MUSKOGEE COUNTY, Oklahoma - Muskogee Public Schools is expanding the junior high school and building a new teaching program with help from the Muscogee Creek Nation.

The new school building in Muskogee is another step towards science and technology based education, and a strengthening of the relationship between the district and the Muscogee Creek Nation.

Muskogee's New Tech Academy will open this fall with 200 students, chosen by lottery, from those who otherwise would attend Alice Robertson Junior High.

The students in the new academy will learn by doing projects, some of them using the building as a lab.

It's going to have all of the mechanical systems exposed so students can see how they work.

"Well it's going to be focused on energy efficiency, but it's also math and science, so it will be hands on so they can see the real data and what kind of impact it has," said Maintenance Director, Wayne Johnson.

The Junior High will continue with more traditional learning in regular classrooms, but the whole district is moving towards teaching based around projects and students working in groups.

Assistant Principal, Brian Doerner said, “Kids will be paired up in teams, graded on how well they work together, in addition to the content.”

Doerner will oversee the staff of eight teachers, and two grade levels, in the new building.

"Certainly we want the best and the brightest kids, but we also want the kids who maybe have struggled in a traditional classroom, but may have the aptitude to excel," he said.

The $3.8 million for the building came from bond money. $170,000 for the new curriculum comes from the Muscogee Creek Nation.

Chief George Tiger signed the bill Tuesday.

Native American Interventionist, Jerrod Adair, who works with native students at the school, believes the new style learning will naturally appeal to them.

“So that community learning is just kind of ingrained in native culture,” he said.

When students graduate out of the junior high program, they'll go on to the high school where the district plans to build a fabrication and design lab to continue that STEM style education.