Georgia Tech is partnering with the Fulton County School District to enhance science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)  education in schools serving traditionally under-represented populations. The Fulton County School System (FCSS) is a high-needs district of 86,000 students bifurcated geographically by race and by academic achievement.  The schools in the north part of the county enroll primarily non-Hispanic white and Asian students (Figure 1), and students from these high schools boast SAT scores well above the state and national averages.   In contrast, the overwhelmingly African American and primarily low income schools in the southern portion of the county post cumulative SAT scores over one hundred points below the already low Georgia state average.  Other standard measures of academic achievement, such as Advanced Placement test scores, college matriculation rates, and need for college remediation, show the same bimodal distribution. In recent years a third region in the middle, Sandy Springs, has developed where the schools are more integrated, and academic achievement has a more complicated profile.  Overall, 37% of students enrolled in Fulton County schools are eligible for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program.  These students are overwhelming located in South Fulton County, and increasingly in the Sandy Springs area. 

The Building Engineering Achievement in Transportation (BEAT) program, funded by the Federal Highway Administration through the Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Futures program, is a collaboration between the Fulton County School System and Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and is designed to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)achievement in predominately African American schools in south Fulton County through student and teacher programming in the topic of transportation engineering.

The goal of the BEAT the Traffic program in the K-12 setting is to increase student interest in pursuing a STEM career through the use of student enrichment programs (summer camps) and student and teacher research internships at Georgia Tech.  Each program activity is focused on the field of Transportation Engineering.  The specific objectives of each program will be discussed under each program evaluation. The following programs were conducted by the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC) in collaboration with Fulton County Schools, Creekside High School and Tri-Cities High Schools, and the Transportation Engineering Department at Georgia Tech. The specific programs are as follows:

  1. Two teachers from Westlake High school, one teacher from Creekside High school and one teacher from Eagle’s Landing High School were hosted in research labs at Georgia Tech during the summer of 2010 as part of the Georgia Intern-Fellowships for Teachers (GIFT) program. These teachers, in a partnership with GT faculty and graduate students, participated in research projects and designed curriculum activities for high school math and pre-engineering courses related to traffic modeling and the civil engineering of transportation infrastructure. Three of the four teachers participated in the GIFT program with their student research group.
  2. Four 1-week summer camps for middle school students were held, two at Georgia Tech (GT), one at Tri-Cities High School, and one at Creekside High school. Each camp addressed different aspects of transportation engineering.
  3. A professional development summer camp was also hosted by CEISMC at Georgia Tech focusing on creating curriculum units for mathematics using hovercraft structural components
  4. During a semester-long undergraduate and graduate class on airports and freight, a new curriculum was incorporated using airline simulation software which is designed to give students hands-on experience with some of the major issues challenging the airline industry.
  5. Curriculum units were developed for an Airline Simulation program during the summer, and were implemented and tested in one week-long summer institute for high school students interested in transportation engineering and the airline industry.