Eighth-grade girls from Fairfax intermediate schools visit female business executives to learn about math and science careers. High school vocational students in McLean use a construction loan from a group of local businesses to build a $300,000 house.

School Superintendent Robert R. Spillane meets quarterly with a panel of executives to hear advice on teacher pay, vocational education and other issues. Students with cerebral palsy use voice- and eye-activated computers, paid for partly with business money.

Since 1982, when Fairfax County public schools opened an office to encourage businesses to contribute to schools, the county has been aggressively seeking help from private industry.

Now the office has three full-time workers. In the 1986-1987 school year, school officials estimate, more than 2,000 business employees spent more than 50,000 hours in public schools here, and firms donated about $1 million to a variety of programs. "We haven't even begun to tap the businesses that we could," said Robin Thurman, the schools' business/industry liaison officer. "Superintendent {Spillane's} goal is to try to get every school in the district in partnership with a business one-on-one."

Such business programs include:One-on-one partnerships. A private firm, military command or other organization "adopts" a particular school, sending employees there to tutor students, donating equipment or allowing students to visit the firms. Advisory councils. The superintendent's Business Industry Advisory Council includes senior executives from local businesses and regional chiefs of national firms, and meets quarterly with Spillane to advise him on policy. Other groups advise school officials on vocational and business education. Foundations. The Fairfax County Public Schools Education Foundation raises about $1 million a year for various projects. The Vocational Education Foundation helps students run a construction business, a used car dealership and a store in the Springfield Mall. Schooling. Several colleges are offering guaranteed admission to minority high school students who graduate and complete supplemental programs. Businesses, the colleges or government grants help with tuitions.

Nationwide, businesses are spending more of their community relations budgets on elementary and secondary education, in addition to their more traditional funding of higher education, according to Marlene Beck, associate director of private sector initiatives in the office of Education Secretary William Bennett.

Figures are scarce, she said, but she estimates business partnerships with individual schools have more than tripled from 50,000 in 1983. The Reagan administration has encouraged such involvement, she said, and the White House has adopted the Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in the District.

Many national businesses cite a lack of basic skills in entry-level employees as the reason for their recent concern with elementary and secondary education, she said.

But in Fairfax County, where the high school dropout rate is 2.56 percent and more than 80 percent of students go on to college, this is probably less true, business and school officials say. "For our purposes here, that does not really apply," said Gary Grace, a local Honeywell spokesman.

Honeywell employees do volunteer work at Herndon High School, Herndon Intermediate School and Dogwood Elementary School in Reston. At Dogwood, Honeywell workers tutor minority students and others every Tuesday and Thursday before school. On the walls of the school are pictures of Honeywell's mascot, Ernie the Eagle, arm in arm with the school's own Fireball the Dragon. In the Honeywell Room, students have erected their own version of the National Archives.

"It's more human interaction" for employees, said Jerry O'Brien, Honeywell director of implementation and support services. "Computers can be boring."

In high schools, the company hopes, students will become familiar with Honeywell equipment and the firm's work, and possibly eventually work for the company, he said. "At the elementary school, we're not trying to do anything like that. We're just trying to make a difference in a kid's life."

"They {businesses} all want high schools. {The students are} closer to graduation, closer to working," said school official Thurman. One large corporation she had recently approached about setting up a partnership with a nearby elementary school backed out because it insisted on a high school, she said.

Many donors in Fairfax are high-tech firms. Michael Markels Jr., president of Versar, a chemical and environmental engineering firm that contributed to an analytic chemistry lab at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, said, "The ability to attract and maintain first-class technical people is one of the hallmarks of our success. Northern Virginia education is attractive for workers. Since this is such a big advantage to us, we decided we would channel most of our philanthropic efforts . . . into education."

Charles Grandy, vice president of Mitre Corp. and a member of the superintendent's Business/Industry Advisory Council, said his firm funded secondary education because "being a scientific organization, we have some concern about declining enrollments in colleges and universities in science and engineering."

He added he hoped students would "come to believe business is not uniformly evil or bad . . . . The profit motive or free enterprise system has good things to be said about it."

Some national business leaders have called for businesses that contribute to public education to demand more "accountability" for their money, proof from schools their contributions are being properly used and the programs are working.

But again, Fairfax's size and wealth may make it special. Said Thurman: "We're one of the highest rated schools. We have money and we put a lot of money into our schools . . . . They {businesses} still consider us the experts."