Happy Halloween!  Last night I had the amazing opportunity to see a proud group of middle school students publicly display their work to a crowd numbering in the hundreds.  I was too wrapped up in experience to do a great job documenting their work.

Luckily for me, High Tech High has done an outstanding job capturing photos and reflections of inspiring projects.

Here’s an example of a project card that gives a short overview of a powerful project.  There are many more available via UnBoxed! Check them out and let us know what you think.

Urban_Homesteading_ProjectHigh Tech High International (HTHI) seniors designed sustainable solutions for urbanites, including aquaponics systems, hydroponics gardens, solar ovens, a grey water system, a portable solar shower, and structures for housing backyard chickens. They exhibited these products and showed community members how to start similar projects in their own homes.

Teacher Reflections

Students applied their ideas about sustainable living and appropriate technologies toward viable solutions. They presented their designs in our courtyard workspace, which became an urban homesteading showcase.

—Jennifer Mullin

Just when I thought I wouldn’t be able to squeeze one last drop of motivation from the seniors’ reserves, they exceeded my expectations with an exhibition that was engaging for the public and themselves. They knew their stuff!

—Colleen Gavin

Student Reflections

The best part was the exhibition, when we had our clay oven cooking delicious homemade pizzas. It was fun to see people’s faces when we told them how we made the oven, but even more important was that we had made something useful that people could create in their own backyards.

—Allison Ferrini, 12th grade

It was amazing to see how Tilapia, with their unique digestive tracts, can filter water and supply nutrition for plants growing in a system. At the exhibition I presented not only to “ordinary” people but also to an aquaponics professional. If a high school student like me can create change, then societies can emulate the same idea to decrease pollutants.

—Bryan Kelley, 12th grade


To learn more about this project and others, visit

www.hightechhigh.org and Colleen Gavan’s digital portfolio at


*from UnBoxed Issue 5, Spring 2010

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