Inside the 10 Techiest High Schools In America

Posted November 15, 2012


The American education system is not generally known for forward thinking, which partly explains why many of our students are still using textbooks from 1970 and original Apples that are by now collectors’ items. That being said, there is a crop of magnet and other specialized schools (and even a healthy dose of public schools) that are embracing this whole "new millennium thing" and updating their learning environments to keep their kids competitive in the modern marketplace and prepared for engineering careers, math careers, and other careers that would require such knowledge. Come along with us as we take a look inside 10 of the most high-tech schools in the good old U.S.A.

  1. High Tech High, San Diego, Calif.:

    From the outside, HTH looks simply like a nicer-than-average school; but inside, average is nowhere to be found. Colorful graphite bars and patterns crisscross the lofted ceilings. There are comfortable-looking couches and chairs. The general openness of the place makes it look more like an elite university than a high school. Apart from simply unique aesthetics, the facilities serve an important pedagogical purpose. Every wall features either space to display student work or glass to allow transparency of labs and conference rooms, and some are flexible to allow customized teaching scenarios. The labs include specialized biotech, mechanical engineering, and graphic design areas. Between them and groups like the school’s robotics team, the school ensures it lives up to its name.

  2. Crooms Academy of Information Technology, Sanford, Fla.:

    U.S. News & World Report recently named this tech magnet the most connected classroom in America, and for good reason. Every student is given a fully loaded Dell laptop and power block, and each classroom has at least two desktops, in case a student has had to drop his or her PC off at the in-house repair center known as Laptop Central. Classrooms also boast SMARTboards with the ability to save and upload to Blackboard anything written on them. The entire building is wireless-enabled, leaving even the 10 computer labs free of the clutter of Ethernet cords.

  3. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Va.:

    This magnet school is designed to be a hands-on experience for students interested in the STEM fields. Ninth-graders kick off their high school careers with a full-year technology survey course to give them a foundation of engineering skills and knowledge to build on. Seniors will complete a major research project, either on campus or at a government or university research lab the school partners with, in categories like astronomy, optics and modern physics, energy systems, and more. But it’s hard to imagine students could do any better than to work in one of the 14 Jefferson labs, from chemical nanotechnology equipment in the chemical analysis lab to the electroencephalographic system in the neuroscience lab.

  4. New Technology High School, Napa, Calif.:

    The New Tech system now includes 85 schools in 16 states, and the schools continue to pop up, but this one in Napa was the first. Local business leaders like Bill Gates helped launch the school in 1996 as a place to revolutionize education and turn out students with valuable skills. They made the basis of their idea project-based learning, and they started from the word go by giving students a hang in the design of the building and the school website. Each student is given a computer, which they’ll need to access assignments and give the 200 media presentations required during their high school career. Instead of period bells, hall passes, and book reports there are smart boards, bright classrooms, and a cybercafe.

  5. High Technology High School, Lincroft, N.J.:

    We wish our school had turned us loose with drill presses and jig saws in our freshman year of high school. That’s what students of this magnet school have access to in the technology lab. Moreover, the 75 or so students don’t have to compete for computer time, what with the five stationary labs and two "roaming labs" stocked with Mac iBooks, PowerMac G5s, and Dell Workstations. Couple that with a CNC milling machine, TVs on the wall for clocks, and a T1 Internet connection pumping through the place, and you’ve got yourself the school of the future.

  6. Fremont High School, Fremont, Mich.:

    After first being proposed in 2004, students finally got to set foot inside this brand new, $40 million building on Sept. 4, 2012. We’re guessing it was worth the wait. It’s got the smartboards, high-tech science labs, and open design that are now par for the course on the latest schools, but it pushes the tech envelope with innovations like the "MediaScape room". Here students work in pods around giant screens for collaborative video and Internet learning or teleconferencing. The agribusiness lab is fitting for the surrounding farming community. Even the construction of the building is techie, with its efficient energy system that includes geothermal wells for cooling, heating, and melting snow on the sidewalks and copious windows for providing natural light.

  7. Flint Hill School, Oakton, Va.:

    The Washington Post has referred to this private K-12 school as "ultra-wired" and Apple has named it its "Site Visit School" for the State of Virginia. Every single student, from preschool to senior year, has "immediate access" to either an iPad or a MacBook Air since 2010. Teachers like music instructor David Cosby uses a program called SmartMusic to send assignments and track his high school students’ progress. Tenth grade history students used their MacBooks to create oral history videos by interviewing someone with first-hand knowledge of a historical event. Some teachers maintain Wiki pages for their classes. All this technology has required a corresponding amount of trust and freedom from the teachers, which they have given students by allowing them to text and email even while they’re lecturing.

  8. Pathways in Technology Early College High School, Brooklyn, N.Y.:

    Companies don’t come more "techie" than IBM, and this school (known as "P-Tech") is working arm-in-arm with the company to develop the IT professionals of tomorrow. It’s a revolutionary new program that combines high school with college over six years and turns out students ready to enter the industry. Students take both traditional and original courses like "workplace learning" that were developed by analyzing IBM employees. As for hardware, laptops are readily available to students, and day trips to IBM facilities provide them real-world lessons in the making of computer chips and other tech.

  9. Center for Advanced Research and Technology, Clovis, Calif.:

    A common refrain about some of the labs at this school is that many colleges have nothing that compares. Case in point: the $1.5 million biomedical engineering lab, complete with spectrometer, polymerase chain-reaction machines, and more high-tech medical gadgetry that students have used to do everything from engineering glow-in-the-dark bacteria to cloning carrots. More "techie" tech can be found over at the Interactive Game Design Lab, or perhaps the Multimedia Learning Lab and its industry-level software like Adobe Premiere Pro and Illustrator. If that still doesn’t sate a student’s tech thirst, surely one of the other 12 labs will.

  10. School of Science & Engineering Magnet, Dallas, Texas:

    Not only does this school rule in the tech department, it’s considered one of the all-around best high schools in the country. About 100% of seniors graduate on time, and the school has been widely praised for its hands-on approach to college-level lab research. The school has been recognized twice at international science competitions as one of the best in the world. Of course, SEM’s technology doesn’t hurt, like the million-time magnifying electron microscope, the engineering robotics lab, and of course, stellar computer labs.

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