Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM)


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STEM Expansion
(download the full packet HERE)

It is our mission with this STEM expansion to attract students – particularly underperforming students – towards the many opportunities in career technical education (CTE) and advanced science careers. We will embody a STEM curriculum with targeted instruction for our diverse student population utilizing project-based instruction and service learning.

At SBHS we have a unique opportunity: the range of student diversity at SBHS lends itself naturally to the proposed Green Academy STEM expansion. Approximately 150 students enroll annually in the Advanced Placement Environmental Studies courses, creating an opportunity to leverage their interest in the environment into more STEM related fields. This is particularly relevant as the “green collar” field growth rate is predicted to be 500% over the next five years, with 80% of those jobs expected to be skilled technicians.

It is our assessment that integration of diverse students is not a simple matter of making "less academic" courses. Instead, we will specifically design an articulated set of experiences to recruit, introduce, integrate, and complement disparate student groups contextualized within an environmental framework. This expansion will enhance existing Green Academy coursework, integrating college-prep science with real-world environmental and energy technologies.


Culture and Identity

A sense of community and shared purpose is critical to the success of any group. We recognize that students will be more invested, focused, involved, and ultimately more successful if they feel that they are part of a unique and special community. We will foster connections between the students by creating a core set of courses that support strong bonds between Green Academy students, teachers, and collaborators. We plan to identify and connect students in order to build a sense of school culture through a variety of efforts.

Early Outreach: We will identify qualified students through partnerships with our feeder schools. We will require projects that have our junior and senior students teaching lower grade-level students; these connections have proven to be very influential and fulfilling for both groups. Students and faculty will present at Open House and Freshman Orientation.

Summer Programs: We are planning a one-week summer session for students enterring in the fall of 2012. Students will sample projects, meet instructors, tour the high school, and build their personal and group comfort to ease their entry into the school.

Freshman Orientation:  We have learned from the Becoming a Don program and the Cesar Chavez Leadership Institute that pre-freshman orientation is an effective way to welcome and prepare incoming students. We will plan a service-learning and project-based summer course for our targeted students. The students will complete this between 8th and 9th grade. The goal of this summer session will be to introduce faculty, give a sampling of course content, and explain the options and requirements of our program. We know that this type of introduction creates a more cohesive and comfortable student population, and we hope this will better prepare our students to start together and stay together. 

Robotics:  In addition to the first summer session for incoming students, students with physics as a pre-requisite can choose to take C++ Programming and Green Robotics. The upper classmen can be role models to our incoming students during orientation and then continue to work on engineering projects started during the school year.

Curriculum Connections. Upon entry to the program, students will share a common introductory course. Throughout their high school years, unifying projects will maintain a sense of community among students following different science sequences, so that CTE, engineering and science students can continue to share experiences and key themes during coursework. Finally, senior coursework will reunite all populations in collaborative projects that include students from all levels, reminding students that environmental science is a broad and inclusive field.

Furthermore, we will have curriculum that is as horizontally and vertically aligned as possible. Faculty will work to ensure vertical alignment from junior high school through post-secondary requirements. We will seek relationships with other departments to contextualize environmental themes and key concepts in other classes, e.g., environmental topics for English readings and environmental consequences of historical events.

Priority Enrollment. We will grant priority enrollment for all targeted students. Given the complexity of our school’s master schedule, our core students would be guaranteed access to the courses, while other students would “infill” sections. This will protect our targeted students’ sense of community.

Portfolio. All course sequences can be tailored to meet each student’s strengths and interests. All students exiting a Green Academy science course will assemble a portfolio of artifacts that highlights critical concepts and important events. Graduating students will be able to show their scientific progress through choosing appropriate artifacts for their interest.

From start to finish, our program will encourage individualized course sequencing, while maintaining an overall theme of unity and identity. Students will work on clearly aligned goals and share in a common purpose; all coursework, within and beyond their science classes, will be framed within a context of sustainability and environmental stewardship. Older students will serve as role models for younger students, and abstract academic concepts will be coupled with real-world practical skills. Students will learn science while practicing cooperation, communication, and teamwork.


Curriculum Development

This expansion will create a University of California Career Tech Education (CTE) Pathway "Energy and Utilities Sector: Energy and Environmental Technology" with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. We will actively seek, support and guide underrepresented and underperforming students (“Target Students”) to prepare them for post-secondary education through UC/CSU qualification and careers in Energy and Utilities, and increase their enrollment in the Green Academy and Advanced Placement coursework.

As can be seen in Table 1, four courses constitute the core of the STEM initiative: Green Technology, Industrial Physics, Green Engineering and Energy Technology and Projects in Sustainability. Because we are encouraging all students from our school, different pathways are available. Each course will be discussed individually in Table 2.

Trying to fit additional elective courses into already compacted schedules will be a challenge. It is our goal to keep our courses open and allow students the freedom to pick and choose a path that interests them.  In Table 3, course sequences can be found.  The courses closely follow the math level of the student (3A Honors Geometry, 3B Geometry, 3C Algebra).



Funding needs have been identified for a successful Green Academy expansion. Different types of funding needs are envisioned: 1) Materials and other support for the new courses; 2) Class Size Reduction in Industrial Physics to 25:1; 3) Building a new greenhouse and engineering laboratory ; 4)  Creating a machine shop and Engineering Facilities; and 5)  Financial support for the teachers involved in administrative duties.

Our team has already obtained some funding. Our current funding support includes:

  • Hourly payments from SB School District for STEM planning hours
  • PacTIN grant:  $26,700 for professional development and materials.
  • Santa Barbara High School Education Foundation:  $5000 for materials
  • Orfalea Foundation grant:  $6,000 for Food Sustainability

Funding needs are outlined in Table 4.


The Future of the Green Academy

The proposed expansion addresses critical Santa Barbara School Board’s focus goals (particularly 1.3, 1.5 and 2) and is attainable!  Components of the academy are already in place, we have developed college partners at both SBCC and UCSB, and we will utilize local industry partners to ensure success.  Santa Barbara High School is the perfect place to create a STEM-focused environmental program that continues a tradition of student excellence through community involvement and service.  We have community support, curriculum momentum, ambitious infrastructure plans, and growing student interest.  It is the right place and the right time.  With community support, we will build an innovative academy to excite students to take ownership of their own education and careers.  It is our goal to encourage more students to study environmental science, technology, math and engineering such that they might lead our country to a more sustainable way of life.







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