High Tech High Chula Vista High Tech Middle Media Arts Mind Collisions: Learning Across Grade


Cara Hetrick | OMG...GPS Phil Wagner | Virtual Park Jamie Holmes, Cady Staff, Zoe Randall | OVRP Legacy Project Angie Guerrero | OVRP Magazine Valerie Root, Jenny Morris | Party in the Park HP Innovations in Education

What if we look at learning beyond age beyond grade beyond subject beyond school What if we look at learning as just minds colliding

what would happen...

Description: In this project, students learned about the many different ways that maps and technology influence our

everyday lives. Students looked at different maps, learned how to read a topographic map, learned how Global Positioning Systems works, studied the geometry behind the technology, and made maps using GPS and ArcView software on HP laptops.

Academic Content: Topography, Cartography, Triangulation, Navigation, GPS, GIS Schedule:
Task 1:
Identify and define some typical vocabulary words associated with topography, cartography, and GPS technology. Be able to use these new vocabulary terms in technical discussions about the remaining tasks for this project.

Task 2:
Identify all of the features of a topographic map, including contour lines, symbols, coloration, etc. Understand how to use a compass and how to use a compass and a topographic map to navigate.

Task 3:
Teach others how GPS technology works. Talk about what a waypoint is and factors that increase the accuracy of the point. Discuss triangulation and the geometry of GPS.

Task 4:
Use Google Earth and ArcGIS software. Identify different uses for these programs.

Task 5:
Document environmental and physical characteristics at the Otay Valley Regional Park (OVRP) using GPS technology. Document with GPS technology any interesting biological, political, or cultural areas within the OVRP. Format each map for consistency, completeness, and visual appeal.

Final Product: A set of maps that will be useful to WiLDCOAST and OVRP as specified by their biggest areas of need.
teaching students a new software.

Challenges: Trying to include all students in all facets of the project, particularly the field work GPS data collection. Also Teacher Reflection: I liked this project because of the exposure it gave my students to the inner workings of GPS

technology. Students were exposed to GPS data collection units and were then challenged to create maps for the OVRP to use. Due to the time frame of the project, these maps will have to be updated in the future for the park when they complete all of their trails. I need to dedicate more time to teaching the students how to use the ArcGIS software in the future and to give them greater time to “play” with it and the GPS units. In the future, I would have students do some preliminary GPS work on school grounds before we go out into the field. Then I would give them greater time to work with the software before asking them to creat final maps.

the Trimble organization — the kind donor of our GPS handheld devices. This relationship has grown strong over this last year, having met a number of times in the field to work together with students. He also came to HTMMA a number of times to help download, correct, and translate data with our student team. He and I actively worked together to teach the students the GPS technology. I also connected and collaborated with WildCoast and HTHCV to learn what they needed on the maps in order to complete their projects and achieve their objectives. Using the HP technology, both my students and I connected with these groups in order for all of us to achieve our common goals.

Mind Collisions: I had a strong connection with GPS professional, Jon Gipson of ASC Scientific, who was retained by

Cara Hetrick | OMG...GPS

Phil Wagner| Virtual Park
Description: Students utilized HP Laptops and Blender Rendering Software to create a Virtual Academic Content: Environmental Science, Computer Programming, Engineering/Modeling, Schedule:
Phase Phase Phase Phase

Representation of the Otay Valley Regional Park, in Chula Vista, California. Physics/Math

1: Information Collection 2: Create terrain 3: Create flora and fauna. 4: Integrate bicycle and VR Helmet

Final Product: A fully immersive world where a participant puts on VR Goggles and rides his/ her bicycle through the OVRP. Challenges: Time constraints, honors project - therefore students were constrained by time and
devotion to the project, cost.

Teacher Reflection: I think this was

worthwhile as it forced the students to improve their skills when they had been looking for a challenge. I think with more time it would have been refined even more.

The HP grant was a good fit for me because it already aligned with what I was doing in the classroom and HP was able to support us. We would not have been able to do this without HP. I appreciate that the grant allowed me to hone and improve my electronic usage in the classroom. didn’t exist. I really didn’t know what project I was going to do or who I was going to connect with. I started off thinking of working with Cara on her GPS project but slowly, after speaking with Katie Westfall and focusing on their needs, I came up with the Virtual Park project. The project was created with a launch in time for Earth Day, but we were too optimistic in this regard. We will be showcasing the project at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in October 2010 and Wildcoast will be using it as part of their future exhibitions at local and county fairs. Students of various grades came together for this project, sharing ideas and working on different phases of the project together. It is exciting as an educator to see young minds working together to solve problems. They have a natural way of collaborating that, if nutured, is unstoppable.

Mind Collisions: This project took some time to flush out and, at the beginning of the process,

photography skills, write nature poetry, and create media to help preserve the park.

Description: Students visited the Otay Valley Regional Park to learn conservation, gain nature

Academic Content: Media Marketing, Video Production, Cartesian Graphing, Poetry, Photography, Nature Conservation and Preservation Schedule:
Week 1: Pre-Production: Research and Acquisition of Photos, Writing exercises, and graphing principles. Week 2: Production: Produce rough drafts of project product and communicate with Wildcoast for approval and feedback. Week 3: Production and Post-Production: Produce second drafts and perform peer critique tuning protocol. Week 4: Post-production: Produce and print/finalize final drafts of work. Exhibition: Present work to families at exhibition through digital portfolio.

Final Product: Wildcoast Media Marketing Materials, including: PSA, posters, brochures, photography, T-shirt designs, Interactive Trail Map, web site, and interactive games
schedules for each piece. We also had to learn the best way to utilize the technology to enhance learning and design opportunities. Working remotely in planning the products with Wildcoast and checking in with our HTHCV partner teachers was really important and we learned the value of different modes of communication.

Challenges: With so many products to produce it was hard to manage the different production

Teacher Reflection: In this project, we were able to use the technology to create a meaningful link to a real-world nature preserve and learn how to balance the outdoor education component with the media marketing production. In a way, it was a great way to bring nature indoors as students explored the space in real-time, and found ways of sharing their knowledge through the web and their own research outside of their personal experience. I learned that students were better able to connect their learning once they had a chance to visit with students who could mentor them through their own experiences of going through the process of learning about the conservation issues. They also connected what they had heard form the student mentors once they had the opportunity to explore in the field. In the end, I realized that the expansion of the classroom through the use of technology and opportunities for collaboration enriched the learning and made it more meaningful! With more voices working to protect one very special and previously unknown park, it came alive and, through the media marketing, will hopefully gain a whole new audience of explorers ready to enjoy all that it has to offer! Mind Collisions: Before the grant, we didn’t have any connections with the teachers at the HTHCV campus. The grant united us with a common goal to use the HP technology to communicate the message of conserving and bringing awareness to the Otay Valley Regional Park in helping the mission of our partner organization, Wildcoast.
This year, we were able to use tablets and learn new software such as DyKnow to help our instructional practices. We found out the benefits and drawbacks to using the HP Virtual Classroom. We also emailed, called, and checked the Digital Portfolios of the other HTHCV teachers more than we ever would have. It also made us more connected to the grant team at our site, being that we not only collaborated on a project but also helped manage the technology and how we put it in practice.

Jamie Holmes, Cady Staff, Zoe Randall| OVRP Legacy Project

Angela Guerrero| OVRP Magazine
Description: Student-created magazine of the Otay Valley Regional Park, Chula Vista, CA, Academic Content: Writing, Photojournalism, Art, Graphic Design, Research, and Schedule:
Weeks Weeks Weeks Weeks

using Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. Community Service.

1-8: Research history of the park. 8-12: Compiled and organized magazine components. 12-16: Designed layout. 16-20: Reviewed, edited, and refined.

Final Product: A 64-page full-color magazine incorporating photo essays, hiking trail guides, historical essays, service reflections, hiking snack recipes, interviews with students, the Chula Vista mayor, local business leaders, community members, and teachers.
that it took longer than expected to decide on the layout and design of the magazine. If I were to do this again, I would manage the process of design a little better. Initially, all 75 of my students participated in the project: collecting information, producing art and photo essays, and writing reflections. Toward the end of the project, only honors students participated in the actual design and editing. Next year, I will break students up in such a way that all students will participate in all aspects of the project, in some way, from start to finish.

Challenges: The easy part was researching and compiling the information. The challenge was

Teacher Reflection: I thought the magazine was a really great project. I loved that we got

outside of the classroom as often as we did and went to the park and other community events. I feel like we were able to make a lot of really cool community connections with this project. We were invited to a tree planting through Wildcoast, the students were invited to an event with the Chula Vista Mayor, and some students participated in community advisory board meetings. There were a lot of things happening outside of the classroom. I also loved the service component. Many students participated in events outside of the classroom, on the weekends, to perform clean-ups and to conduct their research. Having them write reflections on their service was very powerful; showcasing the impact that their service had on them. They felt very valued and that their learning was helping them make real connections. This really added value to the course itself and to the project. Many students told me that this was the most important project that they had worked on.

middle school students were visiting HTHCV and that they were doing a similar project. They wondered if there was a way for the middle school students to connect with the OVRP Magazine staff. When they arrived, we broke groups into different sessions: Q&A, overview of the magazine, the magazine and its components, etc. Middle school students rotated through these sessions. Our high school students thought the experience was extremely worthwhile and it added another layer of value and importance to what they did — having them feel that the project was valued enough that others (especially middle schoolers) wanted to learn from them and their experiences.

Mind Collisions: Katie Westfall and Valerie Root contacted me to let me know that the

Each group of students became experts on a specific ecology topic and exhibited what they have learned in an informative booth at the clean up. plants, endangered and threatened species, producers, decomposers, symbiotic relationships, predator and prey relationships, watersheds, population growth, and the effects of fire on an ecosystem.

Description: On Saturday April 24th students attended a clean-up Community event in the Otay Valley Regional Park.

Academic Content: Ecology Concepts including invasive and native plants, biodiversity, flowering and non-flowering


Week 1: Preliminary interactive display brsintorming and research Week 2: Completion of interactive displays Week 3: Final tuning and Party in the Park presented these booths and games to the volunteer participants at the Clean Up Party in the Park. Each booth was interactive so that visitors could better understand concepts presented. Additionally, students rotated as tour guides, docents, and clean up volunteers — leading the public on a tour through the park and doing their part to beautify the park. scheduled clean up occurred. Also, we found it hard to manage lots of students who were researching many different topics. to truly collaborate with Valerie, who I would consider both a colleague and a friend. I have always valued her ideas and teaching methods and I feel I learned a lot about my own teaching style from watching and teaching with her. I did find it a challenge to find the time to collaborate; we met over Spring Break to get this project planned. Because of the extreme value I find in collaboration, however, I would gladly put in the time again.

Final Product: Students created interactive and informative booths on various local ecology topics and standards and

Challenges: Time was a definite challenge. We only had a few weeks to complete the project before the previously

Teacher Reflection (Jenny Morris): I thoroughly enjoyed this project. I was grateful to have had the opportunity

Teacher Reflection (Valerie Root): This project forced me to stretch myself as a teacher and as a manager. I knew

that it was worth the effort and time that we put into it as a team when I saw the high school students thoroughly engaged with the elementary students. The most fulfilling moment was when I saw a group of students walking a family into the park to locate the Lemonade Berry bush. The family was inspired by the booth that discussed native plants and their various uses. The students had collected some berries to mix with water to make a drink that the Native Americans of the area used to drink. After the family had tried the drink, they wanted to know where the berries came from so they could do it again in the future. Managing the groups and their research was not as easy, since they each had different topics and roles within the whole project. My team teacher, Ms. Morris, helped me through this struggle. She modeled organization and check-in styles that I had never seen or practiced. I grew as a teacher through this collaborative effort.

Mind Collisions: Students on this project felt connected to the content and to the project’s purpose, more so than on other assignments, mainly due to the service learning nature of the project. We had the students work on a park in their own backyard and helped them realize that, in order to make a difference in a community, you have to go outside and get your hands dirty and get as many people as possible involved in what you believe in. Students were able to, not only learn about environmental concepts in class, they were able to translate their learning to younger students and their families. Seeing the high school students and elementary students working together was powerful. Katie Westfall from Wildcoast later said that the Girl Scout troop that participated in the activities that day in the park were the most enthusiastic she had ever seen and that the Party in the Park was the most successful Wildcoast clean up event they had ever had — due to the connections made by youth that day.

Valerie Root, Jenny Morris | Party in the Park

HP Innovations in Education
In 2009. High Tech High, a charter management organization made up of over nine K-12 schools were 1 of 25 recipients to receive the HP Innovations in Education grant for our multigrade project Mind Collisions: Learning Across Grade Levels. The Mind Collisions project teamed over 200 students and eight educators in science, math, humanities, and multimedia from High Tech Middle Media Arts and High Tech High Chula Vista to work collaboratively on student projects benefitting the non-profit organization Wildcoast. Our task — to help develop community awareness about the Otay Valley Regional Park, a relatively unknown part of south San Diego County, literally nestled between busy streets and industrial complexes. We never could have expected the breadth and depth of this project! The work undertaken by both teachers and students is just the first part of what our team feels is an evolution toward academic content infused with, not only a service-learning component, but what we have deemed our “student as teacher” design principle; using technology in ways that provide meaningful learning experiences, while enhancing the professional aspects of work products and materials needed by organizations such as Wildcoast. This was not an easy project! Initially, we questioned what we were doing, how we would do it, and whether it would be meaningful for our students. We were focused on developing projects that we hoped would inspire students to “get out in the world,” learn from each other, and learn how valuable it is to be of service to others. What we found out during the first year of this grant is that if you open up a learning space for students to work in the “real world,” they find inherent meaning in everything they do. They feel increasingly valued as human beings — able to take what they learn and teach others through reflection, innovation, and hands-on experience. We are excited to learn from our struggles and successes this year and build upon the “student as teacher” philosophy by continuing the collaboration between our two schools — crafting a social mentoring program that teams 12th grade and 8th grade students using technology outside of the classroom. Through the valuable work this year as part of the HP Innovations in Education team of schools, we have learned that the “new learner” is one that is supported by an enriching educational experience grounded in projects that serve community, has an extensive technological support structure both at school and at home, and is part of an extended network of learners that helps reinforce feelings of belonging and connectedness. On behalf of the students and faculty of our High Tech High schools, we would like to say thank you HP for giving us this remarkable opportunity to redefine collaboration between schools, teachers, and students, and for helping us harness the power of young minds — who continue to inspire and amaze us with their energy and enthusiasm for learning in the 21st century.

HP Innovations in Education

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