At Nueva, when students see a problem or a need, they invent a solution. Now in its second year, Invention Studio began as an outgrowth of I-Lab teacher Connie Liu's Design Engineering for Social Good course. It allows students to use design thinking and engineering skills to create empathy-based solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing our society today. Invention Studio is Nueva pedagogy at its best — student-centered learning that gives students the opportunity to use both design thinking and social-emotional learning skills in a real-life setting, to solve real-world issues.
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.
This summer, Marc Y. traveled to China where he visited remote towns and village schools to listen to children’s hearts to detect murmurs. Along with several volunteer interns, he furthered the efforts of Dr. Robert Detrano and the China California Heart Watch (China Cal), a non-profit that operates out of UC Irvine to provide free heart care to denizens of China’s poor and polluted Yunnan Province.
On Tuesday after lunch, Dr. BJ Miller joined US students in the Design Engineering for Social Good (DESG) class to discuss designing a better death. BJ Miller is a doctor and designer who focuses on redesigning end-of-life care. He is the founder of the Zen Hospice Project, which aims to bring dignity to the process of dying.