MIT Launches Web Site for High School Students

Uses successful MIT OpenCourseWare model to engage high school math and science students and faculty

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Nov. 28 - MIT President Susan Hockfield today announced the launch of a new Web site, Highlights for High School, that will provide resources to improve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) instruction at the high school level.

The Web site builds on the success of MIT's revolutionary OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiative, launched in 2001 with the goal of making all MIT course materials available for free over the World Wide Web. It is designed to help inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists and to be a valuable tool for high school teachers.

"Strength in K-12 math and science will be increasingly important for America if the nation is to continue to lead in today's innovation economy," said MIT President Susan Hockfield. "Highlights for High School will provide students and teachers with innovative tools to supplement their math and science studies. We hope it will inspire students to reach beyond their required classwork to explore more advanced material and might also encourage them to pursue careers in science and engineering."

Highlights for High School features more than 2,600 video and audio clips, animations, lecture notes and assignments taken from actual MIT courses, and categorizes them to match the Advanced Placement physics, biology and calculus curricula. Demonstrations, simulations, animations and videos give educators engaging ways to present STEM concepts, while videos illustrate MIT's hands-on approach to the teaching of these subjects.

Thomas Magnanti, former dean of the School of Engineering at MIT, chaired the committee that developed the site. "As has been well documented the U.S. needs to invest more in secondary education, particularly in STEM fields. MIT as a leading institution of science and technology has an obligation to help address the issue," he said.

Highlights for High School organizes the course materials currently featured on OCW—including 1,800 syllabi, 15,000 lecture notes, 9,000 assignments and 900 exams—into a format that is more accessible to high school students and teachers.

An estimated 10,000 U.S. high school instructors and 5,000 U.S. high school students already visit MIT OpenCourseWare each month, and MIT expects Highlights for High School to make MIT's course materials even more useful to these audiences.

Highlights for High School continues MIT's tradition of supporting science, technology and engineering instruction at the secondary level. One of the most prominent previous efforts was PSSC Physics, a program begun in 1956 as a collaboration between MIT physics professors and high school physics teachers, which dramatically changed the way physics was taught in high schools. MIT has over 40 K-12 outreach programs, including the Edgerton Center, MIT's Minority Introduction to Engineering, and Science (MITES) and MIT's Educational Studies Program (ESP).

Highlights for High School represents MIT's first step in adapting the successful OCW model for secondary education by organizing MIT's existing course materials for use by high school students and teachers. A broader plan proposed for a secondary education program—OCW SE—may include creating a teacher in residence program to develop new open curricula with high school educators and organizing an MIT secondary education mentor corps.