Polk County highlights new STEM magnet school

By Stephanie Claytor, Reporter
Last Updated: Saturday, August 12, 2017, 5:58 AM EDT

Coding and raising animals are just some of the new options at Polk County's newest magnet school, Combee Academy of Design and Engineering -- or Code Academy for short.

The school has a fabrication lab where students learn the basics of coding using software created by the company Osmo. Students also can experiment with 3-D and circuit boards.

"The learning with the technology is great for our kids because we're trying to teach them 21st century skills," said Magnet Resource Teacher Tracy Miller. "Because in the real world, that's what they're going to be challenged with."

This innovative style of learning brought first-grade parent Ashley Vogel to tears. She said she transferred her daughter Bethany to the school because of it.

"She has ADHD. This is going to be more hands-on for her," Vogel said. "It's going to be more challenging. I think it's going to be easier for her to get through the day doing hands-on things rather than sitting in a classroom being yelled at because she can't focus."

Bethany said she's excited about the new school also.

"It's going to be fun and great," she said.

Bethany said she was looking forward to the school's new science lab the most. It's now equipped with a microscope and even a snake.

"I think the kids, through the hands-on science and getting to do science this year is really going to improve their scores," said Ashley Vogel. "Because they're not just going be reading about it, they're going to be doing and getting their hands on."

The school also has a new outdoor learning lab where the students are learning how to raise chickens and grow their own food.

"We want to teach them about sustainability. Just basically taking care of animals and responsibility," Miller said. "We have a lot of students that, you know, maybe they don't get a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables at home, so we're trying to substitute that."

Students living in Lakeland are eligible to enroll in the magnet school.