UTPB Announces Plans For New Charter School

UTPB Announces Plans For New Charter School

UTPB will be opening a new charter school: UTPB STEM Academy.
ODESSA, TX (Big 2 News) -- UTPB will be opening a new charter school: UTPB STEM Academy.

UTPB made the announcement Tuesday morning.

Here are the full details from UTPB:

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin has received approval to move forward with the creation of a charter school to be named the UTPB STEM Academy.

The UTPB STEM Academy is dedicated to implementing the newest and most promising practices in education emphasizing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The foundational belief of this academy is that learning should be both engaging and social.

“UTPB is committed to STEM education at all levels and the UTPB STEM Academy will serve as an innovative model for other Permian Basin districts to replicate,” said Juli Ratheal, associate vice president of Research and dean of Graduate Studies. “The Academy will use project based learning to actively engage students in the learning process through research and hands-on activities that promote a deep conceptual understanding of the learning objectives. The projects will be designed to include grade specific TEKS to ensure students master all of the state requirements. Instead of a teacher-centered learning environment, the learning environment will be student-centered, enhanced by technology while providing students ample opportunities to explore STEM concepts through seminars and special projects with university faculty.”

UTPB is committed to giving all students the very best education possible,” said David Watts, president of UTPB. “This is a great opportunity for education and our community.”

At the UTPB Stem academy, students will work collaboratively on a challenging curriculum that will enable them to experience engaging learning opportunities in order to develop conceptual knowledge and depth through project based learning (PBL). Research provides evidence that this type of engaged problems-solving results in a better understanding of concepts and improves cognitive development at all ages. Students should learn 21st century skills like problem solving, communication, research and collaboration which will be deeply embedded into the PBL environment of the UTPB STEM Academy.

Teachers will work together to design projects lasting usually 3-4 weeks. The projects will be designed using the state standards, TEKS and CCRS, which will provide students the opportunity to not only learn the information required at each grade level but to also have the opportunity to put the information into action through real-life simulated projects. The projects will often incorporate multiple subjects simultaneously.

Once a project is designed, the teachers will launch the project with the students and present them with an entry document. This document will guide the students on their journey. The students will begin by completing a Know/Need-to-Know process where they identify the critical points of the project and begin designing their own path. Each project culminates with a student created product often including a presentation. Learning should be an ongoing process, and the UTPB STEM Academy will strive to extend the learning beyond the classroom.

Students will spend roughly half of the day engaged with teachers and other students with the remainder of the time spent away from school working independently on virtual assignments. The goal of these assignments will be to prepare students for what they will be learning in class the following school day. These assignments will also be adapted to allow students to move at their own pace. Education should be individualized for all students.

The UTPB STEM Academy will strive to develop projects that allow students to operate at multiple grade levels. UTPB STEM Academy will encourage students to work ahead on their own or address weaknesses that they have identified with the help of their mentor teachers and parents.

We are very excited about this opportunity to provide a seamless transition for students in the K-18 educational pipeline,” added Ratheal.

Want to know more about the UTPB STEM Academy?
• Open – August, 2014.
• Begin with K-6 and Add One Grade Level Each Year
• Open Enrollment on UTPB Campus - 44 Students Per Grade Level
• Project Based Learning with Active Engagement and Learner-Centered
• Half Day Format, Flipped Classes with Opportunities to Learn from UTPB
STEM Professors
• Technology Rich Environments - iPads for each Student
• Focus on Hands-On, Discovery/Inquiry-based Learning/Research Skill Building
• Special Education Services and Other Programs as Traditional Schools Offer
• Teachers Must Be Certified and Possess a Master’s Degree or Working on a
• Virtual Library with More Than 5,000 Choices for Each Student at Each Grade
• Virtual Online Curriculum

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