Innovation Studio Students Present Final Fall Projects

Earlier this week, Upper School students in the Innovation Studio elective class presented their final projects of the semester. Jointly taught by the Ciongoli Center for Innovation team and NuVuX Fellow Tiandra Ray, this course provided boys with a unique experience and allowed them to develop their skills of creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking.

Fessenden’s partnership with NuVu, an innovation school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, began years ago with the inception of the School’s original Innovation Lab—affectionately referred to as the “iLab.” NuVu’s founder, Saeed Arida, served on Fessenden’s original Innovation Committee and helped with both the physical design of the Ciongoli Center for Innovation (CCI), as well as equipment purchasing and content programming. Various members of the Fessenden faculty and administration have continued to attend the NuVu Innovation Camp for Educators each summer for the past several years.

NuVuX is a relatively new initiative developed by NuVu to bring design, creativity, and innovation to schools around the world. NuVu was founded to rigorously train students to develop innovative approaches to real-world problems, which is an essential skill set for success beyond primary and secondary education. The NuVu pedagogy is founded on the principles of the architectural studio model and centers around hands-on learning-by-doing under the guidance of experts in their given fields. Through multidisciplinary projects, the goal is to help students navigate the messiness of the creative process through collaboration, iterative design, and critique.

At Fessenden, NuVu designs and implements studio programs as part of the Upper School elective course, Innovation Studio. This class is managed day-to-day by the CCI team along with Tiandra Ray. In addition, the program is overseen by the NuVuX team in Cambridge. The curricula incorporates skills such as robotics, three-dimensional printing, and laser cutting (among many others), while working broadly through the lens of a given thematic studio topic. Using the architectural design studio model, coaches guide students as they work to solve complex, comprehensive problems. This model uses exercises to build skills and integrates students’ knowledge in a final project. Within each multidisciplinary studio, students explore problems rigorously by focusing on a single, semester-long project. Tiandra and the CCI team mentor students to develop their project through an iterative process over the course of the first semester. Students are required to document their studio work through the use of a digital portfolio on the NuVuX platform.

For this semester of the class, there were three different studios. In “Hacking Public Spaces,” students explored the various public spaces around Fessenden's campus—analyzing their intention, layout, and popularity in order to map their use. Then they designed, prototyped, and built full-scale interventions that can either highlight, expand, or optimize the use of selected spaces, focusing on encouraging interaction and engagement.

Boys in “Lower School Interventions” partnered with students and teachers in Lower School to design, build, and deploy playful interventions in both classrooms and public spaces. Ranging from small-scale objects to simple hacks or large installations, these interventions were meant to enhance the Lower School learning experience, promote creativity, and give older students a chance to give back to the School.

The “Activist Installation” studio focused on the importance of using one’s voice to impact his communities. In this studio, students chose a specific issue relevant to the Fessenden community, and they designed ways to inform, promote, or create engagement around their topic through interactive installations on campus. The goal of this studio was for students to not only explore their own ideas of what an “ideal community” is, but also to feel empowered to communicate those ideas in creative and innovative ways.

Throughout the inaugural semester of Fessenden’s collaboration with NuVu, the students’ work products—but, more importantly, the journey they took to get there—have exceeded expectations. Director of the CCI Curt Lewellyn explains, “It was amazing to watch our students wade through the always-changing, often messy, iterative process that is creative problem solving and come out on the other end with such confidence. Their final presentations showed a level of design acumen and technical understanding that simply wouldn't be possible without the NuVuX partnership.”

Click here to see photos from throughout the semester.
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