In my years at High Tech High, have worked on a number of student projects. A brief description of each one is below.

Click the accompanying image to see student work from each.



Secrets & Signs: 12th Grade Engineering

Using technology provuded by a Qualcomm Wireless Reach grant, students designed and created three dimensional street art. At the design stage students made use of technology to be sure that their design would work. By using Google Sketchup and Adobe Photoshop they made a mock-up of how design would look when completed. All the computer work was done on laptop computers and students were able to work on their designs outside of the class time, freeing up time during the school day to transfer the designs to the ground.


Stairway to Nowhere: 12th grade Engineering & Art

In the fall of 2015 our students designed staircases. They created scale models and full size "staircases to nowhere" around the school. We made books showing the models and the final staicases.

Students started by designing a 1:10 staircase using wooden blocks. With a partner using trigonometry and CAD they designed and built a 1:5 scale staircase. These larger models had to be costructed in the same way a eal stircase would be. Finally, with a party of 10, they created life size Staircases to Nowhere at various locations in the school.


Get Bent! 12th grade Engineering & Art

In 2010 Jeff Robin and I did a project with our students called “Get Bent”. The idea came from us working together in the past where we used art and calculus to explain each other. It was called “Calculicious making calculus delicious”.  This year we decided to try and move in a different direction, just a little bit. Get Bent uses three-dimensional geometry, calculus, physics and engineering to explain design of chairs, lamps. Students created bent wood chairs and matching lamps and at the end we wrote a book about the experience.


Hanging Gardens: 9th grade Math

The “hanging gardens” project was a 4 week math project in which students used compass and straightedge constructions to create designs based on concentric polygons. These designs were then converted, using industry standard design software, into blueprints for our laser cutter. The designs were cut from wood and then assembled into folding structures for holding plant pots. Students used real world tools to design a 3 dimensional structure from 2 dimensional parts.



High Tech Fly: 12th grade Physics

The physics and art students of Andrew Gloag and Jeff Robin made Kites, Hot Air Balloons and other Flying Objects to try and discover the best way to fight gravity.

For kites, students explored the forces of lift and drag to design kites that met their goals such as speed, ease of management or stability as well as calculated the minimum wind speed required for their kites to fly. 

For hot air balloons, students considered concepts of buoyancy and balance to build balloons as well as calculated the minimum temperature increase needed inside their balloons for them to rise. 

For flying objects, students choose what they wanted to build and described how it flew, or resisted gravity, using physics. 

Throughout the project, students documented their process using journals and summarized their findings by producing a poster at the end of each build.


The Science of Survival: 12th Grade Science & English

What does it take to be a survivor, and who do we become in the face of death? These were the questions students grappled with as they dove into their senior year project on survivorship. For this project, students interviewed survivors of various traumatic experiences from life-altering medical conditions to devastating accidents. These interviews then turned into the writing pieces found in this magazine. The images accompanying the writing are all student generated as well and were from the animated shorts the students created to tell their survivor's story visually. Please enjoy these stories of resilience and hope!


Subatomic Black Hole Soup: 12th Grade Physics & English Lit.

In this collaborative project, Andrew Gloag, a physics teacher worked with Kelly Williams, an English teacher, to make Graphic novels that teach physics. Students studied Magic Realism and Modern Physics. They worked in groups to produce stories and art work to make their own graphic novels based around themes such as Quantum Mechanics, Laser Physics, Special Relativity, and Nuclear Physics.

In "The Chernobyl Tales" nuclear physics is taught through the eyes of five fictional people involved in the 1986 Chernobyl Disaster.

In "A Quantum Heist" Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrodinger combine forces to liberate a rare synthetic element. There is a science glossary that explains, in detail, the science behind each chapter.



Phys Newton: 12th grade Physics & Art

Explaining science in a way others can understand requires a far deeper understanding than one can get from listening to someone else in a lecture. In this project the students were challenged to become experts in their field. For the final examination students then had to become experts in everyone else’s science too. We displayed the work prominently in the school, and set up peer to peer teaching sessions where students taught each other their science concepts.

In this project an Art teacher (Jeff Robin) and a Physics teacher (Andrew Gloag) had students design posters to teach the California State Physics standards. We concentrated on the first two realms of the standards which cover mechanics and Newtonian physics. The physics concepts were presented as explanations for the images they put together and painted.


CALCULICIOUS! 12th Grade Calculus & Art

Calculicious was a cross-curricular project between me as Calculus teacher and Jeff Robin teaching Art. We came up with the title of the project and logo before we even decided what the project would really be. We both knew that art has math and math has art, and theidea was to display the beauty in math through art class.

In my class the students concentated deeply on the visual aspects of geometry, trigonometry, conic sections and calculus. The students then designed their Watercolors, Acrylic Paintings and Sculptures using the math that they learned. We made a book and exhibited the work at the San Diego Airport. 


Excel Animations: 12th Grade Math

Modern graphics and animation software such as PhotoShop and AfterEffects make it easy for users to stretch, rotate and move images on the screen. The mathematics behond these actions has been coded and hidden form view, but at its heart matrices and vectors are used extensively.

In this project students had to make images from points plotted in Excel and then develop and use matix calcualtions in the spreadsheet to allow the "characters" to move creating animations. In this way students were exposed to the math, rather than it being hidden. All the transforamtions were linked to a single cell which represented time. By changing that single entry cell the whole graph was made to animate!



Anamorphic Sidewalk Art - 10th grade Math

Using technology provuded by a Qualcomm Wireless Reach grant, students designed and created three dimensional street art. At the design stage students made use of technology to be sure that their design would work. By using Google Sketchup and Adobe Photoshop they made a mock-up of how design would look when completed. All the computer work was done on laptop computers and students were able to work on their designs outside of the class time, freeing up time during the school day to transfer the designs to the ground.


Gothic Window Project: 10th Grade Math

In this project students designed stained glass windows based around the shape of the gothic arch. Using wireless laptops provuded by a Qualcomm Wireless Reach grant, students researhed the design and shape of church windows, and then used Geometer's Sketchpadto make their own design. They used arcs and straignt lines to create designs, and PhotoShop to color the designs.


absolute zero

Absolute Zero - A Physics A to Z: 12th Grade Physics

During the Fall semester of 2009 my students created a guide to the physics we had been studying and learning. Each students researched and wrote about a particular aspect of physics that we collected into a book. We covered topics in Newtonian physics (Forces, Work and Energy). in modern optics (Lasers, Holography and Fiber Optics) and in modern physics (Quantum Mechanics and Cosmology). Many students studied energy generation (such as wind-power, solar power and nuclear processes). The book was published through and you can see the book online by visiting




Principles in Physics Demonstrations: 12th Grade Physics

All students were required to produce interactive demonstrations to illustrate one science concept in physics. Concepts included electricity & magnetism, reflection, optical fibers, radio transmission, Bernoulli's principle and others. All groups had 2 or 3 members and groups had 6 weeks to prepare the project for Exhibition night.

The web-page for this project shows the matrix of required deliverables each group had to complete as check-points before the final grade was given. The final grade was partly based on how well these intermediate deliverables were achieved.




Sci-Fi Movie Pods: 12th Grade Physics & Multimedia

Working in groups of three students created science fiction movies and games that taught science concepts.

The computers on which the movies & games were viewed were housed in science-fiction themed "PODS" which were distributed around the High Tech High building. The building of these PODS was a major part of the project and required a great deal of planning.

The Students studied sound and light - both from a Physics and a recording perspective. They learned all about the electromagnetic spectrum, wave motion, interference, lenses, compression, Fourier analysis and more.Each group also had to learn two additional science concepts and teach them to the rest of the class. The Final examination also covered topics such as cell death, telephony, sexual health and reproduction, ballistics and thermodynamics.

Students received credits in Digital Art and either Chemistry, Biology, Physics or Principles of Engineering.



Analog Flash for Windows: 12th Grade Mathematics, Engineering & Art

Working with Jeff Robin the art teacher and David Berggren the engineering teacher, we came up with a project to showcase mathematics and physics concepts in a 20inch square box. These boxes were placed in various window locations throughout the school.

Students worked in pairs to produce working demonstrations of concepts such as centripetal force, resonance, and pressure. Other boxes showed how specific devices such an the differential, the laser and magnetic levitation (maglev) trains worked.

Each concept had to be carefully researched, and built to stand up to school kids playing with them every day. They were carefully designed and painted to create the maximum aesthetic appeal. Finally, each pair of students created a book on the entire project and sat a final examination which tested how well they understood everybody else's science.



The Art and Math in Engineering: 12th Grade Project 2006

Before nthe STEM to STEAM buzz-word shift, a Mathematician, an Engineer and an Artist got together to create a unique semester long cross-discipline experience for our 12th grade students. They would look at how Engineeers use art and how Artists use engineering to create beauty and function. Underlying all of this is mathematics.

Students made sculptures in Engineering class, physics posters in Art class and collages with physics explanations in Math class. They made ambitious final projects and displayed the finished products around High Tech High. Some projects were already broken and by exhibition night and curating these varied projects was quite difficult as well.This is one of the factors that led us to change the project for the second semmester.

This project taught us a lot, and some of the products are still on display in the school over a dozen years later. Click on th eimage on the left to see student wok form this project.


Casino Project: 11th Grade Math

The first project I completed at high tech high was the casino project. Students studied probability and analyzed simple games to determine the expected return and how this can be used to set price and give the casino an edge on its tables.

After making detailed studies of particular situations in real casino games, students created their own games, made their own playing surfaces and set the price for their game. On casino day we set up the gaming tables in the commons and played for gloagy-bucks.

The project covered standards 18.0 and 19.0 from the California Algebra II guidelines, and took 2 weeks to complete. The full list of resources can be found on my mathematics resources page


Too Cool for PreSchool: Intersession Book Making Class

Something magical happens when High School students work with Kindergardeners. In this project my students spent a week as a reading buddy to a kinder or first grade student. They read stories, helped the younger students read, and then in small groups they came up with a story together. My students then spent the following week turning those stories into fully illiustrated children's books, which we self published and bound at High Tech High. On the Friday of that second week we presented everyone with a copy of their very own book.


Furniture From Junk: Intersession Building Classs

From time to time I run an intersession class where the goal for each student is to create something beautiful and functional out of scrap materials that would otherwise end up in a land-fill. We use off-cuts of wood and metal, left-overs from past projects and items that have been lying around in garages for years. Occasional dumpster-diving has been used successfully to turn up some really interesting (and free) materials, from plastic to plywood to plexiglas. Students learn how to use hand tools, power tools and how to plan, measure, cut and join wood to make their creations. Every year I get many students who have never built anything before, and with time and patience everyone makes something they are proud of.