Alternative High School Takes Education Off Auto-Pilot

Scrambling to break even, the Kansas City, Missouri School District closed two dozen schools this summer. In a district so shaky that many have given up on it, this leaves few options for the kids who slip through the cracks of the city's flourishing charter school system. Enter the DeLaSalle Education Center, which serves students who have struggled with poverty, drug abuse, violence, or basic educational skills. Along with classes capped at 15 kids and opportunities for one-on-one instruction, the Center features an Automotive Design Studio.

The sleekly designed electric vehicle pictured above was built this year by DeLaSalle students. The body comes from a salvaged Lola Champ Car the students picked up for $2,500, and they built the clear shell from a material used to shrink wrap windows. The car's top speed of 45 mph and plastic skin may not be practical for mass production any time soon, but in learning to build it, these high schoolers came away with university-level engineering experience. Two of the students involved plan to pursue auto engineering, and another will study environmental science.

Clearly, not every school has the resources to provide programs of this caliber. DeLaSalle partnered with Bridgestone, which provided training, tires, and a test course. But the devotion of time and energy to nontraditional curricula is invaluable for students who might not feel inspired by standard academic fare. What other innovative high school programs have you heard about?

Read the original piece on Wired.

Image courtesy of DeLaSalle Education Center.

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