New Classrooms Support Thornton Academy's STEM Pathways

In Fall 2015 a $2 million STEM Center (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) addition to the Scamman Science Building opened for classes. The addition includes four state-of-the-art biology and chemistry laboratory classrooms, each a spacious 1,400 square feet. This has been a privately-funded project. Because of its status as an independent school, Thornton receives no tax funds from sending municipalities to finance capital projects. As a town academy, Thornton cannot issue bonds for school capital projects like most surrounding communities and instead must find private funding for nearly 40% of the annual budget in order to provide up-to-date facilities for students.

In the summer of 2013, Senator Justin Alfond said, “The way Thornton Academy is incorporating STEM education into its regular curriculum, forging new collaborations that will benefit its students is an ideal model. I’m particularly pleased to see the partnership with Maine’s flagship university.” 

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Students working in STEM
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Partnership with College of Engineering at University of Maine
Inquiry-Based Learning & Newtonian Physics
Ways to Join STEM Pathways
What is STEM Pathways?

The Thornton Academy’s STEM Pathways includes:

  • Establishment of a Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) diploma endorsement;
  • a first-in-the-state partnership with the University of Maine College of Engineering, a curricular initiative that enables qualified Thornton Academy students to complete their entire first year of engineering courses by the time they graduate high school (Portland Press Herald 8/21/2013). Dean Dana Humphrey said, “This is a new and exciting path for students to begin studying engineering while students are still in high school. The key to this is that students will begin taking Advanced Placement courses in science, engineering, and mathematics course here at Thornton Academy. What is unique about this partnership is the breadth and quality of Advanced Placement classes that Thornton Academy offers.” (TATV 8/21/20130
  • establishment of an engineering laboratory on campus where students pursue inquiry-based design skills in a hands-on laboratory environment;
  • Thornton Academy also became a national pilot site for an online precision machine and tool curriculum this year, in collaboration with National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA), Arundel Machine, and Southern Maine Community College.

  • The laboratory construction project addresses science facilities that have not yet undergone necessary renovations. Headmaster Rene M. Menard said, “Four modern laboratory classrooms (two chemistry, two biology) will complement the physics and engineering spaces that were updated last year, and accomplish our goal of offering a rigorous and broad-based STEM (science-technology-engineering-mathematics) education program, one that will be among the most advanced in the state of Maine.  These new classroom laboratories will support the Science Department’s initiative to shift to “inquiry-based” instruction, a teaching method that combines the curiosity of students with the scientific method to enhance the development of critical thinking skills. People who work in STEM careers tend to work on projects in multi-disciplinary teams, often on a global scale. Our students need to be prepared to tackle complex problems and create unique solutions, while working in a team. A strong background and experience in STEM will foster these important skills."

Thornton Academy
438 Main Street
Saco, Maine 04072 
(207) 282-3361
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