Almost one year since the Space Academy lower and middle school elective class launched Nueva’s first venture into space, the students finally have the results of a hot air pattern experiment they tested in microgravity.
The Innovation Labs (or I-Labs) are spaces on both campuses in which students are able to play, design, prototype, and make. The I-Labs are designed to enable every student to pursue a plethora of interests, and to foster Design Thinking practices in doing so. Students have access to tools, teachers, and resources, enabling them to become content creators and problem solvers.
In a given week, 72% of the student body spends time in the I-Lab.
The I-Lab team nurtures Nueva’s comprehensive PreK–12 Design Thinking program, which embraces engineering and computer science to prepare students for an open-ended and rapidly changing future. Nueva I-Lab engineers start working with students as early as age five and continue through to their high school graduation. This allows the facilitation of long-term growth and development in students through their entire childhood and adolescence.
Mentored Collaborative Environment
An important measure of an education is a student’s ability and willingness to learn, grow, and create outside of traditional school structures. In order to truly support and assess this eventual goal, we must take a step back and give students a choice of where and how to spend their time. Students have the opportunity to utilize the I-Lab outside of class time, whether during lunch or after school.
Many students take this time to pursue personal interests and to explore new tools, materials, and concepts. Others opt to form groups and clubs, using the I-Lab space to advance project work in a collaborative and supportive environment.
Learning Through Play
Of course, a large part of this unstructured access is the encouragement and support of play. Whether students are working on developing a transparent toaster, or just curious about what will happen if they glue two things together, the I-Lab team is ready to support them. Often what begins as a carefree exploration will develop into an in-depth endeavor, from which students will develop a more complete understanding. We seek to cultivate an environment in which students are able to reap the benefits of play, inquiry, and discovery.
Nueva middle school students learn by caring in Christine Braun's robotics class. In December 2017, Chris, the shop manager & I-Lab engineer, met with the Los Angeles chapter of GoBabyGo! — a University of Delaware-based program dedicated to mobilizing young children with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a congenital disorder of movement, muscle tone, and posture affecting more than 200,000 children each year, and there is no known cure. Chris brought her inspiration to Nueva and recently led a team of middle school students in the design, construction, and delivery of the school’s first car to a GoBabyGo! family.
Nothing brings Design Thinking principles to life like seeing them in action at the birthplace of Design Thinking, Stanford’s d.school. Nueva’s 5th graders got the chance to do just that on their field trip last week.
This is a special experience for Nueva students: our first Innovation Lab (I-Lab) in Hillsborough was developed in collaboration with Stanford’s d.school team, and from there we launched our Design Thinking curriculum back in 2007.
After more than five months of work that originated long before the school year even began, students in Nueva’s grade 7 are putting the finishing touches on a project that represents the culmination of many years of design thinking experiences.
Using bright, cheerful, easy-to-use materials that they designed, Jenna Leonardo and Katie Kirsch, co-founders of Girls Driving for a Difference, inspired and guided participants to identify their strengths and abilities, discover their leadership styles and craft their own personal mission statements for changing the world.