By Geena Martinez
ODESSA - Students at the new UTPB STEM Academy kicked off their school year Monday morning in a not-so traditional way.
The students spent their first day in the university gym because classrooms aren't ready yet.
The set-up sounds a lot like summer camp.
"We have some of our students in here and then we have some of our students in a racquetball court, in a dance studio, we have students outside at the duck pond," Principal, Jennifer Seybert, said.
However, it's actually the first day of school at the new UTPB STEM Academy.
More than 300 students met inside the the university gym on Monday morning while crews worked to get electricity installed to the new classrooms, hopefully by the end of the week.
Although a little unusual, Dr. Seybert said it falls into place with the charter school's model of problem-based learning.
"This really just fits with our concept," she said. "We had a problem, our buildings weren't ready and so how are we gonna solve it? Our students will be going through similar tasks throughout the school year. We've just decided that we're gonna make this work no matter what."
Teachers turned the situation into a lesson plan.
"We're gonna kind of walk them through the campus and they have their iPads with them and we're gonna have them take pictures of certain things," Fourth grade teacher, Amanda Hart, said. "We're asking them to look for living and non-living things."
Dr. Seybert said she's looking forward to the academy's non-traditional approach with students.
"Kids are exposed to and getting experiences that they wouldn't have if this wasn't around," she said. "We're so far out here in the middle of West Texas that sometimes we're not privy to what's going on in the metroplex or Houston area. We're just excited to bring those research based practices to our area."
Hart said she agrees.
"I put my kids in the lottery first because I wanted them to be here and the more I thought about it, the more I thought I really wanna work here too," Hart said.
It was an adjustment for everyone but we're told so far, so good.
"Everybody was so excited, we didn't have any kids crying this morning," Hart said. "It was such a smooth transition."
"We are not gonna let this fail," Dr. Seybert added. "We're excited about it and just seeing the kids faces make it all worthwhile for us."
The STEM Academy has students enrolled from kindergarten through sixth grade and we're told there is a waiting list for every grade. For more information you can visit