The Hesperia Unified School District's newest elementary school has an unusual number of laboratories: Krystal Elementary School has science labs, a computer lab and even a math lab.

"This is where the kids will have a chance to do hands-on math," said Principal Tom Kirk, standing in the lab Wednesday. "Hands-on math" meaning objects the students can handle as part of learning, or what educators refer to as "manipulatives." "Not just the textbook stuff."

All the labs are part of the school's focus: Krystal is the HUSD's "school of science, math and technology." It's a "school of choice," where all 570 students (plus a waiting list) are there because their parents specifically asked for them to attend the school. Students have come from all over the district, although only students who live in the Kingston or Lime Street Elementary School areas -- the two closest elementary schools -- will be bused. (The school has also attracted former teachers and employees of the year from schools across the district as well.)

Physically, the school is almost identical to Mission Crest Elementary School, although with a science and astronomy-based decorative scheme.

Kirk and his staff hope to get students excited about science, math and technology through hands-on learning, with various building toys, models and science experiments.

"The kids are going to love coming to school," he said. "And that's the key."

The science labs feature handheld microscopes that connect to computers and weather meters.

"We want to make science fun," said Kirk. "We want to make math fun."

On Wednesday, the whole school had an almost-moved-in look to it, with books being put away in the library, lab equipment going into cabinets and athletic fields still waiting for sod to be rolled out on them.

The 40-station computer lab features new iMac Macintosh computers and will be decorated to look like NASA Mission Control.

Each of the school's four main hallways will be decorated with a different educational theme: There will be life science, earth science and physical science hallways, all connected by a leadership hallway with messages culled from "The Leader in Me," the kid's version of Stephen Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People."

It's all intended to engage students' interests the moment they walk in the door.

"We're in a battle with videogames and cell phones," Kirk said. "Especially coming after the summer, you've got to keep them engaged."

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.