Editor's note: Simon Hauger started Philadelphia's "Sustainability Workshop," a program for inner-city high school seniors that's organized around projects rather than traditional curriculum. Students build electric go-karts and solar charging stations. Hauger will be featured on CNN's "The Next List" this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.
In Philly, high school students learn by doing
By The Next List Staff, CNN
(CNN) - Some call Philadelphia educator Simon Hauger a “revolutionary teacher,” but his students say he’s just “a really, cool guy.” He’s an engineer turned public high school teacher who is inspiring kids to stay in school by offering an innovative approach to learning. “Students need to be engaged in solving real life problems. What we discovered was that when kids are trusted to make real decisions, a ton of learning occurs,” says Hauger, who is 42.
Hauger’s passion was fueled by the highly successful "Hybrid X Team" he formed at West Philadelphia High School thirteen years ago. In this after-school program, inner-city students built hybrid, bio-diesel and electric cars that have won multiple national competitions, beating out cars from prestigious universities like MIT.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is a huge fan of the hybrid team and Hauger. “It gives these young people not only the academic support that they need, but also the hands on experience, which keeps them interested in school,” says Nutter, who took one of the hybrids for a test drive. The team’s most recent accomplishment, an EVX GT sports car for the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE, earned the group an invitation to the White House.