The mission of Fulton Academy of Science and Technology (FAST) is to provide an education based on design thinking and problem-solving with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to K-8 children in the diverse Fulton County community. FAST’s goal is to prepare children in a way that provides them a foundation to be creative innovators and problem solvers so they are prepared for success and leadership in our rapidly changing world. With the diverse demographics of our existing community serving as the background theme for academics, children will develop the foundations for learning and thinking that prepares them for success in post-secondary education and careers.
Parents of current students in North Fulton developed the FAST concept. Parents in today’s workplace recognize a call to action in the way children are educated. While school systems may demand higher competency as evidenced by test scores, the workplace demands creativity as well as subject matter competency. A poll of fifteen hundred CEOs from sixty nations identified creativity as the top leadership competency of the future. In How Google Works, Google co-founder Larry Page laments, "people haven’t been educated in moonshot thinking. They tend to assume things are impossible, rather than starting from real-world physics and figuring out what’s actually possible." FAST will provide student competency in core subjects and the opportunity for creativity and ‘moonshot thinking’ by integrating design thinking into all subject areas.
FAST will become STEM certified at the elementary level within three years and at the middle school level within five years of operation. STEM certification is rapidly becoming a base layer, as opposed to a differentiator, in education as more schools work toward certification. The call to action the parents working to start FAST is the need for our children to be able to think critically, to develop a deep and meaningful understanding of the world around them, and how to create innovative solutions to problems.
Over the past two decades, children have developed a replication model of education. Whether it is a math problem or a Lego kit in a box, children are shown a model and expected to replicate it exactly as a rote process. In school, children have been given content information and tested to show they can replicate it accurately. However, many lack the ability to think critically and cannot show a meaningful understanding of the material in spite of high test scores. Without this understanding, children cannot do something creative and innovative with the content. Focusing on STEM content only gets our children to the starting line. Creativity and innovation will get them into the race to win.
Since 1990 the scores among students taking the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking have declined significantly, particularly in the K-3rd age range. Children who lose the ability to be creative also lose the ability to be innovative, which is the key to success in the 21st-century global economy.
Children today have lost the tolerance to fail and to iterate. In today’s world of instantaneous results, children expect instantaneous correct answers. In the Price of Privilege Dr. Levine describes how many children are unable to cope with even slight failure. To overcome this FAST will focus on a growth mindset to develop the habits of perseverance, intellectual curiosity, and creativity in our students.
The way FAST will accomplish this goal is three-fold:
1) FAST will incorporate Design Thinking into all facets of the school from each class a student attends to teacher development to administrative effectiveness.
2) FAST will add one hour each day to the school schedule, four days per week for a class in innovation for all grades.
3) FAST will have a capstone project for 8th graders lasting one year that will give each student the opportunity to demonstrate their innovation ability.
Our differentiated math, science, and literacy curriculum will support the goals in increasing critical thinking, deep understanding in content areas, creativity, and innovation.
A K-8 model is better for children and for the continuous improvement of the school. Research supports the theory that student achievement falters significantly due to the switch to middle school as compared to students who attend a K-8 school. The K-8 model also supports the FCS concept of continuous achievement. Furthermore, the expanded grade levels ensure a longer horizon of dedication from each parent elected on the governing board. This enables the governing board to be truly diverse and effective.