GRAHAM, TX (KAUZ) - Graham Junior High students now have a chance to take STEM courses (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) starting next month.
STEM courses let students take hands on learning on real life applications. For Graham students, it is thanks to two charities who both gave the district a donation of $59,000, Bertha Foundation and Bruce and Virginia Street Educational Fund.
The STEM courses are part of Graham ISD's Project Lead the Way. Graham High School has been participating in the program for five years.
Sonny Cruse Graham ISD Superintendent said it is more important to him for the students to create a successful track towards college than to do better in state mandated testing.
Cruse said high school students in the STEM program have already shown successful results.
"Our kids enter and compete well in state and national competitions."
Graham High students who competed in the Stellar Explorer competition were ranked first in the state and third nationally.
District officials said they hope to replicate that success at the junior high level.
"It's about building a whole child and how they're able to perform in real life," Ginger Robbins Graham Junior High Principal said.
Graham district officials spoke with other districts about the benefits of teaching STEM early.
"They've seen an increase in math and science especially and increase interest in STEM education," Gary Browning Graham ISD Director of Curriculum said.
Something Stephen Bynum, a sophomore at Graham High, said he knows about.
"I took the class to see how it was and ended up really enjoying it," Bynum said. "I'm going to do it all four years and hope it will become a career I can pick up in the future."
All the STEM courses are full for this school year, more than 150 students are enrolled, but more courses will be available next year. Graham Junior High said they want to have four STEM courses and will add two more next year.