Mission of the Mathematics & Science Academy
The Mission of the Mathematics & Science Academy is to provide a rigorous and innovative academic program focused upon mathematics and science which inspires and empowers students to pursue related careers and to make significant contributions to the global community.
Vision of the Mathematics & Science Academy
The Vision of the Mathematics & Science Academy is to exemplify the best in mathematics and science education through the integration of 21st century skills, current technologies and authentic applications that inspire and engage students and which ultimately will be realized in the innovative achievements, leadership and service of its graduates in associated professions throughout the global community.
About Our Program
The Mathematics & Science Academy (MSA) opened in 1996 to provide students who have demonstrated a strong interest and proficiency in mathematics and science an environment where they can extend their knowledge beyond the typical high school curricula. Offering unique courses in math, science, technology, and English, the program gives students the latitude to pursue a broad spectrum of specialty areas while meeting the challenges of a highly academic course load.
The Mathematics & Science Academy courses are designed to challenge students with advanced mathematics and science curricula, integrated technologies, technical reading and writing, and extensive problem-solving and research opportunities. Students are able to complete the requirements for the Mathematics & Science Academy and the Advanced Studies diploma by taking at least 6 courses each year and maintaining at least a 3.0 Grade Point Average.
The Mathematics and Science Academy is driven by a vision of instructional excellence that leads students to pursue related careers. In support of that effort, the program adopted the Autonomous Learner Model. This educational framework is designed to help learners work towards the goal of independent or autonomous learning. Its six aspects are:
Orientation – Self-discovery, collaboration, leadership, self-efficacy, Growth Mindset;
Individual Development –Inter/intra personal understanding, learning skills, use of technology, university/career awareness, organizational and productivity skills, creative and critical thinking, problem solving;
Enrichment – Courses, explorations, investigations, cultural activities, community service, excursions, camps;
Exploration – Guided exploration beginning in the classroom in which students are expected to dig deeper. This is framed in a variety of formats: individual projects, group projects, mentorships, presentations, assessment of self and others;
Investigation – Student-chosen, teacher-accepted research ending with a mini-product or presentation;
Seminars – Small group presentations of futuristic, problematic, controversial, general interest or advanced knowledge.
Through this lens, MSA students begin in ninth grade developing the requisite research skills for the production of competitive, significant and publishable products. Students hone these skills each year, participate in an annual symposium, explore topics and careers through mentorships, interviews and research, and eventually complete a formal proposal and capstone Senior Project. Students complete a research project or independent study of a real world problem with the end result being a product that offers a solution or that demonstrates scientific inquiry into a research question associated with that problem. A presentation of final product or research is made to an appropriate school or community audience.
To be eligible to apply, students must complete Algebra I during middle school. Eligible eighth grade students are encouraged to obtain an application from their middle school guidance counselor or the VBCPS website. Completed application packets include a student profile sheet, an Admissions Agreement, parent, teacher, and counselor’s recommendation forms, student transcripts, most recent report card, and standardized test scores. All applicants participate in an Entrance Examination. Acceptance is competitive with 125 students selected from over 500 annual applicants. Ninth grade applications may be considered provided seats are available .
Completed applications typically are due late January or early February of the eighth grade year. Students accepted into the program become fulltime Dolphins and are provided transportation by the school division.
To learn about the application process, please visit our division’s page devoted to advanced academic programs.