A look inside a STEM academy

Texas is investing in STEM across the state. We go inside Wagner High School in San Antonio, Texas one of more than 100 stem academies collaborating to bring science, technology, engineering and math to students.


Texas is investing in STEM across the state.

Up next, we go inside Wagner High School in San Antonio, Texas, one of more than 100 STEM academies collaborating to bring science, technology, engineering, and math to students.

Here's the story.

Well, we recently received from TEA a designation -- the designation for STEM, the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

It's a difficult one to get, and we have aligned the process from sixth grade through 12th grade.

So, we have currently in Judson ISD JSTEM.

Within the JSTEM program, the students will come up with many prerequisites to be successful in high school.

So, that's going to be one of the first major changes.

Traditionally, our students who have come into this program, they've started out taking courses in the middle school, but not as many courses in advanced mathematics and advanced sciences as the JSTEM students will have, so as we prepare for those students coming into the program, we're going to start implementing more technology, and we're going to have to change some of our classrooms from traditional-style classrooms into something that's much more interactive for students so that they'll enjoy those experiences, but also so that they're conducive to hands-on learning.

One of the things that we've been involved in for several years is the engineering piece, and that's something that we're going to continue to focus on.

It's been a traditional focus, and we'll continue moving on.

We have teachers who focus on the beginning process of building.

Then we have teachers who also focus on the actual building of the project and focusing on project-based learning, so it's going to naturally change the nature of some of the outcomes, the learning outcomes, and, eventually, the students' ability to go into post-secondary education, through some strong partnerships with local universities.

So we're looking forward to having the STEM designation, keeping the STEM designation, and working with the cohort of students each year.

I'm real excited about it.

I think this is going to open up a lot of doors for everybody, including the school and the community and the colleges.

Those who are really interested in this venue -- for them to learn things and experience things that they may not have been able to experience based on life barriers -- finances, location, availability of resources -- we want to remove those barriers through these partnerships and be able to really get a whole experience of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics firsthand.

We definitely let them know that there is definitely a market out there for them.

You know, if they can make it through and persevere and get through the challenges that face them, then they can be very successful.

We have a large Hispanic population, we have a large African-American population of students.

Those are typically the ethnicities that don't enroll in the STEM-related fields or don't necessarily get employed in the STEM-related fields, either, based on not seeking those post-secondary opportunities.

But we seek to kind of challenge that.

We want the undeserved and those who are underrepresented within the STEM community to be able to come from our school -- students who grew up in the same hardworking community where we work and where they live.

And so by providing those opportunities, we definitely know it'll have an immediate impact within the community that surrounds Wagner High School, and hopefully, that'll branch out and lead into further and further successes for the students who come through the program.

So, the first group of students coming through are really blazing a trail that they don't realize is going to have a tremendous and powerful impact on all the students coming after them.