School District Of The City Of York

Edgar Fahs Smith STEAM Academy

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The Edgar Fahs Smith STEAM Academy will open Aug. 21, 2017 to students in grades 3-8 for the 2017-18 school year. We welcome you to explore this page for information about this new educational opportunity for York City students.

STEAM logo

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math. While those content areas will be emphasized, it’s really the approach to education that makes STEAM different from the traditional classroom.

The focus of the Academy will be project-based learning — an innovative education strategy that boosts problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. Project-based learning empowers students to take control of their education and promotes learning that is meaningful to each student.

Gov. Tom Wolf with children

Gov. Tom Wolf visited the Ferguson K-8 STEAM program in September 2016. Read a YDR article about the governor’s visit here.

Since 2009, the district has offered a STEAM program at Ferguson K-8 in partnership with Penn State York. The Academy will build on the success of Ferguson’s STEAM program and expand its reach to more students.

On Wednesday, April 19, 2017, the district’s Board of School Directors approved the administration’s proposal to open the STEAM Academy. You can review the proposal here.

During the next five years, the district will add one grade per year until the Academy serves grades 3-12.



Join us Wednesday, Aug. 9 for the Open House!

Open house flier

Frequently Asked Questions


The concept of the STEAM Academy will drastically change the way students learn – not necessarily what they learn, but how. The STEAM Academy will be less about teacher lectures and more about students experimenting. Teachers will certainly be the guides, but the students will have the power to structure many aspects of their own learning. This is about empowering students to control their own destiny and to build confidence through the process of identifying problems and designing solutions that are meaningful to them. We want students to ask interesting questions and then figure out the answers – because that’s how real life works in the 21st Century.

STEAM Academy students will have more opportunities for hands-on learning. That will sometimes translate into field trips, community service projects and interactions with the local business community. Students will learn about different technologies as tools for problem-solving – not just for the sake of learning about technology. The district is also aiming to provide each student with a Chromebook or equivalent technology, though that will probably not happen in the first year. Plans for a robotics lab are also in the works for the future.

Project-based learning is the pedagogical strategy that teachers will use to facilitate student learning. It’s simply a different approach in the classroom. The lessons will still be guided by the district’s curriculum, which is aligned to state standards. We want STEAM students to learn the same information and skills that their peers are learning. But project-based learning is designed to deepen that learning. For example, a student might study engineering by researching and designing infrastructure changes in his or her own neighborhood. Students may build technology skills through the production of videos that promote relevant and positive messages to other students.
No! All students are eligible and encouraged to apply. Special Education – which includes gifted students – and ELL status are in no way disqualifiers. In fact, the district has budgeted to have Special Education and ELL teachers at the school in anticipation of students needing those services.
All students are eligible to apply. However, we reserve the right to remove some students from the enrollment pool based on poor attendance, behavior or academic records. To be successful at the STEAM Academy, a student must be motivated to learn. We need to see that demonstrated history before admitting a student.
A team of STEAM educators will make those decisions.

Edgar Fahs Smith is a former district middle school that closed in 2012 as a means of restructuring the district and lowering costs. It’s a beautiful building with lots of space and potential for the STEAM Academy, and we look forward to bringing Smith back to life. Work is under way to get Smith ready for 300 students in August.

We want all York City students, regardless of where they live in the city, to have access to the STEAM Academy. That’s why the district will provide bussing transportation to students who live in the attendance zones for Davis, Goode, Hannah Penn and Jackson schools. Academy students will report to their neighborhood schools and wait for a bus to take them to the Academy. Students in the Devers, Ferguson and McKinley zones live close enough to Smith to walk. If your child lives within one of the walking zones but you believe the distance is too far, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you.

Yes, and we encourage them to do so. Students who do not currently attend district schools can find the application on our website and turn in completed applications to the Central Administration building, 31 N. Pershing Ave.

If more than 50 students apply, we will use a lottery system to determine who is admitted. That will happen over the summer.

Yes. School will start a bit later and end a bit earlier for STEAM students to accommodate those students who receive bus transportation to and from their neighborhood schools. The specific start and end times have not yet been determined.




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