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Northwest ISD :: STEM Academy :: Why STEM?

Edition 1

Written by: STEMers

The How, What & Why of the STEM Academy

Q: What is the STEM Academy? The STEM Academy focuses on problem solving and design. Students are enrolled in all of the core classes and an engineering elective within the academy.

Q: How can I apply for the academy? Applications for the academy are open starting in the fall of each year. Recruiting visits will occur at each middle school to provide students with an overview of the academy. The application is online and includes basic information plus a few short answer essays.

Q: After I apply, then what? The facilitator will review your applications/essays & request grades, attendance, behavior and STAAR scores from your middle school.

Q: Can I tour the academy? Yes, we host a parent night for 8th grade parents in the fall. This is a great opportunity for you to see STEM and meet the teachers.

How is STEM "different"?

Interactive Highlights

Follow us on Twitter: @STEMAcademyNHS

Check out what we've been up to in STEM!

Q: Do STEM students still have to take tests? Our students will be assessed in many ways, one of which is tests. Our students are still responsible for all STAAR End of Course requirements.

Q: Do STEM students still have homework? Students in the academy will have assignments or work to complete outside of the class period. The assignments will be different from traditional worksheet or question based assessments.

Q: Do I have to take all preAP classes in STEM? Yes, all STEM students take preAP or AP level core classes and the STEM Engineering elective. These are required courses for ALL STEM students.

Q: What if I determine STEM is not for me? Students may transfer back to their home campus at the end of the Fall or Spring semester.

Q: What is unique to STEM? LOTS of things! A few of those include: field trips, collaboration with industry professionals, speakers, unique engineering electives. Not to mention building a rocket, robot or trebuchet!

What is PBL?

PBL stands for Problem Based Learning. This is the learning method used in the STEM Academy. In PBL, the students are given a problem to solve. Through solving the problem, students learn content and skills. Students present their solutions to a panel of industry professionals.

Watch the STEM Promo


The STEM Academy knows that being able to collaborate as a team is a highly marketable skill for the future. We want all of our students to leave high school as prepared for college and the workforce as possible.

Q: What about a member who doesn't do their part? In STEM, our students hold each other accountable for their project and work. The team will write a contract that details what each student will/will not do during their time together. Students who break the contract will be given strikes. 3 strikes = fired from team

Q: Do I have to work with a team? Yes, the majority of the projects in ALL of the classes will be in teams. You will work with a team to solve the problem and present your ideas.

Why teamwork?

How do you grade PBLs?

All PBLs are accompanied by a rubric. The rubric explains what the expectations are for the final product and presentation. The rubric should be used as a guide for the team throughout the process.