Studio H in Bertie County, NC blends participatory design with early college high school in innovative, open source STEM curriculum

I first stumbled upon Project H because of an Airstream trailer and the Design Revolution Roadshow.
In addition to Airstreams and Roadshows, Project H combines several other passions of mine – participatory design for social change, design learning, early college high school, and a very global perspective. They describe their focus area as Design for K12 Education:

Project H believes that design solutions belong in the hands of the next generation. One of our key skill sets is building a human-centered process that collaboratively develops and implements curricular, material, and environmental solutions for K-12 public schools, youth-focused organizations, and educational agencies. Our focus on K-12 education is rooted in the belief that design is not just about products or beautiful spaces, but a way of thinking, and that this creative critical thinking is a valuable problem-solving skill to be learned at a young age…

 The roadshow ended in May, 2010 after 75 days visiting 35 schools to showcase humanitarian designs to the next generation of designers. A group of kindred spirits called Urban Re:Vision bought the Airstream and Project H founder Emily Pilloton and project architect Matthew Miller (that’s Matthew making water filters with the students) have settled in Bertie County, North Carolina to do design with students in the School of Agriscience and Technology at the Bertie Early College High School.  The video above is from day two — their first project — in Studio H. You can follow progress on the Studio H Blog.

We hope to develop Studio H into a deployable one-year curriculum that could integrate into any other school district’s core, technical education, or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) program. In Bertie County, we will use the next two school years to tweak the syllabus so that it might better fit a variety of districts seamlessly. We hope to offer the full one-year program to other rural school systems by fall 2012, but in the meantime, all of our project lesson plans are open-sourced and available for all to use within their current course structure.

I was happy to see an August New York Times article tell the story of their work in Bertie County which has not been without significant obstacles. They’ve designed some brilliant solutions.