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Perspectives of San Diego Bay: A Field Guide

School: Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs High Tech High School

City/State: San Diego, CA

Grade(s): 9, 10, 11, 12

Format(s): Field guide: Natural science

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Science and Technology, Social Studies

Project Overview

This professional-quality field guide was created by 40 high school students from the Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs High Tech High, working with an interdisciplinary team of teachers. It met a genuine market need, as there was no existing field guide to the bay. 

Students engaged in the work of research and production for this field guide over the course of 18 months, working with teachers, scientists and community members. Students were in charge of vision, content, editing and layout. Student research went beyond listing and classifying species; they were involved in multiple research projects, including census collection of macro-invertebrates as indicators of the health of water in the bay and boat channels. The book contains professional quality photographs and maps created by students. Perspectives of San Diego Bay also has reflective, arts-based content, including poetry, which as the students say in the “Intent of Study” section, the “guide also embraces the beauty of thought, nature, and reflection in order to join the sciences and the arts in harmony.”

This project set a new standard in the genre of student products known as field guides. The quality of Perspectives of San Diego Bay is astounding, demonstrating the power of interdisciplinary field work and the capacity of high school students to accomplish professional-quality work. The data collected and analyzed are of high quality – it was carefully supervised by scientists and students demonstrated a high level of care in their work, and the production quality of the work is indistinguishable from commercially produced guides. This work also shows a wonderful example of collaboration across academic disciplines, truly integrating science, math and language arts.

This field guide is now part of a series of impressive guides created at High Tech High, available for purchase on the school’s website. One of those guides – San Diego Bay, A Story of Exploitation and Restoration – is an historical guide to the bay, and is catalogued in this archive as project #321.

This book, and others like it, may be purchased from the school.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Demonstrates an outstanding level of sophistication for high school students – in many ways indistinguishable from adult work
  • An example of high quality student work that still retains flavor that only high school students could or would bring to it – in the Terrestrial Mammal section, “Humans” is an entry, complete with scientific classification, descriptive information and photographs
  • Powerful example of authentic audience - the general public – millions of people, including the students, who have vested interested in the information
  • Impressive forward by Jane Goodall – both that she wrote it and the content of her writing, praising the work of these students and teachers

Relevant Resources

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can produce clear and coherent writing appropriate to task, purpose and audience.
  • I can produce clear and coherent writing appropriate to task, purpose and audience.
  • I can use correct grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • I can use correct capitalization, punctuation and spelling to send a clear message to my reader.
  • I can use a style manual appropriate for the discipline and type of writing.
  • I can use correct grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • I can use correct capitalization, punctuation and spelling.
  • I can use resources to build my vocabulary.
  • I can use resources to build my vocabulary.
  • I can define statistics in terms of inferences, population parameters, and random sampling.
  • I can choose, apply, and interpret the units for multi-step problems when using formulas, graphs, and other data displays.
  • I can calculate using an appropriate level of accuracy.
  • I can determine the appropriate units and scale to model data.
  • I can summarize, represent, and interpret categorical and quantitative data based on two variables (independent and dependent).
  • I can interpret differences in shape, center, and spread based on the context of the data set and determine possible effects of outliers on these measures.
  • I can represent data with dot plots, histograms, and box plots.
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