High School Students in Georgia Tech’s Magnet School Program Head to France for Research Exchange

Ten high school students enrolled in Georgia Tech’s magnet school program in Rockdale County will travel to Europe this month to collaborate with students at a magnet school in Metz, France as part of a science research exchange program.

The students – all sophomores and juniors – will take with them research projects and experiments they developed at Rockdale Magnet School of Science Technology in Conyers, Ga., located outside Atlanta. Once in France, they will share the projects with students at the Lycee de la Communication (Lycom). Lycom is located near Georgia Tech’s European campus in the Lorraine region of France.

Students there are just beginning to understand the importance of learning science through research, said Angela Quick, director of Rockdale Magnet.

“In a sense, our students will be acting as teachers to explain the fundamentals and merits of scientific research and demonstrate various techniques,” she said. “We hope this experience will trigger a continued working relationship and exchange of ideas between our students and those in France.”

Rockdale Magnet is unique because of its partnership with Georgia Tech to offer college-level science and technology courses and research opportunities to high school students.

Touted as “a new concept in education” when it opened its doors in Fall 2000, Rockdale Magnet is a comprehensive four-year school experience open to students in the Rockdale County Public School system. While earning their high school diplomas, magnet students receive preparation for research university and academic work.

Prospective students complete a rigorous application process that includes interviews and experiments. Typically, those accepted have expressed interest and proficiency in math and science. The curriculum is similar to advanced placement classes, but the magnet school curriculum also includes a research component.

“The research component is what truly makes the program unique because that’s where the students bridge the gap between theory and application,” Quick said. “They design experiments, run assays, publish papers and defend their research.”

The trip is scheduled for Nov. 11 – 22. The school is located near Georgia Tech’s European campus called Georgia Tech Lorraine, which has a magnet school relationship with Lycom. A group of students from Lycom are expected to travel to Rockdale Magnet early next year.

Quick and the students will be accompanied by Whit Smith, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Smith acts as Tech’s liaison to the magnet school and helped teachers develop the magnet school curriculum to introduce students to information theory concepts.

“Our students are learning formal research techniques that are typical of what research laboratories use to systematically attack a problem,” Smith said. “At some point, they will be given problems that are unique to each of them. Over a multi-year period, they will follow through with those research problems.”

The Rockdale students participating in the exchange were selected based on personal interviews and application materials. Each student submitted an application, two essays, two teacher recommendations, transcript and discipline records, and a resume of school and community leadership.

The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the world's premier research universities. Ranked seventh among U.S. News & World Report's top public universities and the eighth best engineering and information technology university in the world by Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities, Georgia Tech’s more than 20,000 students are enrolled in its Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Management and Sciences. Tech is among the nation's top producers of women and minority engineers. The Institute offers research opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students and is home to more than 100 interdisciplinary units plus the Georgia Tech Research Institute.