Science-oriented academy on Jupiter campus to open fall 2020

High school students will have the chance to learn with professionals in neuroscience, life science, and more fields.


FAU has created 3-D models depicting what they expect the Max Planck Academy building to look like. Photo courtesy of FAU

Justin Baronoff , Contributing Writer

The opportunity to work alongside Nobel Prize winners comes once in a lifetime — especially for a high school student.

That opportunity will soon be a reality, as the Max Planck Academy will provide just that on the John D. MacArthur campus at Jupiter starting fall 2020. High school juniors and seniors pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) will be paired with Nobel Prize-winning researchers, where they will further develop cutting-edge practical skills.

This is the result of over four years of conversation and planning from FAU President John Kelly, College of Education Assistant Dean Joel Herbst, and the team at a non-profit scientific research institute called the Max Planck Society, who the Nobel Laureates work with. The funding for the academy will come directly from the state of Florida.

Max Planck Academy will be FAU’s second high school, but will focus on a different curriculum than the current FAU High School, which has operated on the Boca Raton campus since 2004.

“The new high school is merely an extension of our current program,” Assistant Dean of FAU PK-12 Schools and Educational Programs Joel Herbst said. “The students attending will have similar opportunities to our students located on our Boca campus, but there will be a significant addition to their course of study in neuroscience as guided by the many programs offered on our Jupiter campus.”

While Max Planck Academy is STEM-oriented, FAU High School is a dual-enrollment program where students take full-time college classes, some of which will go toward their high school diploma and some of which will go toward a major of their choosing.

Kelly and Herbst initially started planning the academy in 2015. The plan came to fruition in early 2018 when Max Planck Society President Martin Stratmann visited and toured FAU High School. The budget for the academy will coexist with the university’s, while some administrative and staff positions for the expansion will come from the FAU High School budget.

When the academy opens, there will be anywhere between 35 and 50 students in their junior year of high school, according to Director of Communications for A.D. Henderson University School and FAU High School Alvaro Frydman. Then in the fall of 2021, Frydman expects another 35 to 50 juniors to enroll, which would max out the academy at anywhere between 70 and 100 students.

Kelly and Herbst currently have no other plans to expand the high school or other FAU satellite campuses with the academy’s creation. Their focus will be on ensuring that the Jupiter campus expansion exceeds expectations, they said.

“The lasting impact [of the Max Planck Academy] is access, affordability, and jobs, because this partnership offers opportunities to students that can’t be found anywhere else in the world,” Frydman said. “For a junior in high school to be working side by side to a Nobel Laureate in a Max Planck laboratory is unheard of, and all of this is at very little to no extra expense by the university.”

Justin Baronoff is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].