Main Street Project:
Beginning in early 2017, the Design & Visual Communications Program has been working on a project to create a visual representation of Newton North High School’s mission statement and core values. Over the previous years, the students have worked through many phases of interpretation, focus groups, planning, market research, and design. The students researched extensively on public art, art installations, design principles, and typography. They also made hundreds of thumbnail sketches, inspiration boards, and tag-lines to be used as inspiration for the first official sketches for the project. Eventually, the Design team decided on an 11’ x 8’ 3D art installation. The installation will have three tigers centered in the foreground, with each tiger representing the diverse personalities and traits within the school community. These tigers will be 3D printed and resurfaced with distinct cultural patterns from all over the world to represent the unity and diversity within the school. Behind the tigers is a 3D printed tree, which symbolizes the students’ growth. The leaves of the tree will be comprised of photographs of past and present students. Finally, the background consists of hills with an assortment of written words that represent the mission statement and the student body’s core values. Since the project will be located on Main Street, the most active section of the school, the Design students decided to use the public art installation as an opportunity to represent North as a community, using a family of tigers. The project will promote the students’ core values and become a centerpiece of the school while also encompassing the innovative, diverse, and accepting school community we have at North.
This year’s Design Major 2’s and 3’s have been focused on working on the Main Street Project. Carrying on the legacy that both classes of 2018 and 2019 left, we are vigilantly working on the project. We have been persistently modifying, re-imagining and improving the tigers and the tree to make sure that the final product is the best it can possibly be. After setting up and organizing for the new school year, we brainstormed and analyzed questions about the Main Street Project in order to solidify our understanding of the exact meaning and importance behind the project. Currently, we have just finished splitting into teams to work on specific parts of the Main Street Project. Each team is focused on a different aspect of the project, with students working in their individual area of interest and expertise.
Deeper Learning and Design Thinking
A research team from the Harvard Graduate School of Education has identified the Design & Visual Communications Program at Newton North High School as a model for their “deeper learning” education initiative. This initiative seeks to accelerate the process of systematically orienting educators and policymakers around today’s K-12 students to prepare them for modern life as adults. Deeper learning focuses more on “higher-order” skills such as tackling complex problems in critical and creative ways, thinking flexibly, and evaluating competing possibilities. Skills associated with design are highly sought after in today’s competitive markets. A recent Wall Street Journal article titled “Forget B-School, D-School Is Hot,” explored the spirit behind Stanford University’s “d.school,” and the growing value of design thinking and insight into currently unarticulated problems. The NNHS Design & Visual Communications Program is on pace with these models of deeper learning and design thinking. Students in the Design & Visual Communications Program gain real-world experience, cognitive ambition, and a valuable set of skills to approach a 21st-century world.
Seeds to STEM and Design
In 2012, our team invented the Pedestrian Alert System through the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam program. It was a highly inspiring learning experience that we wished to continue and share with other students in Massachusetts.
To accomplish this, we decided to continue our project in 2013 through a different lens. Four students that participated in the Lemelson-MIT experience became team leaders of a new team: the Seeds to STEM and Design initiative. Seeds to STEM and Design includes the four leaders in addition to 12 new students.
Our team had made contact with Katherine Holland, a Civic Engagement Coordinator for Citizen Schools Massachusetts. Citizen Schools “partners with public middle schools in low-income communities to provide an expanded learning day” by giving schools opportunities for afterschool apprenticeships. These apprenticeships provide hands-on learning taught by professionals in any given field. Learn more about Citizen Schools on their website at www.citizenschools.org.
Citizen Schools had agreed to let our team present a 10-week apprenticeship to their students beginning in September 2014. Our apprenticeship focused on the design and engineering processes we had learned through creating the Pedestrian Alert System. Through this apprenticeship, our team got to share and spread the hands-on learning experience we were fortunate enough to have.
The Legal Sea Foods Kids Website Project
We are Design & Visual Communications students at Newton North High School motivated by creative and innovative challenges. Design is an integral part of our lives, and we have devoted much of our high school career to this class and the projects we have partaken in.
One challenge that we undertook of immense proportions: redesigning the Legal Sea Foods kids website. This site was originally created by the 2007 and 2009 Major 3 Design and Visual Communications Class, and they had done a fantastic job of designing an appealing, interactive, and truly innovative website.
We wish to continue the efforts of the previous class by further developing and improving the website. We aim to meet or even exceed the high standards they have set for us. By working on this website, we hope to use our creativity to promote Legal Sea Foods, as well as to further develop our skills as designers.
We chose to use this blog to help publicize our work. We feel it is an extremely valuable project and wish to share the process we will take in developing the website.
Our team is lead by Mrs. Brooks, our art director and instructor who guides us through all of the various phases of the project. Mrs. Brooks had an extensive career in the design industry before becoming the Design and Visual Communications teacher for Newton North, a position she has held for 20 years.
The Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam™ initiative inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention. Inventeams are granted up to $10,000 each to conceptualize, design and build technological solutions to real-world problems. Working prototypes of the solutions are showcased at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology each June at the Lemelson-MIT Program’s EurekaFest event. Learn more about Lemelson-MIT on their website.
Who we are:
We are Design & Visual Communications students from Newton North High School who have been given the opportunity by the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam program to apply our design, science, technology, engineering and math skills to solve a real-world problem.
Our invention statement:
Newton North High School’s InvenTeam is producing a pedestrian alert system to be used in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with the hope that it will also be implemented in other areas of the world. The system will warn drivers of crossing pedestrians and help pedestrians in developing countries safely cross dangerous roads. The invention will incorporate a dual-sensor method with a processing platform to calculate the arrival time of an oncoming vehicle.
To minimize environmental impact, we had built part of the system with used automotive parts, and its entire power source was solar energy. To implement the invention in a nonintrusive way, we incorporated aesthetics of Ethiopian art and architecture.
The A-Team and the B-Team:
Our group of 24 students had an A-Team and a B-Team. The A-Team oversees the design and building of the invention while the B-Team is in charge of the educational component, which includes creating an effective brand for the invention and developing ways to raise Ethiopian awareness about road traffic safety. Both teams met for at least an hour during the school day. The A-Team had additional engineering meetings every Wednesday and Friday after school for at least two hours to experiment with the technical components of the invention.
Both teams are collaborating on the project with Career & Vocational Technical Education programs at Newton North, such as drafting and engineering.
As design students, we plan to concentrate on the design and the technical aspects of our project in order to create an invention that is practical and aesthetically pleasing.
Our goal is to protect the pedestrians in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia by implementing pedestrian alert systems near our sister school, Saint Joseph School.