through Hands-On Art

Mar 25, 2016
Gabbie Watts / WABE

This story is part of WABE and American Graduate's Advancing Atlanta: Education series. For more stories, click here.

In science class at the Galloway School in Buckhead, fifth grader Sophie Orston is making a sculpture of a microorganism.

“I put two bottle caps together, and now I’m putting bubble wrap about it,” she explained. “Then, I am going to put some netting around the bubble wrap”

Morehouse College freshmen Philip Rucker, Damon Redding and Tyree Stevenson use a programming language called Python to plot a map of weather stations in the United States.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Silicon Valley has a diversity problem: only one percent of technical employees at large tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google are African-American.

Industry leaders in Atlanta say tech companies here do a little better -- partly because there’s a more diverse pool of talent to draw from in the city. But those leaders also say there’s a still a long way to go.

Several groups in the Atlanta area are looking to change the picture.

Black Men Code

The Georgia House has approved a bill giving HOPE Scholarship recipients more credit for science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM, courses.

Rep. Jan Jones (R-Milton) says the change will encourage students to take such classes and pursue jobs in fields that need skilled employees. HOPE Scholarship recipients must maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 to keep receiving help for college tuition.

Jones said the GPA requirements may have led some students to avoided the courses due to fear of losing their scholarship eligibility.

Students at The Iron Yard
Courtesy of The Iron Yard

Software developers and programmers are in high demand in Atlanta, and a growing number of schools are expanding to address the shortage felt in Atlanta's growing tech industry.

One of Atlanta's popular private coding schools, The Iron Yard, is opening a second location in Sandy Springs in March. The school has worked with more than 185 students since it first opened a branch in downtown Atlanta in 2014.  Atlanta will be the first city to have a second branch of the boot camp nearby.

Emily Murray / Georgia Council for the Arts

Last week, local artists and arts leaders gathered at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center to welcome a distinguished guest: Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

STE(a)M Truck brings science, technology, engineering, mathematics--and yes, arts--to Atlanta schools without strong STEM programs.
Alison Guillory / WABE

This story is part of WABE and American Graduate's Advancing Atlanta: Education series. For more stories, click here.

How do you close the classroom achievement gap between rich and poor when it comes to science and math education? An initiative called STE(a)M Truck believes you need to take the classroom out of the equation.

Victoria Ruffin and Anaya Witchett, eighth graders at Kipp Ways Academy, are working on an invention.

Courtesy of Georgia Tech

Albert Einstein is the newest face on Georgia Tech's campus. 

Georgia Tech dedicated the statue Friday on the northwest corner of Tech Green near the Atlantic Promenade.

The school raised $1.5 million in private donations to purchase and bring the 3,500-pound bronze statue of the Nobel Prize-winning physicist to Atlanta from New York. 

Provost Rafael Bras said it’s part of a campaign to integrate the arts with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education at Georgia Tech. 

Lonnie johnson stands in his labaratory
Alison Guillory / WABE

Chances are you’ve heard of the Super Soaker – the colorful water gun that lets you power spray just about anyone in your path.

Since it debuted in the early 90s, it’s generated more than $1 billion in global sales.

The man who invented the Super Soaker is Lonnie Johnson. He’s lived in Atlanta for the last few decades and holds over 100 patents for other projects.

When Johnson first came up with the idea for the Super Soaker, he was working as an engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Galileo Mission, but that was his day job.

Georgia Tech Office of the Arts

What happens when you add the arts to the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math?

You get STEAM, and at Georgia Tech a full head of steam has powered Madison Cario in the nine months since she became director of the institute’s Office of the Arts.

In a “City Lights” interview with Lois Reitzes, Cario explained her role as Tech’s chief advocate for bridging the gap of understanding between two seemingly disparate fields.

JandDImages / Courtesy of the Atlanta Science Festival

Do you need any extra credit to help improve your science or math grade?  There will be some special opportunities to demonstrate or expand your interest in science and technology in the coming week.

Mary Claire Kelly / WABE

When girls enter adolescence, they grow out of more than just their old clothes.

They lose interest in things they once loved like toys, old hobbies, and — as trends say — science, technology, engineering and math.

These so-called STEM fields are full of careers that are notoriously dominated by men.

But WABE's Mary Claire Kelly introduces us to some girls who are breaking down those stereotypes, one circuit at a time. 

Martha Dalton / WABE

The U.S. needs more engineers and scientists, according to the White House. So it sent its director of science and technology to Atlanta’s Spelman College Wednesday to get some ideas.

Programming robots is just part of what the SpelBots do. The Spelman robotics team also conducts research and does community outreach.

“We’ve been using the robots to do things like outreach to children, students at middle schools, just kind of introducing robotics to them, as well as competing,” says senior Daria Jordan.

Solomon McBride stands next to a poster outlining his research on the link between HIV treatment and atherosclerosis.
Elly Yu / WABE News

All week, we've aired stories about two African-American high schoolers navigating through Georgia Tech's first-ever Project ENGAGE, a program designed to bring more minorities into the "STEM" fields -- Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. 

For this final component of the five-part series, I sat down in-studio for a conversation with Project ENGAGE co-founders Drs. Manu Platt and Robert Nerem.  

[A transcript of the interview wouldn't do it justice, so if you can, take a few minutes and listen.]

A timer ensures students don't go over their five-minute time allotment.  Jade Johnson (left) and Project ENGAGE co-founder Dr. Robert Nerem (right) listen as another participant describes his research dealing with osteoarthritis.
Jim Burress / WABE News

Two months of hard work come down to a packed but non-descript seminar room on Georgia Tech's campus. 

"The students know the rules," Project ENGAGE co-founder Dr. Manu Plat informs the audience.  

Each student has five minutes to present his or her research, and as the minutes pass, scholars impress with their knowledge of everything from potential long-term side effects of HIV medication to stem cells' role in treating osteoarthritis to "the effects of S1P and FTY720 on OP9 bone marrow stromal cells.”

In addition to being lab partners, Amadou Bah and Jovanay Carter have become fast friends.
Jim Burress / WABE News

When I last checked in on the Project ENGAGE scholars, they were going on "speed dates" to best match their interests with available mentors and specialized research labs. 

It's been about a month since that visit, and now students have settled into their lab assignments and are working on topics from stem cell research to HIV treatment complications to osteoarthritis.  

My first stop is the Botchwey lab, where Amadou Bah shows me around.  

Ga Tech grad student Jose Garcia answers questions from Jovanay Carter, a student at Coretta Scott King High School.  Carter was one of 12 students selected for ProjectENGAGE
Jim Burress / WABE News

A dozen Atlanta high school students are spending their summer in research labs at Georgia Tech.

While the thought would make many teens cringe, there were about three applicants for each opening in Tech's “Project ENGAGE” (Engaging New Generations at Georgia Tech through Engineering) program.

But Tech grad students don’t want the high schoolers who weren’t selected to lose interest.

That’s why a group is organizing a science club that will go out to schools to give students hands-on research experience.