NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. — Educators are turning their focus to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Several local labs are in the works at area schools, and the public can take advantage of the new STEM Center at The Benjamin School.
"I know that next year it's really going to change how I learn," said Maggie Smith, an eighth grade student at The Benjamin School.
Maggie said she loves everything about science, from marine biology to robotics. She has a message for other young girls interested in STEM.
"I tell them you have to love science because there is so much to love about it," said Maggie. "It's all so different."
The Benjamin School in North Palm Beach is home to a new STEM center with state-of-the-art technology.
"The pendulum in education always swings back and forth," said Susan Bickel, the lower school science coordinator, who said the focus is on science education.
There's an effort in the new facility to mimic what real science looks like.
"In a real science community, scientists leave things out, and revisit it, and redo it, and re-engineer it," said Bickel. "We will be able to do that because of the space."
The 13,000-square-foot facility is the largest dedicated STEM center in South Florida for kids as young as 3 years old. It is also open to the public in August through toddler community events as well as summer camps beginning next summer.
"It's incredibly important to have that mindset started early," said Bickel, when referring to preschoolers taking part.
Students here will also chart plants and grow food for donation to a local soup kitchen. The focus is on giving back and fostering a love of science.
"STEM will put the icing on the cake, so these students will be prepared for the future," said Matt Oster, the curriculum coordinator for STEM.