RJR Nabisco is betting its cookies that Orem High School can come up with a better way to teach math and science.

On Tuesday the company awarded Orem High a $749,500 grant to develop computer software to aid math and science instruction.Orem High is one of 15 schools in the United States to receive a three-year grant from RJR Nabisco Foundation's Next Century Schools program. The program's goal is to stem illiteracy, dropout rates and declining test scores through radical changes at the front lines of education.

"We keep trying to make things better when we should be making them different," said Louis V. Gerstner Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of RJR Nabisco Inc., in a prepared statement. "Why tinker with a system that is just not equipped to meet a changing world? We should be reinventing the system."

Gerstner describes the rationale for the Next Century Schools programs as the Noah Principle at work: "No more awards for predicting rain, only awards for building arks."

Orem High competed with more than 1,600 applicants for the grants, including 10 schools in Utah. The school also has a $35,000 grant from Commodore (computer company) of Pennsylvania and $300,000 worth of donated equipment and building space from US WEST to use for the project.

Orem plans to develop a curriculum for geometry and algebra II that incorporates the use of computers, video presentations and texts. The two math subjects will be integrated with chemistry and English instruction.