Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs High Tech High Charter School
Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs High Tech High Charter School (often referred to as High Tech High (HTH)) is a public charter high school in San Diego, California. It is the first model school in an attempt to make changes to the way most students in the United States, and countries with similar schools, are taught.
The program is unique enough that it had over 600 visitors, including U.S. state Governors Gray Davis (CA), Tom Ridge (PA), and Bill Owens (CO), and Senator Joe Lieberman, in its first year alone. It regularly receives several times more applications than it can serve at a time, as the student body is limited to 400 students, avoiding the problems created by the impersonal nature of the more common 1500–2000 student high schools.
The project was the brainchild of long-time educator Larry Rosenstock , who spent several years studying current methodologies to try to determine what worked and what didn't. 40 public and corporate partners spent two years, starting in 1998, helping shape the vision into reality. It was founded in September of 2000 with 200 students.
High Tech High currently occupies a building on the former Navy Training Center. The school has an emphasis on project-based learning (most learning comes from multi-subject projects, rather than the more traditional one subject at a time approach), real-world connection, and personalization.
The schools are primarily public-funded, but The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation chips in $1000 per student per year, and has pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to build more schools following the model over the next four years. Some are already in operation. Financial support to develop the original HTH model also came from the family of Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs who is now on the school's board of directors.
Technology is a major focus, with each with each classroom having a number of laptops students can check out. Several news reports have commented that the environment is more like a high tech company office than a traditional school; less than one third of the space is devoted to typical classrooms. The school originally had a flat LAN, but students wanted a layered network, so that experiments, tests, and network configurations could be changed without bringing down any of the personal workstations or the schools main computers. A number of students took Cisco networking classes in the initial three years, and came up with the design of the new network. Many also earned Cisco Certified Networking Associate credentials, however the Cisco course is no longer offered.
The central High Tech High Learning organization has since opened several high schools using the orignial HTH model: High Tech High Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; New Bedford Global Learning Charter School, New Bedford, Massachusetts; San Carlos High School, San Carlos, California; New Urban High School, Clackamas, Oregon; Mirta Ramirez Computer Science Charter School, Chicago, Illinois; City High School, Tucson, Arizona; and Scitech HIGH, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They also opened a middle school using the same principles, High Tech Middle, in San Diego, California. A separate group has announced plans to open a new school following the HTH blueprint in Foster City, California.
The method of teaching is very different in High Tech High, when compared to almost any other public school in the nation. It is based around what is called "Project-Based learning." In this concept, students are given a project which involves going out on their own and doing research to complete it. Some classes have cross-platform projects where grades for different subjects will be all part of the same project.
For example, in the fall semester of 2004 at High Tech High Los Angeles, the 10th and 11th grade students had to design, create, and market their own beverage product. Starting from scratch, they had to come up with an original beverage. In chemistry, they were graded on the chemical composition, formulas, and other related details. In math, they were graded on things like the volume, surface area, shape, label surface area, originality, etc. In their English class, they wrote proposals and persuasive essays about their beverages. They created ads, fliers, presented a sales pitch, and even created a commercial. After all of the beverages were created, the students held an Iron Chef competition. The other students at the school would come and try each beverage and rate them according to taste, originality, etc.
Since the campus size is relativaly tiny compared to other public high schools, sports like track, football, and swimming are unavailable to High Tech High Los Angeles. Instead, everyday before lunch students practice Tai-Chi for half an hour. In the 2005-2006 school year, High Tech High LA is planning to have its students participate in LA's annual running Marathon.
- Forbes article on High Tech High School: "Where Everyone Can Overachieve"
- High Tech High webpage
- High Tech High Los Angeles webpage
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