What is HiTech?
HiTech, HCLS’ STEM education initiative for teens, teaches cutting-edge science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) via project-based classes that include computer programming, 3D animation, nanotechnology, music/video production, e-books, game apps, cybersecurity, green energy, and robotics.
Projects have included the design and build of weather balloons, robots, quadrotor flight controllers, hovercrafts, an e-book (titled “Chapters of Civility” — available from iTunes and Google Play), and two mobile games, Escape From Detention (downloaded 6,000 times from 30 countries) and Cyborg Glitch.
HiTech’s curriculum is focused on inspiring students and becoming a launching point for the STEM career pipeline. We want to encourage students to become the next generation of STEM professionals. This means that classes are mapped to Common Core, National Science Standards, and higher education concepts in STEM collegiate environments and the professional environment. Delivered in a non-traditional learning environment, the hands-on classes foster free expression and individuality, while also teaching the critical skill sets and concepts students will need for 21st century careers.
The curriculum is made possible by leveraging the best technology, teaching tools, and experts to deliver a top-quality STEM education experience. Since its launch in June 2012, enrollment has reached more than 20,500 and several of the HiTech students have gone on to major in STEM majors in college.
HiTech in Motion
- Summer: HiTech classes are most prominent in the summer, when our instructors teach more than 50 classes. The classes range anywhere from 45 – 90 minutes depending on the topic. The class line up begins at 10 am each weekday morning and ends at approximately 5 pm. Registration begins two weeks prior to the first class. Classes are advertised in source, on the online calendar, and through an email group (below). At the end of the summer, HCLS hosts a culminating event. Previous events have included a symposium, conference, and, in 2019, the HiTech STEAM Carnival featuring games created by HiTech students. The Carnival attracted more than 1,200 attendees.
- Fall: In the fall, classes are modified to meet the needs of the student community while not competing with their school workload. The fall curriculum includes primarily math and science labs where students can bring their problems or ideas if they need help, math and programming tutoring, and adult or student evening programming classes connected to CISCO certification. The classes are popular, often filling to capacity within two to three days. So, if you see the class you want… don’t delay!
- Online Classes: When HCLS buildings closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March 2020, HiTech instructors quickly pivoted to online classes. The HiTech STEAM Carnival became a Carnival in a Bag, with hands-on activities as well as asynchronous and synchronous classes. This online carnival is open to 500 students in grades K-12 who may participate individually or in teams.
ULC Top Innovator Award
The Urban Libraries Council (ULC), a membership association of leading public library systems in the U.S. and Canada, named Howard County Library System (HCLS) a “2013 Top Innovator” for HiTech. In announcing the award, ULC President and CEO Susan Benton said, “On behalf of the ULC community throughout North America, I congratulate Howard County Library System for being selected as a 2013 Top Innovator. HCLS staff are commended for setting the pace for growth, change and innovation in the field.”
STEM Activity Kits
STEM Activity Kits are loanable kits that have activities related to a specific STEM subject with the goal to encourage student (ages 11- 18) engagement in science, technology, engineering, and math in a fun way. The STEM Activity Kits are a HiTech pilot program made possible from Verizon Foundation.
Learn More or View Kits
To receive information regarding upcoming HiTech STUDENT classes (ages 11-18) fill out the BLUE form:
To receive information regarding upcoming HiTech ADULT classes (ages 18+) fill out the GREEN form:
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