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.