Falmouth High School is offering a new academic program designed to harness and promote students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The high school is revamping its science- and math-related courses and creating an academic concentration that will allow students to focus their interests and get special recognition on their diplomas and grade transcripts.

To get a so-called STEM Endorsement, students must exceed basic graduation requirements in science and math and complete a variety of extracurricular activities, job shadows and special projects in related fields.

“It will declare, in a more public way, that students have completed a concentration in these courses and carried their interest outside the classroom,” said Principal Gregg Palmer. “We’re trying to capture for kids this particular type of programming and package it in a way that keeps them focused.”

Palmer and his staff are reassessing the high school’s science and math programs to make sure they’re worthy of the endorsement program. Courses will be changed or added as needed. Computer science and additional engineering courses may be added soon.

Palmer hopes to enroll at least a dozen students to start and gradually grow the program over time. Current juniors are eligible to participate in a modified program so they can receive an endorsement when they graduate in June 2013.

The high school has latched onto a national trend among public high schools to offer specialty concentrations alongside core programs. Palmer and science teachers Andrew Njaa and John Kraljic attended a conference on the topic last summer in Alexandria, Va.

Bangor High School is developing a similar program, and the Maine Department of Education is promoting science- and math-related programs and careers.

If the science and math program at Falmouth High is successful, staff members are considering similar concentrations in the fine arts and global studies.

“There are students who have a passion for particular areas of study and we want to capitalize on that,” said Superintendent Barbara Powers.

To graduate from Falmouth High, students must take four years of core English courses and three years each of science, math and social studies.

To get a STEM Endorsement, students must take four years each of core science and math courses, such as biology, chemistry, algebra and geometry, plus three related elective courses, such as genetics, forensics, astronomy and engineering.

Students in the program also must participate in eight science- or math-related extracurricular activities, or extended learning opportunities, over four years, spending about 25 hours on each activity. Eligible activities range from the Science Olympiad to the Astronomy Club to the Math Team.

In addition, junior job shadows and senior projects, which are required of all Falmouth High students, would have a science and math focus for students in the program.

The high school plans to develop relationships with local engineering firms, biotech companies and medical labs so students in the program could add internships, summer jobs and career mentors to their accomplishments.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: [email protected]