The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has created a new web site with free online resources that aim to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) instruction at the high school level.

Highlights for High School,” which builds on MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiative, is designed to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists and to serve as a valuable tool for high school teachers. OCW publishes educational materials under an open license that encourages their reuse, redistribution, and modification for noncommercial purposes.

“Strength in K-12 math and science will be increasingly important for America if the nation is to continue to lead the innovation economy,” said Susan Hockfield, MIT president.

“Highlights for High School will provide students and teachers with innovative tools to supplement their math and science studies,” Hockfield added. “We hope it will inspire students to reach beyond their required class work to explore more advanced material through OCW and also might encourage them to pursue careers in science and engineering.”

Highlights for High School features more than 2,600 video and audio clips, animations, lecture notes, and assignments taken from actual MIT courses. The site organizes these resources to match the Advanced Placement physics, biology, and calculus curricula. Demonstrations, simulations, and animations give educators engaging ways to present STEM concepts, while videos illustrate MIT’s hands-on approach to the teaching of these subjects.

On the web site, students can access materials that will help them strengthen their writing skills, develop sustainable solutions to challenging world problems, and learn how to build new things, such as robots, electronic devices, and furniture, MIT says.

Students also will find introductory MIT courses, including chemistry, computers and electronics, engineering, math, and physics. Introductory math classes, for example, include courses on problem solving, mathematics for computer science, single-variable calculus, and linear algebra. Engineering courses include such topics as toy-product design and how and why machines work.

Thomas Magnanti, former dean of the School of Engineering at MIT, chaired the committee that developed the site.

“As has been well documented, the U.S. needs to invest more in secondary education, particularly in the STEM fields. MIT, as a leading institution of science and technology, has an obligation to help address the issue,” he said.

Highlights for High School represents MIT’s first step in adapting the successful OpenCourseWare model to secondary education, the university said. The web site organizes the course materials currently featured on OCW-including syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, and exams-into a format that is more accessible to high school students and teachers.

An estimated 10,000 high school instructors and 5,000 high school students in the United States already visit MIT’s OpenCourseWare site each month, and MIT says it expects Highlights for High School to make its course materials even more useful to these audiences.

MIT operates more than 40 K-12 outreach programs, including the Edgerton Center, MIT’s Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science program, and its Educational Studies Program.

Now that MIT has launched Highlights for High School, the university is considering a broader plan for an open-courseware secondary education program-OCW SE-that could include creating a teacher-in-residence program to develop new open curricula with high school educators and organizing an MIT secondary-education mentor corps.


Highlights for High School

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT OpenCourseWare