Brevard charter school focuses on science, technology and Spanish – Florida Today

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One of the Space Coast’s newest charter schools is not only giving students the technical training needed for 21st century jobs, but also arming them with the softer skills that employers will continue demand more of in the coming years.
Pinecrest Space Coast opened its doors three years ago with a curriculum that focuses on the area’s strengths — science and engineering, as well as the Spanish language.
Instead of implementing a program based on the more traditional style of rote memorization and repetition, the school’s leaders designed the program so that students develop their interpersonal abilities such as cooperation, teamwork, empathy, and communication. These are the skills meant to prepare them for the job environment they are sure to encounter when they enter the workforce.
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“One of the methods of teaching we use is project-based learning,” said Matthew Barringer, one of the lead teachers at Pinecrest Space Coast. “That helps students utilize critical thinking skills to solve real-world problems.”
That approach is the foundation for how the charter school operates and has become the hallmark of students’ experiences during their time in the program.
“It is a very engaging school with a lot of opportunities for each student,” said Gavin Diaz, an eighth grader at Pinecrest. “There are a lot of diverse activities to do between the sports, clubs, and academics.”
One of the projects that Diaz highlighted involved designing a cereal box that provides information about Rhode Island, the state he was assigned to research.
Diaz adapted the cereal box the design to provide information unique to the state. Diaz and his colleagues had to research and compile information along with invoking a design meant to entice a person to engage with the information.
“For instance, Rhode Island is known for whaling, so we made a cereal box that had information about whaling,” he said. “We drew a cereal bowl, and then a whale jumping out of it. In the back there would be a word-search puzzle and different facts about the state.”
Completing the assignment required students to perform different tasks, using and solidifying different concepts they learned leading up to the project.
As a school that focuses on science and engineering, each assignment incorporates some aspect of technology, even in an area such as English and language arts.
River Gonzales, a fourth grader at Pinecrest, was tasked with persuading the governor to include a stop in Cocoa Beach for the Brightline train. Gonzalez, like Diaz, used the web to research the topic to find compelling facts to make his point. But rather than design cereal box, Gonzalez was supposed to incorporate computer coding in the final project.
“We made a website, adding pictures and information about the Brightline train,” Gonzales said. “The goal is to persuade the governor to add the train to Cocoa Beach.”
Students then penned a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis to offer their justifications for a Brightline stop in Cocoa Beach that included a link to the website they created.
Technology is not only incorporated into every assignment, it is also woven into the very essence of the school. Each classroom is equipped with a smart board that instructors use as part of their daily lessons. During a walkthrough, one elementary school instructor was seen giving a writing lesson while marking on the board.
In another class, algebra problems were placed on the electronic canvas, prompting students for the correct response. Students were given credit for each correct answer and their rankings were published to create some petition among the students.
Students are also involved in programing robots to perform specific tasks.
Another component of the curriculum is foreign language. Students are required to learn Spanish in addition to their training in science and engineering. The elementary students are immersed into the language for 90 minutes each day while the middle school children have one period of it lasting 50 minutes.
The language immersion, the science, and the project-based learning aspects of the school are what enticed parents to enroll their children in the program.
The projects students not only include learning facts about a specific topic, but also applying the facts to concepts and integrating the new information in some fashion while working toward a goal. That requires higher order thinking above memorization.
“We wanted them to be challenged a little more,” said Rick Amezquita, a parent of one of the students. “We felt it was a challenging environment for them.”
Pinecrest Space Coast will be offering two information nights for new families.  We are hosting one for kindergarten students on December 7th at 6pm in the cafeteria and the families of potential new middle school students on December 8th at 6pm in the cafeteria.
Applications for the 2022-2023 school year are now being accepted.
Ralph Chapoco is government and politics watchdog reporter. You can reach Chapoco at and follow him on Twitter @rchapoco.
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