Grantee Corner  |  Houston Independent School District

A group of students look at a table that looks like a giant tablet
Energy Institute High School students collaborate on a project using a touchscreen table funded through the MSAP Grant

Students use glue, straws, and popsicle sticks to create a bridge
The Green Institute at Furr High School students work on designing and constructing bridges

A female student holds up a model of a hand made out of paper, plastic, and yarn
Baylor College of Medicine Academy at Ryan Middle School sixth-grade student shows a working model of a hand to better understand the functions and interworking of the neurons in the human body

Three male students make a prostetic leg out of pipes
M.C. Williams Middle School Engineering Academy students work on a prosthetic leg

Mark Shenker and Jennifer Todd standing next to each other
Mark Shenker, HISD Project Manager and Jennifer Todd, HISD Grants Manager

The Houston Independent School District (HISD), within the larger Houston metropolitan area, serves more than 212,000 students in more than 280 schools. The seventh largest school district in the United States, HISD has twice won The Broad Prize for Urban Education. Approximately one in three students in HISD attends a school other than the one to which they are zoned.

HISD received a Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grant in 2013 for its Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Innovation for the 21st Century project. The grant funds four high schools and two middle schools serving just over 3,000 students.

At M.C. Williams Middle School-Engineering Academy, students use inquiry-based methods that bring to life the engineering design process and the mathematics and science that support it. At M.C. Williams, students study the environment and material science applications in offshore technology, alternative and sustainable energy, and engineering modules that allow them to earn a high school elective credit.

Baylor College of Medicine Academy at Ryan Middle School has a partnership with Baylor University's College of Medicine to create a medical and health professions and STEM program. Beginning in sixth grade, students study neuroscience, focusing on the working of the brain. Seventh graders focus on scientific approaches to problem solving, using examples from cardiovascular science and other areas, while eighth graders have the opportunity to earn high school credit. In addition, students study sports medicine, nutrition, and fitness and use problem solving and engineering design approaches to solve a variety of problems related to aeronautics and flight.

The Green Institute at Furr High School has a renewable energy theme, which is relevant to current local, state, national, and international needs. Problem-based learning opportunities in science, technology, and engineering help students follow a unique pathway to an Associate’s degree in engineering technologies and to industry certifications. With industry scientists, engineers, and students from across the globe, students participate in discussions about alternative energy, climate change, and other current global challenges.

The Chemical and Process Technology Institute at Kashmere High School offers an innovative STEM theme with three academies: chemical engineering, environmental controls, and process technology. Academy topics include robotics and automation technologies; clean water and air initiatives; food safety; carbon management; and fuels, chemicals, and strategies for clean coal emissions. A combination of classroom theory and laboratory courses helps students experience the chemical processes. Students also complete a capstone project in which they solve practical industry problems.

At The Energy Institute High School students can follow one of three pathways: geosciences, energy alternatives, or offshore technology. As participants in global research and education, Energy Institute students engage in project-based learning to understand the latest energy topics: alternative energy, offshore energy production and exploration, oil spill mitigation and response, new drilling technologies, and other current energy initiatives.

The Advanced Technology Institute at South Early College offers three academies: computer science, software engineering, and robotics and artificial intelligence. Course topics include computer programming, mind-controlled prosthetics, cyber security software development, computer-aided design, and electronic design automation software; students can also pursue special topics for research. Students experience college-level work and earn credits that are transferable to most 4-year colleges.

Mark Shenker is the MSAP Project Director. He has served in HISD for 19 years, moving from teaching to his current position as Assistant Superintendent for School Choice. Jennifer Todd, Grant Manager, led the work on HISD’s previous 2010 cohort MSAP grant and continues with the 2013 grant.

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