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In the fall of this year, the 550 students and faculty members of Design Tech High School will move into their new home on the Redwood Shores Oracle campus. At that point, Design Tech High School will become the first public high school on a corporate campus in the United States.

So what exactly is this school?

Design Tech High School, or d.tech, is a free public charter school for California residents. Founded in 2014, d.tech has developed an innovative curriculum focused on preparing students for the future in a non-traditional classroom setting. Their academic model highlights extreme personalization to encourage students’ true mastery of concepts.

Well, this obviously sounds awesome, but this is a tech blog, so why is this important to us? Two reasons: Their STEM & Design Advisory curriculums, and their new building.

D.tech believes “it is critical that today’s students learn to be lifelong STEM learners,” and they’re right. The US Department of Commerce said that STEM careers were expected to grow at a rate of 17% between 2008 and 2018, and STEM workers are a major part of both our national economic growth and the growth of the technology sector. In the STEM section students take increasingly challenging math and science courses that tie in engineering and technology concepts aimed at real world application. In the Design Advisory path, students are encouraged to take their STEM teachings and apply them. This is where they learn “design thinking” and how to put their engineering and entrepreneurial skills to work with both low- and high-tech tools.

Their full curriculum is split into 2 other study areas beyond STEM and Design Advisory: “Humanities” where students study English, world languages, social sciences and are encouraged to try different electives, plus “Life Skills and Enrichment” where students participate in courses teaching them life skills, financial literacy, health and wellness, study skills and work habits, and social and emotional skills.
Both D.tech’s STEM and full curricula are unique in that the student’s performance evaluations are based on real world challenges and are almost completely problem solving/application based. In this way, d.tech educators push students away from simply memorizing facts and taking tests to learning how to apply what they learn in the real world.

Check out their website if you would like to know more about each curriculum “area of study”.

Now. Their Building.

cw20v1-dtech-rendering3-2741095-1Photo courtesy: Oracle

Other than being funded by Oracle and located on their campus, the new building will be a “64,000 square-foot state-of-the-art LEED certified school.” LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Meaning not only will this building be filled to the brim with all the latest technologies, it’s also green and sustainable.

Building and housing d.tech isn’t Oracle’s first foray into helping further education. Each year they donate “2.5 billion in software, curriculum and faculty training to educational institutions through Oracle Academy.” They also donate to many other education focused and non-profit organizations throughout their community (you can see those here).

As technology continues to creep into everyday life, and employment in STEM fields grows at almost double the rate of non-STEM careers, having practical and real-life experience is going to be invaluable for these students. While Design Tech High School is still new (their first class won’t graduate until next spring) the ideas and methods being used here are going to be extremely important for the future of technology and education. I know i’m excited to see actual pictures of the building, and see if other schools and STEM programs follow suite.