HiTech is Howard County Library System’s (HCLS) new digital media lab for teens centering on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Envisioned as a launching point for the STEM career pipeline, HiTech is focused on producing the next generation of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers needed to fill highly skilled jobs in the community and region. The initiative has capitalized on Howard County’s advantage as home to a number of major STEM-oriented employers and higher education institutions.
Howard County Library System (HCLS) has leveraged the best technology, teaching tools, and people to deliver top-quality educational experiences via formal and informal instruction in a teen-centered environment. Industry experts and peer mentors teach teens basic and advanced skills using new technologies, helping students create their own applications and tools. Participants are also supported in their pursuits of STEM related higher education and/or jobs in the area.
Headquartered at the HCLS Savage Branch, the popular, cutting-edge initiative teaches students ages 11-18 the critical skill sets needed for 21st century careers. HiTech has delivered STEM education to nearly 1,000 students since its launch in January 2012.
Founded on innovative teaching methods demonstrating that teens learn most effectively through hands-on projects and peer-to-peer communications, HiTech enables teens to explore new digital media technologies and core computer science principles in an enjoyable, self-paced fashion. Experts are on hand to provide guidance and instruction.
Curriculum: Four Modules
HiTech’s curriculum comprises four modules (interact + improvise + invent + instruct = HiTech). The first three modules deliver guided, self-paced learning opportunities, while the fourth incorporates more structure.
1. Hanging Out (interact) Students experience music, video, computer games, and mobile apps by listening and playing.
2. Messing Around (improvise) Students experiment in hands-on fashion with digital music, video equipment, and professional grade software.
3. Geeking Out (invent) Students create video, audio, computer games, e-books, etc., using technology and developing code to produce digital media products.
4. Academy (instruct) Students complete three tracks over six months: (a) six interactive classes that teach skills within the disciplines, (b) site visits to STEM work environments, and (c) participation in a higher education STEM-based summer camp.