Many of the Coastal Bend's major employment sectors are in gas and energy, environment and healthcare, and these science-based industries mean science-based education.

Tag along with any class field trip to the Texas State Aquarium, and one thing is for certain -- the kids are having fun!

"Our dolphins, our fish, our habitats are anything but boring, and can used as a great hook," said Leslie Peart, director of education and conservation at the Texas State Aquarium. "A motivator."

Peart says the fun factor is part of the reason why they are expanding their education program.

"Through that lens, we want to focus on science process skills. We want students to know science is not just a body of knowledge," Peart said. "It's a process. And that they can learn how to participate in this process, and to trust the process, of science"

In March, the Aquarium announced its partnership with Flint Hills Resources to create a Center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math -- or STEM -- education. The National Science Foundation says STEM careers are part of the fastest growing job sector in the U.S.

"Those jobs are higher paying as well," Peart said. "In fact, women can earn 33-percent more in STEM careers than they can in other fields."

"STEM has been a male-dominated field in engineering and technology, and that's something we'd like to help change, and to even out the playing field and offer those opportunities to our female students, our girls," said Priscilla Rokohl of the School of Science and Technology.

That's good news for the girls at the School of Science and Technology, including Lauren Hall, who wants to be a paleontologist; Marisol Rodriguez, who wants to be a civil engineer; and Loren Gonzales, who wants to be a physician. All three say they were influenced by their parents.

The first graduating class at the School of Science and Technology is the class of 2014. Kiii News Anchor Jane Monreal is going to emcee their graduation ceremony next week.