George Lucas Educational Foundation

Adult-World Connections: An Internship with Real Impact for Rescuers

A high school intern improves emergency-helicopter communications for San Diego's police and fire departments. More to this story.
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Adult-World Connections: An Internship with Real Impact for Rescuers (Transcript)

Katherine Anderson: How often do you use a device like this, as opposed to the mountain tops when there's an emergency situation?

Man 1: Emergencies that happen outside of our range of coverage right now, we--

Voice Over: Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, High Tech High junior Katie Anderson reports in at San Diego police headquarters for her internship.

Katherine Anderson: So would this work in a moving vehicle?

Man 1: Yes, it would, as long as you're within line of sight and the antennas are near a window.

Voice Over: Anderson is working with the public safety department to improve communications with helicopter pilots flying emergency missions, like tracking carjackers and fighting wildfires.

Katherine Anderson: So it's just two passes. It's this one, and then you do it again, but it's bumped twenty two point five degrees to--

Sara Diaz: Right. What I care about are these holes.

Man 2: Hi Katie, I've got something for you.

Voice Over: Working with adults in real world settings is a core design principle of High Tech High.

Stacey Praizner: The academic internship program is a program that each and every one of our students has the opportunity to participate in. In fact, it's a graduation requirement. We send about a hundred and fifty students per semester out into a real wide variety of internship sites, and in a wide variety of industries.

Sara Diaz: The golden rule is this bridge.

Stacey Praizner: It provides them the opportunity to develop and foster relationships with adults that typically eleventh graders don't have the opportunity to do.

Man 2: And so there are some challenges out there.

Katherine Anderson: Okay.

Man 2: So we look at your plan and come up with a different solution.

Katherine Anderson: Okay.

Stacey Praizner: Because High Tech High is a project based school, we really take our internships to the next level. We train our mentors and we push them to really empower our eleventh grade students to work on meaningful projects for their organization.

Katherine Anderson: I mean, how often does it bounce off the geography in the right way? Because most of the time, our helicopters are below the receivers.

Sara Diaz: Well, we--

Voice Over: The internships include a two week immersion period in the middle of the semester.

Katherine Anderson: This is the first year that they're having immersion, so I'm here nine to four for two weeks and I think that it's really great as well. It gives me a chance to get a lot done.

Voice Over: For the rest of the semester, Katie spends two afternoons a week on site.

Sara Diaz: Now what do you think about his concept of flying two heights?

Katherine Anderson: I don't like it because they'll just be hovering between a thousand feet and a little above five hundred feet, right?

Sara Diaz: Okay.

From the very first day we started taking her to meetings, she's asked great questions. She understands the engineering and the science behind what we're trying to do.

Katherine Anderson: So if you're mountain top is here, then this would be-- this is an aerial view, but this would be your normal bubble of coverage. And I'm trying to figure out where bubbles are, where there wouldn't be coverage--

Sara Diaz: It's not like we're having to explain physics to her. She already knows a lot of that, and what she doesn't know, she goes on the internet and researches.

Katherine Anderson: But then Hugh is also putting in what's called a quad receiver, which can be angled, so you get something like this. So he wants to know the range of that as well.

Sara Diaz: We're getting a lot out of this, and her project is to build a map that will be used by every public safety agency in the county. In the end, when the big one breaks out, the next natural disaster or fire, we're going to go to the map Katie made. So it's gonna be a valuable project for years to come.

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Video Credits

Produced and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis

Written by

  • Carl Bidleman

Coordinating Producer

  • Amy Erin Borovoy


  • Karen Sutherland

Production Assistants

  • Doug Keely
  • Neil Tan

Camera Crew

  • Rob Weller
  • Darren Kawasaki


  • Michael Pritchard

View all our videos about High Tech High:

Transformed by Technology: High Tech High Overview
A network of K-12 public charter schools uses rigorous projects and portfolio assessments to revolutionize learning.

The DNA of Learning: Teens Tackle Animal Poaching Through Genetics
Eleventh-grade biotechnology students use DNA barcoding to help save endangered African wildlife.

Team Teaching: Two Teachers, Three Subjects, One Project
A pair of educators are sanguine about their art, biology, and multimedia program.

Adult-World Connections: An Internship with Real Impact for Rescuers
A high school intern improves emergency-helicopter communications for San Diego's police and fire departments.

High Tech, Higher Learning: A School Grows Its Own Teachers
This school has its own master's plan for developing the educators it needs.

Taking the Lead: An Interview with Larry Rosenstock
High Tech High's founding principal and CEO speaks about its innovative teaching and learning model.

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adult world's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

We need more tools to explore with for our youth, There is so many great minds that can help wasted for lack of resources.

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