Texas Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Initiative (T-STEM)

Per TEA: Texas Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (T-STEM) Academies are rigorous secondary schools focusing on improving instruction and academic performance in science and mathematics-related subjects and increasing the number of students who study and enter STEM careers. T-STEM Academies are demonstration schools and learning labs that develop innovative methods to improve science and mathematics instructions.

Prior to the 2011-2012 school year, the only path to become a T-STEM Academy was a T-STEM Academy grant through the Texas Education Agency or one of the private partners in the Texas High School Project.

Beginning with the 2011-2012 school year, a second pathway was created. Campuses, using local or other sources of funding, that are implementing the T-STEM Design Blueprint with fidelity may apply to be designated as a T-STEM Academy. T-STEM campuses are designated based on a rigorous designation process.

Once a campus is designated, professional development and technical assistance are provided to designated T-STEM academies to serve as demonstration schools and learning labs to showcase innovative instruction methods which integrate technology and engineering into science and mathematics instruction. Designated T-STEM campuses serve students in grades 6-12 or 9-12.

Mission Statement

The UT Permian Basin STEM Academy prepares students to be STEM college and career ready, with a shared focus on collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking.

Vision Statement

The UT Permian Basin STEM Academy seeks to be a regional model for STEM education, grounded in authentic learning experiences preparing students for future STEM careers.

T-STEM Resources

Recruitment Plan

UTPB STEM Academy notifies the community and all stake holders when the new application opens and when the lottery will be held through social media, website postings, and the media. 

Instruction Practices

UTPB STEM’s vision includes providing STEM education grounded in authentic learning experiences. This aspect of the vision is offered in the three STEM-based Project Lead the Way (PLTW) pathway programs from TEA’s approved innovative Career and Technical Education course list. UTPB STEM began the PLTW journey in 2015-2016 by implementing two Gateway courses (Automation & Robotics and Design & Modeling). UTPB STEM expanded the following year by adding two additional Gateway courses (Medical Detectives and Flight & Space) as well as the initial courses in the Biomedical and Engineering pathways. These innovative PLTW courses have provided a strong foundation in defining and fulfilling the vision of UTPB STEM through implementation of authentic hands-on learning. The PLTW courses offered at UTPB STEM were chosen to align with the university’s STEM majors of Engineering, Medical Sciences and Computer Science. These courses also serve as introductions to the region’s high demand STEM occupations.

The STEM pathways of Engineering, Biomedical, and Computer Science are all 4-year programs centered on critical thinking to solve real-world problems found in the STEM careers. Students in the Engineering tract will apply math and science to the engineering design process to solve relevant world problems. The Computer Science tract enables students to become creators of technology and design solutions for authentic applications. The Biomedical tract introduces tools and procedures of the biomedical world to students through case study investigations that explore body systems and health conditions of patients. PLTW courses allow students to enhance their 21st century skills, be collaborators, critical thinkers and problem solvers.

After only two years of implementing the PLTW programs, UTPB STEM has undoubtedly seen the potential for success in terms of student engagement, rigor and relevancy to the awareness of careers in STEM. Visitors, School Board members and Professors from the University have all witnessed the program in action and have given praise to the high-quality curriculum. UTPB STEM students are exposed to present-day Engineering, Biomedical and Computer Science coursework preparing students for future STEM careers.

Research demonstrates that PLTW students outperform their peers in school, are better prepared for post-secondary studies, and are more likely to consider careers as scientists, technology experts, engineers, mathematicians, healthcare providers, and researchers compared to their non-PLTW peers.

The school’s Advisory Board and the Superintendent oversee UTPB STEM’s curriculum and instruction and have fully endorsed the PLTW courses recognizing PLTW as curriculum that supports the T-STEM blueprint. The Curriculum Director, Principals, and Superintendent work collaboratively to evaluate the program’s effectiveness through careful analysis of student academic data gathered through benchmarks showing an increase in student performance on Algebra 1 compared to the prior year. The analysis is used to determine course sequencing and teacher professional development, ensuring students receive the full potential of the PLTW course pathways and pave the way for a successful transition into STEM college and STEM careers. UTPB STEM is eager to continue the pipeline of PLTW Engineering, Biomedical, and Computer Science courses to offer a well-rounded STEM-centered curriculum.

STEM-focused Extracurricular Activities

UTPB STEM’s vision of providing students with authentic learning experiences is again depicted in UTPB STEM regularly scheduled enrichment classes. These enrichment classes support and enhance the STEM fields by allowing students to explore and extend their STEM connections outside of the content area classroom. Students are encouraged to discover new interests while delving into innovative and exciting extracurricular learning opportunities. STEM students are given voice and choice in selecting their classes of interest.

This each year the STEM Academy hosts an Enrichment Showcase Night. Short presentations are given at the beginning of the Town Hall style parent meeting, explaining the purpose and goal of the enrichment program to parents; afterwards the students present their activities and hard work. The students step into the role of a teacher as they lead parents through activities related to their enrichment class or competitive team.

A popular enrichment group is the “Dirt to Dinner” garden club. This club began in the 2014-2015 school year and has grown each year becoming a beloved piece of the community. The objective was to provide a vegetable garden that also acted as an outdoor learning classroom. The project quickly grew to include an Aquaponics system. In the Spring of 2017 students began working with Master Gardeners from the community to take the garden to the next level, adding a medicinal and herbal section of the garden to enhance the 25 raised vegetable beds already in existence. UTPB STEM experienced an abundance of produce in the spring, summer and fall of 2018. Students and families enjoyed kale, rhubarb, okra, squash, zucchini, pumpkins, asparagus, peppers, eggplant, corn, potatoes, radish and more. As a topper to the many learning opportunities in the garden, STEM was located directly in the migration path of the Monarch Butterflies, which flocked to the milkweed and passion fruit vines planted in the Spring. The students were able to conduct valuable field investigations of the butterfly’s life cycle.

UTPB STEM also offers opportunities for students to participate in competitive academic clubs. These clubs include FTC robotics, Lego robotics, Destination Imagination, UIL Academics and TAME. UTPB STEM student teams have qualified and advanced to the regional and/or state levels over the last five years in each of these competitions. The Destination Imagination club is a UTPB STEM student favorite. Students plan, develop, and create 8-minute original performances “meshing” STEM with theater. Student groups are challenged to include complex scientific, technological, engineering, and mathematical concepts into a creative performance that are 100% student driven. Robotics is another competitive group challenging student’s creativity and problem-solving skills. Students build and program robots to accomplish specific tasks such as search and rescue or construction and destruction. The Robotics club students range from elementary to high school age. High school students gain the valuable skill of peer mentoring, working with the younger students to design and create functioning robots.

UTPB STEM Academy hosts a variety of extracurricular opportunities for students to extend their learning:

  • Robotics
  • UIL Academics
  • Destination Imagination
  • TAME
  • Gaming
  • Science Fair

Internship and Externship Opportunities

Internship and Externship Opportunities

UTPB STEM is guided by the beliefs that situated learning experiences lead to increased student engagement and achievement. Using the Project Based Learning (PBL) model as the foundation of instructional methods, teachers across subject areas and grade levels collaborate with one another to design projects that incorporate TEKS from each of the content areas. Projects are authentic and real- world based, this learning model is vital to the effectiveness and success of the PBL. UTPB STEM’s unique relationship with UTPB and the community has provided numerous opportunities for students to hear from guest speakers and experts from the field. These events connect UTPB STEM students to community members and industry leaders, while also exposing students to current research and trends in the STEM industries.

Another aspect of UTPB STEM’s vision is to prepare students for future STEM careers. This facet of the vision will be accomplished through authentic learning experiences grounded in career exploration. On-the-job projects will be the backbone of UTPB STEM’s middle school and high school project-based learning curriculum. Teachers will build curriculum around this concept of simulated learning experiences. Projects begin with a driving question focused on the STEM career such as, “How can we as Petroleum Engineers design an oil extractor to increase production rates?”. These STEM related projects will be cross-curricular, seamlessly embedding reading, writing, math, science, history and technology into the project for maximum impact on student’s learning. The on-the-job curriculum will create a solid foundation for career awareness and exploration for students, paving the way for students’ future internships during their junior and senior years of high school.

UTPB STEM was awarded the TEX2 grant through the STEM Center at UT Austin in 2018. This grant provided secondary teachers the opportunity to participate in a high-quality externship program, exposing teachers to valuable first-hand experiences in the STEM industries. These externships allowed teachers to inspire tomorrow’s STEM leaders through highly engaging project-based learning opportunities centered on the knowledge and skills acquired from “the field”. Teachers also cultivated valuable partnerships with STEM industry members. These partnerships will aid in the development of UTPB STEM’s future student internship programs. UTPB STEM will continue to seek opportunities in the community for teachers to partner with and shadow STEM industry leaders to stay current and relevant in STEM fields.

Students at all grade levels are exposed to an abundance of career exploration opportunities through guest speakers, career research embedded into projects, career presentations, and exposure to on- the-job learning experiences. These experiences help the teachers and students fulfill UTPB STEM’s vision of preparing students for future student internships. Internships will be advanced level coursework in STEM fields for students in 11th and 12th grades. Students will have the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills he or she is learning in class to a work experience.

Senior Capstone Project

Student participate in Project Lead the Way courses that focus on either an engineering pathway or a biomedical pathway. The students take the following PLTW courses for STEM pathway. Civil Engineering and Architecture, Engineering Design, and Principles of Engineering. Students participating in the biomedical pathways will take Human Body Systems and Principles of Biomedical Science, Medical Interventions, and Biomedical Innovation. Through the CTE program students can obtain work related experience that is relevant to their STEM focused pathway.

Student Portfolio Plans

Starting junior year, students will be expected to create a digital portfolio highlighting their STEM accomplishments.