STEM Foundations: GSSM's Online Diploma Program

STEM Foundations combines the excellence of a GSSM education with the convenience of learning from home. Created for rising juniors in the state of South Carolina, STEM Foundations is an online school with a high-level STEM-focused curriculum. Utilizing a cohort model, courses meet synchronously and are taught online using Zoom. Students have online access to teachers’ office hours, academic advising, academic tutoring, college counseling, and guidance counseling. Students admitted to this program will begin their junior year in fall 2021 and graduate in spring 2023.

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Course Catalog
Academic Calendar
Frequently Asked Questions

Admissions Requirements

The application for STEM Foundations requires a high school transcript, an essay, reference contact information, interviews, and a GSSM math admissions score. All South Carolina residents who will be starting 11th grade in fall 2021 are eligible for this program. Applicants should show demonstrated success as online learners.

Additionally, students must have completed at least 10.5 high school credits before enrolling in the program, including 1 credit hour of coursework in each of the following courses:

  • Algebra 1
  • Algebra 2
  • Geometry
  • English 1
  • English 2
  • a lab science course (Biology, Chemistry, or Physics)
  • a social studies course or foreign language

Graduation Requirements and Curriculum

Students in STEM Foundations will be required to meet all South Carolina diploma requirements. Additionally, while enrolled in the program, students will take 5 courses each semester together with a seminar series. In their junior year, students will take biology, chemistry, English, history, and math. In their senior year, students will take computer science, engineering, English, math, and physics.

In additional to the typical semester courses, students will participate in an Interim course each year. All students will participate in a mentored research & inquiry experience during their time in the program.

The core academic classes that students will take are shown below followed by more information on other academic and non-academic expectations of students.

  1. Junior Year, year-long courses:
    1. Biology: Principles of Biology & Biology Lab (Dual Enrolled or AP)
    2. Chemistry: General Chemistry & Chemistry Lab (Dual Enrolled or AP)
    3. English: English Composition and Rhetoric (Dual Enrolled)
    4. History: AP US History
    5. Math: Students will take one of the following courses based on their mathematical background:
      1. Pre-Calculus (Honors)
      2. Calculus I (Dual Enrolled or AP)
  2. Senior Year, year- long courses:
    1. Computer Science: Intro to computer science (Dual Enrolled or AP)
    2. Engineering: Intro to Engineering and Design (Honors)
    3. English: English Literature (Dual Enrolled or AP)
    4. Math: Students will take one of the following based on their math background:
      1. Calculus I (Dual enrolled or AP)
      2. Calculus II (Dual enrolled or AP)
    5. Physics: Algebra-based physics (Dual enrolled or AP)

Academics

Classes in the STEM Foundations Program will be taught online synchronously via Zoom. Students in this program will take 5 courses each semester together with a seminar series. In their junior year, each student will take biology, chemistry, English, history, and math. In their senior year, students will take computer science, engineering, English, math, and physics. For the lab sciences, students will be provided with materials for safe labs that will be completed at home.

Daily Schedule

Unlike most homeschool programs, students will attend synchronous classes online between 8am and 5pm daily. Classes in this program will meet three to four days a week for approximately an hour each, so students will have gaps of free time in their daily class schedule. Seminars meet for one hour weekly. Each day, students will also attend an hour of QUEST (Quality, Uninterrupted, Enforced Study Time) during the school day. QUEST is a time for students to take advantage of breaks in their class schedule to establish strong study skills and work together on class work. Teachers will hold office hours at set times during the week when students are not in class.

Academic Support

We care about the success of students and work hard to provide academic support. All faculty members teaching in this program hold regular synchronous office hours to provide one-on-one assistance to students. The STEM Foundations Coordinator will also be a point person to help students organize their work load across classes and develop good study habits. Finally, students will have synchronous online access to peer tutors—students who have successfully completed the classes they are taking.

State Testing

SC requires all students to take several tests in person. These tests include the PSAT, ACT or SAT, Career Readiness Assessment and the EOCEP tests. These tests are all given during the school day and no classes will be held the days of these tests. These tests will either be given on our campus in Hartsville, SC or in a central location (e.g., Columbia) for all students.

Student Life Outside the Classroom

We want students in this program to have a sense of community. In our seminars and classes, we will work with students to build this sense of community. Outside of class, students will work with Student Assistants who will serve as role models and tutors. Student Assistants are seniors and will help incoming juniors learn how to navigate the transition to being GSSM students. Depending on the comfort level of students in the program, students will interact with their cohort during the school year for in-person weekend activities, interim, and social events. Students can create their own clubs and can have access to some of GSSM’s existing residential clubs and organizations. To the degree possible, GSSM will work with local high schools to allow participation in athletics.