Page 7 - FIS World November 2016
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Tinkering with Toys
FIS faculty get their hands dirty in a studio classroom
Just days after the 2015-16 school year ended, six teachers from FIS and FISW traveled to Boston to attend the Summer Innovation Camp at the NuVu Studio. NuVu is an innovation school for Grade 6-12 students whose teaching methods are based on an architectural studio model.
From inception to completion, NuVu’s students are taught how to navigate di erent stages of the creative process using a hands-on approach to analyze, evaluate and problem solve in ways that are not typically used in traditional academics. This tactile approach to teaching and learning is centered around multi-disciplinary, collaborative projects.
During their visit, FIS faculty got to experience this type of collaboration by playing the role of NuVu students. They were assigned a series of projects in which they were to use engineering and design principles to invent tools that would help people with varying degrees of physical disabilities accomplish a task.
FIS teacher Nichole Foster at work in the NuVu Studio
In one scenario, the team was challenged to come up with a device that would help someone with limitations in their hands tie a shoe. To gain a better understanding of how to do that, they decided to role play. FIS Upper School science teacher, Nichole Foster, immobilized her  ngers by putting on a glove that held them in a Star Trek-like “Vulcan salute.” The team then set to work on building an assistive device using state of the art equipment and programs, including Rhino 3D modeling software, laser cutting machines, 3D printers and an Arduino programming board.
In describing how their group tackled projects, Upper School humanities teacher Robin Neal said, “The studio process should be messy. Trying out many ideas until striking on a promising one requires an attitude of rolling up your sleeves, jumping in, and working with new materials and ideas.” Ms. Foster added, “The process of moving through the design cycle – and the successes and failures that came along with it – was what we found to be so profound.”
That’s exactly what teachers – or coaches as they are called at the NuVu Studio – want. The idea is that students should explore their options and not just go with their  rst idea.
FIS faculty have returned to school and are employing many of the skills they learned through the design-thinking training. They are also now engaged in  guring out how to o er students a deep dive into studio learning without impacting the Upper School schedule. Studio classroom work requires signi cant time and space, which could prove challenging given the Upper School’s schedule.
FIS hopes to launch a type of NuVu studio on campus with the creation of a Grade 6 studio learning pilot program. Parents interested in lending their expertise – or who know of experts in the area willing to work in the studio learning pilot program – are encouraged to contact Robin Neal at robin_neal@ More information and a general call for volunteer coaches will go out later this year, but there’s no need to wait. Mr. Neal is happy to share more for those interested.
Dave Hawthorne
FIS Parent and Sta  Member
November 2016 FIS World 5

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