Silicon Valley Tech Academy Inspires Middle School Innovators

Silicon Valley Tech Academy Inspires Middle School Innovators

This summer, middle school students in the Morgan Hill Unified School District (MHUSD) have a unique opportunity to dive into the world of science, technology, and engineering through the Silicon Valley Tech Academy. Now in its third year, this non-profit educational initiative partners with MHUSD to offer rigorous, college-level coursework to incoming 5th, 6th, and 7th graders. The program is designed to ignite a passion for STEM fields by engaging students in hands-on projects that mimic real-world challenges.

The academy's curriculum is split into three segments, each targeting different aspects of technology and science:

Tech 1: Technology, Energy, Space & Water — Hosted at El Toro Elementary School, this two-week course introduces students to high technology, space exploration, water conservation, and sustainable energy solutions. Students will engage in projects such as building Mars landers, designing aqueducts, and constructing solar model cars. A field trip to a local high-tech manufacturing facility in Morgan Hill is also part of the curriculum, providing a practical view of modern manufacturing processes.

Tech 2: Climate Science — This course builds on the foundations laid in Tech 1. Also held at El Toro Elementary, students delve into climate science for another two weeks, exploring the dynamic relationship between our planet and its climate. Through a blend of science, social studies, and economics, the course encourages students to become informed STEM advocates. Projects include constructing wind generators and experimenting with the effects of CO2 on water temperature.

Tech 3: Robotics, Python Programming, and Introduction to Wireless — Taking place at San Jose State University, this segment includes separate one-week sessions focusing on robotics, computer programming, and wireless communications. Students can build and program robots, create Python-based applications, and understand the intricacies of wireless communication technologies.

Pooja Kodoth, parent of rising 8th grader, Sidharth, says, “Our son is very interested in STEM and we felt this program would be very good exposure for him. He has taken Tech 1 and Tech 3, and has been able to expand his knowledge about Robotics and Digital Printing.  Our sole intent of having him attend was to be able to make informed decisions about what career he’d like to pursue. We’re happy to see he’s taken a liking to it.”

Silicon Valley Tech Academy Summer STEM Program facilitator, Tina Kunes, said, “I so enjoy watching the students from all different middle schools bond while creating solutions to real-world problems. The students work in groups to define the problem, design a possible solution, build the design, test it, and then adjust their design to make it better. In my years with the program, I have never sent a student home who didn't really enjoy some, if not all, of the projects.” Kunes, a Math teacher for Morgan Hill Unified School District, added, “Best of all, they have met students they will work with again in high school who they would have otherwise not known.”

To ensure a personalized and interactive learning experience, each class is capped at 20 students. The teachers, all credentialed in math or science, receive specialized training from the Silicon Valley Tech Academy to deliver these innovative courses. High school students from

MHUSD are also recruited and trained as lab assistants, providing additional support and mentorship to the younger students.

“We know this program is a rare opportunity. Our friends in other districts do not have this program available to them at no cost,” added Kodoth.

Enrollment is currently open for these transformative summer sessions. The Silicon Valley Tech Academy continues to pave the way for future scientists and engineers, providing them with the tools and knowledge to change the world. For more information, visit